The Phillies finished the homestand 1-5, are 3-9 in their last 12 games and are suddenly hanging on for dear life to first place in the National League East.
So how do you feel?
Bill Conlin today wrote a meandering (when is he not meandering?) reassurance that this team isn’t completely doomed. But it sure didn’t read like it â€” 87 wins, here they come, he wrote.
It doesn’t look as if the Phillies are that 100-win team Jimmy Rollins predicted before the season began. Truth is, teams don’t win 100 games anymore. There’s too much parody in baseball. The fifth starter, injuries and ballparks make it difficult for teams to break into 90-win land. The Phils can still win 90 games.
Are the Phils the best team in the NL East? Well, yes. Obviously the Marlins aren’t going away. Obviously the Mets have a lot of juice in them. Obviously the Braves will fight as well. It’s June. It’s very early, still. But so far the Phils have been the best team.
The 1-5 homestand was a real kick to the collective jewels of we fans. I stated the Phils had to go 4-2 to send a message to the rest of baseball. Instead the message was “we ain’t so hot after all.” Face it: The Phils faced baseball’s best teams, they lost â€” not miserably, though. The holes were exposed.
And those holes:
- They can’t hit the breaking ball. Like Pedro Cerrano, this team feasts on No. 1 and No. 1 only. And if guys aren’t quite picking up the fastball, well, good luck.
- They need at least a No. 3 starter. Brett Myers pitched well, but not well enough to go eight innings against Los Angeles. Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton aren’t going to beat the best teams. They need a guy who can beat the best teams.
- They need to manufacture runs. The Rollins/Dobbs double steal yesterday was phenomenal. All Ryan Howard had to do was hit one in the air; heck, ground one to the right side. He couldn’t. When things aren’t going your way you have to do little things that’ll get the job done.
- The biggest warning sign of all, however, is the inability of the C-class players to step up sometimes. Those players: Pedro Feliz, Geoff Jenkins, Carlos Ruiz. I’m always thinking, “now they’ll get a big hit.” But they don’t. So far Jenkins hasn’t been that good. Ruiz has been horrendous. Feliz? He’s worth exactly what he’s worth, but when the guys around him are struggling, he looks worse. Bottom line: With the middle guys in a slump, these three have to perform better. They haven’t.
So now the Phils travel to Oakland, then to Arlington, to face two teams who are probably as good as the Cardinals club they dropped two games to last weekend. Oakland will throw good pitching at the Phils â€” likely shutting down the offense while Moyer/Kendrick/Eaton give up a couple runs and the games, while the Rangers will try and bash Myers and Moyer into oblivion. I could forsee a 2-4 trip. But that’s with the way things are going now. All we know, they could go 5-1.
If they do, I won’t get my hopes too high. As we all know, it’s only June.