“You don’t want to send a negative message when you’re winning, but at the same time I think our guys know what they’re capable of hitting. I have an old saying that if you’re not hitting .300, you need help.” – Charlie Manuel

The Phillies need a lot of help.

They were shut out for the second time this season in last night’s 4-0 loss to the Diamondbacks. Arizona took an early lead and I thought to myself, “I just don’t see them coming back to win this game.”

It was the third inning. Against Arizona. With Cliff Lee on the mound.

The Phillies have not scored five runs in a game since April 9, when they scored 10 against the Braves at Turner Field. That is 14 consecutive games scoring four or fewer runs.

No team in baseball has scored fewer runs since April 9. The Phillies are averaging 2.79 runs per game, which ranks 28th in baseball. Only the Padres (2.69 runs per game) and White Sox (2.67 runs per game) have averaged fewer, which is hardly comforting. The Padres might have the worst lineup I’ve seen since I started covering baseball. Nobody in the Padres lineup scares you. The Phillies’ lineup has five former All-Stars, even without Chase Utley.

Only the White Sox (.197/.263) have a worse batting average than the Phillies (.200/.269) since April 9.

Nobody has a worse slugging percentage (.292) or OPS (.561).

But here’s the thing: there are no quick fixes, no obvious solutions. The Phillies could play John Mayberry Jr. more in left field while Raul Ibanez struggles. Manuel said in Spring Training he could play Ross Gload more. Gload has started once. Manuel has defensive concerns about Gload, but maybe it’s time to sacrifice defense for offense. Pete Orr has had some good at-bats at second base. Manuel could try playing him more, but Mayberry, Gload and Orr are not a magic pill for the offense. 

What about changing the lineup? Fans have said Manuel needs to move Jimmy Rollins from the third spot because he has just two RBIs. OK, who hits third? Placido Polanco? OK, now what? Not a lot of options, is there? I’m not saying a lineup change is a bad idea. In fact, I’d give it a shot. But there are no moves smacking you in the face. If Ibanez weren’t in a 0-for-21 slump I would say he should hit third. He hit very well there last season, but he’s not hitting well now. Can’t do that. Does Rollins hit leadoff if he’s not hitting third? Second? Fifth? Seems like shuffling deck chairs.

What about a trade? The Phillies are over budget and close to the luxury tax threshold. They would have to shed salary to take on salary, and what team trades a stud bat in April? Nobody. If anything would happen it would happen much closer to the trade deadline. And even then I’m not sure a trade would happen.

The best solution seems to be the most obvious one, and the one that might take the longest time: Utley returns before the end of May and the rest of the offense figures out things on their own. In the meantime, they better hope the pitching continues to dominate.


Manuel is fired up about suggestions he overused Jose Contreras.


Check out my Facebook. Follow me on Twitter. Looking for a Phillies book to kick off the season? Try this one.


Seems to me like this post could’ve been pulled from anything written about the Phillies from last July. Has nothing changed since then? Far too often, this offense is simply pathetic to watch, and with the amount of talent in the lineup, the bats shouldn’t just go dead for months at a time. These guys are playing like it’s the dog days of summer. Someone might want to tell them that it’s April, the time of the season when you should still be putting forth some effort rather than resting up for the postseason chase.

here’s an idea. stop swinging and missing. is it my imagination or do the phillies hitters swing and miss more than any other team. what does that mean? I think they are swinging at balls. It starts at the top and Victorino sets a bad example. In San Diego, a couple of guys hit home runs and everyone starts swinging for the fences. If you’re not hitting get a walk, battle and get on base somehow. Too many lousy at bats, one thing Werth was good at was seeing a lot of pitches, someone else has to start doing that.

I think the Phillies do not swing at first or second pitches enough which all too often gives the pitcher the advantage and puts any particular hitter in a position to fail.

In this age of (ugh) pitch counts, swinging at first and second pitches is only going to keep the starter in the game longer. If you work a count you can run up pitch totals, and we all know that the human body can only tolerate 100 pitches, then it shuts down.

New batting coach? They were great coming out of spring training and the first week, so what changed there?

I for one think that the hitters are pressing, trying to do too much. Polly looks to be the only hitter staying within himself and just doing what he is paid to do when at bat.
Wait for the pitch, make them throw strikes and put the #$%$^ thing in play.

They’re all due for a dong!

If the Phils’ are really so intent on shaking the lineup up, why not move Carlos Ruiz up in the order? Slot J-Roll back into the leadoff spot, Ruiz second, Polanco third. As long as Rollins shows some glimpse of life up there, that should work rather well.

Ibanez is “not hitting well right now”? How about he’s not hitting at all!! Get him out of the lineup. Mayberry couldn’t possibly do any worse and maybe he should get some chances against righthanded pitching.
I don’t think JRoll should leadoff. I was watching him when he got on base last night, and he just doesn’t look runnerish. I don’t know if he is worried about hurting his calf again or if he misses Lopes, but he refuses to try and steal a base. He should be down the lineup right now, not up.

Let’s not bring JW up here. He’s only batting .218 right now.

All the Internet managers have come out of the woodwork.
15 wins, 6 losses.

+1. Chillax peoples.

In previous seasons, I think we usually hit the panic button several times a during the season.

The pitching staff has been as advertised. I just hope they don’t run out “gas” later in the season.

Where were all you people during the winter and spring training? What, you were expecting the team to score 6+ runs a game like in 2008? This team is based on pitching and defence. Its designed to win 100+ games–all of them 3-2 or 2-1. YEs, hitting a bit better would be nice, but I’m more worried about the bullpen right now. Madson isn’t a closer, and neither is anyone else on the roster. R2C2 + fat Joe won’t pitch 8 innings every day, and right now I have little confidence in the pen.

AS for line up changes, switching Ibanex and ROllins can’t hurt. SInce neither of them is doing anything right now, the worst you get is neither of them doing anything in their new slots. Mayberry could play more, and perhaps Brown is ready within a few weeks to be called up, but stop waiting for a team with 5 players who hit 20+ HR and drive in 100 RBIs. That’s not this team

Chicken Littles all. Why don’t we just wait to see how this plays out. The only thing I am c0ncerned with is the Phillies ability to go wire to wire.

If they lose tonight (down 5-2 in the 4th), they won’t go wire-to wire, as they will be the second place Philadelphia Phillies. Oh, and Ben Francisco sucks.
Considering they haven’t score 5 runs in weeks, I guess I can go to bed.

Seems as if you went to bed too early. Fransisco did well specifically and the Phillies did well generally with 12 hits.

Wow….. FIJ and PherrisPhain agree on something……..

If the object is to win, the Phils should be fine. If the object is to win by a lot, everyone should panic because that ain’t gonna happen this year- with or without Chase in the line-up. FIJ is right. This is NOT the offense of ’08 and it won’t be when Chase returns either. They have one guy (Ryan Howard) who has a chance to hit over 30 HRs this year. Raul will be lucky to hit 20 HRs this year, even if he plays 75 games at CBP. We have to get used to barely winning or barely losing games. The first eight games are looking more and more like the statistical anomoly at this point. They are very consistant offensively over the past 14 games. If they don’t score over 4 runs against the guy they face tonight, who will they be able to beat up offensively? Their ABs are hard to watch but as long as they keep winning 2 out of 3 games we should just grin and bear it. GO PHILS!!!

Oh yeah… GO FLYERS!!!!!!!

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The offense is going to go through the ebb and flow. Everyone knows it. They will explode, and they will go cold; the pitching will keep them afloat. If they can have the best record in baseball and be cold, so be it. Later on they will need to get hot when they face tougher teams. All in all, things could be worse.

pherris, Fancisco hit a meaningless HR in the ninth inning. Good for him. Meanwhile, he struck out and popped up his first two at-bats, both times with runners at 3rd and one out. He also played a line drive by the D’backs pitcher that should have been caught into a two-run double with two outs. That’s a difference of at least 4 runs righ there. The difference between winning and losing, BTW.

He is just not an everyday player. So, I DID go to bed at the right time. They lost regardless.

Phan52, Francisco is just doing his job – taking over for Jayson, who batted way below the mendoza line with RISP.

Well Erich, I was far more impressed by what he did in today’s game in the first inning, as opposed to a meaningless 9th inning HR. I’m sure seeing that crooked number on the scoreboard in the first inning made it easier for Cole.
Now, what’s up with Ruiz? Really? More injuries?

Ruiz had a sore back. He gets those from time to time – presumably from staying in the crouch so much – and recovers quite nicely.

Incidentally, you have no way of telling when a home run will be “meaningless” until after the fact. If they’d followed up behind him and managed to score another 3 runs, suddenly that homer would have seemed like the turning point of the game – both closing the gap and rattling the DBacks’ pitcher.

It didn’t turn out that way this time, but you can’t blame him for that. He got the RBIs.

David Murphy reported yesterday that, when asked, Ruiz said he was worried about his back injury. That doesn’t sound good to me.

“…from staying in the crouch so much.” Seriously? That’s very insightful.

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

– Oscar Wilde

You’ll note the presence of the qualifier “presumably” in there. Unless I’m misremembering, this isn’t the first time Chooch has been sidelined by back stiffness/soreness. If it’s worse than those times, then yes, certainly, I’d be troubled by it.

As things stand, however, there’s no indication that it is. If I were a major-league player, I’d be “worried” about any injury I sustained that kept me from playing the game. Does that mean it’ll result in long-term absences? Not necessarily. Let’s not put the cart in front of the horse, unless you’re in possession of some inside information that has yet to be shared…?

This just Muleman being Muleman. You will get use to it. Just keep coming back.

Chooch is irreplaceable. He knows all the pitchers’ pitches and they trust him calling games and throwing potential base-stealers out.

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