The reasons are numerous. The disabled list has been a crowded place. Polanco and Utley are recent additions to the list of Rollins, Cooch, Lidge, Madson, Happ, etc. Injuries have lead to a rotating lineup full of reserves and AAA players, resulting in an inconsistent and often times struggling offense that went through an historic dry spell in late May. There are a lot of people that feel that once the lineup is back intact and the team is scoring runs in bunches, the fortunes of this team will change dramatically. While I agree that the team will be better when all their starters are back and healthy (who wouldn’t think that…) the real fate of this team lies in their pitching, or the lack thereof.
The offense last season was terrific. Runs and home runs seemed to come by the truckload. And the result was a return to the World Series…and a loss to a team that had superior pitching. The Phils had the best pitcher in the series (Lee) but the Yankees had better starting depth and a better bullpen.
If, as a Phillies fan, you are satisfied with possibly making the playoffs and don’t care if they win a World Series, you can be happy with this team as currently constructed. But if you want to win another WFC, you should want this team to improve their pitching.
Also, despite all their apparent offensive woes, except for that horrid stretch in late May, the hitting hasn’t been that bad. The pitching, however, is what is really separating them from their NL East counterparts to this point. Check out the hitting and pitching rankings for the three top teams in the division.
Phillies Mets BravesNow compare the Phillies of this season to last year’s team.
Run/Gm 7 13 10
Avg 17 13 15
OPS 9 19 17
ERA 14 6 5
Opp Run/Gm 11 6 5
Opp OPS 20 19 4
Phils ‘10 Phils ‘09Roy Halladay has been great. Cole Hamels has been okay. And Jamie Moyer has exceeded expectations. So what is different this year and why is the pitching worse? Four reasons: 1) JA Happ has only thrown twice because of his elbow 2) Joe Blanton has been atrocious 3) half the time Kyle Kendrick pitches he’s terrible and 4) Lidge, Madson, Bastardo and Baez have been really bad.
Run/Gm 7 4
Avg 17 24
OPS 9 4
ERA 14 7
Opp Run/Gm 11 7
Opp OPS 20 16
As for the offense, the Utley injury changes everything...
So what do the Phils need to do to solve their woes?
Offense – Before the Utley injury, I would say they really wouldn't have to do anything. But those offensive numbers should take a hit and to be honest, now the team DOES have a run scoring problem. Amaro needs to get a decent utility infielder/bench player a notch or two above Jauan Castro or Wilson Valdez. They can't throw those two guys out there (or Dobbs...) for two months. After that, they need to get healthy. Except for Raul Ibanez, every other key player is near preseason expectations. And Domonic Brown is not replacing Ibanez this season. And he can't play second base. Sorry.
Pitching – 1) They need another starter. Getting Cliff Lee back would be great but at the least this team needs a quality #2/#3 starter that can give them what Happ gave them last year. If that means Happ coming back and continuing the success he’s already had, then fine. But if they don’t think he’s coming back soon, or that he will be that productive, they have to make a run at a trade. 2) Get some bullpen help. Even if Madson comes back, they need one more arm. And getting rid of Baez at the same time might be a good idea, too. 3) Jump in a time machine, go back to last winter and don’t trade Cliff Lee or give Joe Blanton an extension.