It’s been 10 days since the NLDS gut punch. Has anyone recovered?
Time hasn’t unclogged the worst case of writers block in eight years of writing Beerleaguer. My last timestamp occurred almost a week ago: a mailed-in link to the Ruben Amaro press conference last Tuesday. The last time I’ve gone a week without updating: my honeymoon in 2004, which briefly interrupted heated debates over the value of Lou Collier. If only I were smart enough to heed my own warning about how the short series is just a coin flip. We’ve all been spoiled by not having to endure a do-or-die NLDS. I get it. But I’m still simmering. Still fuming at how Cliff Lee pissed away Game 2, still baffled by how the offense couldn’t work a run in Game 5, still livid that Milwaukee, St. Louis, Texas and Detroit – the game’s “middle class” – advanced and we, the "nouveau riche," didn't. Now it’s down to the Cards and Rangers.
What makes matters worse is that these last 10 days have driven home the fact that the Phillies blew it big. Through age, injury and contractual attrition, the Phils only stand to get worse. Perhaps much worse. Life without a qualified shortstop may become a reality unless the Phils pay up. They’ll also need to pay top dollar for a closer, whether it’s Ryan Madson or not. Ryan Howard’s symbolic fall on the season’s final play wasn’t just good theater, it was a fully torn Achilles that will require a minimum of six months. Howard isn’t the only player with mounting injuries. Placido Polanco and Hunter Pence underwent sports hernia surgeries in the same morning last week. Polly had a “double” hernia surgery, whatever that is, while Cole Hamels had not one, but two, surgeries, one to clean loose bodies in his elbow and another for a sports hernia, just for good measure. Loose bodies and sports hernias are common contagians inside the Phillies' locker room, along with knee tendonitis; Pence and Chase Utley will continue to cope with tendonitis using delicate care.
The Phillies have expiring contracts all over the place (Roy Oswalt, Ross Gload, Brad Lidge, Raul Ibanez). The Phils have expiring contracts they don’t even know about. Dane Sardinha, for example, elected free agency. That’s not a big deal in and of itself, but Brian Schneider is also a free agent. Again, not a big deal in isolation, but it’s just another area of concern for a 102-win team suddenly loaded with issues.