Monday, May 08, 2006

Break 'em Up!

wow, 8 straight wins for the phils. is it time to get excited yet?

like pat gillick's theory about not really knowing about young pitchers until they've been roughed up, i think we'll see the true measure of this team after the hot hitting streak ends. will they fold up like past years or have the tweaks that gillick made actually changed the mental makeup of the team?

could the simple act of replacing a clubhouse cancer like lofton and an enabler like jason michaels (part of pat burrell's crew -- apparently, pat is the biggest cancer on the team) with a gamer like rowand make all the difference?

if cole hamels is as good as they say he is and he can stay healthy, they might make a run at the postseason yet. i think ben's prediction of 94 wins is improbable, but not impossible.

btw - how good is gillick. he takes the "untradeable" jim thome and turns him into two pitching prospects and a center fielder who is changing the mentality of the team.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The time to get excited was day one. The Phillies have a darn good baseball team and will prove it over the long haul. How can you not be excited by a team with young talent like Brett Myers, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard?

This team already had an opportunity to fold. Egad, after a horrendous start against the dreck of baseball, even eternal optimists like myself were shaking their heads. Half the town had given up on the team after the first week for cripes sake.

To be fair, the Phillies have folded in recent years, playing well only when safely out of contention. I’m not blind. But I continue to see reason to hope. The leadership nucleus of this team has changed dramatically, as I noted earlier in the season. Rowand is a huge addition. I don’t care if Thome hits 50 bombs this season, Gillick did the right thing by hitching the wagon to Howard. The fact that he got three real players (as you point out) in return is astounding. I love the way Rowand plays center field (although I think the hitting binge is a mirage based on his swing).

I’m assuming that you are refering to Billy Wagner’s comments when identifying the Bat as the biggest clubhouse cancer, although you may also be recollecting his refusal to shake Larry Bowa’s hand after a home run last year. I think it is likely that Burrell is a little immature, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in anything Billy Wagner says. He’s a hell of a thrower, but he’s also a bit of a jackass. I’m glad the Phillies have Tom Gordon, who at least right now looks like an upgrade.

Cole Hammels should be with this team right now. He’s another gamer to throw into the mix. I’m way less worried about his thin skin than Gavin Floyd’s or Ryan Madsen’s. Personally, I’d be content to play for a pennant next year by trading Jon Leiber now and letting Hammels take his licks. Combined with the pitching talent in the minors, the youngsters on the staff could be the cornerstone of a very happy era for the Phillies.

I’d love to gloat over the eight game streak, but I’ve actually developed concerns about this team and think 94 wins will be harder than I thought in April.

1. The Mets got the great start they couldn’t get. I’m convinced that early struggles would have imploded that team, but it didn’t happen.
2. Too many guys on this team pitched scared. Gavin Floyd and Ryan Madsen aren’t ready, and I thought they were. How many times does Floyd need to learn to just throw the damn ball? He’ll get it eventually, but not yet. Aaron Fultz is so tight you couldn’t pull a needle out of his ass with a tractor. Jon Leiber has to be perfect to be effective (at least he isn’t scared).
3. The starting line-up is extremely vulnerable against quality left-hand starters. Utley and the Gold Glover need to pick up the slack. Both look defensive at the plate against southpaws, and it will show up soon enough in the statistics. Rollins has forgotten how to hit right handed. Howard is still learning. Burrell is way more important to this team’s chances than I want him to be. So is David Bell.

What the heck, we’re 31 games in and I’m hanging on every pitch, enjoying the ride as I said I would. This team is sure to keep me interested and entertained all season long.


8:43 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

I’m assuming that you are refering to Billy Wagner’s comments when identifying the Bat as the biggest clubhouse cancer, although you may also be recollecting his refusal to shake Larry Bowa’s hand after a home run last year.

it's a little of that, but it's also based on a number of things i've read and heard about burrell -- that he's the single biggest source of the "don't ask me to play hard" and "ask someone who cares" mentality that has been poisoning the team in past years. i suspect that getting rid of michaels was more about pat burrell than anything else -- a "we're not going to coddle you any more" message.

12:55 PM EDT  

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