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.