Phillies manager Charlie Manuel rips into his struggling offense after a 3-2 loss in Florida. Read between the lines and the message is clear: Too many hitters are doing their own thing.
Following the game, a disgruntled Manual had this to say about a lineup that wasted yet another gem by Cole Hamels: "We get pitching like that, we've got to win. Our situational hitting is absolutely terrible. Absolutely off the chart, really. It's going to be hard for us to win" if situational hitting does not improve. [On Saturday], we hit all those balls down to third base in one inning - absolutely bad hitting. I'm not trying to hurt anybody's feelings, but if I do, if I'm talking about you, that's good. I mean to be talking about you."
Beerleaguer: For the record, those hitters on Saturday were Jayson Werth, Chris Coste and Jimmy Rollins, since we have no problem naming names here.
Let’s take this Manuel rant a step further and throw some players under the bus. I’m getting awfully tired watching Shane Victorino – your No. 2 hitter – sky balls to left field with a man on base. It happened right out of the chute in the first inning yesterday. Vic is somehow immune to criticism on Beerleaguer, but the fact is, for all his speed and defensive talents, he doesn’t play the game the way it should be played. The Phillies last, best No. 2 hitter was Tadahito Iguchi. He knew how to hit behind the runner. I don’t know that anyone on this team understands what that means, especially Victorino.
Maybe it’s not Geoff Jenkins fault that he’s so one-dimensional, but he is, and it’s killing this offense. Jenkins went 0-for-3 and stranded five men on base. He’s a big reason why the bottom of the lineup isn't producing against right-handed pitching, where Pedro Feliz – hitless yesterday – is hitting 240/.289/.362. This situation with Jenkins and Feliz represents my worst fears; I wasn't wild about either of these aging signees for this all-or-nothing reason. The 6-7-8 hitters went 1-for-14 yesterday, where Carlos Ruiz continues his tailspin.
Hidden injuries? Chris Coste: 4-32 in July. Big home-plate collision about three weeks ago. Just sayin’. Rollins: Coming up lame in first inning, apparently a knee problem. High ankle sprain earlier in the season. Noticeably less high-motor than 2007.
Mutual option watch: If Jenkins makes a total of 925 plate appearances in the 2008-2009 seasons or 525 plate appearances in 2009, it would trigger a $7.5 million vesting option for 2010. He's currently at 261 plate appearances. If the agreement fails to vest, he and the Phillies have a mutual option for the third year. The contract also includes a six-team limited no trade provision.
Update the shopping list: The Phillies need to start calling about any left-handed outfielder who can make contact. I'd look at San Diego's Jody Gerut, who's got some decent skills across the board, makes contact and gets on base. He'd be a cheap upgrade.
Readers weigh in: "I'm glad to see Manuel got a little testy. This team needs a swift kick in the ass even more than it needs pitching. Compared to last year's Phillies, they are totally lifeless and despite being in first place for the last 6-7 weeks, I wouldn't say it's been all that enjoyable to watch this team play. (Or read about it.) Jimmy Rollins: 'We don't get concerned until late.' Why is that, Jimmy? Sounds pretty ridiculous to me. Why not get after it now? What's with all the glib assumptions that the Phillies are always going to be able to pull out all the stops when they 'need' to in September? Really a disgusting attitude." -- RSB
"The Phillies are a good team, but they have lots of limitations and you really see them in extra innings: Feliz and Werth can't hit righties, Jenkins can't hit lefties, Ruiz can't hit anyone, Romero can't get righties out etc. etc. so Manuel is forced to make all kinds of moves. This is how you wind up in an 11th inning game that should've ended earlier, with a choice of Condrey or Eaton." - clout