I can't remember the last time I had a chance to sit in my hotel room and put my feet up and put together an expansive, all-encompassing, and -- I'm sure to most -- mind-numbing blog entry for folks back in Philadelphia to digest during their lunch breaks (And by digest, I mean scour for grammatical errors and faulty logic and the rip the bejeezus out of me in the comments section). So here we go. . .
1) We're in Atlanta right now. I'm not a big fan of Atlanta, although it is home to my favorite college step team at Truth University. Rumor has it there are nice areas of Atlanta, but I can tell you two areas of Atlanta that aren't nice: the area by my hotel downtown, and the area by Turner Field. Granted, this is all a matter of perspective. If you are a big fan of fast food and 24-hour dry cleaning establishments, then downtown Atlanta is the place for you. But here is a quick travel tip that Brooke Burke and Dhani Jones will not give you: When walking down Peachtree St, wear a T-Shirt that says "No I do not have any spare change." It will save you a lot of time.
2) Take the exact opposite of my feeling for Atlanta, and you will have my feeling for Toronto. Turns out, those Vietnam draft-evaders were on to something. The place is beautiful. The streets are clean, the nightlife is outstanding, and the people are so friendly that you walk around wondering why people in America are so miserable. Places to check out? Start at Hemingway's in the Bloor-Yorkville section. I've been racking my brain to pinpoint exactly what it is about Toronto that I love, and three words keep popping into my brain: Lack of Pretense. People seem happy to exist, happy to talk, happy to meet people who did not grow up on their block. Maybe it is the national health care. Maybe it is the Molson. Who knows. I love America's Northeast because people act like the fastest way between two points is a straight line. People in Canada act the same way, except they act like they actually the journey on the line, and not just the destinations at either end. Does that make any sense?
3) I would not be surprised to see Rodrigo Lopez get the start on Friday. The 33-year-old former Oriole has allowed two earned runs in his last three starts, and Phils assistant GM Benny Looper said yesterday that experience is one factor that the Phillies are considering when deciding who will get the call. What do they have to lose? Worse case scenario, he gets the call-up, struggles for two starts, and forces the Phillies to re-evaluate things at the All-Star Break. All things being equal, Andrew Carpenter has pitched the best of the three candidates. And if they go with the player who most "deserves" the start, it will be him. But the Phils are at a point where they need to start thinking about alternate plans if they are unable to land a starter via trade. I would be very, very surprised if they do not add someone. But we are still a month away from the trading deadline, and it seems like everyone other than the Nationals is within three games of a playoff spot in the National League. Lopez had three solid seasons for the Orioles and at one point finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting. This is the first time he has been healthy in two years, so why not give him a shot? Carlos Carrasco and Carpenter aren't going anywhere. Then again, I don't know how the talent evaluators have graded Lopez in these past few starts. All I know is the results.
4) The one hang-up about calling up Lopez: Once you promote him to the big league roster, he either must stick or you risk losing him on waivers. The Phils have already burnt an option on Carrasco and Carpenter this season, so they can move back and forth between the minors and majors at will. The only mitigating factor with Carrasco is that a promotion would start his service clock. At this point, though, the Phillies are in a position where performance is by far the No. 1 factor. I expect that we'll hear something today.
5) One thing I did not get into the paper last night was Charlie Manuel's explanation of why he chose to pinch-hit Chris Coste against Derek Lowe in the sixth and not Matt Stairs. There were two runners on at the time with two out. Stairs, a lefty, would have made sense. But Manuel said that the Braves had a lefty warming in the bullpen, and if he would have pinch-hit Stairs, the Braves would have called on that lefty. Manuel does not like using Stairs against a lefty. He is a career .238 hitter off of southpaws, not to mention 2-for-15 off of Lowe. Coste is a career .278 hitter off of righties, and was 1-for-4 with a home run in his career off of Lowe. So those are the numbers that Manuel was using when he made his decision. Either way, O'Flaherty was going to be in the game to start the seventh inning.
6) Jimmy Rollins is hitless in his last 24 at-bats and has not had a hit in 12 days.
7) Although Raul Ibanez is expected to make his first rehab start tonight, I would be surprised to see him in the Mets' series. I'd expect him to play tonight, take tomorrow off, play again on Friday and Saturday, and be ready to re-join the team on Sunday at the earliest. Again, that's me talking. Is there a chance he plays Wed., Thu., Fri. and is activated Saturday? Sure.