I went all negative on the Phillies in the off-season, warning about the intelligence of spending all their free agent money to shore up the closer position when they had one of the best starting rotations in baseball…while also knowing both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard would be down for a significant period of time and assuredly unsure of their abilities to contribute meaningful minutes once activated…and also while harboring a roster full of hitters better known for all-or nothing swings as opposed to intelligent ones. With all that, I was determined to not write of their wretched start until the weather started to warm up, the team was reassembled…and they had put together a serious winning streak.
Or, until they had played 81 games.
9 games below .500. 11 games out of first place.
Manager Charlie Manuel after being swept yesterday by the Marlins…“I don’t know how much more I can say.”
Neither do I Charlie.
During a recent cooking show I was reminded of the fact Blue Crabs, Stone Crabs, Dungeness Crabs, King Crabs…you pick one…Crabs have a 360 degree field of vision. They also can see things twice as clearly as humans.
General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is acting quite crabby these days, but he certainly didn’t display any Crab-like vision or comprehension of the entire playing field for 2012 when he sent out this team to compete with really nothing more than starting pitching and a closer.
In June, with Roy Halladay sidelined…they went 9-19. The franchise’s worst month since Jimmy Rollins’ first 30 days as a big leaguer, September of 2000. The Phillies lost 9 of 11 games started by either Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee. Oh, Lee is 0-5 by the way.
Ironically, just before Interleague play ended for the season and Jim Thome was immediately dispatched to the AL be a DH…some local fans had an “inspired” idea on how the Phillies could jump-start the season…at least on the road. The thought was Jim should be retained by the club (even though his back is so bad he can’t play first for even an inning)…serve as the starting first baseman when visitors…get an at-bat in the top of the first out of the third slot…and maybe help the Phils score an early run or two before being substituted for once the team took to fielding positions in the bottom of the first.
At least some people are thinking out loud about how to make this mess work.
Things are so bad here, a radio commercial aired just this morning for a car dealership featuring the voice of the Phillies’ Jim Thome…a Baltimore Oriole now. Apparently no one noticed. It ran again. It IS getting harder and harder to notice this team. As I pointed out before, this team was in need of a full inspection and more than a couple new parts in the off-season, not just an oil change and a tune-up.
If the team has any realistic chance to sign Cole Hamels, they need to do it now. Even if this season is a goner, the verdict is still out on Utley (who just returned a few days ago) and Howard (who should return in a few days). Not to mention making sure Halladay is intact.
And that now overdue inspection the Phillies needed before the year started can belatedly begin with the second half of 2012…and new parts can be ordered as needed during the upcoming off-season.
Assuming those diagnostic reports are read properly…with Crab-like clarity and a complete field of vision for the components that need replaced.