Saturday, August 30, 2008

Good Pitch No Hit

Clay Condrey really isn't much of a major league relief pitcher, but he plays one on TV. Frankly, he's not alone; the heretofore reliable Phillies' pen is breaking down en masse at the worst possible time.

Yes, the Phils lost in part because the ump blew a call on Ryan Howard at first base that would have given the Phils a 3-2 lead, but those are the breaks. It's ironic, of course, that instant replay is now available in a northside Chicago ballpark near you, but, alas, only for boundary calls. You can be sure, however, that the men sitting in their underwear in front of computer monitors back at the Commissioner's office took at a good long look at that play just for practice.

Still, Condrey served up a gopher ball to Alfonso Soriano and that was all she wrote as the Phils dropped their third straight game to fall two full games behind the Mets, who rallied to beat Florida 5-4.

Tuesday's late night, late inning heroics notwithstanding and two offensive outbursts against the Dodgers before that aside, the Phils continue to struggle to score runs. It bears repeating at this late juncture of the season that the team's biggest worry in the pre-season, pitching, has generally outperformed their so-called greatest strength, offense. Until very recently the Phils' bullpen has been superb and their starting pitching has in fact far exceeded expectations. But a look at their starting lineup shows a team that hits a lot of home runs but not much else:

Rollins: .266
Victorino: .284
Utley: .290
Howard: .229
Burrell: .260
Werth: .273
Feliz: .255
Ruiz: .221

That isn't the lineup of a top-tier team. Yes, the middle of that order can and does hit a lot of long balls, but in between they don't do much else except to waste generally good starting pitching. In the end their futility will come back to haunt all 25 players on the roster.

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