The Phils limped out of Toronto yesterday afternoon, tails between their legs. It would be tempting to say they will be glad to come home, but a quick check of their record at the Bank reveals they have a losing record there.
Oh, well, it was just a thought....
It isn't as easy to point fingers at this group as their grip on last place would suggest. So many players are having miserable seasons. In no particular order...
1. Shane Victorino is lunging at every pitch these days. He has never looked as uncomfortable at the plate as he has this season. He has been nursing an injured hand, which would explain why he's lunging, but if that's the case he should sit until he has healed. He isn't helping anyone with the way he's been playing, least of all himself in this, his walk year. As for his base-running, he nearly always neutralizes a steal with a bonehead play like getting doubled off second base.
2. Kyle Kendrick will never be a reliable pitcher. The numbers suggest he's an average fifth starter. His dependability suggests he's a AAA pitcher with a big league roster spot given the overall dilution at the position.
3. Placido Polanco's string of injuries has rendered him a fading veteran. Once, he was tough to strike out and was always seen as a guy who would put his bat on the ball, move a runner or do the little things to help the team. Now, he's a shadow of his former self. It's a shame; Polanco has always been my idea of a true pro.
4. Hunter Pence has one of the worst swings I've ever seen. Why anyone would throw him anything except stuff low and away is beyond me. He won't make anyone forget Roberto Clemente in right field, either.
5. The best thing the Phils could do for Jim Thome is to trade him right now to an American League team where he can DH full time. He has earned that opportunity.
6. Jimmy Rollins will be a Phillie for 2.5 more years, or exactly two years longer than will benefit the team. Jimmy has never learned plate discipline. Arguments over whether or not he is a prototypical leadoff man have long since faded. Now, I'd be satisfied if he would just work the count and lay off high stuff.
7. From The Four Aces & Worley to Hamels, Worley, Blanton, Lee and Kendrick. Is it any wonder?
8. Ty Wiggiton should be given the same opportunity as Thome. Ty is not a big league fielder.
9. John Mayberry should be given an every day job period. First base. Left Field. Center Field. Just put him in there and let him finally sink or swim.
10. Juan Pierre has been a revelation.
11. Carlos Ruiz refuses to give in to all the slings and arrows. He remains the backbone of this team.
12. Jonathan Papelbon must be wondering whether four years and fifty million dollars will compensate for the agonies he will be facing, not the least of which is a manager who doesn't know how to use him.
13. Antonio Bastardo is becoming the Kyle Kendrick of the relief corps. One never knows whether or not he can be relied on.
14. Michael Martinez and Mike Fontenot are living proofs the talent pool in major league baseball is watered down.
15. Hector Luna is with his fifth club. Watching him bail Martinez out yesterday on a pop fly (Martinez elected to leave his sunglasses in the dugout during a day game with the roof open), it's hard to imagine he was let go by the previous four teams for lack of hustle. He needs to see more playing time.
16. In the comings and goings department, Brad Lidge appears to reached the end of the road. He had quite the adventurous ride.