As I am sure many of you are already aware, Roy Halladay has been placed on the DL with a right latissimus dorsi strain. His projected time for recovery is 6-8 weeks. The good news is that the strain is a Grade ½ which means he just needs rest for the muscle to heal. The bad news is he will be gone probably until August. Yikes.
In regards to how long this has been going on, pitching coach Rich Dubee told the media, “I’ve thought since spring training that there was an issue.” My question then is, why was nothing done about this sooner? Why no MRI in spring training?
Of course, Halladay probably down-played the issue thinking it was nothing serious. But if you are paying a guy $60 million dollars, isn’t it your obligation to do everything possible to ensure the health of that player? In my opinion, this should have been handled in March. Luckily, the muscle did not tear in the meantime, but damage to the team was certainly done by allowing this to drag on.
The overwhelming sentiment in the press has been, “It could be worse,” referring to a potential tear or rotator cuff injury. But really, any injury with any player “could be worse.” What they should be doing instead of telling us how great it is that this is not worse is asking some real questions. Like, why was this not addressed earlier?
This also raises questions for me about the team management, from the top brass to the training staff. Because the Halladay issue does not seem to be the only thing they missed. What about Chase Utley? Should they have done more in the offseason to ensure Utley was healthy, especially after the 2011 knee problem?
But it is also easy to see why the team was maybe playing the “ignore it and it may go away” game. Imagine for a minute if they did check Halladay out in spring training. Now imagine having Halladay, Utley and Ryan Howard on the DL to start the season. How many fans do you think would have immediately written the team off with that kind of start? I would assume the Phillies would have asked themselves the exact same question.
As it stands now, those 3 players make up 32% of the entire team $174.5 million payroll. That is $55 million sitting on the DL. Ouch.
So, you still want to look on the bright side? Ok, think of it like this: Halladay is not really hurt. He is simply having his bionic parts tuned-up. As with most bionic men, this procedure can take some time.
Then when Halladay returns, he should be right back to his robot-self! Awesome.
My next question is, could the Phillies be playing the same “ignore it and it may go away” game with Joe Blanton? Missing most of last season with a sore elbow, Blanton was also seemingly left to his own devices all off-season and did not have surgery.
Blanton came back and appeared healthy and pitched very well in April. But then May rolled around and it all went downhill. In his last 3 starts, Blanton has not made it past the 5th inning and given up a total of 19 runs. That is an ERA of 12.52 in 3 starts. Last night against the Mets, he allowed 6 runs in 5 innings which lead to a 6-3 loss. Am I really the only one who finds this pattern disturbing?
Ok, let’s examine the bright side once again…Cliff Lee pitches tonight! Yes, it is Lee vs. Gee once again. And Lee could actually pick up his first win of the year before May ends! Cross your fingers…
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
It has been an interesting few days for the Phillies. On Sunday, they finished off a four-game sweep of the Padres, scoring only 12 runs total in all of those games. An inside-the-park homer by Shane Victorino helped seal Sunday’s sweep.
That same day, closer Jose Contreras was sent to the DL with a strained right flexor pronator tendon in his elbow. As a result, Michael Stutes joined the club to fill the roster spot and made his major league debut on Monday.
Also on Monday night, the Phillies five-game win streak ended with a 0-4 shut-out loss to the D-Backs. Cliff Lee pitched an odd game where he struck out 12 batters but still allowed four runs in seven innings. However, Lee’s performance was basically rendered obsolete as the Phils offense did absolutely nothing to help out.
The three-hit shutout by the Diamondbacks Ian Kennedy where he struck out 10 batters and did not issue a walk, matched a team record. Only two other pitchers in team history tossed a shutout while allowing three or fewer hits with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks. One was Curt Schilling on April 10, 2001 against the Dodgers (2 hits allowed, 10 SO) and the other, Randy Johnson, when he pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004 at Atlanta (13 SO).
While that feat by Kennedy is very impressive, the Phillies offense certainly made it a little easier on him by swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones fly by.
The Phils offensive offense has not scored more than four runs in 14 consecutive games this season. They currently rank 28th in baseball for runs scored since April 9th.
The worst offender amongst the starters has been Raul Ibanez, who is hitting just .179. He should be benched in favor of John Mayberry Jr. until he figures things out. Maybe at almost 39-year old, Ibanez needs to be in a platoon with Mayberry to get him more rest.
Team leader Jimmy Rollins is also not producing. He got off to a hot start and has seriously cooled off. Rollins has not had a multi-hit game since April12th. He has batted .182 since that time.
But a few players are not to blame. The entire team is just not hitting, as if they all caught the same virus at once. If the disease continues to spread, who will be the fall guy? Last year it was hitting coach Milt Thompson. Frankly, the players themselves need to be held accountable. Play the bench guys until the starters find their swings.
While the bench is solid, it is not the long-term solution. However, maybe benching a few guys will light a fire under them. Because the Phillies have few other options.
Their payroll is maxed out. The Phillies will never be a team that decides to pay the luxury tax along with the Yankees. So as far as getting new blood into the line-up, they are out of options. Besides, it is only April and no teams are ready to trade anyone yet.
Then again, it is only April. The team is still winning, despite the offense, thanks to a solid starting staff. But even the pitchers are going to get weary of the lack of support very soon.
So choose your most relaxing yoga pose and just keep telling yourself, “It’s only April. Its only April…”
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In the digital age, rumors fly much quicker than they used to. It literally takes only seconds to post a rumor online and create a huge buzz over basically nothing. The same applies to Phillies free-agent right fielder, Jayson Werth.
Early this morning, a talk-show radio host mentioned that the Phillies had offered Werth a contract and that it was good enough for him to possibly sign. Should you give credence to this rumor? The simple answer is “No.”
Black Friday came and went and no “sale” on outfielders was ever advertised. Tomorrow is Cyber Monday; for those awaiting a holiday miracle and second-chance sale on Werth, put it out of your mind. It is not going to happen. The odds of Werth returning to Philly are about the same as the possibility of a meteor landing on your house; for the record, those adds are about 182,138,880,000,000 to 1.
Did you know there is even a web site page on eHow.com dedicated to helping people determine if rumors are true? One of the suggestions says, “Send at text to (CHA CHA) 242 242 with any rumor questions and they might be able to answer your question in just a few minutes.” Is this not the basic equivalent to shaking a Magic 8-ball?
So if you prefer logic to magic text messages, just look at the facts. The Phillies already have $143 million dollars committed to 2011 salaries. Werth is going to aim for an average of $15 million a year. Nearing the $160 million dollar mark does not leave room for improvements elsewhere, like in the bullpen. Plus, while Domonic Brown may not be ready to take over full-time in right field, he is close enough. The Phillies can find help elsewhere for the one year or so until Brown is ready.
Now think about some of the moves GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has already made. If Amaro was not willing to pay to keep Cliff Lee, $15 million a year for Werth seems even more like a huge, unsustainable amount. The Phillies are also not afraid to platoon players to fill the spot, as evidenced by previous pairings like Werth and Geoff Jenkins. While this will not improve the position at all, it is possible that the Phillies will settle for a platoon of Ben Francisco and Brown if all else fails.
Players will wait to get the best offer. Remember after the 2007 season when the Phillies gave a solid 3-4 offer to Aaron Rowand to return? The Giants came in with a 5-year deal and Rowand walked. It will be the same with Werth; even if the Phillies offer a very good deal, odds are that another team will outbid them.
And if all that has not quelled your suspicions that this weekend’s rumor might be true, take it from Werth himself. CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Werth said via text message about being close to signing, “Not at all. It’s very early. I will make an informed decision in due time.” So you can choose to believe the magic CHA CHA eHow text message or the verified text message sent to Salisbury. Magic or logic; you decide.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography