Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's Never Too Early

Advice to anyone beginning to compile a list of Phillies available at the July trade deadline:  Start with the players likely to be retained because it is a shorter one to assemble.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Old King Cole

It's customary these days to lament Cole Hamels' lack of support, defensively and especially offensively, and wonder when, if ever, he's going to catch a break.

Frankly, he blew his chance last year when he re-signed with the Phillies.  Surely Hamels must have realized he could have signed with plenty of other teams who might field contenders, but instead he re-upped with a Phillies team in clear decline.  In his defense, Hamels might have signed here because he liked playing in Philadelphia, liked his teammates and didn't really need another x-million dollars to make him feel superior.  So, let's give him some credit.

OK, now that we've done the right thing, how about that 1-8 record?  Well, he has a high ERA, too, but when one analyzes the overall scheme it's clear to this observer the further Hamels goes into a tight game without an inkling help is on the way, the finer he pitches, thus opening himself to leaving pitches over the plate (he is among the league leaders in home runs allowed) or suffering through the breakdown of teammates who feel just as tight as he does through much fault of their own.

One day the Phillies are going to score a lot of runs in a Hamels' start and he is going to get the win, but the intervals between such circumstances are not going to contract with this lineup.

* * * * * * * *

Domonic Brown is proving just about everyone wrong about his potential by putting together a pretty decent season thus far.  Nearly everyone, yours truly included, was ready to give up on the former phenom, who prior to this season has battled (in no particular order) injuries, lack of consistency and a brutal lack of confidence on the part of management.

Truth be told, Brown is more of a rookie this year than in any prior season because he has been handed the job and kept it.  Even his defense has improved with regular playing time.  He has been a bright spot in an otherwise fairly miserable and dull  season.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Coulda' Been Worse

Carlos Zambrano?  Well, it coulda' been worse; the Phils could have tried and tempt Pedro Martinez to come out of retirement.

Seriously, folks, Carlos Zambrano couldn't convince 31 other clubs he can still pitch so it's hard to imagine what, other than desperation, motivated the Phillies' alleged brain trust.

But back to more important things....

The Phillies have been maddeningly inconsistent for two seasons in a row but on one front they have never wavered:  they hide injuries or simply lie. The Roy Halladay saga was basically laid at his feet.  Roy never said he was ailing.  Right, and I have a bridge for sale. 

The Phillies, especially the press-friendly pitching coach Rich Dubee, insisted he was fine.

Last winter there were reports Cole Hamels was experiencing discomfort in either his shoulder, arm or elbow.  (I can't recall which and I am not interested in looking it up.  The point is the reports were of some discomfort in an area of significance to someone who throws a ball for a living.)  So far this season Hamels has been wildly inconsistent.  The only area of any regularity has been his propensity to serve up home run balls.

At some point in the next few weeks we may just get word of a "precautionary" MRI or other such test.  Meanwhile, Carlos Zambrano will be working himself back into shape, hopefully as a pinch hitter.  As Ben Davis put it, "the dude can hit".  As a former catcher, Davis is also convinced the dude can no longer pitch.

If all of these things come to pass, Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick will head the staff.  Now, before you three readers jump down my throat, it's not certain Hamels is injured; he may simply be off his game.  But given this team's track record, I wouldn't bet on it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Time In...Again

The mood struck me.

Last night's hero, John Mayberry, is one of my annual crusades and now I am armed with a great example:  Domonic Brown.

Brown, a former phenom, has been a disappointment for most of his brief big league career because he hasn't lived up to expectations...nor been healthy.  As a consequence, he was yanked in and out of the lineup, sent down to AAA for more seasoning, and generally saw his confidence undermined at every turn.

This season he won a starting job due to a very good Spring and a terrible off-season by his GM, Ruben Amaro.  Failing to really address their outfield needs, Amaro handed Brown a starting job by default via his manager, Charlie Manual.

So, Brown started the season knowing he had a job and he has kept his job knowing the Phils had no one to replace him.  The results have been a fairly good start for Brown, who is showing power, batting a decent albeit middling .257, and not butchering everything hit his way.  In short, he is confident and collar will not get him the hook.

Which brings me to Mayberry.  If John Mayberry knew he were going to start every night he would produce the same results, that is, decent hitting, good power and a very good glove.  But Mayberry has never been able to take the field without looking over his shoulder.

Confidence is everything in sport...indeed in life.  Mayberry hasn't had much because the Phillies have always undermined it.  Give him the job, Charlie, and sit back and see what he can do for a stretch.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Time Out...Again

Here we go again.

The "euphoria" (let's not get too carried away) over the two wins in San Francisco has already evaporated.  Another good outing by Cole Hamels was wasted by meek, indeed pathetic, support.

Let's face it, this is at best a .500 team so these swings should be expected.

Speaking of "swings", Jimmy Rollins appears to have left his in Florida.

That's all for now, folks.  I'm as bored writing about these guys as I am watching them.  I'll be back some day, perhaps soon, when the mood strikes me.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

I Give Up

I give up.

Who can figure this team out.  Blown out at home by Miami, the Phils fly across the country to face the streaking Giants in their cove by the bay and beat them two straight.

I give up.

Bad news just keeps on comin' and still these guys keep on keepin' on.  Roy Halladay is indeed injured.  A partial tear of the rotator cuff  and a worn labrum and he was still pitching.  No wonder he couldn't get much on the ball.  I've suffered from similar injuries and had trouble lifting my arm altogether let alone throwing a baseball sixty feet six inches.

I give up.

Just when you think these guys won't ever score a run again they bash a few home runs, play a little small ball, and lo and behold beat Mssrs. Bumgarner and El Freako.

I give up.

Kyle Kendrick is officially the most reliable starter the Phils run out there on a regular basis.  A nice guy who has persevered, Kendrick is proof nice guys can finish first...at least for now.  Hats off to him.  No one is more deserving.

I give up.

Anyone who thought Carlos Ruiz would save the day has forgotten last year's numbers were an aberration.  So far, Chooch is struggling to hit his weight...really!

I give up.

Instead of reacting negatively to Cliff Lee's semi-calling out, the Phils have responded by supporting him with some offense for a change.  I guess it really isn't a calling-out when someone simply states the obvious.

Monday, May 06, 2013

May Day


In no particular batting order, those are the averages of the Phillies's regular lineup.

Add in the horrendous middle relief and dreadful starting pitching from some but not all the big names and you have a team spiraling out of control.

And it could get worse.

Oh, sure, it's difficult to imagine anything worse than giving up twenty runs to the Indians in two games and seventeen to the Marlins in three (at home, no less) while watching the team's batting average plummet, but wait.  The Phils open a three-game set in San Francisco tonight where they will face some serious starting pitching.

It's been just a little curious to learn Doc Halladay is suffering from various injuries only after he has some bad outings, but, then, the Phillies have never been considered forthcoming about injuries.  Who are they hiding the truth from?  The Marlins figured it out in the very first inning.  By the third inning Doc's ERA had exploded and he was headed for the showers and possibly the Disabled List.

Between denials by Cliff Lee he was doctoring the ball, brouhaha's about Mitch Williams' relationship to the Phils in general and Rich Dubee in particular, Doc's mysterious ailments, Cole Hamels' lack of support (and proclivity to serve up home runs) you have a miserable situation growing more dismal by the day.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Pride And How To Get It

Cliff Lee sort of called out his teammates after last night's shutout loss in Cleveland.  I said "sort of" because he used the royal "we" in saying the Phils should have "a little more pride".

Well, Cliff, the problem isn't pride.  It's just that the Phillies aren't very good including the once-proud pitching staff.

The way to have "a little more pride" is to play better and, frankly, that doesn't look likely. So, maybe the Phils need to acknowledge they have a lot of deficiencies before they go looking for more pride.

Just a thought, Cliff.  Run that by the boys in the clubhouse and see how they respond.

Two Mistakes By The Lake

Anyone believing the addition of Carlos Ruiz would restore the Phils to respectability must have been hoping Chooch took his enforced holiday as a golden opportunity to develop a cutter.

If nothing else, he probably has more on the ball when he returns it to the pitchers than when he first receives it.

The Phils didn't just limp out of Cleveland, they tucked their tails and sneaked out under cover of darkness.  Everyone boarding that charter wore sun glasses to cover his swollen eyes and bruised egos.  The last place Indians smoked the Phils, no destroyed them!  Twenty runs in two games while the Phils "bats" "erupted" for two runs, all in game one.

Cliff Lee returned to the site of his glory and stunk up the joint.  Fortunately, not many fans go to Cleveland games any longer.  Lee joins Roy Halladay as an official sore spot in the rotation.  Cole Hamels also has a spot reserved, a single win over the lowly Mets hardly enough to remove him from the ICU.

The Phillies have faced a lot of newcomers this season and must surely be tempted to resort to that old excuse that the first time a team faces a newcomer the pitcher has the advantage.  There must be lots of budding Cy Youngs out there, at least according to the Phils.

The Phillies have been historically slow starters, but with this walloping in Cleveland, including the first of May, it's safe to assume their pace isn't going to pick up any time soon.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Is There A Doc In The House?

The short answer is an emphatic NO!.

I guess I reversed cursed the Doc a few days ago.  Just when Rich Dubee thought he could sit back and relax because the media he seems to hold in perpetual contempt was no longer questioning whether or not Roy Halladay was done, Cleveland showed up on the schedule.

Now, mind you, coming on the heels of their sweep of the Mets, the Phils probably looked at these two games in Cleveland as a chance to pad their stats and get back to sea level for the season.  Instead, they were torpedoed right out of the slip and went down to an ignominious and ominous defeat.  Halladay was savaged by  a lineup filled with players who hadn't known him in his earlier days as an American Leaguer.

Welcome back, Doc.

Naturally, the Phils' bats were also largely silent, as it their habit when not facing the Mets.  And just as naturally, the bullpen poured gasoline on the fire lighted by Doc.

The Phils are a mess and no three-game sets in Queens are going to set them straight.  Halladay really does appear to be cooked.  Cliff Lee hasn't been so dominating of late.  Cole Hamels finally won a game on the last weekend of April.  Kyle Kendricks has been the lone positive spot in the rotation.  The fifth spot is being handled by a rookie who wasn't even that highly touted by the Phils' own alleged brain trust.

...and Delmon Young is the starting rightfielder as soon as the team leaves the AL and the DH.

Tickets anyone?