Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in

It’s the same thing every year, the Phils start off slow then string together a five-game winning streak to maintain some respectability heading into May.  I’m not buying it….yet.  I can’t lie though, it’s exciting to watch them play again – Jimmy Rollins’ power, Chase Utley’s 5-5 performance, Michael Bourn flying around the bases, even Ryan Howard got his groove back last night.  But we must remember as the Phillies look for their first series sweep of the season this afternoon, they are playing the Nationals.  So while the confidence boosting should help, I am still concerned about a few things.

First obviously is the bullpen.  The Phils are 6-2 since moving Brett Myers to the bullpen.  But one man is not the answer; especially when he is used sparingly.  Last night, despite leading the entire game, five pitchers trotted out on behalf of the Phillies.  Which begs the question why Brett Myers – the former starter – has not been used for more than one inning in any of his four relief appearances?  I thought last night would have been the perfect opportunity to let Myers close out a game.  If Charlie really intends Myers to have the secondary role of backup closer, I feel he should have at least let him stay out there another inning.  But perhaps the real intention is to eventually bring Myers back to the rotation and Manuel wants to limit his innings early in the season.  I would like them to commit one way or another soon because although Brett is a better pitcher than Ryan Madson, Gavin Floyd or Ryan Franklin, the Phils have been known setup pitchers for disaster.

The second concern I wanted to express today is uncertainty at third base.  Last night Abraham Nunez and Wes Helms combined to go 0-5.  Nunez is batting .136, Helms .290.  Wes Helms has gotten more starts at the hot corner this year, despite starting just 22 games at third over the past two years for the Marlins and Brewers.  The common distinction between the two is that Nunez is the better fielder and Helms is the better hitter; but in this case better surely does not mean great.  My keen eye in scouting has told me that Nunez is completely clueless at the plate and Helms is uncomfortable at best at third.  But for those who prefer stats, here are their career averages over 162 games.


ml service









fp @ 3B



10 years












  8 years











Neither of the two holds the ideal solution, but I wonder what is more important to this Phillies squad: a solid-fielding third baseman or another bat in the lineup?  Looking more longer-term, Helms is signed through next season with an option/buyout for 2009, while Nunez’s contract expires at the end of the season.  Perhaps then Abe will handle enough grounders to make him attractive to other teams before the trading deadline.  Better yet, if the Phillies could work out something for a middle reliever before July, both of these problems would be solved.

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