The Phils are back at 1-6. Exactly where they were at this point last season and in 2004. Arguably, the best regular-season Phils team, the 1977 edition, started the season atyou guessed it1-6.
This team just loves trying to dig its way out of a self-dug hole. Yesterday, due to Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel's inability to pull a double-switch, the team's inability to play defense, and the bullpen's inability to pitch the Phils blew a late lead to the division-rival Mets. Doesn't give you those proverbial goosebumps, hmmm?
Keep in mind that on average, a team that starts 1-6 ends up with a .421 winning percentage, which translates into a 68-94 record over a 162-game schedule. Yikes! There have been seven 1-6 teams that ended up winning their division or league and one (the 1911 A's) that won the Series.
The Phils now become just the tenth club in major-league history to start two consecutive seasons at 1-6. They are also just the second club to do it in three of four season, the 1905-07 Superbas a.k.a. Dodgers being the other:
New York Highlanders
New York Yankees
St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals
Sure, the Phils can still turn this season around. They've done it before. But with the Mets looking as tough if not tougher than 2006 and the Marlins and especially the Braves looking even better than last year, digging a hole this deep is going to take a long time to correct.
There is also one bog difference between this Phils club and the 2004 and 2006 versions. This team has a fundamental problem, the bullpen, for which there appears to be no quick answers. That will exacerbate the situation and make it much more difficult for the team to extract themselves from it. John Lieber has pitched one game in the pen and is already disgruntled. Right now the setup guy is not defined, so no other role can be. Their two best middle relievers (Madson and Geary) have failed in the setup role. It now falls to either Alfonseca, who reminds me too much of Arthur Rhodes, or the newly acquired Francisco Rpsario. I prefer Rosario because of his strikeout ratios, but given that he has just 23 major-league innings under his belt (and 6.65 ERA and high walk ratios), who knows if he can fill the role.
At least the have the master strategist Charlie Manuel calling the shots. Seriously, Manuel has difficulty properly managing his bullpen when it's peopled with veteran pitchers who have clearly defined roles. Forget about his managing a collection of youngsters and has-beens who have nary a role defined between them all.
I wonder what will happen after the Mets sweep them.