It’s hard to ignore the Phillies struggles this season. It has been a season-long affair, not just this current, five-game slide they are on.
I talked about placing the blame from one player to another or aspect yesterday. It really is hard to actually blame the Phillies for losing when the reason they are losing is either in the dugout or a thousand miles away.
A $173 million-plus payroll is supposed to give you a roster that should supply plenty of wins. Provided that roster is even around to supply. On the DL now are Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and several other players. The 25 players on the current Phillies’ roster make $113.5 million according to ESPN.com. That means there is $60 million on the DL now, and that doesn’t include the salaries of Cliff Lee, Jose Contereas and Freddy Galvis, who have all been or currently are on the DL, or the salaries of minor-league callups.
This team has been snakebitten when it comes to injuries. And the real reason they are 28-30 is that they have to do the best they can with the best they have. If that means sporting a lineup peppered with has-beens and minor-leaguers, the same in the bullpen and a rotation that is trying to fill the void with spot starters.
The notable plays of a couple recent ballgames has been two popups off the bat of Brian Schneider. Both came in a one-run game in the ninth inning. Both came with the tying run on second base.
Looking at last night’s game, what more could Charlie Manuel do? He had to burn Mike Fontenot with the injury to Galvis. He had already tried Hector Luna as a pinch hitter. He tried Jim Thome first in the ninth as the go-to power hitter. That failed.
With Pete Orr shipped back to Triple-A earlier in the day for Thome, all that was left was Schneider for the pitcher.
There’s not much you can do. The team is trying to keep a winning formula, but at the same time is losing valuable time. Not this season, but in the future.
Why would a pitcher like Cole Hamels want to stay around here? Why would Cliff Lee not lift his no-trade clause if it meant winning? Players want to win, and while they understand that injury and defeat are a part of the game, there was not expected to be this much of both by this point in the season.
The Phillies have also had a knack for lacking the ability to come from behind. It’s a formula that sends people running from the stands as early as possible, usually starts around the seventh inning and grows from there. This is not in blowouts or games where the lead just gets away from the Phillies. This was last night’s scene in a one-run game with three at-bats left.
It’s not that fans don’t want to believe anymore, it’s that they can’t. Winning has become far too expected, and now that injury and trying to make the best of it with what they have is failing, patience is running out.
Again, fans have every right to become impatient to a certain degree. Some of the regulars, namely Hunter Pence and John Mayberry Jr. as last night’s representatives, turn in bad games from start to finish. It changes hands from game to game and happens as a natural part of the game just like hot hitting. Just ask Ty Wigginton – 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a triple shy of the cycle last night – about that.
I don’t think it’s time to panic over this team. Panic is something you do when the good turns bad; when things don’t function – for no apparent reason – the way they normally do. I think it’s time to fess up to the fact that this year’s Phillies are made up of a majority of minor-league players. It’s time to fess up to the fact that injuries have hurt the Phillies to get them where they are.
It’s not time to panic about missing the playoffs because a team with a healthy Utley, Howard and Halladay wouldn’t miss the playoffs. It’s time to just face the facts, and that is that without the players they paid to be the rock of the lineup and rotation, the team suffers greatly.
The Phillies had survived without Utley and Howard before and even survived Cliff Lee’s DL stint earlier this season. It just happens to be this year that being an injury-plagued team finally caught up with them.