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.