I really want to do a post on the Eagles (still in the works), but the recent play of the Phillies demands comment. I can sum it up in 3 words:
What. The. Fuck.
After just a brutal winter for Philly sports fans, the promising Phillies came along with their MVP in Ryan Howard, the improved starting rotation, and a comparable lineup to the reigning NL East champion Mets. The team unexpectedly surged towards a playoff spot last year only to be rebuffed at the end of the year. Jimmy Rollins, the de-facto leader of this bunch, even called out the Mets in the press stating that the Phillies were the team to beat. I mean, the Phillies could not have teased us more with their potential than they have teased us in the last 9 months.
Then this baseball season began. Now this. One and Six to start the season.
I simply do not understand how a group of players such as this, who have been together for a few years now, do not seem to understand the importance of starting the season on a winning note (or at the very least, remaining even). Let's review the recent history of slow starts:
2004: Started 1 and 6. Finished 86-76, 2nd in NL East
2005: Started 3 and 6. Finished 88-74, 2nd in NL East
2006: Started 1 and 6. Finished 85-77, 2nd in NL East
2007: Started 1 and 6. Finished: ?????
Notice the trend? Slow start = looking up some other team's skirt. It's not too difficult to figure out.
You know what's worse? The way they dropped their 6th loss, by giving up 7 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to the despised New York Mets. The sight of the Mets and their douche bag fans celebrating at the Phillies expense is both nauseating and frustrating. If the Phillies want to spare themselves some grief from the home fans when they return from this road trip, they better take the next 2 games at Shea Stadium. Otherwise, this overly sensitive bunch of Phillies players will know what real fan anger sounds like.
To me, the following should be considered fair game to be on GM Pat Gillick's mind right now:
1.) Make Charlie Manual the sacrificial lamb. It's not like this is all Manual's fault, although I do believe he is overmatched as a manager in every way (i.e.--on and off the field dealing with the media). These players like Manual too much and acquiescing to them by firing Larry Bowa a few years back did not help them as their record has been rather consistent since. Firing Manual will remind them that the bar has been raised and the safety wheels of a doddering Grandpa-like manager have been removed. This team has weaknesses in the lineup and in the bullpen that will take longer to fix, but their little comfort zone with Manual should be removed and soon. The manager can be fired now and replaced with either Jimy Williams or Davy Lopes with little ill-effect.
2.) Turn Jon Lieber into bullpen help. This is obvious, but it needs to be done. That said, I understand it needs to be done in it's own time so we get full market value for Lieber, which is exactly how "Stand" Pat Gillick will approach it. Eventually, a good team (my bet is one of the teams that is going through these snow postponements) will lose a starter for a prolonged period of time and will be desperate for an experienced starter. Or we may lose a starter for a prolonged period of time and need an experienced starter.
3.) Figure out if Michael Bourn can play. He's made the roster out of spring training, so obviously someone likes him. Then ask: "Is he better than either Shane Victorino or Aaron Rowand?". If not, then Bourn should have his roster spot cleared by sending him to AAA and a veteran bat with some pop off the bench should be acquired. If he is better than either of them, then either Victorino or Rowand should be moved. To me, Victorino and Bourn are the same player....fast guys with no pop in their bat. Rowand does have a bit of pop and his grittiness is definitely welcome.
Who knows? Maybe today's day off will help. Somehow, I doubt it.