Fixing The Phillies? Not Yet.

The Phillies are off to a 7-9 start. To hear some tell it, they might as well be 2-14. They are on the panic button, and want drastic action taken now. I'm not with them. I think a harder road might be a better road than winning 102 games like last year, which incidentally didn't end in a parade. I also subscribe to the old "100 At-Bat" Rule: You know nothing about the kind of season a guy might have until they take 100 AB's. Not one Phillie has crossed 65 at-bats yet, so i'm not ready to judge. Besides, they're on a 3-4 West Coast trip, not 1-6.

With that said, let's not mince our words. The Phillies just lost two straight to the lowly Padres, and didn't hit at all this past week. They've already lost series to the Pirates, Mets, Giants, and Padres, of which only one is considered a serious contender. No Phillie has ten RBI's, and none have three homers either. Cliff Lee's on the DL. Polanco and Thome look cooked, and Mayberry's making last year look like a fluke. Nix still doesn't fit on this team. Howard and Utley still don't have return dates. Hunter Pence is hitting .258, Jimmy Rollins is at .254, and those aren't even the bad ones: Polanco's at .192. Juan Pierre leads the team in hitting. I have four main problems with this team.

  • The offense started to decline in May of 2010 (at least I pinpoint it there), and this season it seems to be getting worse. This means your players under contract are getting worse.
  • The players seem stiff and complacent, and frankly unwilling to change anything.
  • The execution stinks. Guys can't move runners, can't hit sac-flys with guys on third and one out, can't hit behind runners, and just don't "get the job done" situationally. They swing at the most pitches out of the strike zone in the NL, and just can't do this while they lack any kind of power in the line-up. They have to do things right.
  • They don't have a lot of flexibility to change things unless the GM is willing to do something radical.

Now, I'm not advocating the Phillies do anything today, or even this week. I'm saying that if we're looking at this situation in a few weeks, you can't let it continue. So what to do? What are the options? Well, I have a few in mind.

  • Call someone up- Yes, I know, those of you who want this will scream "DOM BROWN," and he's obviously on top of the list, but is he it? I want Dom Brown to be the left-fielder, like yesterday. I see his potential and am willing to wait him out. I can also read his stat-line and realize that he's not automatically the savior on day one. He's recovered from a bad start to get to .263, with 8 RBI's, both of which are respectable, but his OPS is sub-.700, and he's homer-less (though he does have a few extra-base hits.). His defense has improved, but I'm not saying he'd be the total change some might hope he could be on day one. He could use at least a little more time to show consistency and hit more. I also look at Scott Podsednik, Cody Overbeck, and Erik Kratz, and see possibilities that could help, though none have me sold more so than Brown. I'd probably think about bringing up Brown in May if he shows a little more.
  • Release someone- Yes, fire someone. Placido Polanco is in the last year of his deal, and if he's not hitting when Utley returns (and presumably Galvis could be considered at third), this could be a real possibility then. Jim Thome will get every chance to avoid this fate, but I don't think we should pretend it's not a possibility. Dumping a veteran off the team could wake up the others, perhaps. It could also send the locker room into disarray.
  • Trade someone- Joe Blanton is kind of the obvious one, as someone will need a starter, somewhere, but what does that change? Honestly, the pitching is the only reason this team has any wins. Same thing for those of you who want to do something crazy like trading Cole Hamels (a death sentence to decline). The most likely guy to go, who could fetch you something in return, is a huge risk to trade with such a bad offense: Shane Victorino. Shane's a free agent after the year, and is honestly one of the best two offensive players on this team right now. He could fetch a lot though in return, and offer this team a chance to change the line-up radically. I doubt this is plausible though for a team that can't hit to save their lives.
  • Fire someone- Ok, so you'll say Greg Gross immediately. Not me. Why? You fired Gross before. You fired Milt Thompson in 2010, and Gross got a little bit out of them for that year, but the team is just in decline, and seems unwilling to change their approaches. I'm not saying I'm against firing him, these guys don't seem to be listening, but what's that really change. AT SOME POINT DOWN THE LINE, Charlie ultimately is responsible for this team. He needs to win, and win this year. If he's not, he's ultimately the guy to blame here. Obviously this won't happen soon, if at all, but if you close it off from your mind, you're not trying hard enough to win.
  • A drastic line-up switch- Put Jimmy back at one, Pierre at two, Shane at three, Pence at four, Wigginton five, Ruiz six, Galvis up to seven, and drop Polanco to eight. I'd do that now, and stick with it for a week or two. You have to try these guys in some different form, they're not hitting now.
Now, other than the line-up change, I'd do nothing today. Some of this stuff would send shockwaves through the team and the fan base, and you don't just do that because you don't like how a couple of days in California went. With all of that said, if a month from now, we're right back here, then it's time for some major changes.