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The Burning of (The Phils' Bats in) Atlanta
2005-04-24 22:01
by Mike Carminati

The Phils got swept by the Braves today in those ugly red softball uniforms, but that's not the end of it: they lost on average by a 7-1 score. The Phils led for one half inning, 1-0 in the top of the first in game one of the series.

The one positive, as we watch the Phils' season, unravel, is that it's happening early enough in the season this time so that it will be enough disavow anyone involved in or even watching this team of the belief that this is a playoff-caliber team.

The NL East is a collection of mediocre clubs, and yet the Phils are starting to distance themselves fro the pack, and not in a good way. Philly is 5-8 against the rest of the East. Last year, they trailed the Braves by ten games, but given that their record against the rest of the East was 39-37 and the Braves' was 51-25, one could say that they lost the division in the way they played the rest of the East.

Even among mediocre clubs, the Phils can't compete.

The Phillies' collapse was total. First, their offense was abysmal. They batted .204, with a .292 on-base percentage, .269 slugging average, .561 OPS, and 49 men left on base. But that doesn't even tell the full story. Of the regulars, just David Bell had an OPS above .661. And their 3-4-5 hitters (Abreu, Thome, and Burrell) all batted below .150, all had OPS's under .507, and left 20 men on base. Thome also struck out four times in seven at-bats. And don't get me started with Mike Lieberthal! All that's left of his career is determining when it jumped the shark. His ratios in this series: .100/.182/.100/.282. Really.

Here's the complete list sorted by OPS:

Polanco, 2B41200002.500.5001.0001.500
Michaels, CF-LF-RF-PH51302111.600.714.6001.314
Bell, 3B120410182.333.333.500.833
Utley, 2B7120136.286.375.286.661
Lofton, CF80200321.250.333.250.583
Abreu, RF7011213111.143.364.143.506
Thome, 1B7010248.143.333.143.476
Burrell, LF90101191.
Rollins, SS1202000111.
Lieberthal, C10011136.
Offerman, 1B-PH5000113.
Adams, P0000000.
Cormier, P0000000.
Floyd, P0000000.
Fultz, P1000010.
Madson, P1000000.
Myers, P2000010.
Padilla, P1000001.
Perez, T, PH1000000.
Wolf, P1000001.
Worrell, P0000000.
Per G3116137162000011.

And if the cracks in the lineup aren't enough, the starting pitching which had been surprisingly strong at the start of the season is starting to crumble. Vicente Padilla has been awful (0-2, 18.00 ERA) since coming off the DL. His temporary replacement, Gavin Floyd was given two starts (7.84 ERA) to prove himself and then after two atrocious relief appearances (31.91 ERA in 3.2 IP) was sent down to the minors. He's this season's Marlon Byrd. The Phils can't seem to wait more than a few games to let a prospect establish himself. I said in the offseason, if Amaury Telemaco is in the rotation by May, the Phils are done. He's probably one more bad Padilla start away from the call-up.

Here are the pitching totals for the Braves series:

Cormier 1.0 0000100.00
Fultz 3.1 1001500.00
Madson 3.0 1000200.00
Worrell 1.0 2000200.00
Myers (L, 1-1) 6.0 6444716.00
Adams 2.0 2222119.00
Padilla (L, 0-2) 3.0 44443012.00
Wolf (L, 1-2) 4.0 76621113.50
Floyd 0.2 35540067.50
Totals 24.0 262121172237.88
Starters 9.0 13 12 12 8 5 2 12.00
Relievers 15.0 13 9 9 9 17 1 5.40

So Wolf and Padilla continue their lethargy from their injury-plagued 2004 seasons. Myers has his first bad start—we'll have to see how that plays out. Lieber has looked like the ace the team has been missing (4-0, 2.73 ERA), but can he really keep it up?

And then there's the bullpen that right now owns a 7.30. Only two men in the pen have ERAs under 6.75 (Aaron Fu1tz 1.93 in 9 IP, and Billy Wagner 0.00 and three saves in 7 IP).

Right now the Phils have Ryan Howard (2, 10, .402), Marlon Byrd (.390 spring average), Floyd, and Cole Hammels languish in the minors. I'm convinced that the Phils will never derive any value from any of them but perhaps Hammels. Wade is saving Howard for a mid-season trade so that he can escape public censor, which is basically his raison d'être now. The Phils management will continue to fiddle as this team burns.

When's Telemaco's first start anyway?

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