Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Phillies Spiraling. Who's To Blame?

The Philadelphia Phillies entered the 2008 season as the team to beat in the National League East, and right now that's just what they've become, a team to beat up on.

After a pitiful showing at the end of June against the American League teams. The Phils hoped to bounce back from their 3-9 interleague stint and looked forward to getting back to playing National League teams. Last week they amazed us with a strong showing in Atlanta, sweeping the Braves in convincing fashion. Friday night continued to run as they took the first game from the Mets in their four game series. Then things turned once again.

The Phils have lost four straight after last night's shutout loss to the Cardinals. That game marked the third time the Phils had been shutout in their own building this season. Losing ground in the standings to both the Marlins and the Mets, the Phils now cling to a 1.5 game lead in the NL East over both Florida and New York.

So what is the problem in the City of Brotherly Love?

On June 1, the Phils had a commanding lead in the NL East with a record of 33-25. Eight games over .500 and looking dominant over divisional rivals. A little over a month later, they stand at 48-43, only 5 games over .500 and watching their control of the division slowly slip away.

Is it lack of control by the manager?

Charlie Manuel seems to have been unable to control not only Brett Myers pitching but also his mouth, as he spouted off about not being committed to starting after being sent to the minors. Manuel seems to have lost something with the players as well this season. As the team seems to be in la-la land most of the time and not truly having fun as the game should be played.

And who can forget the hypocritical move he made this week by packing it in against the Mets on Monday, and pulling his all-star second basemen in the sixth while down by eight. Unfortunately the Phils came one run short of tying that game maybe Manuel should bench himself for giving up, just as he did with his MVP earlier this season.

Is it the players?

No one thought that Chase Utley would be able to maintain the numbers that he was posting at the beginning of the season all year. After a long hitless streak, he seems to have worked out whatever ailed him in June and looks to be back to form in July.

The rest of the team though seems to be leaking like a siv.
  • Pat Burrell's number have slowly started to drop off as the season progresses. At the end of April Pat stood with 25 RBIs and has only 29 in the 2 plus months since.
  • Jimmy Rollins seems to be stuck on the idea of being the MVP and not focusing on what got him there. While his steals are remaining steady. His average and power numbers are down from last season, and has only 29 RBIs thus far.
  • Ryan Howard seems to be the all or nothing player for the Phils. His average is up from earlier in the season, and his on base percentage is climbing back but he is on pace to destroy the strikeout record as he has 124 a week before the break. Howard appears to either strikeout or score runs, no middle ground.

Is it the GM?

Phillies fan love to point fingers at the General Manager in these types of situations, especially this close to the trade deadline so it's not possible to let Pat Gillick off without a second look.

The Phils in obvious need of another starter have send C.C. Sabathia and now Rich Harden, both get dealt to teams before the All Star break. This race for starting pitching will only heat up as the trade deadline draws near and if Gillick doesn't do something soon, the Phils could wind up with another third or fourth starter on their team instead a solid two to back up Hamels.

There are many things that we can look to for the Phils recent struggles. A collection of all isn't going to win any championship and is now threatening to stop them from winning the division. It's time to right this ship, and the All Star break couldn't come at a better time.