No, it hasn’t been awful, but then again it hasn’t inspired much in the way of making a guy want to compose lyrical poems or even compound sentences.
Instead, with one month effectively in the books, the Phillies have been one big shrug of the shoulders combined with an audible, “Meh.” Since starting out 7-1 against doormats Washington and Houston, the Phillies are 5-8 against Florida, Atlanta, Arizona and San Francisco. With the first-place—yeah, first place—New York Mets in town for a big weekend series, the undertone of apprehension is palpable.
It’s not for nothing, either. Take away Saturday’s game where Roy Halladay pitches and why would anyone want to write sentences or compose poetry about the Phillies? The truth is when the offense can beat up on some subpar pitching, they are a good team. Otherwise…
“We’re not playing good at all and we haven’t been good for quite a while,” Manuel said.
“We squeezed out a game the other day in San Francisco and we stayed with them and battled, then we caught a break and won the game. But it wasn’t a really pretty game, we just haven’t played good. I’m concerned about our pitching.”
Granted, the season hasn’t really hit its stride yet. One month down and 22 games into it, there is still much to learn about the Phillies. That’s certainly the case considering Jimmy Rollins has played in just seven games so far and is still nursing a calf injury. No knock on Rollins’ replacements, but the offense definitely takes on a different look without its leader.
“With Jimmy out you can see the balance leave us and we become a weaker offensive team,” Manuel said. “Rollins means more to us than you’d think. When you sit down and you see everything that he can do and what he contributes to our club, he’s a great player.”Still, there are a few trends developing with the Phillies that might have Charlie Manuel calling up to general manager Ruben Amaro to ask for some reinforcements. The fact is that if Halladay is taken out of the equation, the Phillies’ pitching has been horrible. To soften that a bit, maybe we can just call it inconsistent.
Certainly Joe Blanton’s and J.A. Happ’s injuries have been a blow and the Phillies didn’t expect to have both Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick in the same rotation. However, take away Halladay and his 4-1 record and 1.80 ERA and the Phils’ starters were 6-4 with a 5.08 ERA with 102 hits in 88 2/3 innings heading into Friday night’s game against the Mets.
Yeah, Halladay has a way of making teams look better than they really are, but even he had to think Cole Hamels would be better than he has been. After all, when Amaro made the deal to send Cliff Lee to Seattle it was as if a challenge had been offered to Hamels.
“Man up!” the trade of Lee declared.
Hamels has two of the seven wins against the Nationals, but is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in his last three starts. On the Phils’ staff, only Kendrick has been worse.
Again, it’s early. There are 140 games left to play and it would be a small miracle if the Phillies’ offense does not carry them back into the playoffs for a fourth straight season. But with the roster looking the way it does right now, the Phillies’ playoff chances don’t look so hot. They are going to need some help.
“We have a lot of guys hurt and we have a lot of new guys,” Manuel said. “They have to get used to playing the way we play and they have to get used to what we play for and what we stand for. People come to see us because of who we are and the way we play and when we get away from the things that I think made us, I get very concerned.”Where will the help come from? Well, Pedro Martinez is an obvious choice, though Pedro by himself hardly seems to be enough.
So why don’t we throw a name out there just to get the chatter going…
Since the Astros clearly have some sort of a rebuilding thang going on down there, dealing Oswalt can free up a big hunk of cash. Sure, the Phillies want to stay within the parameters of a self-imposed salary cap and picking up Oswalt for the rest of 2010 as well as the $16 million he’s owed for 2011 would mean Amaro would have to allow Jayson Werth to walk or deal away another ace to Seattle.
Nevertheless, until Hamels becomes a sure thing in the rotation, Pedro and Oswalt just might be what it takes to get the Phillies back to the World Series. Maybe then we can get back to composing those jaunty odes about the local nine.
“We can have more life, we can have more get-up-and-go to us,” Manuel offered.