WEDNESDAY, July 15, 2020
BASEBALL!! Finally get to see some Phillies action. Yesterday about 5:00 pm I checked to see what the Phillies streaming schedule was going to start. To my surprise, they were going to telecast an intra-squad game at 6:00 pm. I dusted off my trusty laptop and set it up in the living room, next to my recliner, prepared dinner and waited for the game to start. To me, the cruelest thing about the pandemic stay at home was the cancelling of the baseball games. Social distancing is not a big problem for me. I have practiced it all the time, for many years with a lot of people, but losing the ball games compounded the problem.
The thing that struck me right away was that the Phillies announcers were not taking the broadcast seriously. They spent so much of the time horsing around among themselves and what the coaches did at home while shut in, that they really didn’t seem to have enough time to talk about the game, or the players. I don’t know what kind of shape Eflin is in, but I do know that Larry Anderson got a new motor bike. Fortunately, I have seen quite a few major league intra-squad games and the players were familiar to me. I dug out the spring training roster from my Phillies folder and was good to go.
One thing needs to be clear about intra-squad games, is that no rules are hard and fast. The pitchers are on a pitch count and outs don’t really matter. An inning can stop anywhere. At the same time, a pitcher may pitch out of the stretch with no runners on because the coach wants to see his form. Zack Wheeler started and consistently needed to go 4, or 5 outs into the inning to get his pitches in. He was very efficient and looked good. I should put a disclaimer in here. The pitchers are far ahead of the hitters at this point. Velasquez was the other starter and he looked like Cy Young and we all know that’s not true. The hitters are going to need some more sessions of live batting practice.
The fielding looked ready to go. I think the Phils helped themselves a good bit by picking up sure handed veteran fielders like Gregorius, Torreyes, Harrison, and Walker. If Kingery can field second base as well has he has been billed, with Realmuto behind the plate, it ought to be a fairly tight infield. Segura looks better suited for 3rd base than shortstop. His lack of range will not hurt him as much there. I think a guy to watch is Josh Harrison. He had a very bad year last year and was actually cut from the Tigers of all teams. If he can regain his form, he is a gold glove caliber second baseman. He is certainly worth a shot.
I do believe that the starting lineup and the bench are good enough to win, but the season will be determined on the pitching mound. They still don’t have a closer they can depend on and most of the guys they are counting on out there have let them down in the past. Currently, they have a two man rotation that they can count on. Eflin, Pivetta, Velasquez, and Suarez are all big question marks. Nola and Wheeler and pray for rain. It’s really disappointing that the front office hasn’t come up with a few more options. They also need a backup catcher.
The MLB schedule says they are going to televise this evenings intra-squad game at 6:00 pm.