Before the bell rings on the 2006 season, and before this presumed house-cleaning occurs, time for some parting shots. Here are a couple of jabs, hooks and uppercuts directed at this 44-53 team that was supposed to be, at worst, respectable.
--- The Phillies had one short-term goal: Start hot. Take advantage of a weak, heavily home schedule. What happened? They were blown away opening day, dropped six of their first seven, and finished April with a 9-14 record. [Uppercut]
--- Most of us correctly point toward starting pitching as the bane of this season. Experiments, such as Ryan Madson and Gavin Floyd, failed badly, but this blow is telegraphed for veteran Jon Lieber. The Alabama doughnut taster has stunk up the joint since day one. [Jab]
--- The Phillies handling of Brett Myers’ alleged assault carved an even deeper rift between the team and fans. [Uppercut]
--- Leadoff pretender Jimmy Rollins has nine more extra base hits than power pretender Bobby Abreu, including three more home runs. Meanwhile, Abreu leads baseball in on-base percentage and J-Roll’s OBP ranks as one of the worst among lead-off men. Their spots in the lineup have not changed. [Uppercut]
--- Pat Gillick’s offseason moves, at best, have made no difference. Opposing batters have teed off on closer Tom Gordon since the all-star break. His numbers have fallen back to earth to a level most expected, but is still Billy Wagner’s equal, according to Hardball Times Win Shares. Aaron Rowand has been an awkward fit to an already dysfunctional, strikeout-plagued lineup. Whatever defensive intensity he brings to the field has been lost on one of the worst defensive squads in years. Sal Fasano performed as well as expected, but the handling of this position in general has been suspect. Overall, I see no improvements here. [Jab]
The rest of Gillick’s moves have not only done nothing, they’ve hurt.
By virtue of his .194 batting average and .478 OPS – tallied in full, everyday exposure – they would have been better off keeping Tomas Perez for one more season of utility than signing Abraham Nunez for two. Ridiculous, but true. At least Pie Man would’ve lifted his melancholy countryman’s spirits. [Jab]
Alex Gonzalez has provided right-handed pop from the bench, if by "bench" you mean "couch," and by "right-handed pop" you mean "occasionally open pickle jars in his wife’s kitchen." [Jab]
After two years of solid relief, just about everyone made a strong push to get Ryan Madson into the rotation. That was the reason why Jason Michaels was traded for Arthur Rhodes, and at least contributed to the decision to dump Vicente Padilla. Both Madson and Rhodes are probably the biggest disasters on the current roster. [Uppercut]
Someone decided Gavin Floyd would help the Phillies on the road to a World Series. That pipe dream burst in a month. [Jab]
Floyd beat out displaced starter Ryan Franklin. He’s been another awkward fit and has single handedly served up some losses in relief. [Jab]
Every team gets lucky once in a while, all except the Phils. Patchup jobs Eude Brito and Adam Bernero were so badly beaten, they booted Bernero from the organization just days after he was claimed off waivers. Who could have been better? Just about anyone. [Jab]
Lets look at the mental errors, missed opportunities and poor strategy that devastated the Phillies, particularly during the first half.
Too many strikeouts, all season long. [Right hook]
Poor situational hitting. [Left hook]
Allowing the opposing pitcher to hurt you offensively. [Right hook]
Poor in-game strategy by the manager. [Jab to the body]
Failing to develop a sense of clubhouse urgency. [Left uppercut]
Base-running mistakes. [Jab]
Defensive lapses. [Right uppercut]
... OK. That combination sealed the deal. The referee has stopped the fight.