Analysis

The Sins of the General Manager and the Perils of the Dead Bench

“…I the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…”
–Exodus 20:5

Yes, Nation, this protracted offensive shortfall has reached biblical proportions. Right now, the team is paying for the sins of its father, namely, Ruben Amaro. We all remember Eric Bruntlett, right? He was about as bad an offensive player as has ever put on a Phillies uniform, and when his contract ran out, there was great rejoicing. Well, when we were finally rid of The Beard, Ruben went out and signed another player with mediocre speed, slightly above-average glove skill, and a .270 career OBP.

Credit where credit’s due: RAJ has, along with his predecessors, assembled one of the top lineups in recent baseball history, plus a solid starting rotation and a bullpen that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself.

But this bench, while never really a strength of this team, has finally reached unacceptable levels. Out of the eight opening day starters, none has a league-adjusted on-base-plus-slugging (OPS+) below 94, or just about average. Not one of the team’s bench players is slugging higher than .370, with the highest OPS+ belonging to Exxon Wilson Valdez. That OPS+? 68. SIXTY-EIGHT! There are 29 major league teams, apart from the Phillies, and 28 of them have at least one bench player with an OPS+ better than 68.

The problems with this are obvious and serious, particularly for a National League team. When your starters are worn out or mired in a slump, or when your entire left side of the infield is hurt, the idea is to have some decent hitters to bring off the bench so you’re not replacing a former NL MVP with a guy who has played sixteen years in the big leagues without even once performing at replacement level for a full season.

The worst part is that RAJ knew the dangers of the dead bench, had a whole offseason to fix it, and signed two over-the-hill veterans for far more than they were worth. Ross Gload doesn’t have any offensive skill Greg Dobbs doesn’t have, and, as a 1B/OF guy, hasn’t hit for even league-average power since 2006. Castro and Valdez we’ve been over. Yet Gload and Castro are both signed to major-league contracts (Gload, inexplicably, for two years), when their production and more can be had for less money.

The smartest money RAJ can spend right now is not for Roy Oswalt or Jayson Werth or even Cliff Lee. It would be to somehow make the numbers work on a deal that would jettison Gload, Castro, and/or Valdez. Take the payroll hit—right now, the Phillies are throwing good money after bad by continuing to play their bench players—and find someone (anyone) to fill in.

I don’t know where this production is going to come from (a minor-leaguer like John Mayberry? A free agent like Elijah Dukes?), but it’s out there, and with every at-bat the likes of Valdez and Castro get, the more serious the punishment the team and the fans suffer for the sins of their general manager.

75 Comments

75 Comments

  1. The Dipsy

    June 3, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Well Mike, I think the article is about 10 days premature, but that’s ok. That said, this is the situation I shuddered at thinking about at the beginning of the season, and why I suggested the Phils sign someone like Jermaine Dye who, to my knowledge, is still unemployed. We all need those “swiss army knife” players that can do everything, SEE: OQUENDO, Jose. We don’t have one. Having one of those guys allows you to keep one or two professional hitters on the bench because you can get your offense without worrying about them playing a position, SEE: STAIRS, Matt (but a better version). I think that Ruben wanted to put together a “nice little bench”, meaning one where no one would ever be asked to “step into the breach” if a big injury or something else happened, just one that could spell a regular every now and then or provide a defensive replacement. Well, as it turns out, this concept is failing because our regular players ARE out for long periods of time and extended exposure to regular playing time for Castro, Gload, Valdez has proven to be rather ugly. In short, our bench sucks offensively. Yes, Ruben needs to tinker with the bench. Maybe Tavarez is a start. Maybe he could look to signing Dye AND Dukes now. I don’t think Ruben is stubborn enough not to recognize the inadequacies and not try to fix them.

    The Dipsy

  2. Corey Seidman

    June 3, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Elijah Dukes had so many problems on and off the field in Washington that he required a personal chaperone after a while; someone to look over him and make sure he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

    Mayberry should be brought up for interleague play.

  3. shag beta sigma delta

    June 3, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I knew this overreacting to the bench would come, these guys are bench players for a reason, they do not play everyday, and they are forced into it because of injury and slumping starters, I stated yestarday, Valdez was hitting over .300 from the 7th inning on that is not that bad, and has played an above average SS most of the time. These guys are defensive guys not offensive guys.
    As for Gload and Dobbs it is a little early to say they can not hit, and Fransisco has hit OK. How about we let the starters get healthy and out of their funk before we start crying for a change. The first 15-20 games that JRoll was out his backups did a pretty good job, not great averages but some key 2 out hits, they can not do it forever hence bench players. So if you can get off the what have you done for me lately band wagon, realize over the period that these bench players have been forced into action that have done a decent job, just happens that they played way over there head a month ago, and now are playing a little below there abilities.

  4. The Original Chuck P

    June 3, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Now batting for the Phillies, Willy Tavares.

    In defense of Ruben… Gload was the best pinch hitter in all of major league baseball last season and Dobbs is just a few years removed from claiming the same title. Castro and Valdez were never meant to be offensive stalwarts… Castro is a guy that can handle the bat but Valdez owns a career .229 batting average. We all felt like Ben Francisco could help in a pinch situation but the rice-man appears to be brown (as in, doo doo). At this point, I don’t think adding is the answer… guys need to step up and do their job and that’s everyone. Top to bottom, no one is meeting expectations. It’s so hard to turn the ship around once it goes south… the pressure mounts, guys clam up and it gets really quiet in the clubhouse… it’s simply no fun losing. It might take an ugly win to get them out of it or some sort of shot in the arm (getting guys back healthy).

  5. branderson

    June 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Funny this is posted the day the Phils sign Willy Tavares. Granted he hasn’t been much of a hitter lately, he still is a .274 career hitter and once stole 68 bags. This will definitely create some speed on the basepaths IF and only IF Willy can get on base. As was the case for Houston, he didn’t get on and his effectiveness was slim.

    Good post but with what Chuck says, Gload was the best pinch hitter last season. A lot of it is luck as much as I hate to admit it.

  6. Phylan

    June 3, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I don’t think Tavares will make it out of AAA, considering he’s an equally untalented replacement for DeWayne Wise, who also didn’t see the majors.

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  8. Chuck

    June 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I agree. Signing Gload and Castro isn’t the problem.

    Gload KILLED the Phillies as a member of the Marlins and is an upgrade over Stairs. No problem there.

    Castro has done a nice job and is TEN TIMES better than Bruntlett. No problem.

    Valdez has been thrown into the whole thing because of the prolonged injury to J-Roll and now Polanco. And he hasn’t exactly been awful either.

    Francisco doesn’t get anough playing time to be effective so I really can’t blame him.

    Dobbs needs to go in my opinion but I understand the need for that extra infielder right now.

    What happenened to Cody Ransom?? Wasn’t he brough to the organization to play the infield and he can hit a little too I think.

  9. BS

    June 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Part of the problem is with the quality of our lineup, the bench players just don’t get enough at bats to ever find a groove. Gload was the top pinch hitter in the ML last year. He also had 259 PAs. This year, he’s on pace for 177. And that would probably be lower if Charlie hadn’t been mixing and matching lately.

  10. The Original Chuck P

    June 3, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    It’s easier to have the momentum continue going south when you’re missing guys like Rollins and Polanco. Those guys comprise 25% of the starting lineup ex-pitchers. That means, you’re missing one of those two every fourth batter… If they come up 9 times per game, they’re likely to get on base 3 times… their replacements are only going to get once or twice. 9 times out of ten, those extra hits are going to make a difference.

  11. George

    June 3, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Versatile players who can hit aren’t all that available, even if YOU might think so. Remember, too, that Valdez wasn’t even supposed to be on the big club, and that considered, he hasn’t been half bad. Gload is a proven hitter (just not for power) but he’s just in the same slump as everyone else. He also plays two positions, albeit not particularly well, whereas the questionable and way overpriced Dye only mishandles one. Dukes is a major head case. And none of your suggestions play the infield, which is where the Phils have injuries.

    Bench guys are bench guys. When the starting lineup is as expensive as the Phils’ is, one can’t sign Derek Jeter to a minor league contract to be brought up “just in case.”

    It seems to me the Mets had similar injury problems last year, and they didn’t do too well with their subs, either. The Braves had no one, really, to replace Jones when he was out, and their backup catcher, who played a lot, was one of the worst hitters in the league.

    Personally, I believe Amaro did pretty well with the money available. And Mayberry isn’t the answer, either.

    A Bible quote could be considered blasphemous when prefacing such an insipid post.

  12. Kennedy

    June 3, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Ahh, just an FYI, Jermaine Dye has stated a refusal to sign for bench player money.

    As for Dukes, he’s a headcase, and we don’t need a primadonna bench player.

  13. Phylan

    June 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    This “bench players need to get at bats” talking point which started some time last year really needs to go. They’re bench players because they suck. Giving them more opportunities to suck isn’t going to help. Ours just happen to suck more than most right now.

    Castro has not done a “nice job,” he’s an all-glove no offense guy like he’s always been and he’s below replacement level right now. It’s peachy that Valdez hits .320 after the seventh inning but there are 6 innings prior to that and when you throw them in he’s hitting .259/.268/.370. This is not a big deal since he’s just a stopgap while Rollins gets healthy, but there is no need to rationalize the fact that they’re both bad players.

    Dobbs should have been cut last month, Cody Ransom is hitting a shitty .241/.294/.472 in AAA right now. Ross Gload’s offense will probably recover. He’s not a terrible hitter in his career. The problem is he’s a first baseman, and a left-handed first baseman at that, so he has no platoon value, and Manuel never rests Howard anyway. Instead, for some stupid, stupid reason, he insists on sticking Gload in right field, where he stumbles around and screws up anything that happens within 50 feet of him.

  14. shag beta sigma delta

    June 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Ok so you complaining these can not hit and you want to bring up another aging .250 hitter and see what he does, I have an Idea how about you bring up some guy from the minors

  15. Chuck

    June 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Yeah, and Jermaine Dye is currently still unemployed.

    Next…

    ——-

    Yeah, the bench players don’t get enough at-bats to get into some kind of groove. That’s my point with Francisco. He’s really an everday player for a team like the Pirates, for example. Or a platoon player. He’s just not that effective as solely a pinch-hitter.

  16. Chuck

    June 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    No one was complaining about Castro’s bat earlier in the season when he filled in for J-Roll the first time.

  17. shag beta sigma delta

    June 3, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Phylan you really need to get off that high horse of yours, If Valdez goes 0-3 in the first six innings but comes up with a guy on second and one out in the 7-8 and gets his one hit, isn’t that pretty good for a guy who hits .241 so he goes 1-4 with a clutch hit, I’ll take that one out of three times, since he is a bench player, and he did do that the first time JRoll was hurt and got some key rib’s I will take that from a guy who really is just playing so that balls do not get kick around at SS. Same with Castro he is on the bench because he can play SS 3rd and 2nd not because he is going to hit 300. Dobbs and Gloud and Fransico are you bench bats, and no they have not been hitting very well, but they are Pinch hitters they go 3-5 for a couple of streches and the BA will jump up. There is still over 100 games to play can we at least play half a year before we decide that these two guys who have proven they can hit off the bench in the past are all washed up

  18. Ed R.

    June 3, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Stats are facts…look at the years the number of at bats Dobbs had in 08…he was more than just a PH, he played a lot at 3b. Look at Gload’s AB’s last year, he also was more than just a PH. Francisco before coming to the Phillies last year was starting 3-4 games a week in Cleveland and Stairs when he came to Philly was the DH for the Jays and getting 4-5 at bats a day. Pinch hitting is not as simply as just getting a call every so often and spot starts do not allow for people to get into a grove so that they are productive hitters or fielders. To act like its simply to just come off the bench and hit at a .275-280 clip is ridiculous.

    I am in no way saying that this bench deserves a pass, RAJ should have done a better job and didn’t.

    The easiest way to get away from a crap bench is to have a healthy roster and right now the Phillies don’t have that, and thus their bench is much more exposed then we would like it to be.

  19. Christian Michael

    June 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    hUH???? What the hell was this post attempting to communicate. We can’t afford to have All-Star starters at ever position BUT……we should somehow have All-Star backups???? Trust me the only way any other team has someone with an OPS higher than the Phils’ backups is A.) luck or B.) they have a younger player that they are platooning and bringing off the bench because they feel he is not ready to start.

    Come on. The Phils bench is NOT the problem right now.

  20. Jeff

    June 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    be funny if we had all our players on the allstar team. they would not score a run…LOL….

    Fire Chollie…Get rid of Dobbs…Bring up Brown and stick him in Left for now. Raul needs more juice.

    Howard should give back some money. That was theft. To bad Jr is stupid. Just killing this team. Blanton is terrible.

  21. Christian Michael

    June 3, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Mmmmm. Amaro is stupid? Lifetime ball player. Played in MLB. Penn Charter and Stanford grad. stupid???

  22. Christian Michael

    June 3, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    $2.05 million dollars. that is the number the Phils have tied up in Dobbs, Gload and Castro. Chump change. I could understand everyone’s anger if those guys were pulling in a combined number 3 or 4 times that but 2 million? Settle down you knuckleheads – who do you want coming off the bench? Why not see if we can get Longoria instead of Dobbs, Tulowitzki instead of Castro and Manny Ramirez instead of Gload!

  23. psujoe

    June 3, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    It’s not the bench players! It’s 3-4-5. They haven’t hit for jack since my birthday (May 22nd).

    Utley 7 for his last 50 with 0 hrs.
    Howard 6 for 45 with 1 hr.
    Werth 5 for 36 with 0 hrs.

    That’s a putrid 18 for 131. A whopping Average of .137. If someone wants to figure out their OPS you might puke!

  24. The SHART Factor

    June 3, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Excellent points, psujoe. If our 3-4-5 hitters cannot execute, then we will not win. I hear rumors that Utley may have health (hip) issues. Howard is the streakiest player in baseball — feast or famine. Werth has had a couple of decent years so far and maybe we expect too much from him.

  25. Jeff

    June 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Great for Jr. that you think he was so smart. terrible ball player.

    he was a lifetime .235 hitter. 8 years. batted .217 for a bunch of seasons. a whopping 16 homeruns.

    he is just now throwing money away and prospects. he had a chance last season to get halliday by putting in drabek. he said no to the jays and kept drabek. then turns and gets Lee. I was thrilled by that deal. now he turns and gets rid of lee for trash and ends up giving drabek anyway. plus a couple more solid prospects. we gave up our farm for doc when we could of had him for less last season. with two years left on ryans contract he hands him 125 million. are you crazy. then gives jimmy some big money with time on his. then he does nothing for our bullpen and that was a big issue last season. cost us. i wont go to the bench because you get what you pay for. raul, howard, contracts will come back to bite us. then gives blanton and moyer those terrible contracts. your right he is very smart. we are seeing it now. i do miss pat g he knew how to put a ball team together. these are not jr,s guys.

  26. Joe

    June 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I couldn’t disagree with you more:
    1. if the 3-4-5 hitters were hitting, we wouldn’t even be talking about this.
    2. are all teams expected to have 2 quality hitting UTILITY PLAYERS. no. utility players are meant to be defense replacements, and give guys days off once in a while(and hit down in the lineup)
    3. John Mayberry can get called up if he’s stopped striking out, strike outs are the last thing the phillies need right now.

  27. The SHART Factor

    June 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    I just reviewed the stats of our Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Last Place. But Mayberry is hitting well, and Ransom has 11 homers and can play short, second and third. Also, Mathieson looks like he is having a good year in the bullpen.

  28. The Dipsy

    June 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Supplementing post @ 3:43, I thought it was obvious to all that the bench is NOT the main problem with this team. But as benches go, its not a real great one. Better than last year’s though. Its just not built to have to cover for a big injury. There are some guys on some benches in baseball that can step in and play every day for a month and not kill you offensively. We don’t have one of those guys. But if the squad were hitting, as you all are opining, and quite correctly. no one would care.

    I think Charlie should go to a straight Ibanez/Francisco platoon;
    I think Charlie should start his bench guys more;
    I think Charlie should hit and run more;
    I think Charlie should steal more.

    For now.

    The Dipsy

  29. The SHART Factor

    June 3, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Jeff, you are 100% correct. RAJ stinks, period. He has made many boneheaded moves that will come back to bite us on the ass. Just because he went to Stanford does not mean that he is all that smart when it comes to baseball. He was a psychology major. I just don’t know who they have in the wings to replace this guy. I know he is trying, but he just ain’t got what it takes.

  30. The SHART Factor

    June 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Francisco needs to play more. He was a starter in Cleveland. He could blossom into a steady player here, but without playing time, his skills will not develop. And, I like Ibanez, but I do believe that he has hit that ceiling called “The age factor.”

  31. The Dipsy

    June 3, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    1. Mayberry can’t hit in the major leagues; 2. RAJ is a fine GM. He got Halladay didn’t he? And signed him to a below market value extension. Just as impressive is that he didn’t pull the trigger last August when that crackhead that was running the Blue Jays was trying to hold him hostage by asking for way too much. And then he got Lee. Pretty nimble. Riccardi was fired and Ruben lauded. Don’t start with the Cliff Lee because that wasn’t his call. Its his fault the bench sucks and his hitters aren’t hitting? No. Contreras and Pedro pulled off the scrap heap. You don’t like that he hones in on players too early and pays them too much for two long? Neither do I. But on the whole I’ll keep him.

    The Dipsy

  32. Jeff

    June 3, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Dipsy your wrong. He could of had Halladay for less last season. Instead he gave up prospects for Lee then more for Halladay including Drabek.

  33. Puddin Apodaca

    June 3, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Perhaps our bench is not hitting because Charlie Manuel is not giving his bench players adequate playing time. Dobbs has not had the at-bats to come into form. Coming off of an injury last year, he needs at bats and playing time. So does Ben Francisco. These guys should be playing more and maybe we would not look so rusty. And, when was the last time Ryan Howard sat out a game? He might really benefit by letting Dobbs or Gload play first base once in a while.

  34. The SHART Factor

    June 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Mayberry has had only one stint in the majors, last year with the Phils where he had just 60 at bats. He did strike out 23 times, batted .211
    and hit four homers. He may not be a major leaguer, but he certainly did not get enough time to prove this…..he had some stellar moments and some less-than-stellar ones. Although he may the type of player that needs playing time, not bench time.

  35. psujoe

    June 3, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    The problem with sitting Howard is you’d like to do it against a lefty, but the Phils don’t have a RH bat that can play 1B.

  36. The Dipsy

    June 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Mayberry is pretty old to invest a lot of time and energy into I think. 26 or 27? I don’t regard that as prospect age anymore. From what I saw last year, while he has a lot of raw skills, he can’t hit the curve and he can’t lay off it. Maybe he’ll be a late bloomer. That would be great.

    The Dipsy

  37. The SHART Factor

    June 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    psujoe — another lefty like Gload might not be any worse hitting lefties than Howard, In fact he might be better and it would give Howard a day off and potentially improve Gload’s plate performance against lefties. It’s just a thought to keep more players from cooling off and shutting down completely.

  38. Manny

    June 3, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    2007-2009 stats

    Gload vs LHP .285
    Gload vs RHP .273 (but more power)

    I’m on board with giving Howard a day off.. but I don’t think that has anything to do with our struggles.

  39. Chuck

    June 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    To me, it’s simple. J-Roll on the DL the first time and the Phillies get through it. Castro played well. Ok…….the team weathered that.

    However, the second time was a blow because 4 games into it he goes down and it demoralizes the team. That’s when this little slump of ours began. It’s really no coincidence.

    And Polly being out has hurt the rest of the lineup even more.

    Someone earlier said that with J-Roll and Polly not in the lineup that’s 25% of your lineup not including the pitcher. That’s HUGE!!

    There is WAY too much pressure now on those 3-4-5 guys and it’s obvious they are struggling.

    This isn’t RAJ’s fault. On the whole, he’s done a decent job, for all the reasons that Dipsy stated earlier. He’s made some mistakes….maybe….but let’s let it all play out before we all rush to judgement.

  40. The Real Jeff

    June 3, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    your wrong chuck. the slump started against boston pitching. just continued from there.

  41. Chuck

    June 3, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    No. J-Roll wento down 4 games into his second stint. 2 games against Pittsburgh and two against the Cubs. The Phils went 2-2 in those 4 games and then beat the Red Sox on that Friday night. By then J-Roll was gone. And the Phils have suffered evr since.

  42. jacatt

    June 3, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Well you guys describe your website as the fan’s perspective. This post indicates that you present the impatient potentially ignorant fan perspective.

    It is early June. At this point, last year how was the Phillies bench doing? Well you really can’t compare because the injuries were not the same. How many GM’s appropriately prepare to have a 3rd shortstop in the off-season? Please.

    Ross Gload is an upgrade over Matt Stairs. Castro has been helfpul off the bench. The role of typical bench players, not platoon players, are to fill in to give the starters rest.

    Give it time. If the starting players like Werth, Utley and Howard do not come around, the bench will be the least of the Phillies problems.

  43. Chuck

    June 3, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    You’re preaching to the choir with me, jacatt. I agree. We need to give this time. And, I have said repeatedly that Gload and Castro were good signings.

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  45. George

    June 4, 2010 at 2:22 am

    The players slump, and the manager and general manager get the blame. Who’s doing the actual playing, people? Manuel certainly isn’t striking out, and Amaro isn’t the one hitting double play grounders.

    Also, as someone did finally point out, none of the “new blood” suggestions here play the infield, and that’s where the Phils have their injuries.

    Finally, if anyone has looked at the transactions lately, they’ve ALL been either useless pitchers or bench/minor league players. There must not be any team with a lot of confidence in their benches if so many of these players are being shuffled, DFAed, released, or signed to minor league deals. At the beginning of the year, many Phils fans thought Figgins should be signed. He’s a REGULAR, and his batting average is as bad as Castro’s and Valdez’s are. Another favorite, DeRosa, is on the DL. Some others have retired or been released.

    Amaro has a difficult job, having to calculate how much a player will cost, whether that player will live up to expectations, if he’ll walk if he feels he’s not been made a decent offer, if he can squeeze a winning team into a rigid budget. Manuel has a difficult job making out a lineup with two missing parts (Ruiz and Castro aren’t 100% either, and Utley may not be), being forced to keep using players who are slumping, and juggling a rotation and bullpen that have both been short at least one man and usually two for the entire season. I think it’s time to cut them both some slack.

    And Jeff: Amaro didn’t trade Drabek at first because Riccardi also wanted Happ, who was a major league pitcher, and two other high-end prospects. Way too much even for Halladay, who he finally got for much less. Get your facts straight.

  46. George

    June 4, 2010 at 2:29 am

    And who does the so-called moderation here? One of my earlier posts was flagged, even though it contained no profanity or nasty insults. Someone else’s comment used the word sh-tty, only in its unedited form, yet it passed through without a yawn.

  47. Chuck

    June 4, 2010 at 6:18 am

    George, are you sure you didn’t misspell Kyle the pitcher’s name like I did?

  48. Brian Sr. of CO

    June 4, 2010 at 6:58 am

    Overall, I dont think the entire bench sucks. I believe it is improved from the last few seasons. Dobbs is done. Put Taveras in his place. But then again you also have Ben Fran. Ben Fran came up HUGE last year a few times, but this season he has been beyond bad with RISP. I think he might have 1 hit with RISP out of like 12 chances. Some of the bench woes to me must come back to the utilization of the bench by Cholly. Gload didnt just kill the Phillies, he was one of the best pinch hitters in the NL last season, so what does Cholly do? He keeps him on the bench and uses Ben Fran and Dobbs more often than anyone else. I have noticed a HUGE difference since Jimy Williams left as the bench coach, and this year is even worse. I dont think we are quite to panic time, but honestly we are getting close. Why are we getting close? The team has lose the focus like they have had in the past. Im sorry folks, but if you are a professional ball player and in the middle of one of the worst offensive slumps in the majors today, you should NOT be watching movies before a game. You should NOT have the manager tell professional ball players in the middle of a Houston Astros style offensive slump to turn a darn TV off (Charlie needed to say something and he did). You should be focusing. If you are watching anything, you should be watching tapes of your obvious change in approach at the plate. This team has lost focus, lost its killer instinct, and lost its hustle. It lost the things that made them a great team. Can they get it back? OF COURSE! Will they get it back, and win the division? Not so sure. Depends on which veteran wants to be a leader. The past 2 or 3 seasons the Phillies had a never say die, attitude. An attitude of its not over until the last out is recorded. Now they seem to have the attitude of overpriviledged children that EXPECT to win the NL East without actually earning it. This team has the talent, has HAD the attitude. They need to focus on exactly how and why the won the NL 2 yrs in a row, and the WS in 08. I hope that this day off on Thursday has helped them to focus, and think about what each of them did at the beginning of the season, even with JRoll missing. I said last season when the Mets had these injuries, that a great should be able to overcome these injuries, and they should NOT implact a team the way it has since JRoll went down the 2nd time. When he went down the first time, they were still playing like a team…Now they are just out there going through the motions. Unlike Mets fans, to me, injuries are not an excuse to play like this. Sure if you have a few starters out, it will affect you, but it should NOT affect you this much. The past 13 games have been beyone pathetic and embarrassing offensively. Thankfully, the pitching has not slumped as bad as the Offense. The other problem…The errors. I believe they are averaging 1 error per game. I know, back up SS, back up 3b, not a 100% Catcher, but still that many errors? Werth is in the middle of one of his patented streaks. finally broke out of his 0-21 slump with 11 strike outs to hit an RBI single to tie it up the other day. Will he continue? I hope. Howard hit a homer the other day, and always thought he hits them in bunches. Apparently not this season. Oh and the slump didnt start against Boston, it was MAGNIFIED by getting 1 hit against a BAD pitcher (Dice-K). Sorry there buddy. go back and look at Halladay’s loss to the Pirates, and Moyers loss to the Cubs I believe it was. They BOTH gave up 1 or 2 runs I believe, and BOTH lost. They were BEFORE the Red Sox. Get your “facts” straight “Real Jeff”.

  49. bfo_33

    June 4, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Just to pile on, blaming the bench is like blaming the alarm clock that it is time to wake up to go to work. While we are missing 25% of our starters, we still have 75% – 5 of which are recent all-stars.

    They look like the 2009 Mets right now – but even if Utley is wounded, they still have two of the best RBI producers in the league. Hopefully, they got their heads on straight with yesterday’s off day. With the strong pitching performances, all the Phils have to do is hit their career averages, and they’ll win far more than lose. The streak ends tonight.

  50. Chuck

    June 4, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I was at Moyer’s game vs. the Cubs….and the Phillies couldn’t hit. They came back the next day and beat the Cubs 5-4 and then beat Boston pretty good the next night (the last good game offense-wise, I believe). Then comes Dice K (with his almost no-hitter) and the two knuckleballers after that and it has been a disaster ever since.

    And…..it just so happens to coincide with J-Roll going down for the SECOND time. Think that hasn’t had an effect? It is no coincidence….and coupled with Polly’s injury……………..the line-up has suffered greatly.

    Is Polanco coming back to the line-up tonight? I thought I had heard that. If so, that will be a real shot in the arm. Hopefully, returning home and facing a team other than NL East and interleague teams will have a positive effect.

  51. Jeff of Nova

    June 4, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Man all these “new” Jeff’s around here are making me worry, cause most of them are speaking out the wrong end.

    I don’t need “real” in front of my name you all know me so I will keep my title as is….

    That being said, here is my take.

    our 3-4-5 hitters are killing us, take away the fact of how much money they make and all that crap, they are absolutley killing us. We have always been a streaky team but since we are missing guys like JRol and Polly, we can’ do much until they start getting their act together.

    The bench problem spans from several issues, one lack of talent to some degree. Lack of use is a big one.

    Gload, was the best pinch hitter in baseball but also played a lot more for the Marlins in the lineup. Not sure he fits what the Phillies need.

    Dobbs, was the best pinch hitter in 08, but once again remember that year Howard was out for over a month and Dobbs was his replacement and really got into a good routine that he carried the rest of the year. I think his confidence is in the toilet and needs new scenary

    Castro is a fielder period.

    Valdez, is here because Jason Donald is “beating out throws from Cabrera in Cleveland” due to the Cliff Lee trade.

    Schneider is a backup catcher period.

    Francisco is not a good pinch hitter, he is a good 4th outfielder, but Cholly plays him like a pinch hitter. When we were hitting and our starters were pitching into the 7th and 8th he was rotting on the bench, that is mismanagement. We have a 37year old+ Left Fielder that needs to be platooned at this point, USE FRANCISCO, or bring up Mayberry, my LORD THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL FOR THAT ONE!!

    So what Cholly needs to do is Platoon Ibanez and Ben hit Ben 2nd if Polly is still out otherwise hit him 6th platoon Valdez and Castro at SS till Rollins is back and bury them 8th in the order.

    That’s is my suggestion for the bench nothing will matter if our 3-4-5 hitters do not wake up SOON!

  52. Chuck

    June 4, 2010 at 8:16 am

    J-Roll and Polly at the top of the order sets the tone for the 3-4-5 hitters. Period.

    Dobbs needs to go. Useless.

    I agree that Ben Fran needs more playing time…maybe a platoon would work. I wasn’t for it initially but now I think it’s worth a try.

    Castro was brought in for his glove and he’s actually been ok at the plate. Not recently but in the beginning.

    Valdez is who he is. A call-up because we needed someone. He’s better than Eric Bruntlett, though!!

    Gload is a good pinch-hitter, but I agree….maybe he played more in Florida and fit into their needs better. Still, I have more confidence in him than Stairs.

    Schneider’s a good back-up. No worse than Coste or Bako. No issue there.

  53. Morris Buttermaker

    June 4, 2010 at 9:05 am

    First off all, the “Exxon Wilson Valdez” thing is neither clever nor funny, and should just be let go.

    Who knows where the Phillies would be without the defensive play of Valdez and Juan Castro. Halladay does not get the perfect game without the plays those two made.

    The bench is not the reason the Phillies have struggled since Zach Duke broke them. Utley-Howard-Werth are the reason. If those guys are hitting, the Phillies don’t worry about who is batting in a 1-1 game in the 8th inning.

    Finally, no speculating about Utley’s health until he says he is injured. Otherwise, you are just making excuses for his poor play. I know about the Golden Boy treatment he gets in this city, and criticizing him is sacrilege. But he is hurting the team right now.

  54. Chuck

    June 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Valdez and Castro are both better than Bruntlett. People have short memories I guess.

  55. Ted Bell

    June 4, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Phillippe Aumont (1-6, 7.43 ERA overall at Double-A) has a 10.60 ERA in his last seven outings and has allowed six or more runs four times during that stretch. He has walked 29 batters over those 28 innings and hit five others. Yikes.

    I’m Ted Bell.

  56. Brett

    June 4, 2010 at 9:37 am

    When Utley gets hurt, he doesn’t tell anybody and he plays through it. He’s done it before. There is no excuse for the way this team is playing right now, but as far as Utley, he looks like he’s playing hurt.

  57. Brooks

    June 4, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I’ll be there tonight, cheering my arse off – Cannot wait to see our boys and especially the good Doctor pitching! Go Phils!

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  59. bfo_33

    June 4, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Utley is like the Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail (just a flesh wound as he loses a leg) – one of the reasons he is the golden boy. When you look at Howard, Werth, and Vic – their swings haven’t changed – they are slumping for any number of reasons. Utley no longer spins his right foot – it could be that he intentionally or unintentionally changed this, but it could also mean that he changed due to pain/injury.

  60. Jeff

    June 4, 2010 at 10:26 am

    In that case why do we have managers in baseball. Would Phil Jackson be a great head coach without Jordan, Kobe, And Big Daddy?? I agree it falls on the players but the coach or manager have there part. Yes Phil Jackson had a great Bulls and Laker teams. The one thing he is great at is getting his players to play at a high level. Also the way he handles them. Like when he had Dennis Rodman. My problem with Cholly is the lineup garbage. I understand you change it up when its not working but to put Valdez in the number 2 spot. Then Dobbs up top. Are you kidding me. I would of had Vic, Ultey, Werth, Howard, Ibanez. so on…..Also I have a problem the way he handles his pitchers. The bottom line guys like Utley and our big hitters are world hitters. They will hit. The weather is hot and we are home. I would like to see them win 10-2 tonight. Just tear the ball cover off. Give Doc a little lead and its over. Tear off a 3 to 5 game winning streak. Then we can relax a little here.

  61. Ted Bell

    June 4, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Good point on the lineup Jeff, (especially since Victorino, Ultey, Werth, Howard, Ibanez and have swinging the bat so well for the past two weeks).

    I’m Ted Bell.

  62. Brian Sr. of CO

    June 4, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I know some people are saying platoon Raul with Ben Fran, but I completely disagree. He has had quite a few chances in the last few weeks. I think he has left more men on base than anyone else. 6 in one game, 4 in another, 3 in yet another. 1 double in a game that I recall, which thankfully he was hit in, but I am curiouse if he could hit someone in with anything. He seems to be the FURTHEST from clutch. So if he can in fact hit to ball, but he isnt clutch in any way shape or form, maybe he is hitting in the wrong place? I dont know. What is Gload like in the field. I dont think Gload has had anywhere near enoug at bats. In Florida he was the main go to guy, and he led the league in hits as a Pinch Hitter, then comes here, RARELY gets used, and his numbers go down. Ben Frans plate appearances I believe have gone up, and he is doing less. Its seems to me, give Gload the plate appearances and he will sharpen up yet again and kill teams as a Pinch Hitter. And Chuck is right, if anyone says that Valdez and Castro are the same or worse then Bruntlett, you either a. have a VERY short memory, b. Are a brand new fan talking out there butt trying to make sense, or c. Are just plain clueless honestly. They are not starters people. There is a reason why they are bench players and JRoll and Palanco are the starters! That being said, that does not excuse the rest of the offense from sleeping. If they are also saying that this slump will get fixed when JRoll gets back in the lineup, like some fans are saying, it will be too late. No one player, or even two for the VERY short time that Palanco has been out as well should drive a team into a complete tailspin like they have been on. A slump maybe, but scoring something like 11 runs in 13 games is NOT a slump. It is a tail spin. A tail spin thankfully coming very early, and willl hopefully get it out of these systems. if this team gets on a hot streak, they can easily win 11-13 in a row, and still win upwards of 15 out of 20. They are capable. And they could have a winning streak well over 8, which the braves just hit, and yet is their franchise record for wins in a row. Some of this MUST go to Milt as well. I dont even bother calling him a “hitting” coach.

  63. Brooks

    June 4, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Not to get too off target – I want to know if this site might have a book review section. I have read some local history and am now enjoying the heck out of Riche Wolfe’s compilation, Remembering Harry Kalas – there are others I would like to read any suggestions?

  64. Don M

    June 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    The Phillies are 28-24 right now… MOSTLY WITHOUT

    Rollins, Happ, Madson, Romero, Lidge…and decent stretches without Blanton and even Polanco

    …anyone complaing about our BENCH PRODUCTION should just jump off the bandwagon now

    Seriously.. I can understand talk about Utley, Howard, Werth struggling… or whatever happened to Victorino’s speed-game and energy, etc .. but to have to read complaints about Wilson Valdez and Greg Dobbs is ridiculous

    There are reasons that Wily Taveras was available.. and that Jermain Dye didn’t get signed, etc …

    There are reasons that the guys we DID sign didn’t have offers to be full time players in other cities.. and those same reasons enable us to pay them low salaries, which makes us able to afford Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, etc ……… spending extra money for BENCH PLAYERS is the defenition of “YANKEE” …… Lets all calm down a little, realize that we’ve got a great team that is banged-up right now.. but still 4 games above .500!

    Anyone that doesn’t think this team makes the playoffs again this season, raise your hand..

    I think a lot of us had Phillies and Braves both in the playoffs this year, so to see us 1-2 in the NL EAST is no surprise.. and again, considering our injury status.. we should be thankful that we had guys to keep us playing great through the first stretch … Juan Castro, Paul Hoover, Nelson Fig, etc. . … good job Ruben

  65. teejvee

    June 4, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Th ereality of the situation is that the Phillies could be behid by a very big number ( 7-8) as early as next weekend.

    That would be a huge problem given that the division is so much better all around than last year and they have some tough raod games.

    Nationals w/ Strasburg, Marlins w/ Johnson and Nolasco, Mets w/ Santana and Pelfrey, Braves w/ Lowe and Hudson and Hanson, Dodgers on the road, Padres on the road, Yankees on the road.
    Lots of losses there.
    Slump or no slump , the Phillies would be underdogs in every one of those games unless Halladay pitches.

  66. Jeff

    June 4, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Yes those guys are struggling ted but i would rather have utley and vic batting up there then valdez. they will hit the ball. the braves have good pitching and we hit them when we are going good. there lineup doenst scare me. the mets are just plain bad. if we are hitting they have no chance. they stink. washington is average and please dont give me strasburg. lets see him face some big boys in the major league before we make him doc gooden.

  67. teejvee

    June 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Oh I’ll give you Strasburg. There is every indication he is much better than Tim Lincecum. It did not take long for Linceum to start mowing down hitters in the bigs.

    Can you see Utley, Howard, Werth or Ibanez touching that fastball?

    Me neither.

  68. Don M

    June 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Strasburg will look great in his first start.. against the Pirates ….. and then he’ll struggle at time with major league hitters


    The Phillies were UP a very big number when everyone was healthy.. and the Braves started slow.. now the roles are reversed a little

    in the end, things will balance out and these are still two of the best teams in the National League …Overall, I still think the Phillies are probably 5+ games better than the Braves .. so we’ll see

    but everyone hitting the panic button needs to relax a little .. its June 4th

  69. teejvee

    June 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Phile were up big when everybody was NOT healthy. Only one guy has been different . Rollins.

    Health has very little to do with why the Phillies are tanking.

    The fact that Howard and Utley haven’t hit a ball out of the infield in a month-that’s got a lot to do with why they are struggling.

  70. Don M

    June 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    the fact that they are missing their #1 and #2 hitters… guys that, when on base… create huge holes in the infield, and go can 1st-to-3rd .. etc…

    I would say that has a lot to do with it.

    also, losing Rollins and Polanco, in favor of Castro, Valdez, Dobbs on DEFENSE… a few errors, extra baserunners, getting down early in games,.. and then you see guys pressing even more at the plate because they need to get back into the game

    its all related…

    When healthy.. this is the best team in the National League

  71. teejvee

    June 4, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Fair points, but I still can’t buy the whole thing.

    Right now, they are (unquestionably) the worst team in the National League.

    And that is much more related to lack of performance by the players who are there than the players who aren’t.

    Of course, we all know that could change in a series.

  72. Jeff

    June 4, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    WORST TEAM. LOL. You are such a moron. First off nobody is as bad as the Mets. Your closer cant hold a lead. They cant score runs for Santana. They stink. I guess Murphy wont help since he is out for the year. lol. The mets are no problem. Washington will come back down to earth and finish with a bad record. We kicked there butt when we were hitting. When the Phillies are hitting like we were, we will have a 8 game lead. Teejvee is just a moron.

  73. Don M

    June 4, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    This is a problem for me.. that a Phillies fan (because the Phillies are in a 10-15 game low point of the season) calls them “the worst team in the National League”

    I understand that you mean RIGHT NOW.. the way that they’re playing.. but these players have proved to me that they are in it for the long haul

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the ball starts jumping off their bats tonight, day off, back at home.. warm summer air

    Phillies can, and will .. win 9-of-10 … 13-of-15, etc at some point this season to rebound from this current lapse, so they’ll be fine

  74. teejvee

    June 4, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    not that complicated . I said RIGHT NOW.
    Cheezus what team is worse?

  75. AT

    June 6, 2010 at 12:53 am

    Definitely tapping mayberry would be the best option or see if lofton would consider coming back. Laugh,, but kenny could still do more than our bench right now.

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