Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Worst in First

With last night's 11-1 loss to Atlanta with their supposed "ace" on the mound — the World Series MVP is currently 4-5 with a 4.98 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and .312 opponents batting average — the Phillies have dropped 13 of their last 17 games. Their lead in the National League East is down a measly half game over the Marlins, with the Mets just two behind and the Braves now just three back. This is just getting ridiculous at this point.

Last night, I reached my breaking point. The team is so hard to watch that, frankly, I just turned the game off and watched a movie. You know how often I've done that in my life? Not very, even when the Phillies actually sucked so bad that the playoffs weren't even a thought.

This team just has so many holes in it right now. It's hard to believe that just a month ago, they had the second best record in all of baseball. How the mighty have fallen. It all started with the injury to Brett Myers. As up and down as Myers has been in his tenure in Philadelphia, he was still a guy the Phillies depended on at the top of the rotation. And this season, he was off to the best start of any of the Phils' starting pitchers. Then he went down, and all hell has broken loose since.

Jamie Moyer is looking every bit like a 46-year-old pitcher, with his bloated 6.05 ERA. Joe Blanton hasn't been the same guy as he was when the Phils picked him up at the deadline last season, going 4-4 with a 5.08 ERA. Hamels, the guy who is supposed to be an ace, can't even get pitchers out these days. When he gave up that single to Jair Jurrjens in the third that led to a 3-run inning, I was disgusted. This is our ace? This is the supposedly the same guy who ran through the Brewers, Dodgers and Rays in the playoffs last year? He can't even get Jair Jurrjens out. Pathetic.

Then Cole got rocked in the 5th inning, and the game was essentially over.

J.A. Happ, who is 5-0 with a 3.00 ERA, has been the best pitcher in the rotation — a guy who didn't even make it into the starting rotation out of spring training. Chan Ho Park was a disaster as a starter, and he hasn't fared much better in the pen. Antonio Bastardo has one pitch, and now he's hurt. And the Phils are bringing up Rodrigo Lopez to open up the series with the Mets tomorrow, a guy who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2007.

And that's just the starting pitching. Ryan Madson sucks again after failing as a closer in Brad Lidge's absence. Lidge himself has been horrible. J.C. Romero can't throw a strike. Chad Durbin is overused. Jack Taschner and Tyler Walker should be put down, and Scott Eyre and Clay Condrey are hurt.

Then we get to the lineup. Honestly, there isn't a lot to kill here. Carlos Ruiz and Pedro Feliz have come crashing back down to earth, but with their torrid starts, that's to be expected. Things tend to level out over the course of 162 games, but they should give the Phils roughly what you would expect. Ryan Howard is playing exactly like Ryan Howard plays. Chase has been fantastic as always. Shane Victorino is slumping now, but he's right about where he should be for the season. Ditto Jayson Werth. Obviously, the loss of Raul Ibanez has negatively affected everyone, and hopefully he'll be back soon.

And then there's Jimmy. Jimmy Rollins is, by all accounts, the worst leadoff hitter in all of baseball … and I didn't this look this up, but I'm pretty sure that goes for all levels of baseball anywhere: little league, minors, college, high school. I find it hard to believe there's another leadoff hitter in any form of baseball who still batting leadoff with such atrocious numbers.

This 30-year-old former MVP is batting .205. His on-base percentage is .250. He has just 63 hits, just 27 RBIs, 17 walks and 11 stolen bases in 307 plate appearances. Jimmy Rollins is the worst everyday hitter in his sport. How the hell did this happen?

Is age catching up to him? Seems unlikely. Thirty is nowhere near the end of the line in baseball, at least historically. How can a guy who has had a good deal of success in his career become the worst hitter among everyday players overnight? Doesn't make sense. I wish had an answer. I don't. The only thing I can tell you is the guy absolutely sucks at swinging a bat right now. And it's hurting this team.

Also, I'd like to slap Charlie Manuel in the face for his insistence on keeping John Mayberry on the bench against right-handers. Mayberry has shown a lot of promise. Give the kid a shot against righties. Greg Dobbs sucks so bad at fielding, and the guy never seems to hit when he starts. And Matt Stairs simply should never be in the field. Let big John hold down the fort until Raul gets back. I think he's earned it.

Oh, and for real, just kill Eric Bruntlett, Chris Coste and Paul Bako. None of those guys deserve to be the Majors. None of them. Coste is done. Bako was done three years ago. And Bruntlett was done before ever even made a roster. Get rid of these guys. They're worthless.

I'm getting so sick of this team right now. Yes, they're still in first place. Yes, they should get healthy, and you have to believe they're going to make some sort of moves at the trade deadline. But shit, the way they're playing right now is just pathetic. It's not 2008 anymore guys. Time to stop patting yourselves on the back and return to playing winning baseball. Shit.

BallHype: hype it up!

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