It's A Big Series, But It's June
No matter what happens this week between the Phillies and Mets at Citi Field, just remember it’s only June.
The Phillies could sweep the Mets to take a six-game lead in the National League East, but it does not guarantee anything.
If the Phillies can overcome a seven-game deficit with 17 games to play in 2007, the Mets certainly can overcome a six-game deficit with more than 100 games to play. And if the Mets sweep the Phillies, it doesn’t mean the Phillies are in big trouble. The sky is not falling. It just means the Phillies played a bad series against a division rival in June.
You get the idea.
That is not to say the Phillies won’t be looking pretty good or feeling pretty good if they take 2 of 3 from the Mets this week. They will. And they should. It always feels good to win a series against a division rival, especially when that division rival is the Mets. But knowing the players in the clubhouse, they won’t be getting too high or too low this week. A lot can happen in 100 games.
Or just 17.
Being a manager is more than just making out lineups and making pitching changes. It’s managing 25 different personalities in the clubhouse.
Charlie Manuel has had a knack for handling those personalities over the years. Why do I say this? Because you very rarely hear a player gripe about Manuel in the clubhouse. I heard that frequently during Larry Bowa‘s final two seasons. I hear it coming from other clubhouses, too. But Manuel seems to have the right touch. When to sit a player. When to stick with a player. That stuff plays up big in a clubhouse, where manager, coaches and teammates are together seven-plus weeks in Spring Training and over the course of a six-month season.
It is easy to make a case for Raul Ibanez and Chase Utley to be National League All-Star starters.
Ibanez leads NL outfielders in home runs (19), RBIs (54), runs (46), hits (72) and slugging percentage (.676). He ranks fourth in hitting (.329), fifth in doubles (15) and seventh in on-base percentage (.386). Utley leads NL second basemen in runs (39), home runs (12), walks (37), on-base percentage (.438) and slugging percentage (.548). He is third in RBis (38), fourth in hitting (.296), and fifth in hits (55) and doubles (11).
But Jimmy Rollins, the NL’s leading vote getter at shortstop, is another matter. He ranks 12th out of 12 qualifying players in hitting (.222) and on-base percentage (.261) and 10th in slugging percentage (.322). He ranks second from the top in runs (34), third in doubles (13), sixth in hits (53), eighth in home runs (3) and ninth in RBIs (18).
What is interesting is that Rollins is getting some of his best fan support during one of his worst first-halves. He hasn’t been to the All-Star Game since 2005. Edgar Renteria, David Eckstein and Jose Reyes went in 2006. Reyes and J.J. Hardy went in 2007. Hanley Ramirez, Cristian Guzman and Miguel Tejada went in 2008. Rollins could have gone in 2006 and 2007 (he had no shot last season after suffering an ankle injury in April), but never went. Now in a season he is struggling, he might get to start. Go figure.