Those who know me know that I'm one of the most optimistic people around. This is especially true when it comes to the prospects of Philadelphia sports teams (and the Pitt Panthers!).
So the question today..."Is there any reason to be scared by the Phillies recent performance?"
The answer is...YES, be VERY afraid! It may not be something that can change any time soon.
It's definitely not time to panic and make vacation plans for October quite yet. As long as the Phillies continue to have hope that Utley and Howard will indeed return, there is great hope. But, it might be a good idea to try to fix things now before it gets too out of hand!
There is good news. Despite the horrific start and recent severe failures, the home town boys only find themselves 5 games back of first place. The teams above them in the standings are not anything you might confuse with the 1927 Yankees, so it's not like this is an insurmountable deficit to recover from.
And you would THINK that with a starting pitching rotation featuring Halladay, Lee, and Hamels it would be very difficult to screw things up, right? Yeah, you would think. But, man, oh man, the guys in the red pinstripes are doing their best to give us concern!
Obviously, the bullpen has been a HUGE problem that needs to be fixed ASAP; but with Papelbon, Bastardo, Herndon, Qualls and the other cast of characters, you'd think it would be better than it has been. I have a feeling you'll see better days from the bullpen as the season goes on and the pitchers have more than 10 innings under their belts.
The bigger issues to me are the other guys around the team who are not playing up to their abilities.
If you could morph Galvis and Orr together, you MIGHT get a second baseman than can hit AND field. As of now, you have two guys that simply CANNOT do one or the other.
The Jim Thome experiment has been a pretty bad idea so far; it might be a good time to cut bait and make better use of that roster spot. Like somebody who can do....ANYTHING?
Rollins, Victorino, and Mayberry are roughly hitting a combined .235. To me, here lies the biggest problem. With guys named Howard and Utley not in the lineup it's up to these 3 (among the others) to come through.
They have not.
Just hit .260 for goodness sake! Unless you're Freddy Galvis, it's not THAT hard to do, is it?
Of the three named above, the guy I have the most confidence in rebounding is Mayberry. He showed he can be clutch and fairly consistent last season down the stretch.
With Rollins, I'm pretty much ok with him just catching the ball, which he is still one of the best at doing. But, if he could contribute offensively at all, it would make a huge difference. When you already have a second baseman who is a "glove only guy" you can't afford to have a second one in the lineup unless the rest of the team is cranking out runs like they're going out of style....and that ain't happening.
That leaves us Vic. I'm sorry, but maybe it's time to part with our beloved Hawaiian. He is a commodity the Phillies could dangle for trade bait and possibly sure up the bullpen a little bit. Given he will be a free agent soon, you probably won't get a ton for him; but you might get something, and then you can use Juan Pierre in CF every day.
When Chase and Ryan come back, the team can hit the pavement running instead of flat on their face.
And let's give some credit where credit is due....Kudos to dudes named Pence, Ruiz, Polanco, and "The Three Aces" for carrying the team so far. Without them, things could be MUCH worse.
My guess is that the Phils will sit tight and try to correct from within and they will probably be able to make that happen. But…is there a reason to be concerned? Uhhhh yeah, there is....even I admit that.