Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Booted Back To Sea Level

I confess: I watched and they lost. In my defense, I wish I hadn't. Lousy pitching, lousy defense and wasted scoring opportunities sent the Phillies back to sea level against a bunch of no-name Arizona Diamondbacks, this year's version of the Florida Marlins.

Charlie Manuel continues to work Greg Dobbs' bat into the lineup. Unfortunately, this isn't the AL so consequently Dobbs brings a glove along as well. Mental errors, throwing errors, fielding errors; Dobbsey has shown them all over the last week or so. It isn't as though the Phillies defense is so impressive overall that Manuel can afford Dobbs over Nunez, who by the way, is hitting nearly as well as Dobbs though not with nearly the same power. As last night's game proved once again, lest anyone has forgotten, defense still matters.

So, of course, does pitching, and when Jon Lieber absolutely melted down in the second inning and allowed seven hits and five runs, the camera showed Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee talking but, significantly, not removing Lieber. It was early, I guess, and the Phils didn't want to get into their vaunted bullpen any sooner than necessary. Seven hits and five runs must not equal "necessary" from management's perspective.

The Diamondbacks weren't exactly hitting bleeders and bloopers either. Most of their hits were shots, in the alley, off the wall, up the middle. Anyone who notes Lieber more or less settled down after that is missing the point. By the end of the second inning the game was lost. As it was, Lieber hung around for 6.2 innings and yielded thirteen hits. Yoel Hernandez got the final out in the seventh and Geoff Geary was touched for five runs in less than an inning of work in the eighth. In his defense, none were earned though he did yield two hits and a walk. Still, if his mates had fielded the ball cleanly the damage would have been limited and the Phillies late and aborted rally might have meant something.

Gone after a mere two days was the heady feeling of having swept the Braves in Atlanta. It would be one thing to lose to teams with the likes of Reyes, Wright, Beltran, the Jones boys and John Smoltz in the opposing dugouts, but not to a team I've watched for two straight nights and still cannot name more than two players.


RickSchuBlues said...

The Diamondbacks are a legit talent, not merely a cast of no-names. They easily have the brightest future of any team in the NL West, and in fact probably a far greater future than the Marlins themselves. Not a bad present either; there's no shame in losing to them. I envy the folks back in AZ - if not for their location, then for the ability to watch a youthful, talented, enthusiastic team blossom before their eyes. They bottomed out a few years ago but quickly recovered thanks to one of the deepest farm systems in baseball. They strike me as the anti-Phillies in a lot of ways, and frankly I'm jealous.

What is left to say about the bullpen? There is no way the Phillies can overcome it. And we haven't yet had to suffer through a blown lead in the ninth inning, which surely will be coming.

The highlight of the telecast was Davey Lopes' interview during the top of the sixth inning. He recalled the days when his Dodgers and the Phillies 'didn't like each other too much' in the late '70s and reminded me that things were once very different in Philadelphia. I wouldn't mind a bit, by the way, if Lopes was the Phillies' next manager.

Tom Goodman said...

RSB: My comments about the "no-name" D-Backs just shows my ignorance. Thanks for correcting that. We forget the Phillies have come up with three tremendous young talents in the last few seasons themselves, Utley, Howard and Hamels, because despite their greatness the team continues to struggle mightily and has nothing behind them that will get them over the hump. By the way, I think the Marlins remain a formidable team and if they get their pitching together I still think they will finish ahead of the Phils.

As for Lopes, I believe he was brought in predominantly to straighten out Victorino and the running game generally and given an otherwise minor role. The Phils would never give him the top job: he's too frank and honest for them. Bowa was different; blunt and insensitive, but, then, he had that ring and pedigree and all his obvious warts were overlooked until the players made it clear they disliked him and would not play for him.

David said...

"The Phils would never give him [Lopes] the top job: he's too frank and honest for them."

Well, damn. You're right, unfortunately. Thanks for the reality check. Makes you sick, but it's so true.