The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Thursday, August 28, 2008 ·

We are nearing Labor Day weekend and the boys of summer are transforming into the boys of October, but are our Phils? After blowing the lead last night to split with the Mets, the Phillies fell back to .5 game behind the Mets in the division. Because of Tuesday night and a lethargic bullpen, Manuel's hand was forced to put in Rudy Seanez. I understand he was handcuffed, but the move I hated was replacing Pat Burrell for So Taguchi. Someone has to tell Charlie that Taguchi is simply not even better, so the move is worthless.

With only 29 games left, I am going to give you three different viewpoints on how you can look at the Phillies over the final weeks.

The Good (Optimism): The Phillies and Mets both have lost 60 games this season. The Phillies have one less win because they've played one less game. If the Phillies somehow take 3 of 4 from the Cubs and the Mets even take 2 of 3 from the Marlins, we'll still be tied from the division. Fans, we can tie the division up tonight and we'll be looking to Cole Hamels to do so against Ryan Dempster. We worried about setting up a Hamels-Santana match-up, but it might be better off that Hamels is pitching tonight. Kendrick pitched well enough for the team to get the win. Also, the Phillies may have found that left-handed reliever they needed earlier in games as Scott Eyre has pitched very well since coming over from the Cubs.

The Phillies have won 8 of 10 games and inched 2 games closer to the Mets in the past few weeks. Even with blowing yesterday's game, the Phillies are not going to win every single night. Jimmy Rollins is starting to heat up and that might trigger the rest of the lineup to stay hot. Whenever he slumps, the whole team slumps. Howard has homered in back to back games and even homered off the left-handed hitting Santana. That is good news as well. Also, Pedro Feliz is back in the lineup and he will provide some pop along with some much needed, great defense on the hot corner.

Also, outside of Moyer's bad start, the starting pitching has been doing well. Yesterday's bullpen debacle was more or less an effect of the night before. It is hard to say the bullpen is slumping now because frankly, everyone was tired and just about everyone was unavailble. If the game happened after September 1st, the Phillies would have likely held onto the win with expanded rosters.

Speaking of expanding the rosters, virtually everyone who could add to the Mets is already up. Guys like Murphy and so forth have been up with the Mets for awhile because they're depleted with injuries. The Phillies on the other hand will not have much to bring up, but we'll never have to see Carlos Ruiz play third base again this season. As of right now, the Phillies can call up: Joe Bisenius, TJ Bohn, Fabio Castro, Mike Cervanek, JA Happ, Adam Eaton, Brad Harman, Jason Jaramillo, Oscar Robles, and RJ Swindle. If any of their 5 players currently on the DL are moved to the 60-day, then the Phillies can replace them with another player. Sorry, if you were looking for guys like Marson, Carrasco, Golson, and Donald. The Phillies did not feel they would be ready at this point this season to place them on the 40-man roster. Zagurski has been moved to the 60-day DL, so it'll be interesting to see who replaces him on the 40-man roster.

Some of the pitchers may help the bullpen because Manuel will be able to use guys to get just one out and so forth. I would not expect much from the position players. There is still a full month of baseball left and hopefully the call-ups provide a sudden boost to this team. It's not over yet.

The Bad (Realist Outlook): If the Phillies do not take 3 of 4 from the Cubs this weekend, it is going to be tough. The Phillies could probably live with a split, but if they lose 3 or get swept, it is hard to see this team continuing to stay close in the division for much longer. The Phillies schedule is harder than the Mets at the end of the year like the Phillies schedule was easier than the Mets to start the year.

Sometimes it seems that like when the starter's pitch well, the bats die. When the bats are alive, the starter's struggle. When they both do well, the bullpen has a tough time lately. For the Phillies to continue to compete, they need to find some form of consistent unity among the three. Realistically, we've still won 8 of 10, but yesterday was a huge must-win. We can avenge the loss next weekend by taking 2 of 3 from the Mets at Shea, but if that does not happen, it might be tough to come back from it. The Mets have been rising in the second half, not dying like last year and they'll have September call-ups as well. Their role players have become key to their success this season, while everyone off the bench except Dobbs and Coste have provided little if anything.

Sometimes I feel that we're just wasting roster spots by holding onto So Taguchi and so on. They got rid of Andy Tracy thankfully as he was just another waste of a roster spot or dead weight on the team.

The bullpen has been very good this year, but they're getting very tired. Charlie Manuel needs to do a better job of managing the pen down the stretch or he is going to kill some arms. Sometimes he leaves pitchers in a lot longer than they should be. If you're going to try and stretch arms, stretch the starters who are used to throwing more pitches, not the pen.

Also, Charlie, don't pull Pat Burrell anymore. His bat in every inning is far more important than not having his defense...but wait, don't you want the guy in the game when he's among the leaders of outfield assists?

I am no fan of Pat Gillick or Charlie Manuel. I think as fans we could live with one or the other, but both of them together compounded with the rest of the front-office is devastating at times.

The Ugly (Pessimist): Even if the team somehow wins the division, it is hard to see this team doing much in the playoffs. The inconsistency factor plagues this team from top to bottom and their peaks and valleys are far too high and low. At times it seems like one long roller coaster waiting to derail at the bottom. I think Charlie Manuel is a guy that could be a good bench coach, but he has managed 97 win Cleveland teams out of doing well in the playoffs. He's an instinct manager more than a guy that uses his brain. Sure, you like a guy that feels good about the move he is making, but I'd also like him to go over the idea in his head a little more often.

If Manuel has a better supporting cast around him, I think the Phillies could be better off at this point, but with guys like Dubee and so forth it seems like one big 'pick a move out of a hat and hope it works' situation.

Currently, the Phillies have a lot of dead-weight on the roster. Carlos Ruiz and So Taguchi have offered little offensive OR defensive support this year. The only reason Ruiz is still here is because Coste is that much worse defensively.

The Phillies have only one hitter hitting over .300 and that is Greg Dobbs. However, as a starter he only has a .765 OPS. Most of his .300 average has come from him hitting .396 in pinch-hit situations. Thankfully with Feliz back, Dobbs will be regulated back to that role.

To be honest, if the Phillies make the playoffs, they're probably not going to win anything. There are too many flaws and holes with this team that do not exist with Chicago and Milwaukee. This weekend will be a true test. The good news however is that if we do make the playoffs, we are guaranteed home-field.

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A small introduction...

We Hate to Lose began in October 2007. The initial purpose of the website was to provide news updates and commentary on all four major sports teams in Philadelphia. Because of time-constraints, in April of 2009, I decided to post only on my first-love, the Philadelphia Phillies.

My name is Justin Evans and I hope you enjoy the site.

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