Week In Review: Lack of offense, no problem – Phillies Nation

Week In Review: Lack of offense, no problem

4/18 – 4/24

It is almost like Ruben Amaro Jr planned for this very time of the season.  The Phillies offense is notoriously known for going cold at times.  See 2010 National League Championship Series, 20 runs in six games.

After last season’s trade deadline brought over Roy Oswalt from the Astros, it seemed that the Phillies rotation would be close to untouchable with Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels.

Apparently with more rabbits in his hat Amaro enticed Cliff Lee to come back to the City of BrotherLEE love for another go around.  Could this have been Amaro’s admittal that pitching, and not home runs, will take his team back to the World Series?

Well for whatever reason we are all glad he did it.  It’s only the third full week of the season but the Phillies offense, minus Chase Utley, is struggling to put runs on the board.  I know this ‘crying wolf’ thing seems a little silly with the Phils owning the best record in baseball (15-6).

This was their busiest week playing all seven days.  Their run total of 19 for the week was still two shy of the amount they scored opening weekend against the Astros (21).  And that was only three games.

The Phillies opened the week welcoming in the Milwaukee Brewers.  The Brew Crew left Philadelphia taking two of three games and leaving Philly fans thinking ‘what just happened.’  The Ace, Halladay, was shelled for six runs in 6.2 innings and the offense was held to just two hits.  In fact, in the three game series, the Phillies only managed 17 hits.  Shane Victorino led the offensive charge with four hits and a home run.

This was the first series of the season where a starting pitcher did not pick up a win.  In the final game against the Brewers Ryan Madson worked a scoreless eighth to get the win.

If people hadn’t started noticing the offensive draught yet, they sure would once the Phillies landed in San Diego for a four game series.  The Padres lead the National League with a .294 ERA.  However, they are also third from last in hitting (.214).

This was Amaro’s time to shine.  The Phillies were sending three out of the four aces to the hill and their number five starter so desperate to show he was better than that.  And he was.  They all were.

Philadelphia pitchers only allowed three runs in four games against San Diego.  On the flip side, the Phillies only managed three runs a game for the series.  For this series, though, it worked.  Joe Blanton stepped up going seven innings and only allowing two runs; a very similar line to what he put up against the Brewers earlier in the week.

The pitching is good.  We all knew it would be.  The hitting was supposed to be better.  With Chase Utley on the disabled list and Jayson Werth playing in Washingtom we knew there was going to be some holes.  Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard have really stepped up in an attempt to fill those holes.  Polanco (.376) is batting near the top of the league and Howard is second to Prince Fielder in RBIs (19).

Victorino has just dropped below the .300 mark (.295) and Wilson Valdez is starting to cool off from his hot spring (.263).  Ben Francisco could be hitting better (.247) but he is showing some signs of power with three home runs and six extra base hits already this season.

Now here’s the goat.  Raul Ibanez is hovering.  Hovering above a bottomless pit.   How low can he go?  Well, he is only hitting .187 and is just not seeing the ball well.  Charlie Manuel opted to start John Mayberry Jr. in left field in the series finale against the Padres and with good reason.  Ibanez in his last seven games is 2 for his last 24 with only one RBI.  And you all know what he is making this year salary wise.

It’s not time yet to pull the plug on the 38 year-old left fielder, but something needs to happen.  I like the idea of platooning Mayberry into left and right field when needed.  He is hitting .375 in the limited action he’s seen.  He is getting fooled badly at the plate with the off speed pitches but that will change with more regular at bats.

At the end of the day (week) the Phillies can survive their offensive woes.  They won’t be able to do it every week however.  This pitching staff is incredible, the best in majors perhaps but even they can’t bail the team out every game.  The Phillies still lead their division in runs but have dropped to seventh in the National League in hitting (.260).

The Phillies finished off the week 5-2 despite their hitting troubles and are Major League best 15-6.  For a team who loves playing at Citizens Bank Park they also lead the Majors with their road record (8-2).

They had some issues with hitting this week, but the pitching bailed them out.  It won’t be like that all season.  The pitching will sustain, but even great pitchers give up runs.  If the Phillies plan on continuing to look down from the top of the division then they will have to find that groove once again.

This week the Phillies will stay out West for a three game series with Arizona before heading home and welcome division rivals the New York Mets into town.

Click to comment


  1. Chuck

    April 25, 2011 at 8:58 am

    That’s the big problem with Mayberry….that he can’t hit a breaking ball to save his life. I like the kid, too….but if all he can have success with is a fastball….and the rest of the league knows that….then….

    I agree, though, that using him in a platoon with Ibanez and Brown (when he comes back) and Ben Fran could be the answer. At least for now. I really think that Raul will bounce back. But so far it’s been hard to watch.

    I think a bigger problem right now is the closer situation. Hopefully Madson can step up.

  2. bfo_33

    April 25, 2011 at 9:29 am

    One thing that Mayberry brings that Ibanez doesn’t right now (and I fully expect that Ibanez will recover as the season progresses) is the ability to hit a mistake. I know it isn’t ideal, but if Brown comes back, I think we platoon both corners for now.

    I’m not that worried about closer – both Madson and Bastardo have the stuff and mentality to make it work. It really limits the options for middle relief and set up guys, though. The offense is not geared towards piling up runs – I think the Pads series may be close to the norm this year. It would be nice if the starters went 8+ every time out, but even Halladay is going to be pulled after 6 or 7 every once in a while. Zagurski is a pure LOOGY, Stutes had a nice spring, but will it translate, and I don’t have a lot of faith in Baez or Herndon. KK does well in middle relief, but would prefer not to see him after the 7th. Can’t pitch Madson and Bastardo every day. Shouldn’t need it for the D-backs series, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Orr or Martinez sent down after, and see Mathieson come up.

  3. The Original Chuck P

    April 25, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Like Charlie Brown in school, all I hear is “Womp, womp, womp…”

    We’ve got the best record in baseball. We’ve got the best pitching staff in baseball. We CAN continue to win games like this. We won’t win every game and even if we were putting up more runs, we wouldn’t win every series.

    Just get me into the playoffs… and that’s the key – we’re building for a playoff. As much as I would love to see us demoralize every team during the regular season, I would rather see us slide into the playoffs healthy and built to win a championship. The biggest problem that I coming out of that series is 130 pitches for Roy Halladay… shouldn’t happen this early in the season. Raul is struggling mightily and we all knew that this could happen but thankfully we’ve got options and we have some room to be patient… let him try to work himself out of it. I think that we’ve got great things heading our way – when Utley and Brown rejoin the ballclub, it should be a huge shot in the arm BUT let them get healthy first. Don’t rush them back now before they’re ready… be patient.

  4. barry m

    April 25, 2011 at 11:37 am

    This article’s on the mark. This is a team designed to be able to win with 3 or 4 runs, not just with 8 or 9–and even under stress, so far so good. It seems to be working.

    (Not that it wouldn’t be nice if the hititng were working more, too.)

  5. betasigmadeltashag

    April 25, 2011 at 11:39 am

    I know I am in the minority on here but I do not look to Brown as being a huge shot in the arm for this team. He refuses to change his swing, and has shown some trouble in the outfield. I do not see him being a huge factor in this season. I just think this is a slump for the offense that is not as crushing like last year because of the rotation. Plus I think the last two games in San Diego showed a little hope, they were taking better swings and hitting the ball harder. Plus The Padres rotation does lead the league in ERA for a reason they are pretty good. I think the D-Backs rotation might just be what this offense needs

  6. TheDipsy

    April 25, 2011 at 11:43 am

    OGP has a bit of a point. This is the first time in all my years of watching baseball that I feel that its a foregone conclusion that a team is going to make the playoffs. What I would like to see Ruben do is add here, add there, tinker here, trade there, so that we can get in a position that are offense and pen are honed BY THE TIME THE PLAYOFFS GET HERE. In this regard its kinda like the NCAA Basketball Tournament where, for the really good teams, the regular season is just preparation time for the Tourney. As long as the Phils pitching keeps making the fact that we have a bad offense academic, I don’t really care who goes out there. Just make it right by August.

    The Dipsy

    • Lefty

      April 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      Well stated OCP, and
      Quite right Mr. Dipsy,
      Sounds like a really good plan to me- (this may sound like sarcasm, it’s not, I agree with you) “Add here, add there, tinker here”, with great starting pitching to get us through. That’s the model set by the Giants last year, and I’m all for it. Now if we can find a hot “Pat Burrell type player” and a hot “Cody Ross type player” that may not be doing so well elsewhere to bring in, and then get a breakout half season by a rookie “Posey type” (D Brown hopefully). It seems that’s a reasonable formula.

      We have to trust that Ruben and the FO can make the key waiver p/u’s and trade opportunities. We know it can be done, it’s been proven it can work. But no panic moves please, just tinkering.

  7. bfo_33

    April 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Agreed – hate to say a foregone conclusion, but we’re pretty close to a lock. Bad D with a pitch to contact staff is going to keep the Braves from being much more than a 0.500 team. The Marlins have a solid offense and decent starting pitching, but I don’t really expect Sanchez or Nolasco to stay consistent throughout the whole season. Their bottom 2 have potential, but not much else.

    This is a bit of heresy, but anyone should be available for trade if the offer is right. If the Phils stay near a 0.700 clip without Utley, do you put feelers out there to see what you could get for him? He may not be an everyday 2nd baseman anymore, and the Phils don’t need a DH or another lefty 1st baseman. While his bat could probably make the most difference in the AL central, the teams with money are pretty well set right now at 1b/DH, unless a big injury hits. The A’s are one team that could really use him, and are getting nothing from Matsui/Sweeney. I don’t know what they have in regards to near ready prospects. Angels are also pretty weak at DH/1b, and still no idea when Morales will get back (Abreu’s 320 slugging % at dh isn’t getting it done).

    What do you need to move Utley?

    • Lefty

      April 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm

      I love Utley, but I love winning another WC more. If I was running the ship, no one would be sacred, everyone available, except the top four starters.

      There are several ways to improve your club, but one them, trading your good players is tough. All good GM’s at some point have to make those tough decisions. I don’t think Marlins fans were crazy about the Uggla trade, but they’re playing very good baseball this year so far..

  8. Ryan H.

    April 25, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    if you look at Ibanez’s entire career, he’s been a notorious slow starter. I’ve had many Mariners fans tell me this in fact. (with the exception of his first year in Philly). His best month has always been August. he’s a second half player. So I’m not willing to call him dead in the water and tell him to hang it up. let him play out the season. last year the first half he was dreadful and people were ready to pronounce him over the hill. but in the second half last summer he carried the phillies offense. let him get a chance to do that again.

    • Chuck

      April 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      I’ve been saying this all along…that I think Ibanez has a nice hot streak in him.

    • Jack

      April 25, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      Um, no that’s not true at all. Ibanez’s numbers in March/April are pretty close to his career numbers overall, even if you include this year’s abysmal performance. This is his worst overall start since 2001 and I think it’s quite troubling.

  9. TheDipsy

    April 25, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I think that there is no such thing as an untouchable player. History bears that out. Babe Ruth, Wilt Chamberlain, Wayne Gretzky. I would have no problem trading Utley but you’re not going to get value for him when’s he’s hurt. @Ryan – Lets sit Raul until August.

    The Dipsy

  10. TheDipsy

    April 25, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    But is it worth waiting for? Go thru two months of crap for a hot month you believe might happen but not sure of? Not me. If the offense doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t, get Brown up here and cut his teeth in the bigs.

    Ben Fran

    The Dipsy

    • Chuck

      April 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      I am sure of the fact that Raul will get hot.

  11. bfo_33

    April 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I meant to shop Utley after he came back for a bit.

    I wouldn’t give up on Raul, but let him concentrate on righties only. His splits against righties are just over the mendoza line, against lefties right now, he’s below the pitching staff.

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