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 1947 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Holly

    Geoff needs to shut it! Blah Blah Blah!

  • Posts: 0 Stuck

    Case–That wasn’t a fight, it was an all-out brawl. I was in 332 and the fight was probably down in 110, and you could still tell how big it must’ve been. People spilling into the aisles throwing haymakers, no cops/ushers in sight, beer flying.. it was mayhem. Maybe I don’t get out to enough games but I’ve never seen a fight like that at a Phils game, especially one against an AL non-rival without many fans in attendance.

  • Posts: 0 Stuck

    Sorry—Cas, not Case.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I meant to ask people about that fight.. i was in 122, so I couldn’t really see much.

    But it was the section just before RF (sec 108) .. you could see a guy in a red shirt throwing punches.. like 20 of them… people all stood up, so you couldn’t see much, but lots of bodies flying around.. people running up and down.. that fight went on for a good 30 seconds or a minute before it got broken up.. Cops finally cleared out like 3-4 rows worth of people.

    Who the hell gets in fights at a baseball game??

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Our hitters were fine yesterday… I think we had 13 hits.. and a couple walks..

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    Bret, I don’t think anyone is freaking out over one sweep. My big concern is that playoff success is going to be based on the play of your two top pitchers, and maybe the third starter will have some impact. Who is going to be the second starter? At best, it’s a big question. And I don’t want to do another round of pretend trades, but I’m not in love wiith ANYONE who is actually available. The bats will be fine if they play right.

  • Posts: 0 Ben

    While I agree they have some holes to fix, I too am on the “this is kind of ridiculous, we need to take a step back and chill out” train. Every team has some players that aren’t performing well right now, and even great teams like the Red Sox lose 5 of 6 sometimes. But the thing about baseball is, with such a long season, players numbers typically even out and look like they should- remember when they fantasy baseball world was going crazy over Emilio Bonifacio, now the Marlins #9 hitter? Hell, remember when the baseball world was going crazy over the first place Marlins who were looking pretty strong in April?

    They’ll be fine. I know they are just coming off of a great road trip, but you can’t expect them to always win 7 of ten games. How many teams have ever finished with a .700 winning percentage? Even winning 2 out of every 3 games for the course of a season, a .666 WP, is highly unrealistic. So when they go on their great runs, you have to accept that theirs gonna be some slow times too.

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    The Phils can lost 9 of 10 for all I care. Rollins can slump. Hamels can pitch a couple mediocre games. That’s no big deal. The big deal is what would the playoffs have looked like last year without Myers. It’s not a minor hole to fill, and most of those mentioned are not really available or not really playoff caliber number 2′s. Even having that hole is not the problem. The worry is the lack of a really good way to fill it.

    Other holes, such as a bench player and bullpen help may work themselves out from within the organization in the course of the season.

  • Posts: 0 Ben

    I also don’t like how everyone thinks we need to trade for an ace. We don’t. At all. If we go and get someone like Marquis and just dump Moyer, we’ll be good. The Phillies are a team predicated on offense and a shutdown bullpen. I mean Hamels will settle down, Happ is pretty good, don’t look now but Blanton is getting better, and if the league adjusts to Bastardo then just bring a new pitcher up and he’ll be good for a while while the league has to adjust to him. And it’s not a definite thing that the lague is gonna adjust to Bastardo and start hitting him. Everyone is saying that just because we saw it happen to Kendrick, but for every handful of KEndricks there is a Hamels that the league never adjusts to.
    Point is, the Phillies score more runs a game than any other team in their league-5.4. When you do that you don’t need a staff of aces, you just need mediocre guys. As long as your ERA is under 5.40, and as long as the Phillies patch up their pen, theoretically its a win every time with their offense. I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to have another SP or even two more, but I just don’t think its necessary and especially not at the price of raping our budding farm system. This same heap of mediocrity that we call the starting rotation won the World Series last year, and as soon as the bats start putting up 5 a game they’ll start winning again.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Brett Myers was a HUGE reason that the Phils won last year….but he’s not the only reason and there is no guarantee that he has the same kind of postseason this year. If Myers doesn’t have that Friday NLCS game vs the Dodgers at the plate and the Dodgers win that game then the whole complexity of the series changes after that game. Whi knows how the series would have ended.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I don’t know about you guys, I feel more comfortable with Jamie Moyer pitching than I do about Bastardo..

    Before staying in too long and giving up those extra two runs on Wednesday..

    his previous 5 starts:
    6 Innings, 3 ER @ Mets (No Decision, Phils won 6-3)
    7 Innings, 2 ER @ Dodgers (No Decision, Phils lost 3-4)
    6 Innings, 1 ER vs. Nationals (Win, Phils won 4-2)
    6 Innings, 4 ER vs. Marlins (Loss, Phils lost 3-5)
    6 Innings, 3 ER @ Reds (Loss, Phils lost 1-5)

    in his last 10 starts last season, he was 6-0, 3.55 ERA..

    He’s got it in stretches.. would be nice if he avoided the blowups though

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    You gotta think that Jenkins would be a better piece in our bench than Bako… despite the fact he’s a lefty and nobody has picked him up.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    The stats don’t lie, Don M….that’s for sure.

    I just don’t think I can watch anymore when he pitches. Makes me crazy.

    Bastardo DOES need more time to develop and for him to be the long-term 5th starter is ridiculous.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I don’t think Bastardo is ready.. and I actually think that Long-term.. he’s a bullpen guy for his career, not a starter .. but who knows

  • Posts: 0 Evan

    The Phils probably have the second best record in the NL because their schedule was front-loaded with plenty of games against the Nats. They aren’t bad but considering how bad the pitching has been and how some members of the offense are good/bad from day to day, the record seems too good to be true.

    That said it won’t take much to fix what’s wrong. Starting pitching is the key, the front office should be doing everything to get a good starter to help keep the pen from being so overworked. As far as the bats go, the Phils have nights where they look asleep at the plate but every team ocassionally get beaten by a pitcher having a good day or just can’t string together enough hits to get a few runs. The Phils put up enough runs to win behind a team that is pitching decently.

    As for bats, Mayberry should stay up and platoon with Werth if he shows that he can hit major league pitching while he fills in for Ibanez. Werth is a RH bat with some power but isn’t hitting well for average so far this year. Mayberry is a RH bat with some power that doesn’t seem to hit well for average. Maybe a little competition for a spot can elevate one or both of the players. It would also provide a power bat from the right side on the bench. Then again neither one is particularly capable of hitting lefties… Maybe something creative like playing Werth in CF and using Ibanez and Mayberry on days the Phils face a lefty could work, though I can’t imagine Charlie doing that.

    And finally, if the Phils don’t make a move for pitching soon, Carrasco is an option for taking over Moyer or Bastardo’s spot in the rotation if either one seems unreliable. Moyer is sitting on the edge of awful while Bastardo might not be able to fool hitters with one good pitch. Carrasco can’t be worse than the current options and could be an improvement. He’s no replacement for the trade that everyone should agree needs to happen, but he might make an impact in addition to any trade that is made (boot both Moyer and Bastardo).

  • [...] Phils Fans Still in Fear By Mike Silva ~ June 19th, 2009. Filed under: Mike Silva. I came across this commentary from Phils Nation (good find by the guys at Amazin Avenue). You could replace the team and players names and you [...]

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Doesn’t make sense to strictly platoon Mayberry with Werth. they’re both RH bats that hit for about the same power and avg (or at least it appears that’s going to be the case). What needs to happen is Mayberry being a 4th outfileder that gets 1, maybe 2 starts a week, giving any other three regular outfielders a rest….and Werth can play all 3 OF positions… so Charlie has the flexibility there.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Don’t our games against the Cardinals, Dodgers, Yankees, RedSox, etc.. count the same as the games against the Nationals, etc..

    I still can’t believe Dobbs’ “Foul Ball or HR” against the RedSox didn’t get reviewed.. but showed we can hang with them..

    A couple blown saves by Lidge was the difference between splits or sweeps against Dodgers and Yankees..

  • Posts: 0 Morris Buttermaker

    Great column. Agree with every point. I am sick of watching it to. It is like watching the same movie over and over and hoping for a different ending.

    And our pitching staff does need help. We currently have a 1 who has been pitching like a 2 recently. 2 number 3′s, and 2 number 5′s. That is not going to cut it. Hamels is the only pitcher who I really expect to pitch 5 innings. I am not surprised if one of the other 4 does not complete 5 innings.

  • Posts: 0 JeffR

    I’m not a big Coste fan, but you can’t blame him for the Barajas HR. He was practically standing up asking for it high and inside. Madson threw it over the plate and not high enough, but Madson is the least of our worries. Park should have been left in the game , not taken out just because a lefty was coming up. That’s what he’s for-multiple innings. That created JC being in too early and then Condrey for too long. Well, 2 batters is too long as far as I’m concerned for Condrey. He’s got nothing.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    they said last week that Condrey is injured (back?) .. but he’s trying to battle to help the team.. Condrey is last year’s Durbin at this point..

    Romero needs to throw some F-ing STRIKES.. that would help more than anything else right now!

  • Posts: 0 cas

    To Don M:
    “Who gets into fights at baseball games?” How long have you been going to Phillies’ games? Don’t you remember the 700 level at the Vet?

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I should have said,

    Who gets in fights at Weekday Games at the New Stadium when its against a non-rival team..

    Turns out it two girls fighting.. and that turned into something more..

    TRASH fans.. I guess the Wings Lacrosse season is over.. and these people can’t hold themselves until Eagles training camp opens..

  • Posts: 0 Phillie South

    Tim has described what is happening all through baseball. The lack of fundamentals is appalling. I can’t tell you how tired I am of seeing .250 hitters who think they can “rake” swinging at first pitches. Walks don’t get you on Sportscenter. Which gets me to a real pet peeve.

    What do hitting coaches do? With all the at bad at bats you see what are they telling these guys? And how are they held accountable for knuckleheads who couldn’t work a pitcher or a count if their careers depended on it.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    for what its worth.. Rollins saw a ton of pitches yesterday

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    i think the inconsistencies of the offense is one of the downsides of Charlie’s policy of players policing themselves….however tonight after the game, Charlie acknowledged this and suggested he’s close to intervening if this slide continues. I guess with this player oriented approach and a WS title, enforcing plate discipline might be difficult for Milt Thompson, but when you see a line-up that boasts 2 mvp batters, a second baseman that you could mistaken for a first baseman by his power numbers, 2 switch hitters, Ibanez, 5 basestealers with pop and that bats half its games in HR friendly park look like minor leaguers unable to hit a steady diet of curveballs, something has to be done. And it seems like one or two guys will take alot of pitches only to be followed up by someone who goes down on 3 junk pitches….In short, no team game plan at the plate….Did we not take anything away from watching the Red Sox bat?

  • Posts: 0 Trent Holvick

    Listen everyone…..u cant get worked up about how the fightin phills are playin right now… every season for the last 4 seasons the Phillies always hit a rough patch around interleague play. It is definitley painstaking to watch but we need to keep our heads up and keep supporting the FIGHTINS…..Once this interleague bullshit is over we’ll be fine..

Leave a Comment

>> Create a new Phillies Nation account.
>> Already registered with Phillies Nation? Log in here.
>> Comment without logging in:

Please ensure your comments comply with our Comment Policy.