Thursday, June 29, 2006

Desperate Times

The Phillies are a shattered team. Nearly all the players have begun to sport the Gavin Floyd look, none more ominously than Cole Hamels. Even when they hit home runs there is little joy.

They start virtually every game behind, and even when they score first, they usually surrender the lead within an inning or two. At least two of their starting pitchers should still be in the minor leagues. Several of the veteran players have overstayed their welcome. Their best pitcher has taken a personal leave of absence.

They have lost fourteen of their last seventeen games and their manager is at a loss as to how to stem the tide. The General Manager keeps his own council. Ownership is mute. Normally, under such dire circumstances, the situation cries out for some measures, to relieve the suffering if nothing else.

The real danger is some players will quit, especially as the team falls further in the standings and the dog days of summer set in. As the old saw goes, you cannot fire the players. That doesn’t mean you cannot light a fire under them.

They need a new man in charge in the dugout. Now.


blame ownership said...

They needed one a month ago. That can only mean it will take another month before he is gone. Takes awhile to find another yes man.

kuff6 said...

Was anyone else embarrased by Ryan Howard yesterday? Down 12-4 in the 8th, he hits a solo shot to center and stands there posing and preening and admiring his blast. I literally was yelling at my tv, "Put your f'ing head down and run around the bases! You're down by 7 runs in the 8th, you jacka##!" It reminded me of that famous play by Deion Sanders when he was with the Falcons. It was late in the 4th quarter, and the Falcons were getting totally crushed (down by 30+). Deion makes a return for a TD (can't recall if punt or INT), and he does this ridiculous, over-the-top celebration and dance in the endzone. Pathetic (which, come to think of it, is the perfect word to describe the entire Phils organization right now).

Oisín/Wizlah said...

as ever with this situation, you hope that gillick has already scoped out options prior to this month-long implosion. I'll admit to being nervous about Gillick now - everything else has gone so badly wrong, so I don't expect him to make some bold imaginative moves. The only thing that's in his favour is that one year ago he wasn't in this organisation.

Anyone else galled at the fact that ruiz is now hitting .302 and has been called to the international league all-star team?

Tom Goodman said...

kuff6: I looked at replays on of both Howard home runs and didn't think he preened all that much. I am frustrated with him for several reasons, but not this one.

oisin: the Phillies don't deserve Ruiz at this point.

Anonymous said...

I think the whole organization has real contempt for the fans.
Remember last year when Myers and Lofton (and Wade) were bad mouthing the fans and there was no rebuttal from the owner or anyone else?
Remember the Harry Kalas comments from Montgomery with a similar surprised comment and course correction this spring?

Tom Goodman said...

"...Myers and Lofton (and Wade)..." and Burrell and Wagner to add a few more.

Nothing is more tiresome than the Philly fan bashing we read ad nauseum. Why even Todd Jones, who was horrendous here, is still bashing them two years after his welcome departure. The Philly boo bird has become a cliche that the national media won't let die. Frankly, given the Phillies' track record of the last dozen years I think local fans have been remarkably restrained and supportive.

kuff6 said...

Burrell going off on the fans has always pushed my buttons. The fans could not have been more supportive of the guy during his nightmare 2003 season.

As for the Ruiz/Fasano/Coste debacle, I just started "The Mind of Bill James" and offer you this:

"poorly run organizations leave promising young players on the bench in favor of established mediocrities and tend to project their weaknesses onto their best players, and ultimately will dwell not on what the player can do, but on what he can't."

Tom Goodman said...

What really steams me about this organization's treatment of Ruiz is the comment that he "appeared to be overmatched" by major league pitching. He had roughly 35 AB's when they made this decision.

J. Weitzel said...

When I get a chance today (been flooded under), I'm going to address the quote you brought up, Kuff. It's dead on. The Phillies are falling into a pit of old-fashioned reasoning, specifically at catcher. What do the Phillies have to lose with a young player when the alternative (Fasano, Coste) is offers absolutely nothing.

Oisín/Wizlah said...

Kuff6 - perversely they're doing this with Ruiz, but not with mathieson et al. Gillick has not tried to rely on Ryan Franklin in the starting position. What steams me about that is that Manuel will not allow young players to dig themselves out of holes - he takes 'em out way too quick, always saying he doesn't want to harm their confidence - but with the exception of Floyd, I think he's making things worse. They *are* going to make mistakes, so surely the thing to do is work out how to get out of jams?

RickSchuBlues said...

I can only comment that the players look like they already have quit. If Ryan Howard admires his homeruns, I can hardly blame him at this point. There is nothing left to play for but individual accomplishments. The most telling thing about this squad is that hey hardly ever score without the benefit of homers. They don't play as a team.

The observations about Ruiz, especially as it compares to having obviously premature pitchers like Mathieson and Hamels in the rotation, are, as JW said, dead-on. This is a case of the Phillies being purely illogical. Of all the catchers in the organization, Ruiz is the one who has any chance to be a part of the plans next year where that position is concerned. They don't mind giving the aforementioned pitchers the head start at the expense of their development, yet they'll let a 27-year old who's already quite accomplished in the minors continue to rot down there while they trot out the horrendous likes of Sal Fasano every day. It doesn't make the slightest bit of sense, except in the unshakable context provided by kuff: this is simply a bad organization.

Rev. Smokin Steve said...

I still don't think it's Manuel's fault. I think a new manager inherits the same problems and does the same thing.

But then again, Manuel isn't showing me that he can pull them out of it. So maybe it is his time. Maybe he needs to move on so he can preserve his own sanity by not having to manage this team anymore.

Ruiz being in Triple-A is inexcusable right now.

Tom Goodman said...

Manuel's dismissal will not likely improve the Phillies' won-loss record, but it will hopefully instill a different tone on this club and that, too, is much needed. Concentration is lacking. Basic skills are neglected. In-game strategy is wanting. Handling of the pitching staff is erratic. I believe a change at the top would also include the coaches, though I would imagine they will not be changed until a new, permanent manager takes over afer this season.

John Salmon said...

It doesn't take much failure at the major league level for a player to get the dreaded quadruple A label, and sadly that may've happened to Ruiz.

I only qualify the point because even the Phillies may not be dumb enough to ignore a AAA All-Star. We'll see what happens. To my mind, since the team isn't going anywhere, and since Lieby is in such decreptitude, making Ruiz the starter even when/if Lieby comes back, is a risk-free move.

The Phils are bad enough that Gillick's job is now greatly simplified. When you know that, at best, you'll be fighting Florida for second place, you can begin the overhaul at once.