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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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  1. Geoff

    April 11, 2008 at 11:30 am

    I agree. Victorino simply CANNOT be the 2 hitter with his average right now. that ruins the whole offense. He darn well cant be leadoff without j-roll. chase utley is too good to be a 2 hitter and should be a 3. maybe they move burrell bck to 3 and utley to 2 for the time being until vic starts to hit again?

  2. Bruce

    April 11, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Hey, it’s only TEN games into the season. Give Victorino a little more time to find his stroke. Did it occur to you that the Mets won this first series with a combination of pitching, speed and “smallball”? I personally feel the Phillies need Victorino to follow Rollins in the batting order so the team can have the same opportunity as the Mets for smallball. The Phillies can’t rely solely on the longball as they did last night (solo HRs by Felix and Howard).

  3. Geoff

    April 11, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I agree, but if hes still hitting below the mendoza line in 10,15 more games than you have to do something. I would expect him to be back on track by then but yuou have to be prepared if he isnt

  4. GM-Carson

    April 11, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    I did a nice breakdown of the first 10 games on my blog today too, and it’s eerily similar…great minds think alike.

  5. Mike T

    April 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Any Jimmy Rollins updates?

  6. Tim Malcolm

    April 11, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    None yet.

    However, Ken Mandel, the guy who covers the Phils for MLB.com and sees every game, doesn’t even know who the Phils are playing Tuesday:

    “As part of the tribute, the Phillies will salute African-American pioneers that opened doors for others. The four living players of the historic Philadelphia Stars — catchers Bill Cash and Stanley Glenn, pitcher Harold Gould and second baseman Mahlon Duckett — will be honored on the field before Tuesday’s game against ?. The Philadelphia Stars existed from 1934-50 and won the ’34 Negro National League pennant.”

    Haha. Story is here: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?
    ymd=20080410&content_id=2513025&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

  7. Gavin

    April 11, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Charlie Manuel…..with his new contract…..seems alot more outspoken this year too. When Myers mouths off about “flipping the switch” or “I had good stuff today” Manuel has been quick to bash is opening day boy. He laso railed on Madson for saying hwen he would or wouldnt pitch.

    I like it.

  8. Paul

    April 11, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Any chance that Benson replaces Kendrick in the rotation when he is healthy? I think if Kendrick doesn’t pick it up soon, that it could happen.

  9. bob s.

    April 11, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    No….we really cannot afford Kyle Lohse !!!!!…..what small minded management we have….if only they wanted what the fans want….a Phillies team in the World Series.

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