I always like to listen to Glen Macnow and Ray Didinger on WIP on Saturday mornings. The two seem to gel well together and really know their stuff regardless of what sport they’re talking about. Last Saturday I happened to be tuned in as they were discussing the Phillies. Ray made the point that he usually doesn’t look up at the standings until Memorial Day to evaluate where teams are and how they’re doing. With this past weekend being Memorial Day weekend, Ray came to the logical conclusion that the Phillies are who they are which is a roughly .500 baseball team that’s going to look half decent sometimes and lost at other times.
| Hunter Martin/Getty Images|
Josh Beckett celebrates his no-hitter against
the Phillies with his Dodger teammates.
The last three games are a great example of this. Sunday, the Phillies, inexplicably, on their home field, got no-hit by Dodgers’ aging veteran Josh Beckett. They showed no signs of life. The next day the Phillies broke out offensively in a 9-0 blanking of Colorado. But last night, they looked like the offensively inept Phillies again losing 6-2 to Colorado setting up for tonight’s rubber game.
While there are still four months of baseball left, as I write this on May 28, I think this is who the Phillies are. They’re going to get your hopes up one night only to crush those hopes shortly thereafter and I’m not falling for it. It’s who they are until they prove otherwise.
Coming into the season there were lots of questions about Ruben Amaro’s decisions to keep the veteran nucleus of the Phillies together. What’s particularly frustrating about the Phillies 22-27 record through 49 games of the season is that the veterans on the team have provided decent production. Chase Utley looks like an All-Star, Jimmy Rollins can still play great defense at shortstop, his discipline at the plate has significantly improved as his on-base percentage is up to a career high of .356, and Ryan Howard could very well wind up with over 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs this season if he stays healthy. Marlon Byrd is batting .289 and has proved to be one of the better moves by Ruben Amaro Jr. and AJ Burnett has posted a respectable 3.51 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. While Jonathan Papelbon takes a lot of heat in the city he’s converted 13 of 14 save chances and has a 1.96 ERA.
But what’s disappointing is that the Phillies bullpen has blown far too many leads late in games, and the younger players on the roster are not doing their job. Domonic Brown, hailed as one of the Phillies top prospects and the future of the organization while the Phillies were busy winning NL East division titles, is hitting .202. Cody Asche has looked lost at times at third base. Ben Revere has struggled mightily to get on base for a man who prides himself on speed and someone who has been given lots of chances to lead off this season. So where does that leave them?
The Phillies have a group of veterans producing but not well enough to carry the team to the top of the standings, and they don’t have much promise regarding young talent on the major league roster right now. You might as well keep your fingers crossed and hope the veteran production continues but it’s hard to see that carrying the Phillies anywhere this season considering the veterans aren’t getting the help they need and even when the Phillies have leads late in games, nothing is safe considering the path to Jonathan Papelbon is often a nightmare and right now the Phillies are without one of their more consistent starting pitchers in Cliff Lee.
| Yong Kim/Philly.com staff photographer|
Ruben Amaro Jr. should not remain as Phillies general manager
past this season. The Phillies are nothing more than a .500 team.
So while the Phillies are only five games behind in the NL East until I see some more consistency this looks like a third straight season without the playoffs and the future looks less and less promising. Standing pat when the recent past hasn’t yielded favorable results usually isn’t a good idea. Look at the other professional sports teams in Philadelphia. The Eagles brought in Chip Kelly after a 4-12 season under Andy Reid. Kelly completely changed the culture within the organization and won the NFC East last year and the Eagles look to be favored to do so again this year. The Sixers brought in Sam Hinkie as their general manager and he totally blew up the roster and now there is some hope for the future of the organization. Since their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, the Flyers have only won two playoff series so they decided to move on this season with Craig Berube as head coach and after the season hired Ron Hextall to take over as general manager. The Phillies changed managers last season but the core of the roster is largely the same and Ruben Amaro Jr. is still the general manager. After this season, it seems only logical more drastic changes be made.