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Odds And Ends: Putrid Defense, Kendrick’s Crud

The Phillies have been a Jimmy Rollins-led team since sometime in 2006, we think (Elias Sports Bureau wasn’t exactly sure), but last night offered a chilling look at the team without our MVP.

For one, the defense was staggeringly bad. But I wouldn’t drop that on the fact that Rollins was out. This team’s been making bad plays all season, with and without Rollins. Bad defense is usually unexplainable, but could be as easy to explain as “I took my eye off it for a split second.” Chances are that’s the case. Combine the cold and the rain and you got a formula for disaster.

It’s troubling the Phils are making these bad plays, but it’s not the end of the world. I feel as the weather warms they’ll stop making these blunders. We can’t really suggest more practice or more discipline — like I said, defense is strictly unexplainable most of the time. We just have to hope they make better plays.

The real problem I witnessed yesterday was the lineup construction. Shane Victorino moved into the leadoff spot and was atrocious, going 0-5. Clearly Vic needs to sit a game or two to clear his head — he’s a welcome part of the roster because of his offense (when it’s on), his speed (he needs Davy Lopes back soon) and his defense (which is fantastic so far), but he needs a seat right now.

Moreover, Charlie Manuel elected to place Eric Bruntlett in the two-hole, a move I don’t understand. It’s bad enough a sub-.200 hitter (Victorino) is getting the most at bats for the Phils, but to put a non-everyday player in the two spot, giving him more at bat possibilites than Chase Utley and Ryan Howard is a ridiculous idea. If they have to go without Rollins tonight, slide Bruntlett into the eight hole and, heck, move Utley to leadoff. Give your best hitter the most chances to do his job.

Kendrick Kan’t Do

Patrick Berkery over at Phils-ville questions Kyle Kendrick’s performance, and justly so. The kid looked scared. He was trying to finely place each pitch, and he wasn’t hitting sometimes, which makes the umpire call against him other times. It’s the nature of the game. Sure Barksdale was real painful last night, but Kendrick offered no real opposition.

Truth is Kendrick is being exposed, both physically and mentally. That “poise” we all cheered about last season is quickly becoming luck — maybe he was effective because some hitters were too anxious off such a young, green, easy-to-strike pitcher. This year the tables have turned so far — hitters are being patient with Kendrick and are seeing that it’s pretty easy to cash in.

Berkery suggests another poor start could lead Kendrick down the primrose path to Allentown for a stint in AAA. It wouldn’t hurt. Kid needs to develop his out pitch — the changeup isn’t it; work on the sinker. And he needs to toughen up and remember, the show is a BIG DEAL, but you don’t need to prove yourself, you just need to make pitches.

While Kendrick rehabs himself, it makes sense to pull Chad Durbin into the rotation. By the way, Francisco Rosario is on the way back and would be the perfect new swingman in the ‘pen. Maybe the writing is on the wall after all.

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