When you view the diamond now, the difference is striking for the Philadelphia Phillies and Cliff Lee. Everywhere he looks, he has to smile at the healthy firepower that has his back.
By design my articles represent a baseball man’s thinking, the view from the dugout and the GM’s box. Most fans do not consider the budget, prospects on the radar, the organization’s weaknesses, the track record, the competition and the other intangibles. Please go to my author archives or Phillies page for my most recent coverage. Scroll down to Tal’s Handy Links at the bottom. Thank you.
The new summer schedule will allow me to publish the best 3 storylines each week, but there will be an updated calendar included with each feature: These posts involve commentary, polls and stats for the upcoming 7 days.
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Then and Now:
Baseball-related gravity descends gradually from the top, but a big, unexpected drop has a bounce factor.
Standing on the hill, Lee eyes Ryan Howard at 1st. Chase Utley positions himself near 2nd, while Michael Young mans the hot corner. Last April, only Jimmy Rollins of this unit would join him on the mound during powwows for a few strategy minutes. Rollins, Utley and Howard are 3 of the core four, while Young was a cornerstone in Texas, spearheading two consecutive runs to the Fall Classic. In 2012, Lee saw 1B Ty Wigginton, 2B Freddy Galvis and 3B Placido Polanco instead.
From his dugout perch, the southpaw could not possibly think Wigginton, Galvis and the often-injured Polanco were an offensive juggernaut. Last season the meat of the order was cleanup-hitter Hunter Pence, who compensated with a swing-for-the-fences approach, leading to a low batting average and many missed opportunities. Lee could not notch a win even with 10 shutout innings, before his strained body added another degree of frustration. Now, the ace enjoys the attack of Utley, Howard and Young.
It wasn’t any easier on the bump either, where the infield corners were too often an adventure. How can anybody today feel uncomfortable with Young on third? Remember, it didn’t take long before Polanco started having physical problems, leaving that position in questionable hands. Although Howard has his throwing issues, you know what to expect from him. On the other hand, Galvis provided an almost daily gem with his leather.
The 2012 campaign began with the hope that Antonio Bastardo and Mike Stutes would again excel. That said, Bastardo picked up where he left off the previous September with a string of heartburn-inducing outings. Meanwhile, Stutes appeared 6 times and maintained his effectiveness in only half of them, which was the same the prior year from mid-June through September. 12 months later, Mike Adams is here to close the 8th-frame door.
Instead of looking forward to the next game last April, fans only had the excruciating wait for May, June and July.
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This is the 26th storyline for 2013. Check out my recent publication (The Journey) on the Phillies page or my author archives, where there is an excerpt photo. Also, my new feature is Story-poll. The last one was The Lumber Appraisal.
I will periodically publish the 2013 ERA for the NL East and the MLB 5. Thank you, to all who bookmarked my page.
Philadelphia Phillies storyline: Lee and the legend (The Journey)
Philadelphia Phillies story-poll: This side of the ball (The Lumber Appraisal)
Tal Venada (Author Archives)