Thursday, April 21, 2011

State Of The Club

Two days, two aces, two different results.

Roy Halladay hasn't really looked all that sharp thus far this season. Yes, he's thrown a complete game and struck out plenty of batters, but he's been hit reasonably hard at times and hasn't appeared dominating.

Tuesday night he was hit early and often by the Milwaukee Brewers and had to be taken out of the game in the seventh inning. The bullpen then entered the fray and poured gasoline on every square inch of the playing surface it could find. Meanwhile, the Phillies' bats turned to sawdust on the way to a 9-0 shellacking.

Wednesday afternoon Cliff Lee took the hill and was also less than dominating, surrendering three runs, two earned, in six innings of work. This time, however, the Phils managed something of a rarity this season: they hit two home runs in a game, sufficient to propel them to a 4-3 victory.

Ex-Phil John Kruk, who always seems to bend over a little backwards in attempting to appear impartial when it comes to the subject of his former team, told the truth when he said this team just isn't the same one which relied on power and offense in the past. Without Jayson Werth and Chase Utley, and with a diminished Ryan Howard and fast-sinking Raul Ibanez, the Phils cannot score the old-fashioned way. And without enough situational hitting from Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins, they are going to have trouble manufacturing runs. Only Placido Polanco seems to get it.

Meanwhile, Ben Francisco's hold on the right field job appears to be tenuous at best. As soon as Domonic Brown has recovered, look for the youngster to get plenty of opportunities to win the job he lost in Spring Training. Francisco has made Bobby Abreu look like a Gold Glover (what?!! He was one?!!)and his recent funk at the plate clearly indicates it didn't take long for pitchers to get the word on him. Super sub Wilson Valdez has had his own adventures in the field lately, too. Expect John Mayberry to see more playing time in left field as Raul Ibanez plays out the string on his three year contract. Ibanez' bat always looks a little late these days. Choking up won't help.

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