Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Power Rankings???

You can't face the Padres every night.

Still, if you have to settle for second best, Arizona would seem to have been a good choice. Nevertheless, the Phils anemic offense caught up with them as Ian Kennedy, heretofore never mistaken for Tom Seaver, shut them down on three hits while whiffing ten.

A quick perusal of the Phils' offensive stats shows a steady decline over the last two weeks. If Placido Polanco were not included, the Phils would collectively be flirting with the Mendoza line for the period in question. No one has been productive save Polly.

At the risk of repeating ourselves, good pitching won't be enough to overcome a nearly total lack of offense.

But that ain't the worst news.

There's trouble in paradise as GM Ruben Amaro seemed to suggest manager Charlie Manuel was overusing Jose Contreras, leading to an injured elbow. Amaro later backed off and said Cholly was handling the staff fine, but before this "retraction" Manuel bristled at the suggestion. While he was at it, the manager also complained in the press about Ryan Madson's request for a night off from pitching duties due to fatigue. Fatigue, Manuel wondered aloud. In April?

Charlie Manuel has never used the press to air his displeasure with a player. Make no mistake, this was a momentous turn of events, especially on an aging team that is, frankly, showing its age at the plate.

It isn't too much of a stretch to suggest the Phils will be awaiting the return of Domonic Brown with greater anticipation than ever. Ben Francisco has been an adequate replacement at best at the plate while in right field he has been fairly awful. Raul Ibanez' bat has slowed so badly over the last year and a half it wouldn't surprise me to see him become the most expensive pinch-hitter in MLB soon. The good news is he hasn't slowed in the outfield over the same period because, frankly, he already was slow. When Brown returns, he is going to get every opportunity to take the job in right. Francisco will then switch to left where he will platoon with another right-handed bat, John Mayberry. Let's face it, this is a bad outfield.

As long as we are facing "it" we should also note Ruben Amaro has made two very bad decisions over the last two off-seasons: letting Cliff Lee go the first time for very little in return; and, letting Jayson Werth go without replacing his bat and glove. If the Phils fail to make or advance in the playoffs this season, their GM's failure to shore up the offense will be the chief reason.

Meanwhile, back at the third hole, Jimmy Rollins has two rbi's out of this crucial spot in the batting order for the entire season! We should enjoy Jimmy's next four months in red pinstripes because at the current pace, it does not appear he will be with us next season. "As goes Jimmy, so go the Phillies" has long been the mantra around these parts. Looks like someone may be going.

Reports that Chase Utley has been running and taking some grounders are encouraging, but his availability is so shrouded in mystery one cannot count on a target date, if any exists, for his return. Instead, we are fed the occasional tidbit he's doing some running, taking batting practice and some ground balls. Put me down in the I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it column

Cliff Lee hasn't exactly set the world on fire in some of his starts, but no matter what he does, he cannot win if his teammates don't score.

I noticed yesterday the Phils had reclaimed the number one ranking in ESPN's Power Rankings for the week. Good thing the voting took place before last night's futility in the desert. How the term "Power Rankings" could apply to this team is beyond me!!!!

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