I've been as consistent in keeping up with this blog as the Phillies have been through the MLB season so far (which is to say I haven't been consistent, but neither have the Phillies). So, before we get any further into the month of June, today seems like a good day to go back and take a look at the merry month of May and see how our Phils did by the numbers....
The number of wins the Phils pulled down in May 2007. Not for anything, but it should have been more and there were certainly opportunities. Unfortunately, the Phils were 2 - 7 in 1-run ballgames, with a foul mixture of poor situational hitting and a crappy bullpen. These wins gave the Phils a grand total of 26 wins for the year; good for 3rd place in NL East. As of May 31st, the Phils were 8.5 games behind the division leading Mets, who can seemingly do no wrong.
The number of wins the Phils were able to get against the freaking Arizona Diamondbacks in the 6 games they played against the D-backs in the month of May. As of today, the D-backs are 1/2 game behind the Dodgers in NL West and they have the Phillies to thank for that.
This was the batting average of bench player and Ryan Howard fill-in Greg Dobbs. Dobbs, whose presence on the team I was beginning to question, kicked in some excellent games for the Phils while Howard was on the DL. Dobbs also showed good power, with 5 home runs during May. This performance will definitely merit some more starts around the infield for the left-handed swinging Dobbs, who can apparently play both 2nd and 3rd base.
This was the May batting average for my favorite Phillies whipping boy, Pat "The Broken Bat" Burrell. There are two starting PITCHERS who had better batting averages than Burrell during May (Cole Hamels - .250; F. Garcia - .273). Burrell is the leader of a handful of players that are simply killing this team to date.
The number of wins accumulated during May by the most exciting young pitcher in the league, Cole Hamels. He has simply held this starting pitching staff together on his own and is clearly the ace of the team. Hamels also accumulated 49 strikeouts and as of this writing, is 3rd in the majors in strikeouts with 91, which puts him behing Eric Bedard of the Orioles and Jake Peavy of the Padres. His 8 wins overall at this point of the season leads the National League and is second overall in the Majors (behind John Lackey of the Angels). With just 2 months and a couple of days into the season so far, it's fair to say that Hamels has been the MVP of the team to date.
The number of losses sustained by Freddy Garcia during the month of May. While Garcia's numbers aren't completely brutal (he had an ERA of 4.17 during May, which was comparable to Hamels), he certainly has not pitched as he is capable of at this point. He seems to have trouble getting past the 6th inning (only past it once to date) and simply does not look like the innings eating strikeout pitcher the Phillies thought they were getting. I could have easily hung the starting pitching goat horns on either Jon Lieber or Jamie Moyer as well, but neither had the expectations coming into this year that Garcia had.
The number of home runs during the month of May that Wes Helms hit. It is also the same number of home runs he has for the entire year, which is also the same number I've hit so far. Wes Helms should be careful or he'll find even more time on the bench, as the Phils have been trotting out Greg Dobbs at 3rd base lately in addition to Abraham Nunez (.338 average during May 2007). Third base should be a position to produce offensive power numbers, even in a platoon situation, and Helms is simply not getting it done to justify his deficiencies in the field (which are many).
High point of May 2007:
Clearly, the 3 game sweep of the Braves during Memorial Day weekend after a near disastrous series in Miami against the Marlins. The Phils had trouble with the Braves all year till that point and they really smacked the Braves around by scoring 27 runs in 3 games to finally establish some semblance of superior play against a good opponent. Winning 3 of 4 games against the emerging Milwaukee Brewers comes a close second....they were one of the hotter teams in baseball coming into Philly and they got beat pretty good.
Low Point of May 2007:
This is easy....the events of May 23rd against the Marlins. They actually won the game 8 -7, but it didn't feel much like a win.
Myers was injured in the second game of the Marlins series in the 9th inning of a game that featured more bizarre 9th inning twists than I've ever seen. It was a non-save situation in the 9th, with the Phils up by a score of 7 - 3. The Phils brought in Brett Myers, who to that point, had an ERA of under 1 working out of the bullpen, and the game started to unravel in the strangest ways. It started with Myers giving up a couple of extremely fluky hits that were essentially popups that found open spaces. After a solid base hit by Dan Uggla, two of the biggest defensive blunders of the season took place over the course of two batters (a big one by Greg Dobbs and a worse one by Rod Barajas), and by that point, the lead was all but gone. The next batter proved to be the dingleberry on top of what was a huge excremental sundae when Brett Myers threw what turned out to be his last pitch of the night and immediately clutched at his right arm. Many Phillies fans could think of only one pitcher at that point, and that pitcher was "Tommy John" (as in, "Brett Myers would need "Tommy John" surgery and would be out for the year"). Clay Condrey came in and shutdown the Marlins to pick up the win, but it didn't feel very much like a victory. Myers went on to be put on the 15-day DL; the injury, a strained shoulder, is described as not as bad as originally feared.
This injury puts a crimp in any plans they had to to have Myers keep the bullpen together till they could ship Lieber out of town. It also hurts an already hurting bullpen, with Tom Gordon still on the shelf.
In addition, I think the defensive blunder by Rod Barajas pretty much cost him from getting any major playing time in the immediate future. Barajas, during the 9th inning debacle, had a chance to tag out a runner that was clearly going to be out at the plate and end the ballgame. Instead of getting down to block the plate, however, Barajas stood up and allowed the baserunner to slide beneath him, which he was successfully able to do. It was a brutal mistake at an awful time. Furthermore, it cast Barajas in the somewhat cowardly light of wanting to put avoidance of contact with the runner ahead of preventing the tying run. Bundle this stunt with Barajas' weak .212 average and you've got yourself a seat on the bench.