Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Track Records

As if to prove my recent concerns wrong, the Phillies last night beat up on the hapless Expos for a second straight game. I'll take a break from pouring water on everyone's ecstasy and let someone else serve as today's designated buzzkiller. Like the Inquirer's Phil Sheridan, who notes that this year's Phils:

are one full game behind the 2003 Phillies. At this same point a year ago, the Phillies had a 41-34 record. They are 40-35 after last night. And yes, it's nice to beat up on a 22-year-old pitcher making his big-league debut, but there aren't going to be many of those the rest of the way.

A year ago, Ed Wade and Larry Bowa talked about how the team was talented enough. The Phillies just had to play up to their capabilities. A year ago, Wade and Bowa cited injuries and those unexpectedly hot Atlanta Braves as reasons their team seemed lacking.

Here's Bowa from the June 22, 2003, Inquirer, explaining why he believed his struggling team would hit better: "I think track records, for the most part, don't lie."

Here's Wade from yesterday's Daily News: "I think this team has the ability to play at a higher level... . You look at their track records and you expect them to do better."

A year ago, you could give Wade and Bowa the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the Phillies would heat up with the summer, putting together some kind of run at the Braves. When Wade essentially stood pat at the trade deadline, he deserved a little bit of slack. After all, the historically small-thinking Phillies still had vertigo from throwing big money at Jim Thome and Kevin Millwood.

This year, the slack is gone. The rope is taut, and it is stretched over a deep, wide chasm.

I'm not sure Reading's Ryan Howard is the answer, as Bill Conlin has dreamily speculated twice (here and here) this week, but I do think that standing pat would be fatal. Look at it this way: Assume the Phils and Marlins continue to jockey for the division lead the rest of the way, with the Mets and Braves kind of hanging around. Assume that the N.L. East is too weak a division to send more than one team to the playoffs. Neither of these assumptions is farfetched given what's happened so far this year. Given that, whom do you put your money on? The defending World Series champs? The league's best team over the last decade? Or the underachieving squad with no true ace, an inconsistent offense, a legacy of failure, and a jittery, unimaginative manager who lacks the respect of his players?


42 Comments:

At June 30, 2004 at 3:59 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Weel, gee whiz, since you put it that way . . .

 
At June 30, 2004 at 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The #1 move that has to be made is to get rid of Bowa. His handling of personel is terrible and his game management skills are severely lacking. That being said they could certainly use some more pitching.

 
At June 30, 2004 at 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i doubt they'll dump bowa and they aren't going to be able to get a big-name starting picther to replace padilla/killwood in the rotation. so what's left? polanco for a centerfielder or fair-to-middlin' starter/reliever? i can't see them trading a pitcher, so who in the field has value that they'd move? who's their estrada this time? utley?

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