We are eleven games into the season and I've been sitting back and taking in all the action...and reaction. The Phils have, as their nature entails, started out very slowly in April. And also according to nature, Phans across the globe are up in arms about the state of affairs. Many have already started blowing up the life rafts in preparation to jump ship. I've saved my rant until now, and here goes:
Some things are not worth complaining about, like:
1. The Phils offense has started very slowly (save for the hitting machine Pat Burrell and slugger Jimmy Rollins) which is unfortunate and relatively unpredictable. Fine. It will pick up. Victorino, Utley, and Howard will not hit less than .220 all year. The team OBP is awesome, which should make the Abreu-lovers out there very happy, because as they know, OBP is most important factor in scoring runs. Unless of course the team batting average with RISP is lower than Kris Kross' wasteline. But remember, this lineup has proven to be able to score plenty of runs without being spectacular with RISP. It too has to get better. It's just too early to complain.
2. The starting pitching has been okay. Bad starts by Eaton and a minor-league pitcher (can't complain about AA pitchers getting hit) are offset by some decent outings by Myers, Hamels, and Moyer. With at least competent hitting with RISP and average bullpen work, this starting staff would have some more wins.
3. The bullpen. I know what you are thinking, "But the bullpen sucks." And you are right. But complaining about the sucking bullpen has to stop. This pen has been atrocious for three years. And we all knew that they would pitch accordingly again this year. Blowing late inning leads and losing extra inning games should be expected, yet everytime it happens everyone seems shocked. Expect it.
Of course, some things are well worth complaining about, like:
1. Pat Gillick's job of putting together this year's bullpen and making it better, or the lack thereof. I give him credit, Philly hasn't seen a starting pitching staff with this much potential in over a decade. The lineup looks solid enough to score plenty of runs to win games. Overall, a solid job. But that bullpen. No excuses in not acquiring bullpen arms this off-season. And very few excuses for not trying to make this pen better now. (Bauer and Rosario don't count. They are AAA pitchers.) I'm asking the question, do they want to win this year? If so, they need to give up some players (Rowand, Lieber, anyone in the minors) for quality relievers. Nothing is going to happen now because no team wants to give up good players yet, this early in the season. We just have to pray in two months the Phils are still in it when the bullpen arms race heats up, and that Gillick does what is right.
2. Chris Wheeler. Listening to him is almost as nauseating and frustrating as watching Ryan Madson warm up in the bullpen. He is a disgrace to broadcasting and to the Phillies.
3. The lack of a Charlie Manuel firing . Relatively speaking, he's getting a free pass. Especially on the topic of batting average with RISP. If you shake out the cobwebs, you may remember that was one of the biggest complaints against the Great Larry Bowa was that he was such a red-ass that the players were too uptight to produce in pressure situations. Well, in comes Uncle Charlie Retard and his golly-gee-shucks approach to clubhouse management, and all will be better. Wrong. As I wrote a year ago talking about the first two years of the Manuel Debacle, "His ineptitude at managing a baseball team, is frustrating to no end...His strong point, being a "players manager" that will maximize player potential...is a myth. Players that struggled under Bowa continue to stuggle, regardless." This has not been a popular opinion. Despite being more screwed up than Tara Reid's plastic surgery, there were people who supported Manuel for "Manager of the Year" the last two years! But recently I see a change. Over at Beerleaguer, author Jason Weitzel wrote, "if the Phillies can’t play loose, focused baseball, Manuel’s alleged specialty...isn’t it naive to expect anything more than the same results again this season? Isn't the best word to describe Manuel's status something close to "pointless?" Welcome to the Dark Side, grab yourself a beer and stay awhile. Overall, he provides nothing for this team and has somehow managed to stay around longer than anybody who has underachieved this badly in this City.
4. People who complain too much. I've been purposely avoiding the Bipolar Phlogosphere for the last week, because I don't have enough money to afford my own lithium. Whine, complain, pout...repeat...then rejoice like it's a party for one win, yeah...then whine, complain, pout the next day when the bullpen blows one.
Freddy Garcia v. John Maine
The long awaited debut of Garcia was delyaed one more day by the rain. And could be delayed again by rain. Freaking rain.