There’s lots to talk about today so fasten your thinking caps tightly; but first grab a bib because you’ll be salivating over the next Phillies Nation event. This Saturday, before, during and after the Red Sox game the mother of all tailgate parties will be held in the parking lot at 7th and Pattison. On Smokin’ Dave’s gigantic trailer of a grill will be a 90 lb. hog, 50 lbs. of brisket, 150 pieces of chicken, and 3 turkeys cooking for your epicurean delight. You can eat as much as you can handle for just $5. There will also be the traditional side dishes of corn on the cob and pasta salad but you have to provide your own beer. So, tickets or no tickets, make sure you show up for the real fun in South Philly Saturday evening. Now on to less delicious news…
As you know, the Phils were swept by the Brewers yesterday despite another decent outing by Cole Hamels. He gave up four walks as predicted by the Phillies Nation poll, and recorded five strikeouts. However, Ryan Madson blew Hamels’ lead again and conspiracy theorists already believe Madson is seeking revenge on Cole for taking his spot in the rotation. Of course this isn’t true, but phillies.com reported, "Though clearly upset, Madson didn’t want to talk about giving up the lead in both of Hamels’ starts, and declined to address the matter." Although Madson has been unable to duplicate his strong bullpen pitching of last year, he still claims he felt good on the mound yesterday. Whether he feels good or not doesn’t change the fact that he has allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings since moving to the bullpen.
This week also has seen an intensified debate over the Phillies leadoff spot. Jimmy Rollins seems to be returning to his old underachieving form and has hit just .190 since April 13th. This season he is sporting a .301 OBP and a .239 batting average, both below his career averages. He has never been a prototypical leadoff hitter and not surprisingly has better numbers when batting fifth or sixth in the lineup. A potential replacement at the top of the order comes in the form of Shane Victorino who remains in the lineup while Aaron Rowand’s face heals. In 36 games this season, Shane has tallied nasty line of .375/.426/.607 – all obviously well above his career numbers. With Jimmy on the bench in favor of Alex Gonzalez yesterday, Shane had a chance to show off his leadoff potential. Instead, he laid an egg with an 0-5 afternoon. This is not surprising since in 22 ABs at the leadoff spot, he’s garnered just one hit and one walk. Although the Phillies media has published recent stories on how good Shane has been and how bad Jimmy has, it’s unlikely Charlie Manuel will have another shakeup in the lineup. There remains the option of moving Rollins down in the lineup to help him regain confidence but that has the potential to do more harm than good. Shane may get a few more chances in the coming weeks, but we have to remember he’s not an everyday player and once Rowand returns, he’ll probably be back on the bench.
Finally, Randy Wolf is scheduled to start on Tuesday in a rehab assignment. The Inky says he’ll be pitching in Clearwater, but the Threshers are scheduled for a game in Jupiter, FL against the Hammerheads, a Marlins affiliate. Either way, Wolf’s rehab is on schedule and Pat Gillick estimates Randy could return to the club before the all-star break.