Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Holier Than Thou

I pondered the question long and hard over the last home stand and before last night's late inning debacle in San Diego:  what is the matter with this team?  I've mulled the possibilities, considered the sources, analyzed the statistics, dusted off the magic eight ball from my youth.  In the end, I've come to these conclusions:  they cannot hit much, pitch consistently or catch the ball well.  Throw in a front office of dubious ability and you have the 2013 Phillies.

With the July trade deadline looming, it's almost laughable to think the Phillies will be anything other than sellers.  If they persist in the absurd belief of their GM they can contend, the Phillies will only accelerate the slide toward bottom feeders that once glorious teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh suffered through until they stopped trying to right their ships with castoffs, has-beens, never-weres, and free agents long in the tooth.

Yes, fans, we could see decades of mediocrity unless the Phils look in the mirror and conclude they have to start stockpiling for the future.  They traded off what talent that had in their farm system to win it all a year ago.  One and a half years later they are again a below .500 club with holes everywhere one looks.  First base?  A hole.  Second base?  A hole.  Shortstop?  Soon to be a hole.  Third base?  See shortstop.  Outfield?  One decent player.  Catcher?  Soon to be a hole.  Starting Pitching?  Swiss cheese on that?  Middle Relief?  Vacancy signs everywhere.  Late Inning Relief?  Injured and erratic.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Win Or Go Home

Let's not beat around the bush:  Jonathan Papelbon's act has grown old.  His overall stats may be good, but therein lies the limitation of relying on stats.  A couple of lousy outings in a row and suddenly the team's momentum, never barreling ahead at full steam anyway, is stopped dead in its tracks.  The stare.  The histrionics.  The delivery.  None of Papelbon's wearisome repertoire could save the game.

Update:  Papelbon was blaming the Phils' lack of "fundamentals" after the game claiming he was surprised Ryan Howard was playing in when leadoff batter Denard Span opened the ninth inning by beating out an infield hit forcing the closer to cover first base.  Sorry, Pap, Howard was told to play in for the speedy Span. He didn't issue the subsequent walk and base hit.

Last night's inexcusable loss to the Nationals typifies the stumbling, bumbling inability of this year's version of the Phillies to play good baseball.  Recipients of a stellar performance by starter Kyle Kendrick, the offense's chronic anemia and Papelbon's ineptitude let the Nats stay close behind their own fine starting pitcher, former Phils' farmhand Gio Gonzalez and finally tie the game in their last regulation AB's.

Every time the Phillies creep within .500, they play a game like last night's.  Only the mediocrity of the top teams in the NL East keeps them in the race.  A look at the rest of the league makes it clear, however, the Phils have to win the Division.  No Wild Card is coming out of the NL East this year.

It says here no Division winner is coming out of the Delaware Valley either!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Doctors Are In

When the schedule makers sat down in front of June they took pity on the Phillies and penciled them in for a string of series versus teams unlikely to pose much of a challenge.  It appears the opponents never got the memo.

The Phils continued to stumble toward terminal mediocrity with another loss to a last-place team.  Once again Cole Hamels was on the mound.  Until the fourth inning Hamels clung to a one-run lead, but in the bottom of the frame he threw batting practice as the Twins laced one hard-hit ball after another, two of them nearly home runs.  It was SOP for Cole:  cruising along and then, BINGO!

It was also SOP for the Phils' offense, sputtering along and in the process making world-beaters out of opposing starters whose ERA's were heretofore atrocious.  Nothing cures pitching ails quite like a visit from the Philly doctors.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

You're Kidding, Right?

Domonic Brown, one of the lone bright lights on a very dull team, is the subject of a very unflattering story by Bob Brookover in this AM's Inky.

The gist of the story is that a lot of baseball people are put off by what they label "unprofessional" behavior by Brown following his home runs.  Seems he does too much styling for their taste, takes wide turns around first and crosses the plate with some Samurai-like pose whenever Ryan Howard is there to greet him.

The most cited group of offenders appear to be scouts, a group long in the tooth on average and probably old school in general, Reggie Jackson's histrionics notwithstanding.

Brookover also quotes some opponents including nameless souls on the Miami Marlins' roster.  The way things are going in their world, anyone drawing a walk probably is offensive to them.

Frankly, I've been struck by how modest Brown has been during his latest tear.  Indeed, he can't be stylin' too much in this fan's mind given how profoundly boring the Phillies are in general.  Now, maybe Brown's "antics" are relative to the stoicism of the Chase Utley's of the world.  Who knows.

Oh, and who cares???!!!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Sum Total Of It

With the first day of June upon us the summer season begins in earnest for baseball, the summer game.

It's clear the Phillies are going nowhere this year or in the foreseeable future.  Beset by injuries, age and mediocrity at most positions, the Phils Golden Age has ended.

Frankly, even a normal season from Cole Hamels wouldn't have righted this ship, but the harsh reality is that the struggling southpaw's dismal season to date is all that stands between the Phils and .500 baseball.

The only real bright spot has been Domonic Brown, whose white-hot month of May, twelve home runs alone, has propelled him into the limelight.

Jonathan Papelbon has had a good season thus far as has Cliff Lee.   Kyle Kendrick has been a serviceable back-of-the rotation starter forced into the middle of the rotation by injuries.

No one else stands out.  Three and half players out of 25.  That about sums it up.