Cleaning out my mail bag: Taguchi, Ibanez and more

Starter Joe Blanton will try to get the Phillies back in the win column tonight against the Dodgers. (File photo)

You guys are probably tired of hearing me talk about how nice Los Angeles is, so I'll spare you the details (cough, cough, 80degreesnohumidityandlightbreeze, cough, cough. I arrived at Chavez Ravine ahead of schedule today, so I figured I'd comb through my inbox and share some reader email.

(Note about the infamous L.A. Traffic - it's really not all that bad during the mid day, except when you happen to be stuck for an hour on a freeway behind a four-car accident at 12:30 in the afternoon. That was me yesterday, en route to meet an old friend for lunch in downtown. Ever drive past an accident in the opposite direction and you see traffic on the other side of the barrier at a stand still, and you see fire trucks and police cars and a long line of cars after them, and you see the poor guy sitting at the front of the stand still, maybe five cars back, and think, "Man that's the unluckiest guy on the road right now. . .10 second and the accident would have happened behind him. . ."? Yeah, that was me yesterday. So I left early today and arrived early).

I'll try to do this with more regularity for the rest of the season.

1. First one comes from Michael, who did some statistical research on the downturn in the Phils' offensive performance. . .

"In the 10 games in August, the Phils offense has scored 36 runs. Only the Pirates, Athletics, and Giants
are worse Phils have a Batting Average of .216. Only the Athletics are worse. In the 23 games since the All - Star Break: Phils offense has scored 101 runs. Only the Royals,Reds, Athletics, Nats, and Giants are worse. Phils have a Batting Average of .249. Only the Reds and Athletics are worse."

Those are great statistics, ones that illustrate what anybody who has watched the past couple of weeks has seen. We'll see what happens tonight against Brad Penny. Penny has struggled this season, particularly in his last nine starts, when he is 1-7 with a 7.82 ERA. But by and large, the Phillies hitters have struggled against him in their careers. Jimmy Rollins has faced Penny 49 times, tied for the fifth-most plate appearances among all major leaguers. Rollins is 9-for-45 off of him. . .Pat Burrell (10-for-41), Chase Utley (4-for-15) and Ryan Howard (2-for-10) are all hitting below their career averages against Penny.

2. Next email comes from Chris in Oxford:

"Was that a wet noodle of Taguchi's arm?"

That was Taguchi's arm. But out of all the happenings last night, you can't pin the loss on Taguchi. The offense didn't score when it needed to, and the bullpen had a rare - repeat, R-A-R-E - blip.

3. Next up is Leonard:

"Did you hear of the Phillies putting in a claim for Raul Ibanez ?"

I haven't heard anything as far as Ibanez goes, though it wouldn't surprise me if he was on waivers and if the Phillies were attempting to work out a deal.  The Phillies generally don't comment on players who are under contract to another club, so I wouldn't necesarilly have heard anything if something was in the works. But certainly the front office and manager Charlie Manuel have taken notice of the struggling "O." Manuel said a couple of days ago that he coveted Casey Blake back when he was still with the Indians, so hiting is certainly on his mind. . .

4. Mark wrote in a couple of days ago with this query:

"Wasn't Gordon finished being productive anyway?"

For some reason Gordon, like Taguchi, has drawn the ire of Phillies fans this season, despite the fact that he was a pretty important piece of the bullpen. Like it or not, the Phillies viewed Gordon has a valuable piece of the puzzle. And in between his Opening Day struggles and the arm injury that put him on the DL in early July, he pitched pretty well. There's no doubt that a healthy Gordon, even at 40 years old, would have helped this team down the stretch.


In addition to these final couple of games, two of the bigger things we'll be keeping our eye on here in Los Angeles are Joe Blanton's performance tonight and Shane Victorino's back. Victorino was pretty frustrated after last night's game, but said he didn't think the back spasms that hampered him throughout last night's game were a long-term concern. Then again, Pedro Feliz initially did not think his back problem would hamper him for an extended period of time, and he's on the disabled list right now. So it's definitely worth watching. Blanton, meanwhile, has allowed just one run in 14 innings over his last couple of starts. With the Mets and Marlins both within two games of the NL East lead, he'll need to come up big again tonight.


Feel free to keep the questions coming in. I'll try to answer them on the blog as I get them. Shoot me an email at or post them in the comments sections.