Monday, April 09, 2007
So what’s wrong with the Phillies? Not a whole lot. Offensively, the Phillies are hitting fine. They rank second in the N.L. in On-Base-Percentage (OBP) at .360, and they are sixth in slugging percentage. Despite having all of those base-runners they are only seventh in the N.L. in runs scored. The simple issue here is that Ryan Howard is struggling at the plate. No home runs and his first extra-base hit of the season – a double – was yesterday against the Marlins. Those hits will come.
The Phillies top performers at the moment are Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins. Jimmy Rollins spectacular inside-the-park home run against the Marlins made the Baseball Tonight and Sportscenter’s highlight reels, but Rollins has been turning in a solid, consistent performance thus far this season. Six runs, six RBI, three home runs, two doubles, and seven walks against five strikeouts. Without Rollins, the Phillies offense would have ground to a screeching halt.
Burrell deserves credit – not that anyone would give him any – for going 8-for-21 with five walks (.500 OBP) and for hitting a home run and two doubles thus far this season (.619 SLG). Ryan Howard shouldn’t have any excuses with Utley and a red-hot Burrell hitting behind him.
The revamped pitching staff has gotten hit hard. They have the second-worst ERA and the rank near the bottom in walks allowed, despite being third in strikeouts. Brett Myers got roughed up a little after his nice Opening Day start, which I wouldn’t read too much into. Adam Eaton got hit hard, which he needs to bounce back from, but otherwise, the Phillies pitching issues are basically what people suspected they would be: the bullpen is weak. I’d withhold judgment on the rotation until Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber return.
So tonight the Phillies send Cole Hamels to the mound against John Maine to avoid repeating history. As many have said throughout the ages, those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. I am certain that the Phillies are aware of their recent struggles and have no wish to repeat another 1-6 start. Thankfully they send Hamels to the mound to duel with a pitcher who is clearly inferior to him. Let’s see if the Phillies can light Maine up and cool the Mets hot bats down. 2-5 would be sweet.
This ownership refuses to let basball people run things.