Friday, April 24, 2009

Are the Phillies Suffering from Post-World Series Hangover?

Two weeks into the season, the Phillies just can't get untracked.  So far, with very few exceptions (steady Clay Condrey comes to mind), the pitching staff has been abysmal.  Then, when the pitching is on, the hitting is off.  They've only meshed a few times so far this year; the other night's 11-4 victory over Milwaukee comes to mind.  The defending world champions are two games under .500 at the moment, and they look bad.

Manager Charlie Manuel hasn't been shy about letting his displeasure with the team show.  After nearly being no-hit yesterday, Charlie said, "Bush had a no-hitter into the eighth.  You have to give him some credit. He was hitting his spots, making some pitches.  But I didn't like the way we played. I should give Bush more credit. I don't want to take anything away from him. But I didn't like the way we hit. I didn't like the way we swung the bat.  We swung the bats defensively. We weren't aggressive at the plate. We didn't put good swings on the ball. The first ball we hit hard was the one by Stairs."  Manuel was referring to a pinch-hit solo homer off the foul pole by Matt Stairs, which broke up the no-hitter.

Cole Hamels has candidly admitted that the post-World Series celebrity rubber chicken circuit left him less prepared for the season than he has previously.  Plus several Phillies participated in the World Championship of Baseball, and that left them with too much play too early.  It's messed with swings and it's messed with pitchers.  Only a few players--Raul Ibanez, Chase Utley (who seems like he hasn't missed a beat after his off-season hip surgery) and a thinner Ryan Howard come to mind--have performed well while the rest have been significant disappointments.

The Phillies had better get right--and forget last October--very, very soon, or it's going to be too late.  It's up to Charlie Manuel to give these guys a wake-up call, and soon. 

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