Esteemed blogger Erik Grissom of Philliesflow is already worried about my mental health following the dire post below. Admittedly it was a glum response to the Phillies annual stumble-fest in April, but I stand by the gist of it, that Pat Gillick has done a miserable job as GM.
The Phils are already in a deep hole as they move to Shea Stadium and the first series with their chief rivals. The NY faithful will be waiting for Jimmy Rollins, who in the pre-season anointed his team the one to beat, and one can be certain they won't be blowing kisses his way. It would all be good fun if indeed the Phillies were arriving in a good humor, but the mood in their clubhouse must certainly be foul.
In this morning's Inquirer the dreaded notion has already appeared in print that the players might be "pressing". No more astute an observer than Gillick himself wondered if this were the case. Nothing annoys me more than to read that sort of balderdash. These guys are supposed to be professional athletes. If they weren't prepared coming into the regular season they can start by blaming themselves and go right up the ladder through manager Charlie Manuel and GM Gillick. How much more lead time did they require to prepare for the coming season? What, exactly, has happened in the first week that was unexpected? If the Phillies failed to deliver on offense or on the pitcher's mound, whom do we point at and wonder? If fourteen base runners are stranded in a single game is that a case of "pressing" or simply a lack of discipline if not skill? If relief pitchers throw home run balls on successive nights is that a lack of preparedness or simply a lack of talent?
The Phillies have enough proven hitters that they should come around on offense sooner or later. Their defense is another matter. It's adequate at best overall with holes at too numerous spots to reiterate once again. (I will acknowledge I have officially given up the campaign on behalf of Ryan Howard's glove.) As for pitching, Brett Myers followed up a decent first outing with a miserable one, the same sort of on-again/off-again performances we've come to expect of him while Freddy Garcia, the fellow who was supposed to be the missing link in this rotation remains on the DL. Having missed his first start in a Phillies uniform, there is no word regarding his next one. Was Garcia damaged goods when the Phillies acquired him from the White Sox? Hard to say "no" at this stage. One thing is certain, however, and that is the Phillies don't know or won't say exactly what his real prognosis is. Let's just say his status is anything but "routine", the word the Phillies used to describe Garcia's unexpected trip north in March to visit a doctor.
Cole Hamels opens for the Phils in New York and we can only hope his first outing, an outstanding one last week versus the Braves, was not an aberration.