This Will Not Be Easy

kendrick 0719 2010.jpgBefore the 2004 season, I remember asking Dallas Green what he thought about the Phillies’ chances to win the World Series. They had retained Kevin Milwood and acquired Billy Wagner, Eric Milton and Tim Worrell to boost a pitching staff many thought would compliment an already talented offense.

Green loved the improvements, but he made one thing clear: It’s hard to win a championship. He said if it were easy, he would not be the only manager in Phillies history to have a ring on his finger.

It’s hard to win a World Series. It’s even harder to play in three consecutive World Series. The Phillies are trying to become the first NL team to do that since the 1942-44 Cardinals.

Maybe this just isn’t the Phillies’ year.

“Oh, I’ve thought that,” Jimmy Rollins said after last night’s 8-4 loss to the Cardinals. “I’m sure all of us in here have thought that. Like, man, it can’t be this tough. There’s no way it can be this tough. You go out there it’s like, ‘We’re going to make sure that it’s not this tough,’ and you come back like, ‘It’s a little tougher than I thought it was going to be.'”

It is mentioned that maybe there is a reason why the ’42-’44 Cardinals are the last three-peaters in the NL.

“It’s not over,” Rollins said. “You can write it like it’s over. But the guys with the bats and the balls they control what the pen says. … We’ve still got time. We either make it more time or less time. Six games (behind Atlanta). If we catch fire all of a sudden and do what the Chicago White Sox did (a 26-5 stretch from June 9 – July 15) then you can say we have a lot of time. We can make it a lot of time or a little time.”

Rollins has seen it happen before. The Phillies held a fire sale in July 2006 only to turn things around and become buyers in August. They made baseball history in 2007, overcoming a seven-game deficit with 17 games to play to win the NL East. They overcame a 3 -game deficit with 16 games to play in 2008 to win their second consecutive division title.

Can they do it again? Sure, it’s possible. But Charlie Manuel knows the Phillies need to show life quickly. They have lost four of their first five games after the All-Star break and have just 11 games to play before the trade deadline. The offense has been inconsistent much of the season. The rotation has a 5.09 ERA without Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. They’re without Chase Utley for another month. Players say they have noticed a different feel in the clubhouse. If the Phillies fall too far behind the Braves and further out of the NL wild card race, Ruben Amaro Jr. could trade Jayson Werth — and it’s tough to see them winning without a big right-handed bat in the lineup.

They need to get going quickly this week against the Cardinals and Rockies, or more time will turn into less time. 

*

The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

10 Comments

the phils scored enough runs to win last night. kyle let us down. he has been doing his job lately. but come on. that is the pitcher he is last night. well a little worse then he is..

todays fun lineup

rollins
howard
ibanez
polanco
victorino
werth
ruiz
ransom

go phillies

Ugh. Another lineup. Scored enough to win? Really? What was the score?

Meanwhile, to soothe your savage breast, there is a review of Todd’s book (and Mitch Williams’ book) in today’s Inky:
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/98808444.html
Even though the author twice refers to Don Zimmer as “Zimmerman,” it’s worth a read.

It’s going to be a long road for sure, but I share the optimism by Rolllins. You can’t possibly write them off now, it’s way too early.

This team has been in an extended ‘funk’ for a long time. When the guns start firing again, it’s going to get interesting. If pitching gets better and more consistent, we’re gonna be better.

Utley has yet to return, when he does, I see this negative stuff that we’ve seen for the past couple of weeks start to turn positive.

Rich / FightinPhillies.com

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Offer Werth to the Astros for Myers. The advantage for the Astros is the two draft picks when Werth walks at the end of the year. Besides, getting rid of Werth will be addition by subtraction, as he has become mopey and unproductive. He’s poisoning the environment.
Otherwise, try to get prospects for him and become sellers. It’s too early to think that IMO, but the whole team is in a funk outside of Halladay, Hamels, Howard and Polanco.

Since Werth is no longer a big righthanded bat in the lineup, I’m starting to doubt they can recover. He looks totally lost out there (at bat and in the field) and his trade value slips every day. Trade him, get something of value and bring up Brown. This team is getting to be painful to watch.
And what is the value of a book review months after it’s release? I know the Inqy leads the world in “game ended too late for this edition”, I guess that applies to book reviews also. I’ll be looking forward to the review of the Tom Clancy books next.
Ah, it’s the heat and lousy baseball putting me in a bad mood, I guess.

Fighten: I’d agre with you if this was May, or even June. However, we’re heading towards the end of July, after the break and if we don’t turn this around within the next 3-4 games, we could be 10 out at the deadline. With Werth a FA this season, and the way the fans have turned on him, I can’t see them bringing him back for the cash he wants. Therefore, the question is are two draft picks better then what they can get by trading him. On the other hand, unless they get a right handed bat with some power, we’re taking a hit that means no post season this year….can Rube do that with a 140+ million payroll? Can he do it and have any support in this town and among the fans? He probably should do it, because even if we somehow win the division, we aren’t a WS team this year…as much as that shouldn’t be true. Injuries, fate, the Lee trade (and I mean the psycological ramifications if any) and 101 other reasons have made this team our verson of 1979. Rube probably should trade Werth for a top pitching prospect and a decent RHB in right field. Will he have the balls to write off this season? DO we??

fightins: Reading Rollins’ comments and hearing them are two different things. He sounded like a beaten man. I remember reading similar “they’ll be fine” comments in late May, June and early July. When?

f.i.j.: Do you think you can get a top pitching prospect AND a decent right-handed bat for Werth? Maybe one or the other, but not both. You’d be dealing with a team that needed him for the stretch run, but the way he’s been playing, who can use a .right-fielder who is 10th in the league in strikeouts and hasn’t hit a HR in over a month? I can’t think of a team that desperate.

jimmymack: I’d say any publicity is good, especially since Todd’s book is still in print. A late recommendation is better than none. As for the heat and bad baseball, move to Baltimore. It’s even hotter and the baseball is much, much worse. They must be a cranky bunch down there, if they still care at all.

Mule: Look at what we got in the original Lee trade–Francisco. I’m not saying he’s a great player, I’m not saying he “replaces” Werth, but if we already are saying we’re not going to make the post season, I don’t care if we finish 2nd or 6th, as long as we make moves which will help us win it all next year. Remember also, Werth and Victorino were both considered throw-a-ways by the Dodgers. We can also throw in Singleton. He’s a grade A prospect, but plays 1b. Don’t ask me for specific names, but we could definately get a good set up guy + a Francisco type player, even an aging vet. The question is, who plays RF next year assuming you don’t want an all lefty OF and Ibanez is being replaced by Brown….

f.i.j.: If they were planning on having Brown replace Ibanez in left, he’d be playing left field in Lehigh Valley. He’s a right fielder, and Amaro has said that he doesn’t want to move him to the other side.
This ballclub is full of “agingvets.” They don’t need any more.
Your “all-lefty” outfield is complimented by the switch-hitting Victorino.

As for Werth, I feel that he’ll be here for the duration, slogging along and making us crazy watching him struggle.
He’s hitting a major-league low .165 with RISP. Cole Hamels is hitting .222 with RISP. Werth has struck out 92 times already, which I believe is 10th in the NL.
His numbers aren’t all that different from his 2008 performance. This year’s stats came in the first month-plus, and his precipitous drop has merely leveled-out his MVP-type performance early.
He still manages to lead the National League in doubles, which is a testament to his early-season hot streak.

It’s such a catch 22 with the Werth situation. One the one hand you know he’s probably only going to be around until the end of the season and you might want to see what you could get in return. Yet on the other hand he could snap out of the horrific slump he’s in and be the RH bat the Fightins need. Someone in the Inky and also WIP suggested he needed a good haircut & shave! (My father & I have been saying that all season). Also I heard this a.m. on WIP that Brown now has enough service time that if they were to bring him up it wouldn’t infridge on his future free-agency. I’d be stunned if he wasn’t at least brought up when the roster expands in Sept.

As to the offense slump that they’ve been mired in: In the words of Cher in “Moonstruck” “SNAP OUT OF IT!!!”

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