This is “Keep the Change,” a Friday feature by Nick “The Beer Man” Staskin. Nick is a beer man at Citizens Bank Park; he’ll post weekly with observations from the fans at the park, trying to get a good sense of where the Phillies stand in the eyes of those who most matter.
This week seems to have brought new meaning to the phrase, “when it rains it pours.”
I am taking a break from building my arc, with two of every beer to reach out to the fans.
Caught in the midst of their annual interleague swoon (last year the Phillies went 4-11 against the American League), the Phils were hit with some more bad news. They were forced to put first-half MVP, Raul Ibanez, on the disabled list with groin issues.
Despite the 1-5 stretch to start the home stand, the lead atop the National League East is still three games (thanks, Mets). I’m not too worried about the Ibanez injury: While his numbers will be missed, it is best to get these things out of the way early.
This week’s column will mirror those in the past though … some things that are definitely pressing the minds of the fans in the crowds.
The rotation, rotation, rotation…
I’m not writing off Antonio Bastardo yet; it might not have been his night. The Red Sox can hit. Who knows what would have happened had the sky opened up with what seems to be nonstop rain? But what if tonight doesn’t go well? Then it’s back to the drawing board with the rookie.
J. A. Happ has been serviceable and is allowed a stinker, so I will let that one slide.
However, the inconsistencies of Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton still have the fans scratching their heads. Which Blanton is going to show up? The guy who pitched seven strong innings against the Red Sox last Friday? Or the guy who got poked around for the better part of Thursday afternoon?
If the Phillies are serious about making a deal for a big arm, there is no time like the present. Just because the trade deadline is at the end of July, it doesn’t mean you have to wait that long to pull the trigger. But with the recent DL stints of Jake Peavy and Erik Bedard and the “untouchable, but we’ll listen” Roy Halladay, well I simply don’t know where that help is coming from.
I’m not down on Ryan Madson. Unfortunately, he is the only one I’m not down on. While a home run against — ugh it stings to even say it … Rod Barajas — is a horrible way to lose a game (especially when you add in Tuesday’s blown save) Madson is the only arm out of the bullpen I trust right now.
Clay Condrey has come crashing back to Earth, allowing 17 base runners and eight earned runs in his last 6.1 innings pitched.
J.C. Romero can’t seem to find the plate, walking 10 men in his nine appearances this season.
I’ve never been a big Chad Durbin guy, and then you can factor in the revolving door of minor-leaguers who have been called up to eat innings the past two weeks, along with Chan Ho Park and Jack Taschner.
It’s easy to say that this year’s bullpen is not fairing as well as the Romero-Madson-Lidge trio that was so huge for the Phillies en route to the World Series last year.
It is not time to panic though, far from it. This is still a first-place team. Don’t write off the Orioles, though. This is a team with some bats. Luckily, they don’t have much in the arms department.
They are a team the Phillies should be able to beat. I’m expecting to see a lot of crooked numbers on the scoreboard this weekend. Bastardo might have another rough go of it, and hopefully he can mix in some more off-speed pitches and breaking balls to fool the O’s batters on Friday night.
However, I am predicting a series win at The Bank — the Phillies first against a team other than the Washington Nationals.