Commentary: All The Cracks Are There To See

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, June 19, 2009 09:00 AM | Comments: 77
Commentary, Posts

MadsonagainWatch how Marco Scutaro legs out his bloops and bunts. Watch how Scott Rolen digs a single into a double against a rookie outfielder. Watch how Jon Lester studies his opponents and schools them with the same pitch, over and over.

This is how baseball should be played.

Now watch Jimmy Rollins swing up and pop the ball into the shallow outfield. Watch Shane Victorino get caught stealing yet again in a tight spot. Watch Ryan Madson throw an 0-2 high fastball to a man who can only hit the high fastball.

This is how baseball should not be played.

It’s baffling, downright stupifying that the Phillies are playing 13-19 at Citizens Bank Park. Then again, is it?

Forget statistics. Just watch the Phillies in action.

They’re a bunch of uppercut-swinging, impatient, often lost and unaware, overly aggressive, fence-seeking, pitch-waving hitters. How many times must I watch Jayson Werth fall to a knee when fishing for an unhittable pitch? Or Ryan Howard completely miss a low-and-outside slider? Or Rollins pop up a first pitch?

Of course, these offensive offense is just a piece of the rhubarb.

Mangerial mishaps. Like taking Carlos Ruiz out for Chris Coste, a lesser offensive player and much lesser receiver. Fault Madson for making that pitch to Rod Barajas, but someone had to call the 0-2 fastball.

Baserunning blunders. Like Victorino trying to steal a base with two outs in the eighth after roping BJ Ryan for two runs.

Fielding follies. Like Rollins and Chase Utley forgetting a play never ends, as the intelligent Scutaro took two bases on a walk.

Then there’s pitching, which goes far beyond the performance on the field. As of this writing, the Phillies have two inexperienced starting pitchers, one over-the-hill starting pitcher and one inconsistent starting pitcher, not to mention a fifth who is having a shaky season despite his “ace” status. Can the Phillies rely on their current rotation? Absolutely not.

This rotation’s performance has made it laborious for the relievers, who are dropping like flies and being overexposed to the point of complete breakdown. Chad Durbin? A middle reliever being pushed far beyond his boundaries. Clay Condrey? Ditto. JC Romero? Facing too many right-handed hitters. Jack Taschner? Tyler Walker? They should never pitch in important spots.

The Phillies need more than reinforcements. They need new relievers, strong outings and, most of all, a rotation that can ensure quality starts. When your “ace” has just two starts of seven innings or better, you’re in complete trouble.

Oh, and why the heck is Paul Bako taking up a roster spot?

This is a confusing pie — a confusing one to write and understand, but that’s because so much is wrong with the Phillies. It doesn’t show via wins and losses, but watch six games against superior teams, and you’ll notice all the many cracks. They’re only getting worse, and it’s because there’s no urgency to change.

At some point things might completely fall apart, but that’s if the front office doesn’t act. They need better bench players. They need smarter hitters. They need more dominating starting pitchers. They need organized and stable relievers. And they need leadership that’s not only loose and friendly, but geared toward winning every situation.

The 2008 Phillies won because they had a superior bench, smart hitters when necessary, strong starting pitching, an outstanding bullpen and decisions that paid off more than not. These 2009 Phillies?

They’re playing the way baseball shouldn’t be played.

It’s time to change that.

Avatar of Tim Malcolm

About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1948 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Maverick

    Tim incase you missed it…. Phils are #1 in just about every offensive catagory that matters.

    So what Werth swings a junk occassionally…. the Phils play aggressive thats what they do…good and bad. I’ll take it.

    The problem is pitching….there’s not one player on that rotation or in the pen that is pitching well

  • Posts: 0 rivlez

    Every team has weak points. The sad part I think the Phillies don’t have NEARLY as much as other teams do (Hint Hint: Mets)

  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    We just need our starting pitching to get going and well be fine. It is mentally hard to play a good game when you go up tobat for the first time down 4, or its hard to close out a game when youve had to pitch half the game for multiple games ina row. last year starters went to the 6th and 7th. we had a middle guy. then madson , then lidge. now every night we dont know what were going ot get with our pitching.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Well said. Somewhere lost in all this is the same team that won the World Series. Theyre in there somewhere. If Jayson Werth wasnt our ONLY RH power hitter hed be sitting on the bench by now. IF Shane Victorino wasnt good defensively hed have been traded by now. If Jamie Moyer, well, he should have been released by now.

    The bullpen has fallen apart because of overwork. I think they need one, maybe two relievers to plug the holes. They need one, maybe two starters. Jamie Moyer is not effective against good hitting teams, its that simple. I cant even watch him anymore…I have a friend text me when hes out of the game so I can turn it back on – thats how disgraceful he is. Bastardo is too raw to be relied upon now, but he has great potential just not for this season though. Needs more experience.

    The Lineup needs to get back to what made them great last year and earlier this year: consistent, patient at bats. Slowing the game down and taking it one pitch at a time.

    The bench sucks, its probably one of the worst benches in baseball. Paul Bako is not a major league player, Greg Dobss is not what he was last year, Eric Bruntlett is what he is, Chris Coste sucks in every aspect of the game. Matt Stairs is great but has a specific role just like Bruntlett and Dobbs. Bako needs replaced with a quality RH bat that can play in the OF to spell those guys. MAYBE Mayberry is that guy, but if he is HE HAS TO PLAY WHEN THERE IS A FULL HEALTHY ROSTER AND NOT SIT THE BENCH. Bench players are there to be used tactfully, not sit there and not ever play.

    This team needs at least 3 pieces, maybe 5 depending on how bad it gets during the slump here.

    1: Frontline SP (we all know that) – just go get it done – they have no time to screw around anymore
    2: Power RP for the bullpen – they need help and a horse to shoulder some of the load
    3: RH Bench bat – again, we know, just go get it done

    we all have know these weaknesses for a while now, and the FO REFUSES to recognize the urgency. Sure, they know what they need and theyve said that, but they havent pulled the trigger bc they think they can wait it out to the deadline and get a better deal. GUESSWHAT? YOu cant because the market is drying up.

    They can NOT afford to wait 6 weeks. Matter of fact, if they dont turn it around in liek 2 weeks theyre going to fall out of the division lead. Season wont be over, still a lot left to go, but theyre making it harder on themselves.

    They have COMPLETELY fallen apart in almost every phase of the game. Im going down there on Sat, but remember that the Baltimore Orioles are a rebuilding team….we have pockets of goodp lay from some pitchers and players and pockets of consistency but they are drying up fast.

    They need a move this weekend, and then another one next week, and one the week after that to stablize things.

  • Posts: 0 mkelly

    ur making some good points… i still think the phills will pull it together

  • Posts: 0 Woodman

    Still haven’t figured out the Paul Bako move. The need for a quality RH bat off the bench is glaring.

  • Posts: 0 Tim Malcolm

    Yeah, the one point I didn’t put in there was that yes, the Phils are still the second-best team in the National League (by record). So yeah.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Theyre still in first, though not for long. Theyre still the best team in the NL and favorites to repeat, but not if the playoffs were held today. They are missing the pieces I detailed. And taht we all know.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Rollins had a GREAT game at the plate yesterday.. best all season probably

    Victorino definitely should have tried to swipe that bag yesterday.. if he’s safe, you have a runner in scoring position.. where ANY hit scores the run.. if he’s out.. you still have Utley, Howard, Werth coming to the plate in the next inning.

    Their Catcher had a CANNON for an arm.. every throw was a rocket, the warmup toss to 2nd, and his throws in the game.

    Mayberry had two great throws too.. and the ball that Rolen turned into a double was mostly because they were playing him to pull.. so Mayberry was way over in Right-Center.. and Rolen’s hit was a long way to run.. Jr stutter-stepped a little, but Rolen is one of the best base runners in the league, and is as aggressive as they come

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Jimmy Rollins is not a leadoff hitter anymore, and as a matter of fact: If he were just a regular player without his history or his defense of his contract he would be a MINOR LEAGUE PLAYER right now. He is LITERALLY barely good enough to be in the major leagues right now. THe ONLY thing keeping him up here is his defense. That IS still great, yes.

    Buit offensively he is not really a major league hitter at this point. Not saying he never will be again. But a stint in the minors would help him. Unfortunately Donald is hurt and thus we cant make that move.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    As a matter of fact, if some team offered me a MINOR LAGUE RELIEF PITCHER for him, Id have to think about it for a second before saying NO.

  • It is painstaking to watch sometimes, but we have to keep everything in perspective. Teams go through rough patches, and more often than not, the Phillies win, plain and simple. The crux of this though is their inability to change.

    Manuel will NOT keep Rollins in the 6th spot — yes, he is their leadoff hitter — but get the guy hot for a week or 2 and then send him back to the top.

    I’ve been reading a lot about pitch counts lately too. Bill James calls them unnecessary, and I agree. With the bullpen so hammered, why not let Blanton throw 130 pitches. Why not let Moyer go to 115. The bullpen needs a rest, yet this arbitrary number of 100 is still the benchmark.

    Time for Charlie to start thinking outside the box just a bit. They are much too complacent for my liking.

  • Posts: 0 BS

    @ Geoff: I can’t say whether or not the FO has the right amount of urgency, but it takes two to tango. You talk about the FO waiting to make a move, I see it more like there’s no one out there willing to make big moves yet. Who’s really out of it right now? The Nationals? Baltimore? Probably the A’s soon – one of the few teams with good bullpen arms. But otherwise I see a bunch of teams hanging around thinking they’re one player away from making a run for the division or the wild card. No one’s tossing in the towel yet. Who’s Amaro gonna trade with? Himself?

  • Posts: 0 DC

    For every Jimmy Rollins 1st swing popup, there is a Jimmy Rollins breaking up a key double play and Jimmy Rollins properly and aggressively taking second on a throwing mistake. He makes plays on defense and is smart enough to keep the play in front of him. He plays the game the right way but has to find his bat.
    Meet Ryan Howard! Nothing has changed. He will strike out a ton, chase bad pitches, hit 250ish BUT hit 45 plus homer, drive in over 100 runs and score a like amount. Oh yeah, he’ll get hot in September (Player of Month in September the last two years). I’ll take that in my cleanup hitter.
    Good evaluation on the bullpen but keep in mind that Lidge and Eyre will be back shortly. The bullpen will be ok. They need someone to eat up innings (Blanton and Hamels have been disappointments in that regard).
    On another note, valid comments on Werth, Coste and Bako.

    - 1st priority should be a middle of the rotation starter (or better if possible)
    - 2nd priority is the bench (a good start is keeping Mayberry and dumping Bako). Should be careful with Mayberry and playing him too much. See Peter Gammons article on ESPN this week on bringing young hitters up too early.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    NOTE: Im exagerrating about Rollins obviously…we know what he can do. He just has to focus on getting good at bats everyday – which is why hes primed for a 6-7 slot right now. That will allow him to focus and get pitches to hit and get his confidence back.

    If Moyer goes 115 itll be liek 35-0 by the 8th inning- against the Nationals.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Im not sure if anyone else noticed it.. but the wind was blowing OUT and the ball was jumping yesterday.. Blanton threw too many pitches, but didn’t pitch poorly.

    Madson’s HR ball to Barajas looked bad in person.. I saw the replays, and that wasn’t a bad pitch.. it was up & away .. and Barajas just seems to have our number (seemingly more HRs AGAINST us in like 6 games with Toronto .. then he had FOR us when he played here). .

    Jayson Werth would be sitting on the bench by now?.. eventhough he’s well above-average defensively.. and has 12 HRs, 45 Runs Scored, 35 RBI, 10 SBs … pretty good numbers considering we’re a little more than 1/3rd of the way through the season

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    The A’s are going to build around that nice young rotation they have. They could have a sick rotation in 2-3 years. I like their plan there.

    BUT, they have some bullpen arms who could help us. Maybe a veteran liek Russ Springer or Brad Zeigler would help…Id do that.

  • Posts: 0 BS

    Eh, I’d rather not go through a 2nd round of Russ Springer again. But agreed, the A’s do have some good bullpen arms (somehow they always do). Problem is most of the good ones haven’t even reached arbitration so the A’s are paying them peanuts. So Beane would probably demand an arm and leg for them.

  • Posts: 0 David

    I don’t think there is anyway in the world that they can continue playing so well on the road and so mediocre at home. While I think that they will start playing better at home, my biggest concern is the starting pitching. Despite Lidge’s struggles, the bullpen on the whole has been pretty good, but I’m worried they will be burned out by the beginning of August if the starting pitching doesn’t just improve but can also go deeper in the game. We need wins were the starting pitichers goes deep in the 7th or 8th inning.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Id prefer Zeigler – his delivery is a nice changeup from the others. I meant they could afford to sit Werth for a few days…

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Glad you got a hold of yourself, Geoff, because I was ready to call you on it. Rollins in the minors isn’t going to happen and to suggest it is ridiculous. Yesterday was a great start and he just needs to follow up with something other than an 0 for 4 to boost his confidence.

    And to echo Don M on Jayson Werth…he now has 3 homers in his last 3 games and something like 4 in the last 5 days or a week. His avg has risen in the process and he plays a STELLAR defense. Using the logic of benching him because of how bad he looks sometimes at the plate then the suggestion would be made to bench Ryan Howard as well….and we all know THAT ain’t happening.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I would be ok with Mayberry getting some starts if he were the RH bench bat… but if he doesn’t get semi-regular playing time, he can’t be expected to produce..

    which is the exact reason why Dobbs is having trouble this year.. I think his HR yesterday was his 11th hit.. in his 59th At-Bat of the season.. he needs to come to the plate more often..

    Maybe a start here or there at 3b, at 1b, or a Corner OF spot..

    I’m guessing against a tough RHP, Dobbs might get a start or two.. and Stairs would still be the pinch-hitter since he gets an at-bat almost every game, and is comfortable in that role

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Mayberry needs to start at least once a week. When Raul comes back he could be rested once in awhile or Vic or Werth could take a night off and get Mayberry in there. Get him 200+ ABs and he has a better chance to show what he is certainly capable of.

  • Posts: 0 Buffalophilsfan

    Did anyone else watching yesterday’s game feel like me and LOVE what Scutatro brings to the game?? THAT is what a leadoff hitter should look like. Every AB is a quality AB and he makes the pitcher work real hard. He seems to center every ball and hustles his a$$ off. Defensively he is smooth and I could not help wishing he was wearing pinstripes. He is the shortstop version of Utley.

    I like JRoll, but I’d take Scutaro over him for the next 8 years in a heartbeat. He plays the game the right way … something our guys used to do and need to get back to!!

  • [...] The Mets failed, once again, to take advantage of another Blue Jay victory over Philadelphia. Philly fans still complain, however.  [...]

  • Posts: 0 Dave M

    I’m seeing Rollins start to shine and improve more lately. The pitching definitely needs to improve. Mayberry is doing a good job, but we definitely need Ibanez back in the rotation as soon as hes feeling better. Howard was a little more patient at bat this last game which I feel good about. This series against the Blue Jays was very frustrating to watch. I believe the announcer summed up my memories of that series best when, after a home run was hit off of Madson in the 9th, he just slowly said… “are you seriouuusss?” He summed up all my emotions of the series at that moment.

  • Posts: 0 pb

    If Bastardo gets rocked tonight I’d say move him to the pen (dump Tascher, keep his wife) and give Carassco his shot.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Taschner has one option left, so you can store him in AAA for later use just in case. Thats what Id do: Get your big starter, move Bastardo to pen to bolster it with a power arm who can give innings, option Taschner to AAA to keep him in case someone else gets hurt.

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    Geoff –


    Mystery Starter (Marquis?)


    I still can’t get excited about this.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    I agree…they need more than Marquis.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    More than Moyer too

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    That’s a good move with Bastardo in the pen. I was thinking the same thing. He actually could find his niche there…at least for now.

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    Halladay (I know it’s not going to happen)
    AA or AAA kid of the month club (don’t need a 5th starter for playoffs, anyway, and someone might get hot)

    More exciting, but not going to happen.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    CAN WE PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stop with the non-sense and time-wasting of talking about Roy Halladay trades?? .. PLEASE??

    Not just JeffS .. that was meant for everyone..

    He’s not coming here.. we might as well talk about trading for Johan Santana too since its just as likely to happen

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    I love the idea of Bastardo in the pen, but we don’t want to make a reliever out of someone who might be a good starter, do we? How hard is the adjustment if we want him to be a starter next year, for instance? Let’s see what he does tonight. Good call, though – exactly the TYPE of thrower we could use in the pen.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew

    He is a one time MVP. We are up 3 games and just won a world series.
    This same old tired stuff over and over gets tiring.
    They all suck. Give up and root for the Mets.

  • Posts: 0 cas

    I think we need to be a little more patient. Why would the front office think we needed to make major roster changes in the off-season or early this year when the personnel is almost completely the same as a team that won the world championship last season? As long as we can hang in and win the division, I’m willing to wait till the trade deadline to make moves and we ALWAYS play better in September and October than any other time of the year. If we DO get another starter, PLEASE let it be someone who works fairly quickly, like Hamels is or Steve Carlton or Jim Kaat used to be. My daughter and I were at the game yesterday and it lasted for FOUR HOURS! WAAAAAY too long! The game needs to pick up speed; there’s too much fooling around. By the way, if anyone here was at the game yesterday, what was up with that fight? And, I agree with an earlier comment–pitch count is ridiculous.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Three of the Orioles power bats are lefties (Huff, Markakis, Luke Scott) which hopefully works in Bastardo’s favor tonight. The problem is that Baltimore’s actually a good hitting team in general so, if he’s relying on his fastball it better have tons of movement on it for him to survive. It would be really nice to see him go 7 strong innings, and for the Phils to jump out front early.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Thats the point man. If they wait until the trade deadline they WILL NOT be in first place. The bullpen is TOTALLY burned out and tired. They need HELP. That help has to come in the form of more innings out of starting pitching – as in one or two more guys who can give you more innings. AND another body to soak up relief work. not to mention a bench player (we may be able to use mayberry there)

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    They got lucky last year because they all stayed healthy but they are NOT healthy in teh bullpen. They need someone to LIGHTEN THE LOAD. What is so freaking hard to about this to understand?

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Condrey is hurt and has been for a while.. Durbin is ineffective since last August.. Madson lost two games since Tuesday night. . Eyre and Lidge hurt.. Romero can’t throw strikes..

    the Chan Ho Park acquisition is looking better by the minute!!

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    JeffS….look at what Myers has done as a starter and a reliever. I think Bastardo would benefit from the bullpen time….if he develops more the way it is hoped then perhaps he could be a more effective starter.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Park is a good asset in there because he can eat innings. Id liek Bastardo there too once they get another horse in teh rotation.

  • Posts: 0 beta sigma shag

    I never thought I would say this about our buddy Tim,
    But dude you need to calm down. I thought it was Geoff writing this post today. Yes there are problems and the Phils look bad at home so far this year. Wreth looks bad sometimes, but he is hitting better in the last two weeks. The offense goes though these things they did score 7 runs yestarday against AAA pitching.
    Pitching, yes it needs to be addressed but you do not rush into trading people for the sake of getting a pitcher, the front office made the right moves last year it is not panic time, 3 game lead dispite there bad play in June, patience is needed, you can not look too needy in the trade talks cause that is when you get raped. JA will be a fine 3 4 starter, and dispite Geoff hatred of Moyer he is going to win 11-13 games as a fifth starter, and JB well that was his first bad start in what 5 outings, against a team that probably has seen him before I am guessing with his playing for the A’s. So I am comfortable with him being a 3rd starter, he had two lights out starts previously so can we cut him some slack. And I love Madson, but has these last two games gone to his head, the 9th is different then the 8th as he is finding out, I just hope it doesnt screw him up when Lidge comes back healthy.

    And Mayberry if he shows some life does not have to play once a week, yes he need to play and be a fourth outfielder but not every 5 games, it should not hurt his development

  • Posts: 0 DeanH

    I AGREE 100% WITH THIS ARTICLE. I have been searching for the past couple weeks for some way to express my BIG DISAPPOINTMENT the Phils are this year. They are playing like they are on a hangover from last year! They are only in 1st place because the rest of our division STINKS and we played the Natonals (on purpose) alot this year. We are in trouble, guys. Chalie needs to flip out and Amaro needs to wake up before it is too late. The 2 base walk yesterday was icing on the cake. Btw, Coste stinks at calling a game. Last year, he called a fast ball, down and in, against Beltran (if you don’t know, that is his favorite spot to hit a HR), and he still gets put in for what? His stinky bat?

    I am very, very concerned about the Phils this year. Hopefully the front office read this column today that Tim wrote. One of the best write ups I have ever read! Thank you for keeping me from going insane! I am not alone!

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Maybe we should call Ed Wade and check on the availability of Geoff Geary. It’s a joke…but he can’t be any worse than what we have right now at this point.

  • Posts: 0 Havoc

    It’s easy to get concerned after a three game sweep guys, but let’s try and stay a little positive. Do the Phils need to make some moves sure. I think they will get at least one starter (possibly two) and a reliever before the deadline. Considering that we lost our closer, left handed specialist, and our #2 starter we could be alot worse off.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Either way, I am far superior to any of the Phillies right now. That is saying something.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 DeanH

    Chuck, maybe trade Taschner for Geary? opps, even Wade is not that stupid!

    Tim made a great point about our starters, They have worn out our bullpen. Condry was great this year at first but he is being used too much and now is looking horrible. Is it Condry’s fault, I tend to think not as at first, he was fine. I think Charlie needs to leave a starter in to embarrass him and the rest of the team. Maybe loosing 20-1 will wake up the guys??????

    And, our hitting is like little league. Yesterday, Toronto took pitches, hit fouls and ran up Blanton’s count. Our guys just get up and swing away! No pitch count because it is 1 or 2 pitches and out!

    And, just so ya’ll know, I still think we can win it all this year. But we need to start playing like champions, not losers. Maybe playing all the games vs Natonals rubbed off on us and gave us a false sense of competency?

  • Posts: 0 Bret

    my god you NEGATIVE people need to CHILL out. They went 4-11 last year in interleague play and we were all celebrating on Broad St. in October. This blogger says its only June early in the week and now he’s going nuts with the negativity. Even with all the issues they may have they are still in first place. would you rather it be 1997?

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