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10 Games In: Things We’ve Learned

I love the 10-game mark in the baseball season, because you get to say, “Well, we’re practically 1/16 through the season.” And when you put it that way, the season seems so short. But in all honesty, the season is a winding one, but 10 games in, you get to notice the early trends. Like:

Ugly hitting
The Phillies batting order has many holes through the first 10 games. Shane Victorino is hitting a horrendous .175, scoring only two runs. Ryan Howard has two home runs, but is hitting .189 and is on pace to strike out 227 times. Pedro Feliz is hitting .194. Carlos Ruiz — who looked very good during the spring — is toting a .185 clip. In fact, all those guys who were hitting during spring … aren’t hitting now. Funny, isn’t it?

Inability to get the job done
If games were measured in LOBs and not Rs, the Phils would be 10-0. The main culprits in the left on base parade are Vic, Feliz and Howard, but this stat seems to seep through all pours. The Phils can’t wait until June to hit the ball. Manufacture runs. Steal bases. Bunt properly. Take pitches. These are things the Phils haven’t done well at all so far.

Still, Chase Utley is The Man
And so is Pat Burrell. The two have combined to go 24 for 68 with six homers, 17 ribbies and 14 runs. Burrell is getting on base more than half the time (.513) while slugging a massive .774. Utley is slugging .676; moreover, he’s finding ways to win games. His HBP parade against the Mets showed how much he cares.

Adam Eaton looks OK
Yesterday, Eaton put forth another affirming start, going six strong while giving up three runs on a couple hits and walks. He’s kept the team in the game — that’s all you ask from a No. 5.

The Kendrick blues
Then again, Kyle Kendrick might really be the No. 5; he’s been erratic and scared, putting together a 6.14 ERA while walking eight and striking out one. Not a good ratio for anyone, ground ball pitcher or not.

A good bullpen
The most pleasant surprise has been the pen, which hasn’t been bad at all. Tom Gordon has had one bad outing, one slight misfire and a bunch of nice outings. Together, Rudy Seanez, JC Romero and Chad Durbin seem to be strong middle- and late-relief guys. Clay Condrey is Clay Condrey. Brad Lidge will be good.

A bad defense
But defense has killed the Phils early. Eric Bruntlett cost the Phillies Wednesday night. Rollins and Utley have made their blunders. Even Feliz and Ruiz — good defenders — have miscued.

Bottom line?
Hey, it’s early, but if the Phils want to get out of April somewhere near the positive side, they must manufacture runs and quit being careless. If I’m Charlie Manuel, I’d think heavily about dropping Victorino down in the order and giving Utley and Burrell more chances to swing. And I’d tell my guys to take pitches. A patient team wins. Despite see-saw starting efforts, the Phils have stayed in almost every loss, but blunders and misfires at the plate have done them in. Time to recognize the problems and work with them.

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