Keep The Change

Keep The Change: It Was The Worst of Times…

It’s no secret that it’s much easier to write a column when things aren’t going smoothly.  That being said, this column kind of writes itself.

A few weeks back, many of us looked at this past road trip as a way to put some distance between the Phillies and the competition. Sadly, it did, just not the way we figured. The Phillies now find themselves 2.5 games behind the Braves.

Where to start?

During Jimmy Rollins first absence, the rest of the lineup was hitting and the Phillies seemingly didn’t skip a beat. The second time around has not gone nearly as smooth.  Nobody is hitting. At all. In the least.

Wilson Valdez, for some ungodly reason has been hitting in the number two hole, meanwhile the team’s on base leader, Carlos Ruiz continues to hit seventh or eighth. Go figure. While it looked awful on paper, there hadn’t been a specific moment that I could point to that could really help show the general public how terrible this idea was.

Then Wednesday afternoon happened. With Jayson Werth in the leadoff hole, Charlie Manuel  kept Valdez in the two spot. Fast forward to the eigth inning. With a man on third and first base open, Bobby Cox makes the easiest move in the history of baseball, walking Werth to get to Utley. Manuel, sticking by his oldschool ways let Valdez hit for himself, keeping Shane Victorino on the bench, and thus blowing the late inning opportunity that would be the team’s last for the game.

Manuel later decided it would be a good idea to pinch hit Shane for Raul Ibanez in the ninth. I doubt there is a Phillies Nation reader who doesn’t know of my disdain for Ibanez, but seriously? Going with Valdez over Victorino, only to go with Victorino over Ibanez an inning later made zero sense.

The Valdez move isn’t the only lineup move that has led people to question the skipper.

Monday’s one-two combination of Russ Gload and Greg Dobbs was wildly laughed at by baseball experts throughout their collective websites, twitters and such. The duo combined to go 0-5, getting on base once as Dobbs walked.

The only solace for Phillies fans is that its not just the top of the lineup that isn’t hitting. However, when a team is marred in a slump like this, the in-game managing will be brought to question along with everything else. The in- game stuff has never been Manuel’s forte, but the team hasn’t been in a rut like this in years. Manuel has never had a problem reaching the team, and I’m not calling for his head by any means.

But somebody in his inner circle, has to be able to help steer Charlie in the right direction. Hitting Valdez in the two-spot just after they had decided to send him down sends question marks to the fans.

Perhaps some home cooking is what the Phils need. The friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park welcome the Phillies for seven straight this coming week.

Maybe Ryan Howard will find his power stroke that made Ruben Amaro sign him to that massive contract extension.

Maybe Chase Utley will find what many think to be one of the sweetest swings in baseball and get a multi-hit game.

Maybe Jayson Werth will get back to hitting like the guy we all so desperately  wanted the front office to lock up for years to come.

Maybe Charlie Manuel will stick with a lineup that makes sense and not lead us to question the guy who has delivered the team back-to-back pennants.

And maybe, just maybe Jimmy Rollins will return healthy sooner than later, kick some ass in the locker room, and get back to leading the team that is in such dire need of a verbal asskicking right now.



  1. Ted Bell

    June 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I get it now. It’s all Charlie’s fault!

    I’m Ted Bell.

  2. Scott in D.C.

    June 2, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    What are the chances of the slump ending against the Padres’ pitching rotation?

  3. Ed R.

    June 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    The chances of the Titanic making across the Atlantic without hitting ice…

  4. The Dipsy

    June 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    When everyone slumps at once its a pretty ugly thing. When they come out of it, they’ll gonna be some teams in the N.L. that will be getting their asses kicked in. Charlie has no control over what is going on right now and it doesn’t matter what the lineup is. He can bat Valdez 4th. It’ll all be OK, its just that getting there is turning out to be somewhat painful.

    The Dipsy

  5. Blaise

    June 2, 2010 at 9:16 pm


  6. glutenous

    June 2, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Statistically speaking, the titanic probably HAD a pretty good chance of making it thought the atlantic without hitting ice, but it was thwarted by the crew carelessness in wanting to make good time. We’ve put it to good pitching before and can do it again. The armando gallaraga call was ridiculous. I think that umpire needs to lose his job, but that will never happen.

  7. Shawn R

    June 3, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I just wanted to make a note and thank Griffey Jr. Its hard to know what to say when you see one of the true greats retire. Thank you Jr

  8. Bruce

    June 3, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Just wanted to note that Valdez was/is the only Phillie not in a complete funk:
    Last 7 days: Avg: 320 Obp: .346 Slg: .400 Ops: .746

    Not setting the world on fire, but he’s the only guy not Jeltzing it. Totally cool with CM going two hole with him in that situation.

    Love Phillies Nation and the Asburn/Jeltz award idea.

  9. NJ

    June 3, 2010 at 7:19 am

    The Phils have to be pragmatic in getting back to playing at the level thats expected. It’s clear the guys are pressing and are probably so over-focused on trying to get a result in every AB that its become counterproductive.

    The reality is as bunched up as the NL East is the Phils are by far the superior team and are in what is likely to be the worst period of the season, although not this bad, it happens every year that the Phils look lost in and around June before returning to being the best in the NL. Look at the Red Sox this year, you can put the team and the manager under a microscope and demand changes or trust that the recent history of the team is evidence enough they can turn it around be it now or going into next season.

    The Phils have been decimated with injuries, the fact that both Valdez and Castro are both starting shows that. We have to remember Rollins, Lidge, Happ, Madson and Blanton have all had serious injuries as well as Polanco, Ruiz, Castro, Schneider. It is incredible to have literally half your core missing time as well as the support guys and still be in a position you can pretty much run away with it once the team turns it on.

    The bigger issue for discussion to me right now is what happens to Moyer and Kendrick when the team get healthy, both considering their roles are pitching above and beyond. Moyer I firmly believe has been the second most consistent pitcher on the staff and Kendrick is coming on leaps and bounds… Is it too late for both of them?

  10. Chuck

    June 3, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Yeah….Asburn/Jeltz is a great idea. I love it. Or……should I say I USED TO before whoever chooses the award decided to hand out these bogus selections like “The Offense”. C’mon…..pick ONE player that deserves it for each game like it always was done. Just seems like a lazy, thoughtless selection. My opinion.


    Charlie can’t be blamed for what is going on. I wondered too about the Gload leadoff thing a few days ago. But hitting Valdez…..who is getting some hits….hitting him second….isn’t the worst thing.

    Charlie HAS to try something….ANYTHING….to get it going. And….he’s been somewhat limited with J-Roll out and Polly being unavailable. It is no coincidence that this team’s offense is scufflling right now with it’s leadoff hitter AND #2 hitter not in the lineup.

    Thank God for the pitching. I mean…..lost in the discussion is Kendrick’s performance yesterday. He gave up ONE run. That’s it. If the Phils score 4 or 5 runs….which is pretty average…..then Kendrick is hailed as the hero and is the story of the game.

  11. Pat Gallen

    June 3, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Chuck, until further notice, “The Offense” stays as the Jeltz award. If this so called “offense’ cannot score more than a run a game, it deserves to be placed there for being the goat. This has been a team slump. Everyone has stunk it up.

  12. NJ

    June 3, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Just to add to the discussion- I believe innings is your primary goal with your back of the rotation pitchers. Through 10 starts Moyer has pitched the same number of innings as Cole 63.1 (Cole currently on 11 starts and 1 more inning with his rain delay start) and Kendrick has pitched only an inning less… The two have pitched more innings than a guy considered to be having a career year in Carlos Silva.

  13. Chuck

    June 3, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Thanks for the explanation, Pat. I understand your thinking even if I don’t fully agree. Some guys that are “stinking it up” are more responsible than others for each game.

    Can’t think of a specific example right now, but let’s say Chase Utley (this is just hypothetical) comes up twice in a game with RISP and grounds into two double plays. And maybe he strikes out twice as well. And let’s say he throws in an error in the field that leads to a run or two for good measure.

    Wouldn’t he be the best guy or one of the best to receive that award if it is deemed that with better play from him that the Phils probably win the game?

    Why should the entire offense get penalized in that particular game when one player really stands out as the reason for the loss?

    I guess from your perspective with this argument, the offense as a whole really does stand out right now as the reason for the losses….so I do get it.

    Just like the individual awards, I guess.

  14. Tracey

    June 3, 2010 at 9:34 am

    You want a specific example? How about Werth in a game over the weekend, when he struck out four times in four at bats, all four of them being the third out of the inning, and three of four with two men on base. Yes, the whole offense was nothing to brag about, but Werth’s performance in that game was particularly Jeltz-worthy.

  15. Nick Staskin

    June 3, 2010 at 9:50 am

    The shining light through all this, is that they are still only 2.5 games back.

  16. NJ

    June 3, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I don’t think the human element is being fully appreciated, granted the slump is a little more than the usual bad run but I think we’re underestimating the impact of facing Tim Wakefield and Dice-K at the top of their games. The Phils bats are so used to seeing for the most part really good pitching, but ones they can make adjustments off. Those guys with unpredictable pitches like Wakefield and then his protege RA Dickey and guys who pitch backwards or just nip away can really throw off really good hitters for a couple of weeks.

    Just look at Polanco, he’s having a GREAT season yet he gets hit on the elbow and all we know is he wasn’t getting it done, not that he was playing the very definition of hurt for a month. I’m not going to speculate on Ibanez, Utley and Werth’s health but lets just say it’s a long season.

    I’d expect Ibanez to finish with a decent season (probably not enough to appease his critics) and Werth, Utley, Howard to be bang around their career numbers as the Phils ease into the playoffs.

    Criticism is warranted, the offense has been TERRIBLE, that said lets not jump into the lifeboats quite yet.

  17. NJ

    June 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

    when “Your comment is awaiting moderation” does it actually show up or out or context the next day…?

  18. MikeB.

    June 3, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Howard, Utley and Werth, the middle of the batting order, and Victorino too, are the big reason for the current slide of this team, for the numerous times they failed at the plate to drive in key runs and Howard and Werth for committing vital errors which led to runs for the opposing teams. It is a team game; you win as a team and lose as a team but these four players failed to produce in most of the losses in the current losing trend. Watching Utley play, the usually clutch player that he is, makes one wonder if he is injured or is weak and has not completely recovered from that flu.

  19. CarlosBeltransexual

    June 3, 2010 at 10:34 am

    The Phillies lineup that “makes sense” is what got us into this slump in the first place. If Rhino/Utley/Werth are all slumping at once, Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking couldn’t come up with a formula for a good lineup.

  20. Morris Buttermaker

    June 3, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Chase Utley must really be stinking it up. All around the city, people are speculating that Utley is injured/ sick/ pregnant/ body has been infested by aliens. Golden Boy could not possibly be in a slump. He must be fighting through an injury and does not want to let down his teammates.

    Ohh yea, Utley deserved the Jeltz yesterday. His double play on a 1-0 pitch with the bases loaded was a back breaker. Could have changed the whole complexion of the game.

  21. The SHART Factor

    June 3, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Hello good friends.

    I had a nightmare last night that Roy Halladay hurt his knee and had to miss the next two months. Wouldn’t that be awful for you Stepfords ?

    Anyway, think positive.


    Bart Shart

  22. The SHART Factor

    June 3, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Utley’s hip is bothering him again. This was discussed on ESPN by an analyst who examined his swing of late. He may be done. Trade him for Roy Oswalt.


    Bart Shart

  23. Manny

    June 3, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    So I assume people aren’t willing to throw 18 million per year to Werth anymore??

  24. Brooks

    June 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    This may be a better forum for the article I read about Dan Haren and the hapless D’Backs, losers of 10 games in a row. The Dodgers just beat them in the bot of the 10th on a walk off HR. Haren had pitched with awe going 8 innings striking out 7 and allowing 7 hits. The D’backs have been mired in this slump longer than the Phils – Here is what Haren said post loss –
    Haren was asked to describe the level of frustration in the clubhouse.

    “I’ve been answering this question for a week or two now,” he said. “It’s not fun. It’s hard to come to the field. It’s impossible not to hang your head. You look around here and it’s been quiet for nine days. It’s not any fun. This group in here has to find a way. We have to find a way to win a game and go from there.

    “It’s embarrassing,” he added. “Everyone is embarrassed with the way we’re playing. The amount of talent we have and the way we’ve started the season off is embarrassing.”

    This is on the sleeve stuff here, Haren put it all out there. We’re pissed and embarrassed.

    Our management insist that nothing wrong. Something has to be bothering these guys – it is embarrassing.

  25. George

    June 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Typical. First everyone calls on Charlie Manuel to “shake things up.” Then, when he tries a new lineup to do precisely that, everyone says he’s not doing his job properly!

    You complain about Ruiz batting seventh? The man has no speed, so you can’t bat him first or second. He has limited power, so you can’t bat him third, fourth, or fifth. At least seventh or eighth, there’s a chance he’ll turn over the lineup. And, by the way, he’s been in the same slump as everyone else.

  26. Brooks

    June 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Keep thinking 10 rbi between Howard & Werth… May 17th
    Most potent offense in either league it will explode on the NL again, I hope I’m there.
    Do what has to be done to keep Werth, we will never duplicate the level of pitching that the Phils enjoyed in 08. But we know this IS the scariest offense in baseball today, when healthy.

  27. The Original Chuck P

    June 3, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Hey all… it has been a while since I’ve posted. Vacation, work, etc… anyway, I’m so thankful for this post because there were too many head scratching moments in yesterday’s game to recap on my own and with all the talk being about non-Phillies stuff (blown call in 9th inning of perfect game bid, Flyers and Junior), I just haven’t had a chance to try to rationalize anything that happened. So I’m thankful to read that my knee-jerk reactions to yesterday’s debacle were spot on. Charlie is trying to out-think this slump and that ain’t going to end well. So without further adieu, here are a few tips for filling out Friday’s lineup card:

    Valdez is a career .229 hitter (he’s there for his defense)… since we can’t use a DH for him, he should be hidden as far down the lineup as possible.

    No offense to Uncle Ben Francisco but he’s not protecting anyone…

    When Valdez comes up in late innings with a man on third when we’re down by a run, you pinch hit for him… end of story. Further, with RH Derek Lowe pitching, wouldn’t it make even more sense to pinch hit given the fact that Valdez is RH? Worry about defense when you have the lead… Castro is on the bench if need be.

    With our offense struggling, changes and juggling are understandable but abandoning baseball logic is just plain stupid.

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    June 11, 2010 at 3:59 am

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