This article was written by one of our most insightful, argumentative commenters, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree, let him know in the comments section.
Finally, the starting eight are ready to go. I’m going to try and fight the butterflies in my stomach and finally take a clear eyed look at the offense now that everyone is in uniform.
I see an offense, a stale offense, that needs to swap out one, probably two, core pieces so that the ecology of the lineup can develop into one that can succeed in the post season – because this one won’t. No need to go over which player can or can’t do what – we’ve all watched enough games. The culture of the offense has developed over the last two seasons into an approach that doesn’t include: taking pitches and working counts; hitting and running; moving runners; bunting (for any reason); hitting the ball on the ground; coaxing walks. There may be more that I have forgotten. This team just stands around and waits for a home run to happen. This has always been Charlie Manuel’s philosophy only he doesn’t have the players to implement it anymore. Utley is always hurt, Ibanez didn’t pan out, Burrell and Werth are gone. Its just Ryan Howard in the middle of the lineup, all by his lonesome, swinging as hard as he can at everything thrown to him, his enormity as an offensive force fading a little each time he screws himself into the ground after a miss. But its far from all Howard. Everybody can share a little bit in what has turned out to be a confluence of aging players, mismatched skill sets, an obsolete offensive concept, and a manager who will not adjust.
I have accepted that things at the field level won’t change. These players are not gonna alter their offensive approaches this late in their baseball lives. Charlie is gonna remain the manager. So lets try and cure this dysfunction via trade. A quick review of the roster: the Phils won’t trade Rollins, can’t trade Utley, Howard, or Ibanez, and shouldn’t trade Chooch, Polanco, or Brown. Thats leaves Shane. He is a competent offensive player, good defensively, young enough, and signed at a reasonable price. In exchange? An OFer who can make contact, look at pitches, produce a higher OBP, play smart, and play D. A guy who can play the dreaded “situational baseball” (and there is such a thing). The second player? A carbon copy of the first guy, to be placed in LF. The goal would be to lessen the strikeouts, put more balls in play, get on base more, bring up the BA, and help us get into the other teams crappy bullpens faster. With the removal of Ibanez we will necessarily be better defensively. And I would consider that a good start.
Oh, and Charlie, you can start those runners, sacrifice a guy over, MAKE Jimmy bunt more, and if you are telling those hitters “Hey, stay aggressive!”, why not try, “just wait for your pitch!” for a while and see how it works. And whoever is counseling Ryan Howard on his plate discipline (or lack thereof), please wrap his entire head in duck tape.