Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hold Your Applause

The three readers of this space may have missed it, but I Reversed Cursed Cole Hamels a few months ago and, sure enough, he responded with a string of stellar performances worthy of the title "Ace"!

If rumors are to be believed (need I remind you they aren't?!) Hamels' name has been bandied about a great deal as the July trade deadline approaches.  If the Phillies were to trade him, they would be signaling they not only are finally going to begin the rebuilding process, but they want to do it overnight in one fell swoop. Now, it wouldn't surprise me if the Phillies' alleged brain trust thought they could undo years of incompetence overnight, but I doubt seriously they are willing to shed the only pitcher on this squad capable of, as Matt Gelb of the Inquirer so eloquently put it this AM:  "But every fifth day, Hamels makes everyone associated with the Phillies forget their current predicament."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Heart Of Wilderness

How bad are the Phillies?  They can't even get rid of people!

The pitchers most likely to be traded by Thursday have been lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree in their last few outings diminishing their value to everyone including the team for which they currently ply their trade.

The Phils have reached the heart of the Wilderness and they will be wandering around in it for years to come.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fearless Prediction

If Ruben Amaro acquires Matt Kemp the Phillies will spend another decade in the wilderness.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Polls Are Open

The annual meeting of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Reality-Check Club of America, Ruben Amaro presiding, will meet this week at Citizens Bank Park.  Poll watchers have been speculating for weeks how the membership will vote but as of this date no consensus has been reached.

What should be clear to those card-carrying diehards who still cling to the notion the Phils can still make a run at the playoffs in 2014 is that this past Sunday's thrashing by the Nationals proved the Phightins [sic] are only headed in one direction and it is due South!

The week before the Phillies brought home some fools' gold from Milwaukee.  Learned observers knew it would only take a series at home to put the boys back on track, and, sure enough, the friendly confines proved anything but as visiting Washington took two of three.

The case for rebuilding is really a simple one:  the Phillies are so bad and have so many problems to correct they had better get started without further delay or the good people of the Delaware Valley are looking at another lost decade...or two.

The first step in the right direction would be a coup d'etat, firing General Manager Amaro.  Rube has been on the job long enough now to demonstrate his lack of judgement.  He has saddled the franchise with ruinous contracts, depleted its farm system, and shown little acumen when evaluating talent.

Inquiring minds will be watching the vote tally closely.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

All That Glitters....

The Phils have won five straight.  Whoopee!!

I'm hardly one to minimize taking four in a row from the Brewers in Milwaukee (OK, I should point out Milwaukee was already tumbling back to earth when the Phillies arrived, but, hey.....).  Then they come home at stomp Washington (which also has been less than impressive of late).  It should be noted the Phillies hate home cookin' this season.

Anyway, the streak lifts the Phils from 14 games under .500 to 9 under.  (Math was never my strong suit but even I can figure this one out.)

So, if you, let alone Ruben Amaro, are tempted to think maybe these guys shouldn't start unloading a lot of veterans at the trade deadline, I have a suggestion for you:  DON'T!!!!!

Amaro isn't much of a judge of talent despite all those years watching the game.  He made a lot of foolish decisions about talent and money over the past several seasons desperately trying to go all in with the core of players held over from the glory years.  The problem has been four-fold:  the core has aged dramatically, the acquisitions have been less than stellar, the team is saddled with some crushing contracts, and the farm system is pretty much empty.

Now Amaro and Phils have arrived at another crossroads.  Five straight wins (forget the miserable series in Pittsburgh just before that when the Phils were themselves swept) may tempt Amaro to try and squeeze one more playoff appearance out of the core and bits and pieces he surrounded those players with.  It won't work.  The Phils aren't mathematically out of it, yet, because the rest of division has its own problems.  But make no mistake, the Phils aren't good and they need to begin the rebuilding immediately.

Amaro probably doesn't get that.  He's like the gambler who thinks the big pot is really just one more hand away.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pap Mixes Metaphors In With The Occasional Fast Ball

Let's face it, Jonathan Papelbon isn't overburdened.  No, I do not refer to his comment the other night that it is a "no brainer" to want to play for a contender.  Papelbon has been making it clear for more than a year he wants out of Philadelphia.  Once you have $50 million in the bank, winning IS everything.

Instead, I refer to his statement a day earlier regarding rumors circulating the Phillies were trying to trade him:  "I don't have a crystal eight ball," Pap replied to a reporter's query.

Now we know language isn't one of Papelbon's strong suits.  Heck, he probably just made it out of high school English as a first language.  For the record, Johnny boy, what you uttered is a mixed metaphor.  You see, it goes like this:

One is "behind the eight ball" or one does/does not possess "a crystal ball".  Not both.  Eight balls are decidedly black, Johnny, while crystal balls are clear.  One refers to the game of pool; the other to the game of chance.  Now, in his defense, Papelbon was probably recalling the Magic Eight Ball he owned as a high school senior.

According to Wikipedia, Johnny, here are the possible answers to that reporter's question:

The 20 answers inside a Magic 8 Ball are:
 It is certain
 It is decidedly so
 Without a doubt
 Yes definitely
 You may rely on it
 As I see it, yes
 Most likely
 Outlook good
 Signs point to yes
 Reply hazy try again
 Ask again later
 Better not tell you now
 Cannot predict now
 Concentrate and ask again
 Don't count on it
 My reply is no
 My sources say no
 Outlook not so good
 Very doubtful

Thursday, July 03, 2014

When Do They Get The Message?

It's no fun watching the Phillies play.  As a matter of fact, it hasn't been fun to watch them for two seasons and counting.

They are an incomplete team on good days and an spent team on bad ones.  In between they get either good starting pitching, good relief pitching or the occasional offensive burst...but never all three and certainly not all three on the same day.

How much fun is it to watch Ryan Howard step to the plate with his .235 batting average?  How many more times will be treated to Dom Brown taking a route around his elbow to get to his thumb?

Chase Utley started off well.  Indeed, on the strength of his early season performance he will be elected to the All Star team, probably as the starter.  But Chase has slowed down considerably over the last five or six weeks.  His average has plummeted to a still respectable .288 but hardly the robust .333 of earlier days.  He's tired of playing his usual all out game and he's probably tired of losing.  The other night he dropped two balls.  Never a great fielder, he nonetheless was never prone to mental mistakes.

Cole Hamels pitches up and down...literally.  He gave up three home runs the other night.  Last night he walked four batters in five innings.  He has a losing record...again.  He has pitched well enough to have a winning record, but that would require he pitched for a team that had not been shut out 11 times before the All Star break.

The Phillies cannot pitch consistently.  They definitely cannot hit period.  And they do not field well.

They need to begin rebuilding without delay.

They won't

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Half Empty

Soccer fans of the domestic persuasion point to the enthusiasm for this year's World Cup as evidence their favorite sport is finally catching on broadly throughout the land.

Yesterday's loss to Belgium should correct that misconception.

The US side was badly outplayed and out-coached in yesterday's game.  Belgium controlled the ball for an overwhelming portion of the game and was thwarted from winning in regulation time by the heroics of US goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was sensational.

Otherwise, the US could not control the ball, move the ball or threaten much.  Commentators like to point out the Americans play excellent defense...and for the most part they do.  But let it be said by this viewer, hardly an expert but, hey, this is the internet, defense is easier to play!  There, I said it!

It's much harder to control the ball and mount an offense then it is to head a ball away from your goal or kick it out to who-knows-where.  And in this regard, control, the Americans were absolutely inept versus the much more skilled Belgians.  Without Howard's heroics the game could easily have been 4-0 in regulation time.

The Americans played an extraordinarily dull game...again except for Howard.  They gave the ball up at midfield easily.  They were one and done on their few advances deep into Belgian territory.

Were viewers going to remember Howard or the ineptitude of his teammates?  The bet here is they will remember the latter.