Well there you have it folks, you got your wish, Shane Victorino batted lead off and the Phillies won yesterday. They are now undefeated when Jimmy Rollins bats sixth this season. Still though, Jimmy expects to return to the top spot soon, but said: "If it’s long term, who cares? You get a chance to drive in runs." He got a chance alright, except that he went 0-for-4 on the day and left four runners stranded. Meanwhile Shane continued to impress as he robbed Carlos Beltran of extra bases with an awesome diving catch in the fifth. "It worked today," Charlie Manuel said. "It might work again tomorrow." Hopefully Chase Utley will work again tomorrow as well since he went 4-for-5 with 2 runs and an RBI.
It can be fairly easily argued that Manuel made the right decision with the lineup – a move people have been calling for the past few weeks. He also did well to bring Tom Gordon to face Xavier Nady and close out the eight. More difficult decisions however will come in this Brewers series as Aaron Rowand is set to return. As we discussed last week, although Victornio might be the best option leading off the Phils simply don’t have a starting spot available to him. Perhaps Manuel may elect to rest Pat Burrell or Bobby Abreu for one of the day/night games on Saturday and Sunday. If you recall last week, Abreu went 5-12 against the Brew Crew with 3 RBIs and 4 runs, but Burrell was just 1-7. On the other hand, Charlie might consider easing Rowand back into his role as everyday as centerfielder and give Victorino a start there. No matter what though, finding ad hoc reasons to insert Shane into the lineup is unsustainable over the long run. I’m not willing to bet the house on the Flyin’ Hawaiian just yet, but when a guy is hot you gotta let him help the team. At some point though if he continues to impress, Pat Gillick is going to have to intervene and make a decision akin to the Utley/Polanco or Howard/Thome choice.
Trading Abreu is always an option but I must protest that since the Phillies will not be able to get full value for him in the mid-season trading market, he remains more valuable to the Phillies playing for them. His obvious defensive weaknesses aside, Abreu is still third in the league in OBP behind only Bonds and Pujols. Thus until he experiences a sharp drop in offensive production, I contend he is a player worth keeping. A name that has come up in trade rumors though is Mike Lieberthal. With a torn hamstring in Jorge Posada’s left knee, the Yankees could be looking for a new catcher to finish out the season.