I think Charlie Manuel said it best last night after the Phils fell to 0-4 with a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers. In his post game press conference Charlie, using only the vocabulary and twang that has endeared him so much to this town and its fans, said, "Basically, if you look at us after four games, we pretty much stink." Charlie is frustrated, as are the fans, but it is only for games. What is disturbing is that all four games have been at home and the fact that the entire Phillies team, from front office, to managers and coaches, to players preached to us how important it was to get off to a good April. The team is 0-4 for the first time since 1987 and if they lose today against the Dodgers (weather permitting) they will be 0-5 for the first time since 1934 when they started off the season 0-7. The question is, how has this happened? The answer is mostly due to what all were worried about going into the season. Even with Gillick at the reins these are the same old Phillies. The starting pitching has been atrocious, they still can not get a clutch hit with runners in scoring position, the catcher and third baseman look overmatched and overpaid, and Charlie Manuel continues to make questionable decisions.
The Phillies starting staff ERA at this moment is over 9 and so far none of the 4 starters have lasted more than 5 innings. Surprisingly, the bullpen (aside from Tom Gordon in the ninth against the Cardinals) has been a nice surprise. For example the combination of Santana, Fultz, and Franklin pitched 6 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball after Floyd self combusted in 2 and 2/3 to at least give the Phils a fighting chance to come back. The stats are ugly, 21.6? 10.12? Are those ERA’s for real?
The pitching is the obvious reason for the Phils, slow start, but to blame it solely on the starting staff would be a mistake. The Phillies are having trouble getting runs batted in and have yet to have that "big" 4-5 run inning that really puts a dagger in the opponents heart. Charlie’s inconsistency in setting the line up has something to do with the slow start. Rowand can not bat #2, not until he starts hitting, which honestly he may only be a .260 batter who is a defensive stud. The Phillies do not have a #2 batter. Utley is too talented to bat #2. Rowand is not good enough. Bell, possible, but not likely. Who then? Abreu would make sense.
This lineup would also correct the problem of Howard batting sixth right now. Abreu was willing to play CF and bat lead off for the Venezuelan national team, he should be more than willing to do it for the team that is paying him millions of dollars, alas I realize that is most likely not true.
Finally, while the season is only four games old, one more disturbing trend from years past seems to be rearing its ugly head. No player on this team seems to care about losing. There is no urgency in their faces, or their actions. They walk/run around The Money Pit as if it was a private country club and it should be the fans pleasure and honor to watch them play baseball. Guys, its only a pleasure when you win, or at least put out maximum effort in a loss.
That’s the story from The City Line