Sunday, May 20, 2007

Up And Down Except Where Charlie Is Concerned

The recent "run" versus Chicago and Milwaukee masked the unmistakable reality of this Phillies team: they remain stuck on average, winning and losing with equal amounts of enthusiasm and ennui. The Toronto series underscores their mediocrity as they split the first two games, hanging on for a 5-3 win in the opener despite only managing three hits and getting shellacked the next night 13-2 while banging out four hits. Rarely, if ever, does the 2007 installment put it all together in consecutive games.

Jamie Moyer faced a familiar foe from his long stint in the American League in the Blue Jays and the boys from Canada greeted him like a long-lost relative, thrilled to see him again. After Moyer surrendered seven runs in three plus innings of genuine labor, Clay Condrey came on in relief and provided absolutely none as batting practice continued to the tune of six more runs. It was a good night for fans to plan an early exit from the Bank's notoriously slow-to-empty parking lots.

One reason among many the Phillies are simply treading water these days is that Jimmy Rollins, their true spark plug, is struggling mightily since Charlie Manuel made the colossal mistake of dropping him from lead-off to third in the batting order. Among Charlie's many liabilities, his constant tinkering with the lineup is a glaring one. Rollins belongs at the top of the order period and every time Manuel gets it in his head to shift J-Roll around the results are disastrous. Rollins, who is more than willing to assume a leadership role on this team, sees himself as the guy who sets the tone as well as the table for his teammates. Batting in the three hole he can do neither. Manuel will last another season here but only because GM Pat Gillick sees little financial or other incentives to make a move now. From this observer's perspective, however, it behooves me to call for Charlie's head again while the team is winning and losing in equal parts rather than wait for the next losing streak. Even an interim appointment would be better.


Blogger Ben said...

I think they will switch back eventually, but they did go 7-3 on the homestand. No matter who they play, they count the same at the end.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Don't forget Charlie's reasoning for not having Victorino leading off (he needs to see more pitches). Well Charlie, Aaron Rowand swings a lot of the time early in the count and doesn't have half the speed Victorino has. In fact, I would be willing to bet Victorino is working counts better than Rowand these days. Wouldn't it be better to have a Victorino, Rollins, Rowand start to the line-up?

This is just one of many mistakes and miscalculations by our manager. He cannot manage a bench (see Michael Bourn without a start this season! Not one!) or a bullpen (certain pitchers go weeks without pitching! Weeks!). I truly believe this team will never get over the playoff hump with him as their manager...

8:49 AM  
Anonymous David said...

The verdict is out as to whether Rollins' struggles are due to him being in the no. 3 slot. I've thought his swing has looked a little bigger, and he certainly isn't inclined to take as many pitches as he was earlier on this year. But more than anything, he looks a little sluggish at the plate, like he needs a rest.

If the Phillies can muster a 4-2 on this road trip, I will begin to get a little more hopeful. It's kind of hard to see it happening, though. Hamels ("No-hitters? Of course.") appears due for a humbling, in more ways than one...

Speaking of humbling. I like Jamie Moyer, sure, but I think he would seriously tick me off if I was watching him from the other side - the same way I get irked at Glavine for *expecting* to get strikes off the plate just because he doesn't have the stuff to get away with strikes over the plate, and then either patronizing or accosting umpires between innings according to how they 'accomadate' him. It must be satisfying for a team to jump all over him like Toronto did the other night.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

The worst part of the J-Roll decision has to be that he was hitting well at the lead-off guy and then Charlie yanked him. I wish people would stop jerking him around on and off the field when it comes to so-called archetypal lead-off hitters. He isn't one and it doesn't matter. When he produces, which is more often than not, this team is better off PERIOD.

4:42 PM  

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