Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Two Straight In The Rockies

Let's go right to the tape....

How wonderful was the scene of Ryan Howard, all 255 pounds of him, breathing down Chase Utley's neck as the two crossed the plate in rapid succession in the ninth inning of last night's win over Colorado? To make matters even more beautiful, the big guy just beat the throw by a hand and jumped up signaling "safe" in case the ump needed help.

The two followed So Taguchi as all three of them scored on Pat Burrell's game-winning, bases-clearing double. Burrell, tied with Utley for the team lead in batting average at .357 each and neck-and-neck with him homers and rbi's, is having a glorious April. It should be remembered that Burrell has started off hot before only to cool off in mid-season, but it should also be noted he has been on quite a tear since the middle of last summer.

If he keeps this up the Phils are going to face quite the difficult decision regarding whether or not to re-sign a guy who has experienced quite a few highs and lows during his career in Philadelphia. On more than one occasion over the last year or so Burrell hinted he'd like to remain here, but can the Phillies afford him if he stays hot? It would be the ultimate irony if the Phils made an effort to keep him after openly trying to move him in the past two off-seasons all the while licking their chops at the prospect of finally shedding his big contract.

Meanwhile, Brett Myers hardly produced a quality start last night, yielding six earned runs, eleven hits (two of them homers) and two bases on balls in seven innings last night. This is Myer's pattern and we might as well get used to it. Last night he didn't look like he had much on his fastball and his curve didn't have its best bite. No matter, the game more or less followed the pattern predicted for this club in the pre-season as the offense picked up the slack.

Apart from Burrell and Utley, Jayson Werth is making the best of his starting opportunities, hitting his third home run of the year while raising his average to an even .300. Greg Dobbs continues to hit in his limited role, but no one else is doing much with the bat. If Howard ever gets untracked (far from a certainty judging from his mostly feeble AB's again last night) and the Phils get back a healthy Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, this team will score enough runs to withstand the up-and-down performances of its starting pitching.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was one beautiful win last night - the kind of game that one is more accustomed to seeing from this team in September than April.

Burrell's situation is revelatory on how often and how startlingly perspective can shift. His career has been so up and down, it makes you wary of believing that what we're seeing now is the 'real' Burrell, the one the Phillies would continue to see if they signed him to another contract. And yet, I rather *do* believe it. I think we're seeing a player who has finally made the adjustments, who really gets it and has managed to become a very solid hitter - and, apparently has even re-emerged as a leader after seemingly reneging on that capacity once he signed the first contract and his career immediately took its sharpest nosedive.

From here, my stance would be that the Phillies need to re-sign Burrell. Greg Golson is their only outfield prospect, and Burrell's departure would also create a huge void of right-handed power. It would seem a wiser strategy to hold Golson in wait to replace the ever-erratic Shane Victorino instead of Burrell. A movement to re-sign Burrell, of course, would also be contingent on what plans the team has for Ryan Howard. So possibly this may be a premature discussion, but it does bear light on a developing scenario many will definitely be keeping an eye on.