An emotion rollercoaster, this 2011. The Phillies have been a combination of unstoppable and pathetic, their flaws masked by pitching one day and glaring the next.
To discuss the recent controversies, disappointing Phillies, and the tough Red Sox series ahead, the whole gang chimed in with insight and analysis. Have a look-see…
1) What is your take on the Dom Brown/Shane Victorino plays from Saturday night? (Brown didn’t run a ball out that may have led to his getting on base, Victorino lazily threw a ball back into the infield allowing Coco Crisp to tag to third.)
Jonathan Nisula: Brown is a young player and he’s going to go through some of these growing pains. He doesn’t necessarily get a “pass”, but I don’t think this is a huge deal. Also, after the game he faced it like a professional and took responsibility for his actions. I think that’s more important than the play itself. As for Victorino, maybe this is just a product of his ADD. He may have forgotten that Coco Crisp was on 2nd, instead thinking about the bird that flew by the previous inning. In all seriousness, it was a bad play by Victorino, but he’s not the type to make lazy plays.
Corey Seidman: I will say this…Shane’s little attention problem came immediately to mind as he incessantly gnawed at his mouth guard after the Coco Crisp play.
Mike Baumann: The “not hustling” thing is a hobbyhorse for the kind of old, self-righteous, white, male sportswriter who constructs narratives to fill space without doing any real investigative or empirical work. Life is simply too short to worry about such things. If Dom Brown or Shane Victorino pulls up early in a World Series game, that’s one thing, but I struggle to imagine a less productive way to spend my time than rending my garments over lollygagging against Oakland in June.
2) Regardless of how Charlie Manuel sets up the rotation for the Red Sox series, SHOULD he utilize the off-day and pitch Lee-Worley-Hamels, or should he give Hamels the extra day and go in order, pitching Lee-Worley-Kendrick? Obviously, Lee-Worley-Hamels is the more optimal setup but it is only June. Your thoughts?
Nick Staskin: The objective of baseball is to try to win every game. Going, Lee-Worley-Hamels against Boston and throwing Kendrick against Toronto puts the Phillies in the best position to win as many of the upcoming games as possible.
While the Blue Jays lineup isn’t a laughing stock, it isn’t the Red Sox. The reality is that with Oswalt out of the picture for the foreseeable future, we are going to have to get used to the fact that both Kendrick and Worley are going to be in the rotation.
Pat Gallen: My heart tells me that I want to see the best Phillies pitchers matchup against the Red Sox when they come to town this week, but my head says give the guys an extra day off when you can. That being said, with Manuel now going Lee-Worley-Hamels, it keeps Hamels on regular rest, which isn’t much of a problem. There will be times from now until the end of the season where Charles Manuel can give his Aces an extra day of rest. Plus, we’ll now get to see how this team stacks up against the best in the AL, which is what we all want to see, right? It’s not as though he’s putting anyone out there on short rest, so either way would be fine – but now we get to see Lee and Hamels against the best offense in baseball. Should be fun.
Jay Floyd: Utilizing the off day as a way to use Lee-Worley-Hamels allows the Phillies to start their best possible trio of pitchers against the powerful Red Sox. The Phillies have lost the season series against Boston in each of the past three seasons. It’s time to change that and using Hamels gives them an improved chance at making it happen.
Spreading out the rotation this way and using Kendrick next weekend against the Blue Jays also should set up Roy Halladay to start on Canada Day (July 1st), in his very first return to Toronto since the Blue Jays dealt him to Philadelphia. Jays fans are already excited for the possibility of Halladay being in action on their country’s birthday.
3) Which Phillies hitter has disappointed you the most so far in 2011? Why?
Kieran Carobine: There is an overall disappointment in the Phillies offense, though I think the player generating the most concern is Raul Ibanez. There are periods of time where he shows some life…but then goes right back into a cold spell. Streaks of 1 for 35 and 0 for 26 just don’t cut it on a team with so many question marks. I have noticed he changed his approach at the plate moving his bat to his shoulder just before the ball is released but there has to be more done.
Corey Seidman: I hadn’t noticed that, Kieran, and I wonder if it’s even a good idea for a 39-year-old dog to learn new tricks. Raul’s always been streaky but has never changed his approach in the past. I hope the new style doesn’t prolong Ibanez’ typical mid-season frigidity.
Mike Baumann: Apart from Shane Victorino, no Phillies hitter has been particularly impressive. Of course, with Chase Utley and Domonic Brown still getting up to speed after a late start, and Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez continuing to slip as they age, perhaps this was to be expected. Most disappointing, though, for me, has been Howard. He’s certainly been just fine–by WAR, the team’s third-best position player–but I was hoping for more of a bounce-back this season from Howard in terms of power and plate discipline.
Nick Staskin: Howard. He is the only guy hitting the ball out of the park, but a .484 slugging percentage out of the $125 million dollar man is not acceptable. Howard’s .838 OPS pails in comparison to the other “elite” first basemen:
-Prince Fielder 1.037 OPS
-Adrian Gonzalez 1.026 OPS
-Miguel Cabrera 1.023 OPS
-Joey Votto .950 OPS
You get the point. Even in Albert Pujols worst year ever, his .855 OPS is still nearly 20 points higher than the big man. The fact that Howard is just fluttering a couple points ahead of the likes of Mitch Moreland makes his season-to-date quite disappointing.
Jay Floyd: I am most disappointed by Carlos Ruiz. Prior to the season, I predicted that Chooch would make his first NL All-star team, but he simply hasn’t been the key offensive contributor that he’s shown he can be in recent seasons. Ruiz just doesn’t seem to be executing situational hitting very well since April and his .188 batting average with runners in scoring position through Saturday isn’t the sort of clutch effort baseball heads have come to expect from the Panamaniac.
Pat Gallen: Ben Francisco was supposed to take the right field job and run with it. His doubters called him a fourth-outfielder, asserting that he only started in Cleveland out of necessity. But Charlie Manuel had me drinking the Kool Aid. I was of the population that believed he could put up .270/20/80 if given the opportunity. It hasn’t turned out that way and the Phillies were forced to summon Dom Brown to the majors, where he too is struggling a bit. I’m disappointed that Francisco could not take the job from Jayson Werth and at least jog with it. Instead, BenFran’s below-average play has created another hole for this offense that they’ll have to look to fill externally. Wanted to see more from Ben Fran.
Howard, Ibanez, Chooch and Ibanez were all mentioned as the most disappointing Phillie. That pretty much sums up the 2011 offense.