Friday, September 24, 2004

Locking the Barn Door

Of course.

Of course the Phillies sweep the Marlins now. An infuriating hallmark of Larry Bowa's tenure has been winning when it didn't matter much. After nearly two years of abject failure in South Florida, the Phils took three straight to pull to within, what, about a dozen games of the Braves, right? About the only thing the Miami victories are good for is the removal of psychological burdens should the Phillies somehow fashion themselves into a contender next season. Otherwise they're mere window dressing -- frilly curtains which fail to conceal the shattered panes behind them.

Exactly which windows need to be fixed is a major concern for the Phillies, of course. Tom Goodman at Swing and a Miss has some interesting thoughts here, while Rich Hoffman, in yesterday's Daily News, says it's all about starting pitching. Pointing to the correlation between the team's appallingly low number of quality starts and its status as also-rans, Hoffman makes the case for the re-signing of Eric Milton, a topic that has generated some discussion elsewhere.

Depressingly, the trial balloons being floated out of South Philadelphia imply a much less aggressive off-season than the past few years have seen. You'd think that after watching the much-heralded 2004 squad trip over its own cleats, David Montgomery & Co. would recognize the need to field a winner regardless of cost before Citizens Bank Park resembles the deserted wastelands that Miller and PNC Parks have become. I mean, I didn't watch an inning of the Florida series, and, judging by the decreased activity in the Phillies blogosphere, I'm not alone. The Phils have managed once again to drain the passion out of one of the country's most loyal and fervent fan bases, and without a winner next year, baseball will return to its previously full-time status as a sporting afterthought among Philadelphians.

But, hey, at least the ballpark no longer sucks.


At September 24, 2004 at 2:35 PM, Blogger Tom G. said...

How do you define aggressive? If you mean adding payroll, I don't think they need to be "agressive". I think they can improve the team considerably and stick at the exact same payroll they have now. I mean, changing managers will all by itself add 5 wins and that cost is a fraction of the total organization's budget.

Seriously, I think they are going to be good next year, I really do. I am ticked it wasn't last year or this year, but "there's always nexty year". (Excuse me while I refill my Kool-Aid glass.)

At September 24, 2004 at 3:39 PM, Blogger Tom Goodman said...

Ad I said this morning in my post, starting pitching remains the Phillies' greatest need. It is nearly impossible to be optimistic about next season when the starting pitching includes a Randy Wolfe (two trips to the disable list including the current season-ending one); Vicente Padilla (one long visit to the DL this year and a history of inconsistency when not petering out toward the end of each season since coming to the Phils); Brett Myers (the Jekyl and Hyde of the staff - dominating one outing and completely out of control the next); Cory Lidle (unlikely to be here in any event so why bother discussing); Gavin Floyd ( a rookie who hasn't been around the league one full turn yet - enough said); Ryan Madsen (insufficient data as a starter to evaluate); Eric Milton (high ERA, gives up lots of home runs in a ballpark where even Jimmy Rollins is always a threat to go long, but wins). This is a dismal staff based on their collective 2004 season. I won't even bother to discuss the bullpen at this time, but I'll give a hint: they have little or nothing on the starters.

At September 24, 2004 at 3:48 PM, Blogger Tom said...

I agree wholeheartedly about a change in management -- in terms of competence and temperament, as long as Wade hires correctly (not automatic, of course), some of the underachieving should dissipate. I also agree, though, about the pitching. There's no stopper among the bunch -- just a lot of No. 2-4 guys. Who's the stud? Nobody.

At September 27, 2004 at 1:53 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Three words: Ground Ball Pitchers. Build your team around your park.

I don't need any more stats to be optimistic about Madsen.

I love that ESPN's review of the Bank says "try the Flying Fish."

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