Friday, June 27, 2008

Musing on the Phils

Remember when the Phillies made the Bobby Abreu deal at the trade deadline? Our team had gone on a real bad losing streak and Gillick essentially gave up on them, sent Abreu, Cory Lidle, and some other guys to the Yankees. Eventually we replaced David Bell and Mike Lieberthal as well.

The result of those moves was a change from a plodding, one-base-at-a-time, wait-for-the-home-run type of team to a youthful, energetic, put-the-pressure-on-them type of team.

Instead of walks, strikeouts, and home runs, we were stealing bases, bunting, sac flying, scoring from first, and doing all sorts of small-ball-esque type maneuvers.

It was pretty awesome, and it propelled us to one game of the playoffs the year of the trade, and ultimately a division crown last year.

The epitome of that whole movement might very well be Shane Victorino. He is a case of Red Bull, someone who clearly forgets to take his Ritalin. Sugar Shane, or the Flying Hawaiian, injected the team with some scrappy, speedy play, the exact opposite of what we were - 8 middle aged white guys with balky knees and low batting averages who lived or died by the home run ball.

So this year we brought in Pedro Feliz and Geoff Jenkins, Victorino missed a little time due to injury, Chase Utley endured the worst slump of his career, and now we seem to be back in that all-or-nothing funk. We scored 20 runs this year. Woo-hoo! But anybody who watches baseball would rather have a bunch of 5 and 6 runs games than one 20 run game. That's just called pouring it on.

Instead, the Phils ring up 0, 1, and 2 run games like its their job. That's not something you expect out of a "high-powered" offense.

Our team's personality seems like it is close to slipping back into that "wait for someone to get a hit" mentality, instead of the "I'm gonna make something happen" mentality.

Victorino is still doing his thing, and Jayson Werth (trying to steal third the other night...twice...was a gaudy move) is too, but I personally feel like we could use one more hitter, a guy who can hit for contact, pinch run (and be dangerous at it), and have a decent glove.

Everybody knows pitching wins championships, and I completely agree that we need another starting pitcher to take things to the next level. Everyone also seems to agree that Victorino is the trade chip to use to bring in that pitcher.

The Phils have needed a pitcher for years. Seriously, it's probably been a more consistent need than a wide receiver is for the Eagles, but what if this year is the year where we finally make a move, push our chips to the center of the table and trade Victorino for a pitcher?

We've already lost Michael Bourn. Our team has clearly moved into the "any one of these guys could end up DHing on an AL team in 3 years" mode.

What if our offense takes a serious plunge into that brand of baseball that I don't think really has a name, but you know it when you see it, where there is no stealing, lots of striking out, some home runs peppered in there, and not much else?

Maybe the only way to take things to the next level is to trade Victorino for a pitcher, but seriously, Rollins and Victorino are the lifeblood of this line-up, and if you take away Victorino, that would make Werth and Jenkins every day starters. That is not a good thing. Our line up would be full of...yep...middle-aged white guys with balky knees looking to go yard every time, because its their only chance of scoring.

That's all I have to say about that.

1 comment:

bdod said...

I used to love Shane Victorino. In fact, one of my fantasy baseball teams is named Sugar Shane this year. I thought he was going to score 100 runs, steal 40 bags, and play an aggressive center field all year. I have learned the hard way that he really is a replaceable player. The move from right to center has greatly decreased the odds that folks will run on him. Frankly, I'm not convinced he is an upgrade at the position over Rowand. What's more, he too has been slumping this year which make his cheeky interviews seem a little more irratating than entertaining.

Simply put, we need on more pitcher, possibly even two. At this point, we have Hamels, Hamels' dad's high school buddy, a minor leaguer who I've never heard of, one guy who just makes me nervous even though he's been good (Kendrick), and poor old Adam Eaton who will just never carry the day. I say we move Victorino for a pitcher, and then play the deepest, oldest, slowest outfield ever in Burrell, Werth, and Jenkins, and let it rip. Our 'pen has been great, while a little shaky our bats will continue to lead us, and the more I see him, the more I like Manuel and how he handles that guys. We are just missing one piece, and it is the most important piece: quality horses at the front of the rotation. I say we bring Lohse back for one more run now that Sabathia is gone.