Stop me if you've heard this one. The Phillies' starters pitch brilliantly, the relievers hold down the fort, the defense gets the job done ... and the offense is nowhere to be found.
Over the weekend, the Phillies' starting pitchers combined to allow three runs in 23 innings. In all, the team's staff gave up just five runs in the weekend series with the A's. But the offense - oh, that offense - managed a total of five runs itself. And yes, it was as ugly as it sounds:
The numbers: The Phillies' batters hit .194 against the A's, including back-to-back 4-for-30 efforts on Friday and Saturday. They had four extra-base hits in three games - all doubles - and as a team, they now rank 20th in the majors in batting average (.246), 13th in OBP (.320) and 24th in slugging (.373). They also rank 17th in homers (64), 29th in doubles (115) and 16th in runs scored (320).
The situation: We all know that Raul Ibanez is brutal and that Ben Francisco and Dom Brown are, at least right now, more part of the problem than the solution. Placido Polanco is struggling, Ryan Howard has no protection in the order, and the Phillies are still trying to figure out their leadoff situation. And Chase Utley, while a welcomed addition to the lineup over the last month, hasn't exactly torn the cover off the ball.
The question: We all know what the Phillies' problems are, but what is the solution? A new batting order? A trade? A minor move? A major shakeup?