Yes, It's Still Early

rollins in fla.jpgPhillies fans seem a little nervous. Their team has lost four of its last five games and has fallen to 15-14.

Up and down.

Down and up.

This is no way for a World Series champion to behave, is it?

But here’s the thing: the Phillies were 16-13 at this point last season. They battled through inconsistencies until September, when they caught fire and steamrolled through the postseason. Is this team’s pitching a concern? Absolutely, it is. This team is not going anywhere unless the starting pitching improves dramatically. Does Jimmy Rollins need to turn things around? Certainly. The Phillies can’t have a .200 hitter at the top of their lineup for an entire season.

That said, let’s take a look at how the ’09 Phillies compare to the ’08 Phillies through 29 games:

HITTING
Runs
2009: 164 (5.66 runs per game)
2008: 136 (4.69 runs per game)

Home runs
2009: 42
2008: 42

Average
2009: .259
2008: .257

On-base percentage
2009: .339
2008: .335

Slugging percentage
2009: .455
2008: .445

FIELDING
Fielding percentage

2009: .992
2008: .978

Errors
2009: 8
2008: 24

PITCHING
ERA
2009: 5.39
2008: 3.72

Home runs
2009: 53
2008: 29

Opponent batting average
2009: .271
2008: .249

The ’09 Phillies have been better offensively and defensively than the ’08 Phillies. But the ’09 Phillies’ pitching has been an absolute killer. Let’s say the extra 24 homers the Phillies have allowed this season compared to last season are solo homers. Now let’s say the Phillies only gave up 10 extra homers compared to ’08. It drops their ERA from a 5.39 ERA to a 4.90 ERA. Now, a 4.90 ERA certainly isn’t good, but it maybe helps the Phillies win an extra game (or two). The long ball is hurting this team in a major way.

There is time for the Phillies to find their way. Fans looking for the Phillies to make massive changes to their rotation shouldn’t hold their breath. About the only change they can make is removing Chan Ho Park for J.A. Happ. Other than that, this is what the Phillies have.

“You guys seem like you’re in a freakin’ hurry for us to do something with our pitching,” Charlie Manuel said Friday. “We won a World Series with four of those starters. That was our rotation. And the other guy, he pitched very good in Spring Training.”

So hold tight for now. It’s early. When does it start getting late? I imagine the Phillies would like to have seen significant improvements from the rotation by the time they start making their 11th or 12th starts. That’s five or six more starts.

*

Rollins’ .218 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot is the worst in baseball. Interestingly, Rollins, who is hitting .195, hasn’t had a stretch like this since he hit .155 over 20 games in August 2005.

He followed that stretch with a franchise-record 36-game hitting streak.

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18 Comments

Must admit to being slightly panicky about our Fightins especially with the Mutts in the headlines winning 7 in a row, but I repeat to myself its still early. Nice to see Myers have a decent out, that’s encouraging. Also 20+ games until Romero returns which will hopefully give the bullpen some more depth.

I agree with you Todd that the staff is the staff. I also beleive that the problem is with the coaching staff. Whiel the staff , collectively, had a career year last year there is no excuse for this disaster. Either their Spring Training routine wasn’t correct or the advise they are getting now isn’t correct, but in any case, this is not only a problem of too many balls being down the middle of the plate or opposing hitters just being good. Someone has to be held responsible and considering it’s the entire starting staff, I vote to blame, and replace, the pitching coach with one more concerned with pitching and less concerned with designing workout shedules for fielders

I guess, no big surprise that the numbers look great, til you get to the bottom of the list. Especially the HR’s given up. Ouch! I agree with FIJ. May be time for Dubee to go. Or at least have Charlie sit and ask him what HIS problems are. Not the PITCHERS.

Not that I’m gloating…..But I made the media again! Gonzo’s, weekly emails piece, in today’s Inky. You’ll recognize me. I’m “Norma”. LOL!!!

Curious…how many walks have the Phillies starters given up this year compared to last year?

FIJ/NORMA, you both are leaving out that they didn’t have Ruiz for a little over 2 weeks and that the pitching has improved since his return. You are also minimizing the fact that maybe the team as a whole, and not just the pitchers, got a little fat in the off season with winning the World Series and all. Oh yeah, and who was the pitching coach last year?

I don’t think there’s any doubt that, for whatever reason, the pitching staff was not prepared coming out of spring training. Hamels’ issues aside (which are explainable and almost understandable), the rest of the staff is underachieving. I think most of them have a chance to turn it around, everybody except Moyer and Taschner. Moyer may have hit the wall and Taschner just sucks.

C’mon Jeff and Norma, if Dubee was a genius last year (since the rotation did so well) now he’s an idiot and should be fired? Veteran pitchers throw the ball down the pipe like it’s BP and it’s Dubee’s fault guys hit it out of the yard? I guess Milt Thompson should also go, since Rollins is back to uppercutting every swing and swinging at first pitches. Probably Charlie should also go, since Dobbs and Coste are ice cold as a pinch hitters and hitting and pinch hitting are his forte. And let’s fire Amaro for picking up Traschall, resigning Moyer and not making sure J.C. didn’t pick up the right vitamans. How about the trainers not making sure Lidge’s knee is bulletproof? Just a thought, think maybe it’s the players who aren’t getting it done?

My bad, meant Taschner. My name spelling is a bad as his pitching.

I agree with Jimmymack. I think we all might be pushing the panic button. I certainly think this team/pitching staff deserve the benefit of the doubt. It is still early in the season. I would give the pitchers another 4-5 starts to really analyze things. As we’ve said before, Park is the only pitcher vulnerable at this point to be taken out of the rotation.

Todd: Thanks for the great stats!

Jimmy and karen (long time jimmy): it’s not the same as with Rollins and Milt. If it was only one pitcher I’d agree that it’s not the coach, but it’s the entire staff. They weren’t doing so great before Ruiz went down, and they aren’t doing so great now that he’s back. To say that they got better is relative. yeah, they’re better, their ERA is now only 5.00+ and not 6.00+ but it should be around 4.00. I don’t see any improvement in Myer’s velosity, Moyer’s location or Blanton’s and Park’s results. One good outing out of 5 isn’t improvement.

I also argued that Dubee should go last year (until Sept when it all came together and we could smell WS) We have a guy in AAA who seems to be great, having straightened out Myers last year and Kendrick this year (or so it seems). Todd, your take on this?

Ok! Ok! Maybe I over-reacted a little, in suggesting Dubee go. LOL! And I’m not totally blaming the pitching staff for all the woes, either. The top of the order was fairly pitiful against the Braves. As several of us have suggested……Move J.Roll down in the line-up for a few games, and see if that helps. I’m not at all in a panic. But April/May games DO count. And something or someone needs to shake the team up a little.

jimmymack….Where have you been???? I think we have the same season tic plan. We need to meet up before a game, again. And this time, for a beer!

You may have had a similar record last year, Todd, but don’t expect a THIRD Mets collapse. One was crazy, two was downright obnoxious. Lightning doesn’t strike thrice – not with Rodriguez at the back end of the pen and Beltran ripping it up. We won’t carry on the roll we’re on right now, but winning when you are not necessarily playing well is the key. There’s still a long way to go. Ashhttp://ashleymarshall.mlblogs.com

Ash, get back to us in September. How many playoff wins do Delgado, Beltran, Reyes, Wright, Sanatana and K-Rod have? But I will concede that in a fantasy league, the Mutts always look good right up to September 1st.

Norma, I’ve been busy building a drag car, would you believe I ‘ve only made one game so far this year (last Friday). Caught every other one on the tube, putting cable in the garage was a great idea…LOL. I’ll catch up to you in June or July.

Well, you picked a good one to be at! A great job by Cole. TWO hr’s by Chase. And a win, dispite the ‘pen! LOL!

I don’t get J-Roll at all. He totally dominated the WBC. I was so looking forward to seeing him destroy pitchers and go on another MVP run. What happened?!! Does anyone know?

I do not dispute Charlies assessment that the Phillies pitching staff is essentially the same one which brought home the championship. However, the Phillies do not play in a vacuum. If whining Mets fans are to be believed, the Mets gave the Phillies the NL East because of their bullpen implosion. Be this as it may, the fact remains the Mets seem to have improved their bullpen. All other things being equal, is this enough to overtake the Phillies? Only time will tell. But the addition of Raul Ibanez and the health of Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz makes the offense even more potent and something the Mets whiners have to consider. But to me, the real fly in the Mets ointment is their new stadium. It appears to be a small ball park and it remains to be seen whether the Mets can adopt a small ball philosophy. Here’s to hoping Mets fans are whining about how it took them the entire season to get use to their new park.

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