Friday, August 13, 2004

Formulas to Live [and Die] By

The formula for winning one’s division or league hasn’t changed much over the years: play somewhere in the neighborhood of .500 against the top teams and beat up on the bottom ones. The 2004 installment of the Phillies must have missed that class and failed to get the notes.

Throughout this woeful season they have dropped series to the Expos, Tigers, Rockies (twice) and Pirates while failing to play .500 against the Braves let alone the Marlins. Last night’s 3-1 loss to Colorado, their third in four games against the Rockies, epitomizes their season. A lack of clutch hitting or hitting of any kind doomed the home team once again and left them trailing the front-running Braves by seven full games. In a matter of three and a half weeks the Phils have fallen an additional 6 ½ games behind the Braves.

Newcomer Cory Lidle took last night’s loss despite pitching decently, about all that can be expected from a journeyman hurler with a 5.26 ERA. No one really predicted Lidle would be the answer; after all, anyone who arrives accompanied by the notation “eats a lot of innings” is not going to make the locals forget Robin Roberts or even Larry Christenson. The best that can be said here is that Lidle isn’t Paul Abbot. Let us hope Ed Wade resists trading any more prospects to try and salvage this lost season. The focus belongs squarely on next year at this juncture.

[In an earlier assessment of the team’s prospects for next year in my piece “Upgraded from Serious to Grave” I mentioned Tomas Perez but understated how valuable he is. During his five years in Philadelphia Perez has been one of the team’s most important players, capable of playing any infield position (and I suspect a few others) extremely well. In addition, Perez is a more than decent hitter with some power who keeps things lively and upbeat in the clubhouse. The Phillies count on him heavily.]

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