This topic treads on thin ice, as the Phils have scored 398 runs this season, second in the National League. Nevertheless, we throw it on the fire following a miserable week of hitting.
Down in our comments thread, this year’s version is starting to draw comparisons to the 2006 squad instead of the ’07 division winner. Readers have observed a lineup that seems even more reliant on the long ball. Along with the popular phrase “All or nothing,” words like “plodding” are starting to pepper the discussion; the last time we saw words like that, David Bell and Mike Lieberthal were rounding out the lineup card.
The only people who would call the Phillies a young team are national broadcasters. More appropriately, they’re at their peak. Players like Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and even Chase Utley may not have years and years of service time, but they’re all pushing 30. Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins will both turn 30 this fall, while Howard will turn 29. At 27, Shane Victorino is the youngest position player on the roster, but he’s more or less been around since ’05.
The oldest group generally hangs near the bottom of the lineup, and a couple of them are having poor seasons. After Pat Burrell, the lineup card usually reads Geoff Jenkins, who will turn 34 next month. Jenkins, who’s hitting .249/.300/.393 with six homers, has been a disappointment. On some nights, Pedro Feliz, 33, will hit seventh. Feliz is having a slightly better season than Jenkins, hitting .261/.313/.415 with eight homers. However, he's shockingly slow on the basepaths. At catcher, Ruiz is not hitting, and Chris Coste, age 35, can hit, but can’t run, although you can’t fault him for that, as most catchers run in quicksand.
Beerleaguer: Among the chief concerns with the acquisitions of Feliz and Jenkins was this idea of infusing too much aging, one-dimensionality into the lineup. This isn’t a popular stat here in cyberspace, but their .255 team batting average gets to the heart of this “all or nothing” observation. Last season, they hit .280. To the naked eye, they’re short on contact hitters with speed and heavy on plodding fastball or mistake hitters. There’s also something to be said about teams like Florida, who keep pumping fresh blood through their veins. To that end, are the Phillies in danger of becoming stale?