My recent recollections of the dismal start to the 1988 season by the Orioles may not be as far-fetched as I first thought in at least one regard: en route to their 0-21 start that year, the Birds fired manager Cal Ripken Sr. after only six games. Not to be outdone, the 2002 Tigers pulled the trigger just as quickly on Phil Garner after his team began the season with six losses.
Charlie Manuel has overseen seven games already but nevertheless he is on the clock. As I see it, he has a margin of five more losses in April before being shown the door.
Count last night’s 5-3 loss to Atlanta as the first of those five losses. If nothing else it was vintage 2006 Phillies baseball: lousy starting pitching, no clutch hitting, and a bullpen that couldn’t do its job.
Brett Myers failed to deliver again and after the game uttered the usual platitudes about not liking losing. It is worth noting that during Myers’ five innings of work color analyst Larry Andersen pointed out repeatedly how Myers would get two strikes on a hitter and come in with a curve to try and finish them off. Mixing in the curve is one thing, but as Andersen correctly observed, Myers went to that well over and over again and, like all good major league hitters, the Braves started sitting on it. Don’t blame Mike Lieberthal for this. Even if he was calling for the hook, Myers can shake him off. But he didn’t for the same reason Myers always fails in the clutch, he is stubborn and hasn’t got a clue.
Except for Aaron Fultz’s meltdown on Sunday, middle relief has been surprisingly decent during much of the first week of the season with the exception of opening day. Last night, however, Ryan Franklin came in after the Phils tied the game at three apiece and promptly gave up a home run to Marcus Giles. Nothing, absolutely nothing, deflates a team faster than giving back the lead a half inning after tying a game, particularly on the road.
Still, the Phils had their chances to break through and failed to deliver. Will someone please remind me again why we pried David Dellucci from the Rangers for Robinson Tejeda? We needed a left-handed bat off the bench more than we needed pitching, right?
There are those who speculate Pat Gillick has been very successful at dumping unwanted pitching on the Rangers through a series of deals in the last six months. Ah, the Rangers, dumb like foxes. I’m sure their eyes widen whenever they see Pat’s number come up on the Caller ID.
Finally, can anyone explain to me slowly what portion of David Bell’s 2005 season versus right-handed pitching apparently does not count this year? And while we are at it, let’s not have any more articles (including from yours truly) about Charlie’s loyalty to veterans. We are treated to another one today in the Inquirer in which CM explains how fourteen at-bats (prior to last night’s game) is hardly sufficient data on which to judge Bell thus far this season. I guess the one hit in those fourteen at-bats is also statistically insignificant.