One man's stream of consciousness on the 14-16 Phillies.
Out of money. Out of prospects. Nobody's making a trade on May 8. So Erik Kratz to the rescue. The Phillies' best prospect package wouldn't be competitive anyway. Ryan Howard is out. That's 130 RBIs, on the high-side career average, gone missing from the lineup. Chase Utley's out. He's better than the alternatives, no matter what he's got left. Life without your three and four hitters will understandably be tough, right? Ruben Amaro Jr. patched up the lineup with limited resources anticipating Howard would be out for two months. And frankly, the guys he's recruited (Wigginton, Nix, Pierre) have been solid. There aren't many takers for a two-month gig, so it's difficult to see doing much better. He couldn't have anticipated losing Utley for this long. Domonic Brown can't field. He should be in the picture, but he's not. Jonathan Papelbon was a big overreach, but they're turning to youth instead of recycled vets in the middle innings. The results have been mixed, but I'm in favor of youth. On a team with eight-inning pitchers like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, they can afford to take a peek.
At the end of the day they're losing because Jimmy Rollins is a .231/.278/.274 hitter and should be a lot better than that. Was it a mistake to resign him? Way too early to say, but lots of well-informed people were willing to cut bait. In what was billed as a make-or-break year, John Mayberry Jr. has gone broke (.206/.215/.254). Charlie Manuel hasn't pushed the right buttons. Too much conventional thinkin'. Nor does this lineup play to his strengths.
These are your three goats: Rollins, Manuel and Mayberry, probably in that order. After that, they're generally a low on-base lineup of singles hitters like Placido Polanco. A bottom-third offense.
What can the Phillies do about it? Nuttin'.