What will it take before fans and Phillies front office finally listen to the media? For months we have been shouting from the rooftops that we love the Four Aces (Phantastic Phour, etc.) but the offense will have trouble scoring runs. Don’t want to listen? That’s fine. Enjoy your three game offensive orgy against the Washington Sad Sacks (26-20 so far) or the Houston No-Shows (21-11) because that merely clouds the issue. Even the best pitching still needs some offense to win the game. Want proof? Attend a soccer game or go to CBP to watch a pitching clinic. “M” is for the many runs they can’t score…”O” is for the runs not on the board…
Cliff Lee turned in a stellar performance against a division rival, proving that he could mow down sixteen of the Atlanta Braves batters. Lee only walked one batter but he did allow 9 of the 12 hits and 3 earned runs before exiting with a 3-0 deficit and 16 strikeouts. The Phillies supported Lee with two hits (Victorino and Polanco) over the entire game against a combination of Atlanta’s Derek Lowe (6 IP), Eric O’Flaherty (1 IP), Jonny Venters (1 IP) and Craig Kimbrel (1 IP). Cole Hamels had two hits in one game this week. Lee lasted longer than Lowe tossing 117 pitches before giving way to JC Romero and Danys Baez (the Marx Brothers of the Phillies bullpen – David Herndon had been the third). The Braves scored two meaningless insurance runs in the 9th adding insult to injury (and defeat) making this game seem even less competitive than it had been at 3-0.
Last Sunday night (the night of the Bin Laden news), the Phillies and Mets put on a roaring display of offensive futility on national television. Both teams slogged through 14 innings before the Mets (11-16) finally won the battle of attrition, eking out a marginal victory 2-1. Both teams combined for 21 hits using 12 pitchers and emptying their benches to reach a sad and woeful climax. The most exciting element of this game was the wave of patriotic pride swelling in the crowd as news spread of Bin Laden’s demise. The crowd began chanting “USA…USA” when they learned of the situation from their iPhones and mobile devices.
The Phillies as a team are currently ranked 13th in MLB with 139 runs (4.48 RPG), 277 hits (8.9 HPG), 411 TB (13.25 PG), 135 RBI, 26 HR and a Team BA of .260 in 31 games. Not only does that sound respectable, but combined with the team’s 3.09 ERA and 21 wins, it seems to be a solid combination. Actually this is an area where statistical anomaly needs to be clarified. Phillies lead or are close to leading the majors in Quality Starts (24), CG (4), Shutouts (5, tied for 2nd, but have been shutout themselves 3 times), Strikeouts (270) and Batting Average Against (.233) and are way behind the curve in saves, bases on balls, holds and WHIP.
Throw out the handful of games where the Phils put up a crooked number (11-0 over Mets on 4/7, 10-2 over ATL 4/9, 10-3 over NYM 4/29) and that’s 31 runs basically wasted on games that could have been won with a total of six. Now the average runs per game is more like 3.5, which is modest even with the arms of Hamels, Halladay, Lee and Oswalt.
Won’t someone please think about the offense? Placido Polanco (.374, 21 RBI, 60 TB) Ryan Howard (.267, 29 RBI, 6 HR, 59 TB) and Shane Victorino (.290, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 7 SB, 60 TB) are doing what they can. Jimmy Rollins (.285, 7 RBI, 7 SB, 45 TB), Raul Ibanez (.208 but 8 hits in 12 AB this week including HR) and Ben Francisco (.245, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 43 TB) have been streaky but more help is needed. It is time to stop turning against our own players’ yeoman efforts and simply realizing that this team is missing one very important piece. Deny it all you like. Slap some lipstick on a pig and call it pretty but it still won’t fly.
This team needs a true #5 hitter and a full-time outfielder. Playing this double platoon with Ibanez, Mayberry, Francisco and Gload is a stopgap measure. Even with Domonic Brown and Chase Utley healthy they are not the answer needed. Utley is a three hitter at best and we don’t know if he will be 100%. Brown is the Phillies #3 hitter of the future and for now should not be asked to carry the franchise. This team needs to decide if they want to win 100 games and watch the World Series on TV (God no, the dreaded FOX coverage!!!!) or if they want to finally get their second championship to pair with that 2008 run (don’t forget 1980).
Ideally the Phillies need a right-handed hitting outfielder with power to protect Howard in the lineup and drive in runs. Ben Francisco, Raul Ibanez and John Mayberry are complimentary players who in that role will prove extremely effective. Matt Stairs is not in the Hall of Fame but his role in Phillies history is secure. Let Ibanez, Gload, Mayberry and Francisco have their moments in the sun but bring us someone who can drive the baseball to the Sun! OK we’ll settle for the Moon. Note that no one mentioned the name of the well-paid, scraggly-bearded gentleman who patrols right field for the Washington Nationals? What we seek is the real deal. Ryan Braun is not available (after signing a contract to play for Milwaukee until the cows come home) but a Braun type of player. Some of the names have been bandied about including Ethier (LAD) or Sizemore (CLE) but the names that the Phillies have been considering are third-tier talent at best. Management wants to shop at the Dollar Store for Aaron Rowand or Jermaine Dye rather than pony up for Michael Young, Magglio Ordonez or Miguel Cabrera. Troy Glaus or Jim Thome would help a little but we’re looking for a true middle of the lineup, blood-thirsty ball-whumper! Know anyone like that?
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org