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Got A Flame In My Heart, Can't Get My Phil
2004-08-12 00:53
by Mike Carminati

Didn't take too long 'fore I found out, what people mean my down and out.

óLed Zeppelin's "Black Dog"

Jolted Joe weighs in on what is ailing the Phils. Surprise! It's typical Joe aphorisms: "Their dependence on the home run", they "strike out a lot", and "a lack of consistency, both at the plate and on the mound."

Those are far from what ails this team. Yes, the Phils are second in the NL in home runs to runs ratio, 27.1% which is behind the Cubs (29.8%). They are fourth in the NL in runs per games (5.04). However, that is all attributable to the home performance in their new band box. They are second in HR/R at home (29.3%) again behind the Cubs (32.7%). They are fifth in R/G at home (4.91). On the road the story is much different. They fall to eighth in road HR/R (24.3%) and sixth in R/G (4.90).

Note that the have scored about the same at home (4.91) as on the road (4.90) even though they have nine more home runs at home (78 to 69). So their offense must be more effective on the road, and yet they are three games better at home. Did Joe notice that they have been out-homered at home (78 to 82) and on the road (69 to 74)?

The real problem with the Phils offense is that they have some players not perform. They have a .319 OBP in the leadoff spot (13th in the NL) and .339 in the number 2 hole (9th). And the bottom of the order has been horrible (.716 OPS for number 7 hitters, 9th in the NL, and .684 for #8, also ninth). If the Phillies don't score in the middle of the order they may have to wait another three innings to get another chance.

As far as their pitching, they are twelfth in ERA (4.46) in the NL. And that's after leading the league the first month. If you think it's due to their ballpark, consider that they are 12th at home in ERA (4.21) but 14th on the road (4.73). Their pitching has been consistent, consistently bad. A lot of that is due to injured pitchers that were never replaced with decent pitching. A lot is due to Larry Bowa's reliance on pitchers that didn't deserve it (Roberto Horrendous and, sadly, Rheal Cormier).

The Phils real problem is that their management could not (or at least did not) go out and get help when they needed and that Larry Bowa misused the talent that he did have.

No worries though, the point of the piece was for Joe to rant on about the 1983 Phils, of which he was a member. The bulk of the team is on the so-called Wheeze Kids even though the only tie is that Pat Corrales was fired while in the pennant race, a tenuous one at best since Larry Bowa has yet to be fired (and even if he is, Corrales was fired with his team in first).

Joe still puzzles as to why Corrales was fired. The Phils were one game over .500 and were more than half-way through the season that's why. Corrales was also overusing the superannuated Pete Rose and Tony Perez at first, and Owens wanted to use young Len Matuszek more among other personnel issues.

Anyway, after this Joe starts talking about how managers influence young teams more than old and that's why Jack McKeon had such an influence over the Marlins last year. However, he has no explanation for why McKeon couldn't work his magic as the Marlins got younger this year.

He ends up devoting almost as much time on the 2004 Marlins as he does on the 2004 Phils, the putative subject of the piece. Besides, what is he saying, that the Phils should get older to be influenced less by Bowa? Or that firing Bowa wouldn't have mattered because they are a veteran team? Or is he just reminiscing? It would've been nice if he knew about the 2004 Phils at least a fraction of what he misremembers about the '83 Phils. But then again there are very few members of the Big Red Machine on the 2004 team, so why bother?

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