Will Phillies Make Necessary Changes?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, April 19, 2012 10:07 AM | Comments: 44
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

Maybe you’re with me in that you keep telling yourself “it’s early.” Well, that’s true, but it doesn’t make this awful-tasting pill any easier to swallow.

What we’re presently seeing from the Phillies is just bad baseball – there is no way to sugarcoat that. In the final game of the Giants series, defensive blunders cost the Phillies a game that was so magnificently pitched by Cliff Lee, it deserves it’s own wing in the Phillies Hall of Fame. Perhaps I’m being too generous, but you don’t often see performances like that; and they don’t usually result in a loss.

Here are some things I’m seeing…


-Let’s travel back to Tuesday night. This situation has been giving me nightmares and sums up the Phillies inabilities in a nut-shell.

With the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning, the Phillies managed one run. And that was on a lazy fly ball off the bat of Carlos Ruiz. How did the Phillies have just one guy touch home plate in that situation? Lack of patience, which is the underlying story in the results you’re seeing from the offense.

Madison Bumgarner, at that point, was on the ropes having allowed a single to Jimmy Rollins to begin the inning. Rollins then moved up on a wild pitch, Hunter Pence was hit by a pitch, and Ty Wigginton singled to load the bases. They got there with patience and slap hits. It ended with the opposite.

Over the final three at-bats, with Bumgarner feeling the heat, John Mayberry Jr., Carlos Ruiz, and Freddy Galvis saw nine pitches total. Mayberry came up hacking, fouling off the first pitch, then popping out softly to first base for the first out. Ruiz then swung at the first two pitches and got the count to 1-2 before knocking in the lone run with a sacrifice fly. Galvis then rolled over the third pitch of his at-bat to shortstop for the inning-ending fielders choice.

Ugly plate appearances lead to ugly results. Before the Mayberry at-bat, Bumgarner had thrown six balls (not including the pitch he hit Pence with) to just five strikes to Rollins, Pence, and Wigginton. He was wild, perhaps tiring at that point. Instead of being selective, the Phillies decided to go up to the plate with no plan at all and try to change the game by wildly swinging. They had an opportunity to break the game in their favor, but failed because of lousy plate discipline. That sequence still tears me up.

If the Phillies were failing, but doing it with more care at the plate, then I think people would understand. But they go up and waste at-bats trying to change the game with one swing. While writing this post, I was speaking with Phillies Nation Emeritus Tim Malcolm, and we basically had the same ideas. The Yankees and Cardinals keep at-bats alive and make it hell on opposing pitchers. Foul it off, foul it off, then strike. Make the starting pitcher fatigued. The same principles the Phillies of a few years ago used to abide by.

That focus at the plate is gone as guys like Burrell and Werth have moved on. All of that chatter during spring training about changing their overall approach has been nothing more than empty rhetoric. Charlie needs to put his foot down on these guys. Maybe he needs to have them sit down for movie night. Pop in Moneyball and see if they can change.

By the way, I watched Moneyball before Tuesday night’s game. I don’t recommend doing that before baseball games anymore.


-@NickfrDoylstown on twitter mentioned that he wanted Charlie Manuel to step down and be replaced by Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs manager Ryne Sandberg. But would making him the hitting coach be a step up from Greg Gross?

It’s clear the hitting coach has no effect on this team whatsoever. Milt Thompson couldn’t reach them when the demise began, Greg Gross is doing less. Really, they’re in a tough position. Gross doesn’t have the ability to tell players that have been doing it their way for a decade (or more) to change their approach. Would Ryne be able to get through to them and at least help stop this offense from trending downward?

I don’t believe it will help, but perhaps a move like that will show the paying customer that the team is willing to do whatever it can to win. Maybe a Hall of Famer speaking lends more credence than a guy who made his living as a reserve? Hard to say.

I’d like to see Sandberg in time, but I don’t know that the time is now. He’s doing a hell of a job teaching the youngsters and keeping the Iron Pigs as one of the better programs in triple-A. Keep an eye on this.


-I really feel for Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. Both men came here – leaving some money on the table, not that you care about that – believing the Phillies had the best chance at a World Series title that had eluded them. Now, we’re watching Lee throw 10 inning shutouts and finishing with a no-decision. You want to scream at the offense for them. I hope they take the pitchers out to a nice steak dinner.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1714 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

    hey pat you’re not halucinating! i see the same stuff you do. i find myself screaming at the tv for more patience at the plate. my god last night against cain. he in my eyes didn’t have his good command but the phils kept him alive by swinging again at non strikes and getting themselves in a count that helps the pitcher. unreal huh? i agree with nick that charlie has to go. be it a move up or out. but not as a hitting coach! and as far as gross goes.. is he even awake? i mean sometimes when the camera goes to him he looks like he’s sleeping! they need a manager with a grasp of how to win without pummeling the opposition (sandberg) and a hitting coach who is a force! a well repected person that some of these guys will or might listen to! my pick would be micheal jack! he was one of the most patient hitters in the game for his whole career and i think he could help some of these nitwit hitters. if they don’t make some changes pat we’re not even gonna see the playoffs! i don’t care how good the pithing is. if you don’t score runs you don’t win! it’s that simple!

  • Posts: 0 Guest

    Wasn’t able to watch the game last night because it wasn’t on MLB Extra Innings but that is another story for another day. It is early in the season and there is plenty of time to turn this around but I believe there should be some changes. Mayberry needs to be sent down to work on his swing. Every time he is up there and swings you know it is a ground ball to third or a pop out because he is pulling off everything. The phillies brought in Thome to be the bat off the bench so I can’t complane to much about leaving him in to bat against the lefty. Why not bring in Polanco for defense in the 11th once Lee was out of the game? Lets hope San Diego will cure some of these woes. Keep in mind as well the Phillies have played some good teams this year excluding Pirates and catching the Mets on a hot streak while the Nationals are playing some pretty terrible teams and all at home.

  • Posts: 2 fieldref

    Avatar of fieldref

    Its National High Five Day. Hi Five to Cliff, who could ask for anything more. Now lets get an everyday lineup and stick to it: Pierre, Rollins, Victorino, Pence, Mayberry, Polanco, Ruiz, Galvis. Leave the bench players on the bench where they belong assuming they belong at all. Mayberry will never get his head on straight if you keep messing with his mind. Kid doesn’t know if he’s playing at all,playing left field or playing first base. Put him at first everyday period and watch what happens. Galvis has been shown more respect than junior and John has earned his full shot. Show him you’re confident in him and he’ll get confident in himself.

    • Posts: 84 Johanna

      Avatar of Johanna

      I agree about playing Mayberry at first permanently until Howard comes back.

  • Posts: 0 Old HC

    Manuel was a very good hitting coach, but he preaches “Recognize, then Hit Your Pitch.” which is the Ted Williams approach and not “Wait for It, Foul off the Strikes You Don’t Like” of a Tony LaRussa. LaRussa was not as likeable as Charlie but he did teach “Patience in all things can bring Great Rewards.”

  • Posts: 0 Guest2

    I know the players love Charlie – but when is Rube going to recognize he’s a liability? He professes to be this hitting guru but the team does not consistently hit – Howard has arguably gone backwards the past couple of year. Furthermore his in-game decisions are mind numbing. Bring up Sandberg before it’s too late!

    • Posts: 2 fieldref

      Avatar of fieldref

      If you’re waiting for RAJ to recognize something, don’t hold your breath. Charlie asked for an infielder who could hit in spring training and got nothing. The manager also got nothing in the off season. Could have picked up Pudge from the Nationals but kept Schneider instead. Trashed Ibanez and got Nats reject Nix. Josh Willingham was available but Junior signed Wiggington. Guess he got the names confused.

      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        1) Pudge at this stage is no better than Schneider
        2) Ibanez and Nix are similar as hitters, but Nix is better defensively
        3) Wigginton was signed to back up at 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
        4) Willingham signed a 3-year $21 million contract to be a starter. Decent player, but expensive.

  • Posts: 84 Johanna

    Avatar of Johanna

    Besides the hitting – which I agree is atrocious, how do you allow a guy to pitch a stellar 10 innings of baseball, and then not use your 40-million dollar closer against a team which has just LOST it’s closer for the year? No – you put in Bastardo, who has been iffy at best? That’s a horrible decision in my opinion. If I were Cliff Lee – I’d be livid. If I were Papelbon – I’d be livid.

    And why is Lance Nix in the lineup – what exactly has he provided us since he started? He had a horrible spring and besides the one hit I saw on Sunday, it’s been nothing! And I agree with you – GIGI has to go!

    • Avatar of The Original Chuck P

      He’s saving Papelbon for the next game, when we’re up by five runs.

      Giancarlo Stanton has “0″ home runs and is hitting right around .250. He has made two errors and misplayed numerous balls this year… and yet, he has played started 11 of the 12 Marlins games this year. Dom Brown should be starting… he should be playing every day… he should be seeing major league pitches right now. The fact that we’re wasting at bats on Wigginton/Nix/Pierre and hoping that JMJ will be a player that he’s not is appalling, to me. This lineup couldn’t struggle any more scoring runs and you’ve got a guy that scores runs in different ways wasting away in AAA… it’s just absolutely appalling. Dom’s 4 extra base hits in the minors would be best on the Phillies. His 8 RBI would be best on the Phillies. His 6 R would be 2nd best on the Phillies. Just stop the nonsense and bring him up.

      • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

        Stanton already has over 1000 PAs and 50 HRs in the majors. He has a pretty good track record at this point…definitely better than Brown’s. According to XM, Stanton has hit three shots in the new Miami park that would have been HRs at Sun Life. The ball isn’t carrying there like they thought it would…

      • Avatar of The Original Chuck P

        Stanton has certainly earned his stripes but he didn’t exactly light the world on fire out of the gates… it took him time to adjust. In fact, Stanton’s first 200 AB numbers were pedestrian (.233/.308/.472) but he finished that first season on a tear (.285/.344/.542). The key is that the Marlins let him work through those tough times. The Phillies have given no such opportunity to Dom… in the bigs, he’s either been mired in a platoon or been forced to come off the bench. Add to that the broken hamate bone – he just hasn’t been given a fair chance.

  • Posts: 0 Guest

    I agree Mayberry should be playing everyday over the other choices we have right now. However if he is a major league player the fact of not knowing if he is playing left or first base should have no affect on his batting.

  • Posts: 371 Jay Floyd

    Avatar of Jay Floyd

    I’ve spoken with Gross on the record before and he pretty much came clean on his inability to work with veterans very much. Not sure if accepting that is the right approach, but that directive or outlook could come from Charlie as well.

    Good stuff, Pat.

  • Posts: 385 Publius

    Avatar of Publius

    This is easily the most flawed Phillies team of the last 4 years. Unfortunately, due to trades in the past, Rube now has almost nothing left to trade to solve the problem. Some minor changes are possible, sure, but the fact is that there is simply nothing else in the system to trade for a much-needed big bat at 3B or LF.

    I also don’t like the pressure this will put on Brown when he is called up. He will be seen as a savior for our hitting problems, but will most likely need some time to get back up to speed on hitting major league pitching. For every 0-4, 1-5 game that he has, the clock will be ticking and the fans will turn on him incredibly quickly for not immediately solving our woes. If this happens, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him revert to a role player YET AGAIN and lose the precious ABs he needs to fit his potential.

    • Posts: 1376 Pat Gallen

      Avatar of Pat Gallen

      Publius, I actually talked about this with Tim earlier today. Thought about including it, but figured it would be best for it’s own post.

      They want to have Dom Brown come up here in a pressure-less situation. Doesn’t look like that will ever happen. He’ll be looked at as the savior and fair or unfair (it’s unfair, we all agree) they may not have a choice. They could bring Brown up in May, put Mayberry at 1B and use Nix and Wigginton as their primary bench bats. I think Charlie needs to settle on doing one thing with all three of those guys, but he wont.

      As far as Brown, I think we’ll be talking about that more soon…

      • Posts: 0 George

        Eventually Manuel WILL “settle on doing one thing with all three of those guys,” but I only count twelve games played so far. It will take more than that before he even knows all their capabilities/shortcomings.

  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    So Lee was fantastic but the Phillies were not patient with Cain? I hear this over and over. When Lee and Halladay walk no one they are great but when opposing pitchers shut us out it is all our hitters fault. BS. The truth is somewhere between.

    You can only be patient if that helps. If it drive you quickly to 0-2 you would be better off hacking early. Depends on the pitcher and the situation.

    All of this micro criticism won’t hlep. If you have bad hitters being patient only extends the pain. The problem is that Charlie has nothing to work with. If Polanco is lost and Mayberry in a funk then the only hitters are Rollins, Pence and Victorino with an hit now and then from Ruiz. That is not enough to being a winning team.

    One good thing out of this is I hope people will appreciate that not anyone can get the RBI that Howard generates. Unfortunately when he comes back he will not be 100%.

    This team cannot hit. Changing the coach or the manager will not change that.

    • Posts: 0 George

      Cain himself said he thought he was better against the Phils than he’s been against the Padres, who managed one whole hit off of him.

      You can’t judge the hitting against a pitcher like Cain, particularly when Cain is zoned in.

      You can’t judge it much against Bumgarner, either. They Giants didn’t get to be a contender with hitting; they did it by getting the other team out.

  • Posts: 0 Dave

    I feel very sorry for the Phillies starting pitchers. This lineup is boring to watch. Period.

  • Posts: 0 Barty

    Freddy was great in Lakewood in 2008. He needs to start doing what he did in beautiful FirstEnergy Park. Glad to see he is in the majors.

  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    I think maybe it could be time to change Charlie. Maybe his approach with the players and with the hitters specifically isnt working anymore. I do not know anyone who is out there that could fill the job but someone has to come in and change it. This team has been in an offensive rut since the 2009 World Series and its not getting any better.

    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      They had the highest-scoring offense in the league once Utley returned last year.

      Here is where the Phillies have ranked in scoring, and how they’ve compared to the NL average:

      2008: 2(T), 9% over
      2009: 1, 14% over
      2010: 2, 10% over

      2011: 7, 7% over (full season)
      2011: 1, 12% over (after Utley returned in May)

  • Posts: 0 schmenkman

    Speaking of making the necessary changes, their fans are a little worried about the 4-8 Sawx…


  • Posts: 0 BART SHART




  • Posts: 1110 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    All it takes is one game for many to start pressing the Panic Button. I watched last night’s game, and I agree– it was horrible to see this one turn into a loss. But at the same time, we’re only 12 games into the young season –without Howard and Utley. There’s still 150 more to go. And at least 75 of those will be with our #3 and #4 guys.

    Remember that poll? No panicking for now guys! Especially when we can’t hit off Matt freaking Cain… that should be expected anyway!

    • Avatar of The Original Chuck P

      Matt Cain is pretty good, too… his last two games have been 9 inning / 0 ER gems with one walk total.

      I’m not hitting that button but I think that Charlie was bad last night and I think that the team is missing an opportunity to do something right for the future.

      • Posts: 0 George

        Yep. One walk. It was a Phils player who worked that, and I thought the team wasn’t patient enough.

  • Posts: 0 JohnMatrix

    phillies should build a time machine resign ibanez and valdez for low money. not saying valdez is a hitting solution, but he could play infield and ibanez and his 20 homers will be sorely missed this year. especially when they knew howard was going to be out, and knew mayberry can play first.

    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      I don’t know. Nix is as good as Ibanez offensively, and better defensively.

      Valdez would replace who — Orr? Then what happens when Utley returns? And there is still Fontenot, who is at least as good Valdez.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Who here really believes that Chase Utley or Ryan Howard are gonna be factors this year? Its not a problem to hold on with a bad lineup until the “cavalry comes”, but I don’t think there is a cavalry coming. In this sense, the Phillies are stuck. Personally, I lay the fault at no one’s feat. Until Blanton puts in a good two months, we don’t really have anything to trade or would trade.

    I don’t want to see this shitty offense all season yet at the same time I don’t wanna see Ruben making hysterical trades to try to somehow salvage this year if things get bad. I’m gonna see it now, on April 19: This ain’t our year.

    The Dipsy

    • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

      Let’s just hope that Hamels doesn’t look at this team and wonder if it’s a good idea to even stick around with such little run support. The Phillies will be in need of replacements in CF, LF, and 3B next year, as well as another year of uncertainty with Utley.

      • Avatar of The Original Chuck P

        I think Howard will be a factor… he’s not going to be stealing any bases but he should be able to swing a bat.

        I don’t know if we win the NL East but I think we can get in and do some damage once everything comes together. If not, Hamels could be gone at the deadline.

      • Posts: 0 George

        They’ll also have a heck of a lot of money coming off the books if the CF, LF, and 3B all depart. Hamels isn’t stupid, and probably knows that money could go a long way to signing some more run producers.

    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      I think both Howard and Utley will return and be a factor. Howard might have the worst rate stats of his career, but will still be an improvement, at least vs. RHPs.

      Utley will be at or slightly below 2011 level, which was near league-best at his position.

  • Posts: 77 branderson925

    Avatar of branderson925

    Feel bad for Halladay and Lee leaving money on the table?

    GTFO. I love this blog and all the writers here are great but seriously, come off it.

    They are playing for the premier team in the NL. Yes I know we’ve been slipping. I pay close attention but seriously they signed with a team that had and still has great potential to win championships. There have been teams with weaker offenses to win the WS.
    So damn quick to panic. Take a chill pill and relax. Maybe skip a few games. I know it is frustrating to see a 10inning shutout go to waste, I understand. But seriously relax the season is so young. We haven’t been a good April team in over a decade. I don’t think it has mattered though, has it?



    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      branderson, completely agree.

    • Posts: 1048 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      No way man. I know they’ve had the best record in the sport the last few years and have the best pitching staff in baseball, but if they cant do better than 5-7 in their first 12 games while playing without two of their most potent offensive weapons it’s obviously time to trade away all the players, fire the manager, drown he GM in the Delaware, sell the team to China, burn the stadium to he ground and take up golf.

  • Posts: 0 Fritz

    All we need are more three run homers! Oh Crap it’s not 2008 is it? Oh well I’ve enjoyed the 5 year ride. Retool Rube including your coach.

    • Posts: 0 George

      Sometimes I think it’s the fan base that should be retooled.

      • Posts: 0 EricL

        Amen George. That is the most accurate statement in this thread.

  • Posts: 0 Ron Reynolds

    Look at the FACTS! Get rid of Charlie NOW! He was given a team that was hungry, and played their hearts out. Every year since they won the World Series, they have dropped down a step each year. Every hitter has dropped in percentage every year, they have taken on the image of their manager, a lifetime 199 hitter who couldn’t make it in the big leaques. They look like they have no motivation or desire to be on the field. Managers can’t be buddies, and his decisions are pathetic. Where is Sandburg? Get some leadership in this dugout before we lose this year too.

    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Dude, are you even aware that Manuel has been here since the start of the 2005 season? And that players decline in their 30s? Even when they don’t suffer torn achilles or degenerative knee conditions?

      He seems to have done pretty well with the team he was given.

    • Posts: 1048 EricL

      Avatar of EricL


      Facts? Every year they’ve gotten worse?

      You know this team has improved its record every year for the last half decade and has led all of baseball in wins the last two years, right?

      Thanks for the laugh though

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