Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pat is Back … and Not in a Good Way

With the recent bullpen struggles, Kendrick's struggles, Howard's strikeouts and the offensive ineptitude, there's one player that has been hurting the Phillies more than any the past month. That man is Pat Burrell.

Now, everyone is aware of Pat's August slump. It's been discussed on broadcasts and occasionally mentioned in articles. But man oh man, Pat is getting quite a pass considering just how bad he's been. A man who used to absolutely get killed by fans and media alike is getting glossed over. Maybe it's because Pat has never complained, never made excuses. Maybe it's because he played so well in the second half last year and continued to do so for much of this season.

But as the Phillies continue to trail the Mets, now by two games on the third day of September, Pat has come up really, really small. In the last month, the Bat is hitting a God-awful .170. And much of that time, he was doing it in the three hole. For a team that has had trouble scoring runs, he's been a black hole right in the middle of the lineup.

But it's not just the fact that Burrell is struggling. Everyone goes through slumps. Hell, just about everyone on the team this year has had some rough bumps in the road. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, everyone. There hasn't been a consistent hitter on this team all year, except for Greg Dobbs pinch-hitting.

With that in mind, it may seem unfair to single out Burrell. That perception would be wrong, and I'll tell you why. Jimmy, Chase, Howard, when they were struggling, you could feel that all they needed was one hit to get out of it. Something was off with those guys, but there wasn't any fundamental differences in their approaches. Pat, on the other hand, looks absolutely nothing like the player he was in the second half last year or the first half this year.

He looks like Pat circa 2003-2006—the Pat Burrell that was absolutely blasted with boos. He's looking at called third strikes right down the middle. He's swinging at low and away sliders. He jamming himself inside. Pat no longer looks confident and comfortable at the plate. He once again looks like a deer caught in headlights. And that's a frightening thought for the Phillies. Pat's been so bad and his at-bats to crippling that I'm actually rooting for Charlie to give Greg Golson a shot right now, in the middle of a pennant race, even though he's unproven.

It's not just the fact that Pat has been awful. He flat-out sucks right now. For all the strikeouts Ryan Howard will drive you nuts with (all 181 of them), the man gets big hits and drives in runs. And he never looks scared at the plate, even if he scares us when he gets two strikes. But Pat looks like he'd rather be any place else besides that batter's box right now. He's coming up small when the Phils need him most. And it's time to let him know just how much he's killing this team's chances right now.

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