The headlines from last night go to Jayson Werthas
he morphs into an indestructible force, and the Phillies as a team for
a 10-game winning streak that is the longest for a defending champion
since 1971. But maybe the guy we should be giving a little more love to
is Joe Blanton.
After a May 21 outing in Cincinnati, Blanton was 2-3 with a 7.11. Since
then, in 10 starts, he’s gone 4-1 with a 2.32 ERA, and struck out 59
while walking only 16 in 66 innings. That includes last night when he
gave up one run in 7 innings in a no-decision.
The strikeouts have certainly helped Blanton’s production. His 7.8
K/9 is up from 5.1 last year, and he’s walking fewer batters (2.7 BB/9
vs 3.0 last year). And according to fangraphs.com, while his average
fastball is still clocking at about 89 mph, he’s throwing slightly more
fastballs and sliders as he ignores his curve more than usual (throws
it 4% less often than in 2008).
Blanton’s also still a relatively young guy at 29 in only his 5th
full season, so it could be that he’s just starting to put it all
together. Not that his recent run will stop the front office from going
after Roy Halladay, though.
By the way, Bill James, in a new and interesting
stat, has the Phillies’ current temperature at 120 degrees. And
honestly, that seems like it might be a bit low.
The Reds acquired utilityman Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports.
This is the second time that the Dodgers have traded Sweeney. The club sent him to the Phillies along with John Richy in August 2015 for Chase Utley. The Phillies sent him back to the Dodgers this past offseason with Darin Ruf in exchange for Howie Kendrick.
Sweeney, 26, made his major league debut in 2015 with the Phillies, hitting a meager .176/.286/.353 in 98 plate appearances. With Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, he hit .227/.290/.412 in 131 PA. While Sweeney’s bat hasn’t proven to be anything special, he has played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions, so his flexibility will make him useful at some point.
Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.
“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”
The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.
Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.