Where has the NLCS and the World Series MVP gone? Certainly, he is not the same pitcher who is currently 4-5 with a 4.98 ERA? Oh heck, make it an even 5.00. And tonight, his problems were more magnified than ever; Cole Hamels pitched only 4+ innings and allowed 7 earned runs as the Phillies went down 1-11. Seven runs against an Atlanta team that everyone said had NO offense; well, I guess they were just waiting for the Phillies to come to town.
But what is the problem with Hamels? First, he is leaving way too many pitches up in the zone. This is not his typical style, but suddenly, it has become a real issue. Second, he is pitching frustrated. In recent days, the previously cool and confident Hamels has become a whiny crybaby with the umpires and has a general look of dissatisfaction on his face all the time. But why? For a guy who has had this much success at a young age, he has no reason to pout…with the exception maybe of his last several outings. He was the 2008 World Series MVP…he bought a brand new luxury condo in Philly…his wife is expecting their first child…everyone worships him. So, what is the issue? Where did the smile go?
Then again, this entire team has seemingly lost their Mojo over the past month. Just ask Jimmy Rollins; in fact, the only guy who’s Mojo appears untouchable is Chase Utley who is still batting .301 despite his team’s struggles. And where has Ryan Howard’s big bat disappeared to? He has not hit a home run since June 20th (that is 32 at-bats) and is hitting .240 overall this past month. The most feared offensive team in the league has turned into a welcome relief to opposing pitchers who are now anxious to mow the Phillies down.
This is where Charlie Manuel’s short comings will come to light. Don’t get me wrong, I love Charlie. He has been the manager that this team has needed and he performed THE miracle by bringing the World Series Championship home. And Charlie is a super nice guy; but that is exactly the issue. He is too nice sometimes. Sorry Charlie, but it is time to start banging heads together in that clubhouse. The “nice” approach worked for two games, and now, they are right back in a funk.
Not only that, but he should manage without worrying about making everyone happy. When asked why he started Paul Bako at catcher tonight, a career bench guy, Manuel said he felt that because Bako was there with the team, he needed to play sometime. I hate to disagree, but as the manager, Manuel does not owe anyone anything. It is not Manuel’s job to soothe ego’s; it is his job to win games. And no offense to Bako, but he is hardly the spark plug this team needs right now. Forget about getting guys their playing time; play the guys who will produce. And if Rollins cannot hit, move him down in the line-up. There is no sense in him getting 5 at-bats a game when other players are hitting better. No one cares how unhappy it makes Rollins, and neither should Charlie. Get him out of the funk, then move him back. Jimmy should be willing to do what is best for the team, and he knows that. A little tough love is in order here. The rest of the NL East is creeping right up on top of the Phillies and they will be out of first place this week if nothing changes.
The New Starter?
Rodrigo Lopez will, at least for now, occupy the hole left in the line-up by Brett Myers who is down for the season after hip surgery. Lopez pitched for the Rockies in 2007, then had Tommy-John surgery. Coming back from his injury, he signed a minor league deal with the Phils in March and has gone 5-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 13 starts this season with the AAA Iron Pigs.
Most expected to see Carlos Carassco in this spot, but that is not the way it will pan out. However, this move may be a sign that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has a trade in the works and did not want to bring up a young gun for a spot start. If you are going to bring in a guy like Carassco, you are probably thinking that he will be in long term. Since they did not do that, it leads me to think there may be something cooking. Let us hope so…
Last Day To Vote
Hamels Photos by Jenn
Eminem by http://graphicshunt.com