Friday, July 30, 2004

Skip the Fabric Softener

If the Phillies have rally towels in the hamper I wouldn’t waste another second before washing them and passing them out to the fans who fill Citizens Bank Ballpark every night.  On second thought, skip the spin cycle; just hand them out.  Things don’t look good.

It appears the Phils are committed to making a move before the trading deadline and the most likely player scheduled to depart is Placido Polanco.  Too bad.  Polanco is a very solid player who fields his position flawlessly and makes good contact at the plate.  He hits behind runners, knows how to move runners along and plays hard.  His replacement will be Chase Utley, a youngster with a bright future.  Utley can hit.  His swing is short and compact and packs plenty of pop.  As a fielder he will be steady and reliable but not spectacular.  His greatest asset is his love of the game.  His presence in the lineup every day can only be a plus.  It’s too bad he can’t pitch, however.  No matter what the Phillies do before Sunday, the name of the game remains pitching and on that front things have gone from bad to worse.

For years many observers have noted MLB has seen a steady decline in the quality of pitching.  Expansion and the lure of other sports have siphoned off more and more potential players.  Some have argued that the third through fifth starters on many teams are only of AAA caliber.   The Phillies are prime examples, at least in their bullpen where no fewer than three pitchers on the roster are recently promoted minor leaguers who under normal circumstances should still be pitching in Reading or Scranton.

By the way, leave out the fabric softener; the faithful are in no mood.

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