Thursday, May 30, 2013

Game 5 2013 Eastern Conference Finals - Running Diary

5:51 PM EST: Here we are almost a year after Lebron answered all of his doubters with one of the most dominant games you will ever see. He strode into Boston with enormous pressure on his shoulders down 3-2 against a team his Heat were clearly better than. He said "no problem, I got this" and slapped up a ridiculous 45 points and 15 rebounds on 19-26 shooting from the floor. The rest is history. The Heat went on to dominate the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Finals and Lebron continued his brilliant summer leading team USA to a gold medal in London.

You could say the pressure is off of him because he has already climbed the mountain and won an NBA championship. But we all know the pressure on Lebron James to win, and keep winning, and keep winning will not stop until he racks up at least four or five championships. Lebron isn't just another Charles Barkely or Karl Malone.  Those two were certainly great players and dominated their era, but the world was not expected of them.  Lebron is a transcendent athlete that needs to solidify his position in the pantheon of all time basketball greats. He will have his chance to do that every June for most likely the next 5 to 7 years. Tonight will go a long way in allowing him to do that.

The Miami Heat take on the Indiana Pacers at 8:30 at American Airlines Arena. Ain't that where the Heat play? Lebron James will take the floor and attempt to ensure his chance at his second NBA title. I will be here to discuss the acton live as it's happening.

The winner of game 5 in a 2-2 series has gone on to win 83% of the time. Of course, the Heat were in that 17% just last year in the East Finals.

Check back in around game time for real time updates.

7:14 PM EST: David Ortiz walks. Wheels lauds him for being extremely patient. And the whole Red Sox team for being patient, noting this being the 4th game he's seen them in 4 nights. The Red Sox have gone from worst to first this season. Maybe the Phillies should take some notes.

7:20 PM EST: Might not have to even flip channels tonight. 4-0 Sawks.

7:34 PM EST: Delmon Young walking slowly carrying a bit stick in the 1st. 4 - 2 Sawks.

8:04 PM EST: I think Lebron needs to come out with the "Gimme the damn ball attitude!" Me too Shaq. Me too.

8:07 PM EST: My buddy Drew is in attendance tonight. He pointed out a nice cringe worthy fact. 

2008 Draft:

16th Pick - Philadelphia 76ers Marreese Speights

17th Pick - Toronto Raptors (Traded to Indiana draft night) Roy Hibbert


8:10 PM EST: Shaq likes the "mean mean" faces Lance Stevenson makes when he takes it to the basket. Me too Shaq. Me too.

8:15 PM EST: Reggie Miller,  Steve Kerr, and Marv Albert (Yes!) with the call tonight.

8:34 PM EST: Bases loaded 1 out for the Phils. GIDP. Kratz been great of late. Take the good with the bad. Still down 4-2. 

Okay it's game time. Lebron turns over the first possession. Dan Crawford, James Capers, Marc Davis. I hope its the last time I say those names tonight. But let's be honest.

8:35 PM EST: FIrst 3 shots haven't hit rim. It's ugly out there early. Hibbert gets a tip in for the first bucket 2 + minutes in. Lebron drains his first shot. A mid range jumper.

8:38 PM EST: Paul George drains a 3 and flies back on the next possession for another bucket. The play is a little sloppy early. Unforced turnovers on both sides. 9-4 Indiana with a 7-0 run.

8:41 PM EST: We may be on a Paul George alert early. He drains his first 3 shots including his first 3. Time for the first TV time out and they show a highlight of Hibbert laying one in. Reggie Miller speaks over it saying "The most impactful player in this series." That's hyperbole. We're at our first commercial break. He ate the bones. Jrue Holiday makes it into an Adidas commercial #quickaintfair.

8:45 PM EST: We're back from break and Craig Sager fits right in South Beach. Think Birdcage tonight Drew says. 17-13 Pacers and Lebron has turned it over 3 times with 3 minutes to go in the 1st.

8:53 PM EST: Paul George drains another 3. We're talkin solid NBA range on that one. 10 points on 4-5 including two 3s early. Meanwhile Dwyane Wade has two airball in the first quarter. I'll never get over the fact that that's how he spells his first name.

8:56 PM EST: Nearly a full blown Paul George alert as he misses a chance at his 4th 3 and 16 points in the first. Nevertheless he dropped a cool 13 in the first quarter. I'd say he's ready for the moment. Hibbert had 10 and Indiana leads 23-19 after one. Balanced scoring for Indiana.

9:04 PM EST: Birdman makes his 17th consecutive field goal. Hasn't missed a shot since game 4 of the semis. America Airlines is missing out a on a real opportunity with the Birdman and the Birdman. Brrrrrrrrrr should be playing every time he makes any play. Apparently it's a prerequisite to get a tattoo on your head if your nickname is Birdman.

9:08 PM EST: Birdman promptly shoves Tyler Hansbrough drawing double technicals. Bird was the clear instigator in that exchange after they got tangled battling for a rebound. He'll be seeing a fine coming his way. 30-25 Pacers two minutes into the 2nd quarter. Lebron makes another jumper. He could stand to be a bit more selfish. 

9:12 PM EST: David Beckham managed to get decent seats for the game.

9:16 PM EST: The Heat really just look out of sync and can't seem to get into any kind of rhythm. They only have 27 through 18 minutes and lack energy. Sluggish would sum it up.

9:22 PM EST: Sam Young just went baseline on Ray Allen like it was 2013.

9:24 PM EST: The Pacers are just dominating inside but the Heat are staying close with Bosh hitting a 3 and Chalmers getting to the bucket.

9:33 PM EST: The first half is over and the Pacers lead it 44-40. George finished with 15 in the half scoring just two and mostly disappearing from view in the 2nd. David West shouldered the load for the Pacers but the Heat basically never got untracked. Lebron had a bland half with 11 point and 2 boards. The highlight of the half was really the contact between Anderson and Hansbrough. After watching the replay the call was completely bogus and Hansbrough did nothing to earn his technical.

9:39 PM EST: Barkley says the Pacers are putting a "world class whooping" on the Heat inside. That may be the case but the margin is only 4. Shaq is basically making a fool out of himself just sitting there with that beard. Close your ears if he tries to make a point.

9:41 PM EST: My take on the first half: It's 44-40 and the Heat are lucky. They have not done much of anything any good, especially rebound. Lebron isn't playing bad but that's not the way you'd want to describe the play of the player who is supposed to be better than any one on the planet. Bottom line, he needs to shed the Magic side of his ego and put on the Michael side and the game should be over. You have to go down swinging, but I've known Lebron to take a pitch or two.

9:50 PM EST: We start the 2nd half with Frank Vogel in the locker room preaching will and determination. The Pacers have been listening. Lebron has 1 assist and 11 points.

9:54 PM EST: Lebron dazzles in the lane with a 360 lay in by George hill. Somebody that big should not be able to move like that.

10:02 PM EST: Lebron misses the first free throw he takes in the game. And his second.

10:05 PM EST: Offensive foul on George Hill.  Worst call of the series by far.

10:07 PM EST: Phils lost 9-2 :(

10:11 PM EST: Nice shot of Floyd "Money" Mayweather.  Who do you think Floyd is rooting for?  I wonder how much money he has on the Heat money line? The crowd is starting to get into it as the Heat take the lead 58-53. 

10:16 PM EST: Lebron is imposing his will at this point on both ends of the floor. He's made jumpers and gotten to the bucket. He's making flying blocks in transition. This is what you need to start seeing from the best player in the world. The Heat are up 61-55 and Ray Allen rimmed out a 3 that would have brought the house down.

10:24 PM EST: Marv Albert is dishing out "Yes!" after "Yes!" and Lebron is doing it all. He gave up what looked like a wide open lay up for a Udonis Haslem well defended 16 footer from the corner. Buckets. Steve Kerr says that Haslem has "been the backbone of this franchise for years."

10:26 PM EST: Lebron drains a deep 3 sending the crowd into a frenzy with 20 seconds to go in the 3rd. The Heat came out like the defending champs with the best player on the planet in the 3rd quarter. Lebron scored or assisted on 25 of 30 points in the quarter and the Heat lead 70-57 heading to the 4th. The Lebrons won the quarter 30-13 and Lebron out scored the Pacers 16-13. Welcome to the big show.

10:39 PM EST: Udonis Haslem takes a seat providing the same X-factor role he played in game 3. He's gone 7-8 with a bevy of mid range jumpers from the baseline. He's the mayor of the mid range baseline spot.

10:41 PM EST: Hibbert stays stayin in the post as he lays one in trying to keep the Pacers in it, but the Heat are just too much after a sequence of a Ray Allen 3, an Indiana turnover and a Wade lay-in. Heat up 79-66.

10:47 PM EST: It's all but over with 5 and half left. Norris Cole is dropping jumpers. Heat up 85-70.

10:50 PM EST: Well the third quarter has proven to be the decisive quarter in this game. 3 minutes left and they're playing out the string.

11:00 PM EST: Final - Heat 90 Indiana 79. It was never in doubt. If you're a Lebron fan this is basically what you live for. His team trailed by 4 starting the 2nd half and he was the catalyst that turned a deficit into an easy victory. Cameras caught him borderline berating his teammates in an effort to pump them up just before the half started. They had to blur out his mouth because of the expletives flying out of it. His lead was easy to follow. He made jumpers. He forced turnovers and created easy fast break points. His teammates, most notably Haslem who finished 8-9 (For the second time in 3 games!), fed off his energy and the lead quickly ballooned to double digits and the Pacers never recovered. Lebron finished with 30 8 and 6 and another chapter in his big game legacy. He really didn't quite go Michael and didn't quite go Magic. He went Lebron and that was pretty damn good.

If you're a Lebron hater. Oh well.

If you're a Paul George fan you're scratching your head and asking what happened after the 1st quarter.

11:21 PM: If you're still watching Shaq continues to make a fool out of himself. Charles is incredulous.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dealing in Reality

To be honest, I have not followed the Phillies with my usual fervor over the past few weeks. Life gets in the way sometimes, but more than anything, the Phillies have gotten in the way. There are so many sad and depressing facts oozing out of this ball club's lineup I can barely stand to watch it. Here is a sample text conversation I had this morning with my father. The Phils lost 9 – 3 to the Red Sox in Boston on Monday, May 27th. Memorial Day. Two meaningless runs were scored in the 8th.

Peter: How can the hitting be this bad? The pitcher was no good at all yesterday for Boston. But did not hit him?

Alex: There’s no talent left.

Alex: Kratz has 5 home runs. Howard 6.

Peter: Been following the game hard since 1964 (not a good year to start following the Phils). It does not drop off like this. Something is in the water. I believe they will catch fire yet. The paper went brutal on them today.

Well Peter, sadly, it has dropped off like that. Let’s just throw some numbers at you that are sure to make you cringe and feel like the once tortured fan base the Phillies used to have.

Phillies NL Rank and amount of Home Runs:

2007: 1st by 36 home runs (213)

2008: 1st by 8 home runs (214)

2009: 1st by 34 home runs (224)

2010: 5th (166)

2011: 8th (153) – Still won 102 games.

2012: 8th (158)

2013: 10th (44 in 51 games)

The Phillies of the past few years would lie in the weeds if they didn’t jump out to an early lead, and then (insert any name here) would come through with a 3 run bomb in the late innings to win the game. That simply just doesn’t happen anymore, as evidenced by the serious decline in power numbers from this ballclub.

Ryan Howard is not hitting 40+ home runs any more. Chase Utley is not hitting 30+ home runs any more. Jayson Werth isn’t here. Raul Ibanez is chugging along at age 40 (he’ll turn 41 in a week) with more home runs (9) than everyone on the team except Dom Brown. Pat Burrell retired. The rest of the lineup, save Brown, has been wildly inconsistent, at best.

The two biggest things teams can do offensively to win ball games are get on base, and hit home runs. The Phillies don’t do either, so here they are mustering enough pitching to stay somewhat relevant because no team in the NL East can seem to get going. Maybe they are still in it, but this team just absolutely refuses to change its approach at the plate. They have to be more selective and work to get opposing starters out of games earlier. Every time I switch over to a Phils game I see that the other team’s starter has 56 pitches through 4 2/3 and the Phils have zero runs and no one is on base. This is literally without fail what happens in what seems like 9 out of 10 ball games. They just don’t change. What is the old saying? Something about a zebra and stripes. The Phillies, all of them down from Ruben Amaro, Charlie Manuel, to Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, are not going to change it seems. I’m not sure why we’re still waiting for it to happen? We have to deal in reality.

That reality is that Cole Hamels is making $19.5 million this year and he hasn’t pitched with a lead in 10 straight starts.

That reality is that Ryan Howard is making $20 million this year and he has 6 home runs in 186 plate appearances.

The reality is that they have scored 2 or fewer runs in 20! of 50! games. That's 40% - yikes!

The reality is that if you bump that number to 3 or fewer it jumps to 27 out of 50 games the Phillies have failed to score at least 4 runs in. 

That reality is that Chase Utley (currently on the DL) has the highest batting average on the team at a whopping .272.

That reality is that the backup catcher is the 2nd biggest power threat on the team right now.

You just can't win enough ball games to make the playoffs with all of the facts above.

It’s not a reality that any of us want, but it is one we are going to have to come to grips with, sooner rather than later.

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's a Tough Watch

The Phils return home this week after a west-coast trip that saw them play two teams playing better baseball than them. They took two of three from the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants and salvaged a split in a 4 game set with the Arizona Diamondbacks. A 4-3 road trip against good competition is nothing to complain about, but I’m going to anyway.

These Phillies are just a tough watch, whether they win or not. As a fan, the two wins they got Saturday and Sunday were great but man it was painful watching them get there. After winning the first two games of the trip 6-2 in San Francisco the Phils’ bats basically went silent for 5 games save an inning or two here and there. It’s getting close to the point where we can say if Chase Utley or Ryan Howard are not carrying this team offensively then nobody else seems willing or capable to get this team wins, other than the starting pitchers.

Let’s first take a look at the run production during the trip after the initial two games, which I’ll admit came out of nowhere after splitting a home series with that disastrous ball club they call the Marlins. On Wednesday the Phillies did not score until the 4th inning, a solo home run by Kevin Frandsen. They did not score again until a dramatic 9th inning rally that saw them tie the game 3-3 only to lose it in the 10th. They showed some fight there, but scoring once in the first 8 innings is not a recipe for success.

I stayed up and watched the entire game Thursday night. I felt robbed of an extra two hours of sleep getting to bed just before midnight to watch that shlop. Cole Hamels started the game Thursday and his season is becoming the 2013 version of Cliff Lee’s 2012 season. The Phils flat out don’t hit when their best pitcher (technically, I guess?) is on the hill. The Phillies are 1-7 when Hamels starts and they have scored a total of 6 runs in his last 6 starts. Read that sentence again and try not to claw your eyes out. In his last 6 starts Hamels has allowed the following earned run totals: 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 2. He got the win in one of those games and that stands as his only win of the season. These numbers I’m throwing at you are a main reason why you should not look at pitcher’s win-loss record as an indicator of how he is pitching. Hamels has certainly walked far too many batters this season but thus far it hasn’t cost him and he’s the tough luck recipient of a 1-5 record through his first 8 starts. It makes me sick.

Friday night, let’s see. I feel like Harry Doyle here. The Phils dropped a tough one Friday after leading for just about the entire game behind great pitching from Triple A call-up Tyler Cloyd. Antonio Bastardo allowed an inherited runner to score to tie the game in the 7th and Mike Adams came in for the 8th to promptly allow the winning run to score. Once again, the Phils bats were silent virtually the entire game. Much to my chagrin, Jimmy Rollins hit the first pitch of the game out of the ballpark. That raises Jimmy’s average when swinging at the first pitch to just over .075. Just kidding, but seriously. The Phils pushed another run across the plate in the first with a Dom Brown single and that was all she wrote for the Phils scoring any runs Friday night. Pathetic.

Saturday night Cliff Lee was Cliff Lee. He went 7 strong and did not allow a run. I joked to my buddies that Cliff would need to pitch the Dbacks down to a score of -1 or the Phillies would not win. It took them until the 5th to get a run across and they added an insurance run in the 7th and 8th for good measure to take the ball game 3-1. Lee figured in both of the first two runs by getting sacrifice bunts down. Lee finished the game 0-0 with 3 sacrifice bunts. That’s doing your job. Guess who else did their job in this game? Charlie Manuel and Jonathan Papelbon. Bastardo was called upon in the 8th but struggled to get outs so with men on the corners and 1 out in the 8th out came Charlie and in came Pap. To quote Lebron James, “Its about damn time”  (Charlie did this). Pap has been a step above solid in save situations this season and Saturday was no different when he was called upon to get 5 outs. Pap allowed the man on 3rd to score on a sac fly in the 8th and worked out of a men on second and third one out jam in the 9th to earn his 6th save.

Then came Sunday. Man oh man, Sunday’s game was painful, until is wasn’t. To illustrate my point of Howard and Utley carrying this team I’ll point out that Utley was 3 for his last 14 entering Sunday’s game and Howard... Oh, The Big Piece. Howard was busy this road trip dropping his average from .282 to below .250. Howard was mired in the midst of an Ohhh forrr Seeveeennnteeeennn! That included a marvelous 0-5 4 K performance Saturday night. The Phils swung early and got hits in this game, but basically none when it counted until the 9th inning. Entering the 9th it looked just a bit worse than bleak, but somehow the Phillies figured out how to win like it was 2007 and not 2013. Chase Utley led off with a double for his 3rd hit of the ball game and scored on a Delmon Young opposite field double to right. Dom Brown followed with a big time clutch single that scored pinch-runner John Mayberry. This game was headed to extras. In the 10th Rollins singled and Utley followed that with his 4th hit of the game and second double. The Big Piece waltzed up to the plate carrying that horrific Oh fer 17 slump on his shoulders against lefthander Matt Reynolds. Howard is hitting .184 against lefties this season. No matter, he found a pitch up in the zone and with the infield in he found a spot in right field for a game winning 2 RBI single. What sweet redemption for Howard and the Phillies on the road trip. Papelbon came in despite the 29 pitch 5 out effort the night before and shut the door in the bottom of the 10th. Phils win 4-2.

So obviously it was a successful road trip but like I said it’s just a tough watch. If you are the kind of baseball fan I am and you’re watching these games you know it can be excruciating. The Phils just don’t make good baseball plays. Take Thursday night for example when John Mayberry was forced out at second on (what would have been) a base hit to the outfield. It killed the only Phillies rally in that game. Also, I’m not sure where everyone stands on this, but as far as I’m concerned the Phillies should outlaw swinging at the first pitch of an at bat. Jimmy Rollins does this all the time. I don’t have the stats on it, but they can’t be good. Another great example comes from Thursday night’s game. Delmon Young led off the 9th inning of a one run game and grounded out to second on the first pitch he saw. What is the thought process there? The Phils desperately need a base runner so why not see if you can work the count, maybe draw a walk or get yourself into a hitter’s count where the pitcher most likely has to throw a fastball for a strike for fear of a walk. No, let’s not do that they must think. Let’s think about myself and what I think is the best chance for the team and swing at the first pitch. I just don’t get it.

The Phils continue to tread water at 18-21 and are miraculously only 4 games back of the slumping Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East. Things could certainly be worse. The Los Angeles Angels have all kinds of talent up and down their roster including reigning Rookie of the Year Mike Trout, a well-known man by the name of Albert Pujols, and the crown jewel of the free agency off season Josh Hamilton. Hamlton is hitting .203 with 4 home runs and 11 RBI. He is owed 17 million in 2014, 25 million in 2015, 32 million in 2016, and 32 million in 2017 – guaranteed. Maybe Ruben Amaro finally made the right call not to splurge there. Pujols meanwhile is hitting .234 with 5 home runs and 20 RBI. I can’t get into every year remaining in his contract but know that he will be making 29 million in 2020 at the age of 40, and 30 million in 2021 at the age of 41 – guaranteed. Yikes! The Angels are currently 14-23 and 10 games back of the Rangers. The Astros, a team stuck in a battle with the Marlins for worst team of the last 20 years, are the only thing keeping them out of last place. This is Schadenfreude at its best, if you will.

Until next time, #LetsGoPhils

Also, here's some up to date standings which you can't be too upset with:

Braves 21-16 -

Nationals 21-17 1 GB

Phillies 18-21 4 GB

Mets 14-20 5.5 GB

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hope Is Not A Strategy

We are 33 games into the regular season and the Phillies (15-18, 3rd place - 5 games back of the Braves) have been stuck in second gear for what seems like all 33 games. Every one keeps waiting for them to go on a tear that has yet to happen. There is plenty of time for it to happen but this season is starting to feel way too similar to last. It is constantly two steps forward and two steps back. Sweep the Mets in Queens. Lose 20-2 to the Indians over two games. Handle the triple-A Marlins squad for the first two games of a four game set, and then look helpless getting demolished in the second two games. We keep hoping these Phillies will turn it on, but sadly hope is not a strategy.

In my last post, I stated that “I did not want to jinx it” but Roy Halladay seemed to be regaining his mojo. Consider it jinxed. Halladay’s three decent starts in a row that had followed two horrid starts were a mirage.  On April 30th in Cleveland he went 3 2/3 and got continuously ROCKED for 2 run home runs. I watched this start. Even the outs he got were hit hard. On Sunday against the Marlins any chance of Roy Halladay ever being Roy Halladay again basically left the building. Against the anemic hitting-challenged Marlins he gave up a whopping 9 runs and was only able to get 7 outs. His command and velocity are just not what they used to be and hitters are making him pay by socking home run after home run. With the score 5-0 and the bases loaded in the third, he gave up an opposite field grand slam home run to Adeiny Hechavarria, Adeiny is hitting .194. Out came Charlie and down went Doc. Today he was placed on the 15 day disabled list with “shoulder soreness.”  Every one hoped that his subpar performance last year was injury related and that Doc would be Doc again this year. But hope is not a strategy.

While the absence of a stellar Roy Halladay is a big issue the Phillies face, it certainly is not the only one. Aside from Ruben Amaro assembling one of the most dismal outfields you will ever come across the Phillies’ problems are kind of hard to put your finger on. They are certainly not a bad team, but they certainly aren't a good one at this point either. There seems to be a general malaise over every one on the team. There are no catalysts. There are no lightning rods. This collection of extravagant millionaires, young-ish guys trying to make it, and middle of the road players all seem to be going through the motions to me. I don’t see hunger or fire when I watch them play. I hate to say it, but there is no Jayson Werth or Shane Victorino out there challenging every pitch and every play with the intensity I saw from those guys. Chase Utley does this every one is probably thinking, but maybe his shtick has gotten old because I don’t see it enough from the others. These guys are professionals and they’re acting like it. I want to see them play with more youthful enthusiasm, you know like they are making $37,000 an at bat to play A GAME for a living.

It seems to me that they struggle to play baseball “the right way.” That is to say they don’t take an extra base. They don't advance runners or make "productive" outs. They constantly ground into double plays. They rarely manufacture runs. They show a serious lack of patience at the plate, as well as a general lack of understanding of situational counts. I swear if I see one more guy swing before he sees a strike when down 1 after the 7th inning I’m going to lose it. Same goes for any one who swings before he sees a strike after a 4 pitch walk. I just don’t understand the mentality and thinking (maybe lack thereof) that occurs when one run means the difference in a game and a walk is just as good as a single in plenty of circumstances.

One of the biggest issues the Phillies face is a serious dip in production with runners in scoring position. I’m always hearing Wheels reel off some god-awful stat like the one I heard after they lost 3 of 4 in Pittsburgh (including the last 3 straight): The Phillies went 6 for 41 with runners in scoring position during that series. Are you kidding me?!? Gross! 41 chances to score a run with a base-hit in 4 games means they do get men on base but they have not come through when it counts nearly enough to be more than a mediocre baseball team.

At the beginning of the season I chronicled all the different storylines and the gigantic “ifs” that it seemed like every one on the team was facing. We hoped that the Phillies would change their strategy (as a whole) and be more patient at the plate. We hoped Chase Utley’s knees would cooperate. We hoped Ryan Howard still had it. We hoped Charlie Manuel would take the dent out of the back of his hat. We hoped it would stop being $9 beer night at the ball park. We hoped Roy Halladay could bounce back. We hoped Dom Brown was a Major Leaguer.  We hoped Tom McCarthy could stop rivaling Wheels on the annoying scale. We hoped Chooch could lay off the ADD meds. We hoped the Nats would falter. We hoped Ruben Amaro knew what he was doing. We hoped Kyle Kendrick would turn out to be the staff ace.

Okay, so some of the stuff we hoped for is or may be happening. Some of that stuff, maybe we didn’t even hope for but I needed to see if you were paying attention or just going through the motions reading this thing. 

Unfortunately for us Phillies fans, hope is not a strategy.

*Props to Mike Rumbaugh for coining this term. It fits for this squad better than I’d like it to. 

As addendum to keep away from all the negativity I will say the following players I am happy with thus far this season, in order.

Kyle Kendrick
Chase Utley
Mike Young
Ryan Howard
Dom Brown
Cliff Lee
Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Pettibone
Antonio Bastardo

All these guys are playing decent to great baseball and need to keep it up. If you don't see some one on here you think should be let me know in the comments.