Series Preview: Tom Goyne Talks Phillies

The Padres head to Philly for three starting Tuesday evening. Among other things, this means I got to pick the brains of Tom Goyne, proprietor of the estimable Balls, Sticks, & Stuff, about his team. (We did this last year, too, and had more fun than you can shake a ball, stick, or stuff at.) Without further ado, I turn the blog over to Mr. Goyne…

Ducksnorts: How many games do you see the Phillies winning this year, and will it be enough for a return trip to the post-season?

Goyne: Given that the Phils will be without Jimmy Rollins for almost all of April and into May, Brett Myers and Ryan Howard are off to poor starts, and the team is still above .500, I’d say they stand a decent chance of getting to 90 wins, assuming those pieces fall back into place. Early in the spring, if you had told me all of those things would go wrong and they’d still be above .500, I’d have thought you were crazy. As for the post-season, historically 90 wins gets you there, but time will tell this year.

Ducksnorts: Ryan Howard is doing a nice Russell Branyan impression. What’s up with that?

Goyne: It’s official. Ryan Howard is a slow starter. It happened last year, it happened this year, and he says his mother says it goes back to his school days. My guess is that he will finish with numbers that resemble last year’s quite a bit, but the fact of the matter is, he’s really a one-dimensional player. Granted, he’s excellent at that one dimension — power-hitting — but there are a lot of other holes in his game.

Ducksnorts: Brett Myers has served up a lot of homers in the early going, but his overall numbers are decent. How has the transition back to being a starter after closing games in ’07 gone so far?

Goyne: The word is that his fastball has no life and a look at the numbers at Fangraphs does indeed show he’s lost a couple of miles per hour. The numbers are also consistent with what we have been hearing, that he is relying too much on off-speed stuff and breaking balls because of his loss in velocity. Being a starter for most of his career, with the exception of last season, I wouldn’t have thought it would be a difficult transition, but apparently it is.

Ducksnorts: Speaking of Myers, Kyle Kendrick became a favorite of mine when I saw how he handled the spring training prank that had him being traded to Japan. Talk a little about Kendrick.

Goyne: He’s a good kid by all accounts and apparently a little gullible too. Last season he went from AA to a spot start in the bigs to one of the Phillies more consistent pitchers and make no mistake, they don’t win the NL East last year without him. It seemed like he was very comfortable in his skin, pitching to contact, and getting lots of groundball outs. This year, it seems as if he feels he has to pick out a new trick or two from his bag, he’s being too fine, and walking too many batters.

Ducksnorts: I recently finished reading Chris Coste’s book. In it, he mentions that Cole Hamels will buy him a sweet ride if Coste catches a Hamels no-no. How do you like Coste’s chances of receiving a new Escalade this season?

Goyne: It’s tough with Hamels. He strikes out so many batters that you think he’s a great candidate for a no-no, but because he strikes so many out, his pitch count gets a little high and he can’t go the distance. He’s oneheckuva pitcher, we haven’t seen anything like him around here since Schilling or Carlton.

Ducksnorts: Checking in on the ex-Padres, how are Adam Eaton and Shane Victorino looking?

Goyne: Eaton’s 2007 season was an unmitigated disaster. The only way you can put a good spin on it is that he didn’t get hit by a bus, which is probably saying something since there were probably more than a few bus drivers in Philly gunning for him. This season he has been adequate so far, which is all he really needs to be with the Phillies offense. As for the Flyin’ Hawaiian, he’s a great little player when healthy. He can cover a ton of ground in a heartbeat and has an absolute cannon for an arm. Under the tutelage of Davy Lopes, he’s become an exceptional basestealer as well.

* * *

Thanks again to Tom for chatting with us. Best of luck to the Phillies this year once the Padres leave town. :-)