The Phillies began a 10 game road trip with Cliff Lee on the hill Monday night in San Diego. Lee was his usual self through 8 innings, dominating the Padres lineup. Chase Utley homered in the 8th to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead heading into the 9th. Charlie Manuel allowed Lee to bat with a man on 2nd in the top of the 9th when Lee had already thrown 109 pitches.
Lee gave up hits to the first two batters he saw in the bottom of the 9th and in came the once infallible Jonathan Papelbon to earn his pay and his 14th save. A half hour later the Phillies went home losers, yet again. Falling to the Padres 4-3 in 10 innings. It was Papelbon’s 4th (!!!!!) blown save in 8 days. 8 days. 4 blown saves.
It’s official, things really could not be any worse and the blame for the shlop on the field has so many targets to land on it’s hard to say who should have it piled on the most. Cliff Lee is probably the only player on the team you can’t blame right now, but I got a list, here’s the order of my list and it goes:
Ruben Amaro. Maybe some of the moves he made during this offseason we as fans agreed with but basically every single acquisition has blown up in his face. As Phillies beat writer Matt Gelb recently pointed out, how would you rate each one of these moves?
I’d say Revere and Young are serviceable at best, and the other four have been abject failures. Adams can’t stay healthy, Durbin is some sort of sick joke being played on the fan base, Lannan hasn’t played enough to make in impact, and Delmon Young. My God, I can’t stand Delmon Young. He epitomizes what is wrong with this ball club. He’s slow. He seems lazy. He doesn’t care about anything but himself, as evidenced by his almost utter refusal to take the first pitch of an at bat no matter the situation, and he’s hitting .220.
We’re a brilliant flash in the pan two weeks out of Domonic Brown from Ruben assembling one of the worst Major League Baseball outfields you will ever see. That’d be all fine and dandy if this was 2007 and the Phillies infield was churning out 100+ home runs and making up for anything any other aspect of the team lacked, but no, that’s not even close to the case.
Cole Hamels. Hamels signed for $144 million last season and he’s 2-11 this season. He’s the first Phillies pitcher to rack up 11 losses before the All-Star break since 1937, and he’ll make at least 3 more starts before that break. Please excuse me while I go ram my head into a cement wall. If you bring up run support and Hamels to me in the same sentence I might just tell you to go have some fun with yourself. I could care less, at this point, what kind of run support Hamels gets. He’s acting like a prick out there and can’t hold a lead even when he’s given one. He got paid top of the line ace money, and he’s pitching like you’d expect Kyle Kendrick to pitch. He has a 4.50 (!!!!) era. You can’t complain about run support killing your win-loss record when you have an ERA like that. This season has been reminiscent of Hamels’ 2009, so hopefully Hamels can bounce back but at this point he just needs to remove his head from his ass and start pitching like he is capable of pitching.
Ugggghhhh. Where to next?
Charlie Manuel. If we were playing 5 card draw, Charlie would keep Cliff Lee and hand the dealer four cards. Having said that, it just doesn’t seem like Charlie knows how to get it done any more. He was a great manager for this ball club but without 4 guys hitting 30 or more homers every season each decision is magnified, and every one that goes wrong gets scrutinized by assholes like me to the enth degree.
My main gripes on Charlie, other than him refusing to wear his hat like a normal person, is that he just can’t seem to get this team motivated or change their approach at the plate. The Phils are drifting listlessly through this season with a bunch of overpaid, over-the-hill, has-beens for lack of a better word. He can’t seem to generate any fire out of these guys. It used to be, no big deal if we’re down late we can still rally and win this ball game. Now it’s; oh no, we have a lead late what are we going to do with this trash bullpen coming in? Listen, it’s not Charlie’s fault he has to send out Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus in big situations. Who do you want to see him trot out there? And now it looks like he can’t rely on Papelbon, so I wouldn’t even be surprised if Manuel just flat out retired at the end of this season the way it’s currently going.
Don’t even get me started on these me-first hitter’s at the plate. But I will say I blame Charlie for their lack of discipline and gameplan at the plate. Who else do you blame?
Trust me, there’s plenty of more blame to go around but we’ll stop it here for now just so I don’t have any readers feeling any worse about things than they already do.
I will say this, miraculously the Phillies have not played their way out of the division race. The Atlanta Braves began the season 12-1 and have been taking on water ever since. If Hamels could have won half of his games and Papelbon could have saved 2 of the 4 he blew in the last week the Phillies would be over .500 and less than 5 games out. As it stands they are at their low water mark of the season, 5 games under at 36-41 and are 8 games back. The Braves are 3 games under .500 since that 12-1 start.
The Phillies are traditionally a second half team, but these are not the traditional Phillies.
And so it goes..