On Friday, I was feeling confident about the Phillies and firmly believed that, even if there were problems with this team right now, we as fans, as Phillies fans in particular, had no reason to complain. But boy was I wrong. Monumentally and catastrophically wrong.
Did you see the news from yesterday? Not only did Juan Pierre make the team, but Charlie Manuel is committed to giving him as many plate appearances as he can. Once I saw that and started thinking about what this means, I realized everything the Phillies have going for them this year is built on a house of cards. It's over folks. We have nothing to look forward to this year other than gloom and doom.
To the me who wrote Friday's post (and anyone who agreed with me), I have only one thing to say - are you fucking kidding me?I'll start with Pierre. Pierre is an outmaker extraordinaire. In five of his last seven seasons, he's had an OBP of .331 or under. When he does get on base, it's the result of a single, as he never gets an extra base hit. His speed is his asset, but it's clearly declining, as he stole 41 fewer bases last year. That's clearly a man in decline.
And he's just the start. Does anyone have any idea who is starting on the right side of the infield for the Phillies on Opening Day? Does anyone have any idea when Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are coming back? It could be May; it could be 2013. This kind of uncertainty is unacceptable and not how championships are won.
The left side of the infield is no better. Placido Polanco is the worst third baseman in the NL East, by far. Ryan Zimmerman, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, and even the ghost of Chipper Jones will run rings around Polanco. Jimmy Rollins is decent, but he's in the decline phase of his career. And he could never really figure out how to get on base anyway.
I could go on and on. Hunter Pence overperformed last year, as we all know. He's due for serious regression to the mean, at which point his goofy persona and awkwardness in the field are going to wear thin, really thin. Shane Victorino, the primadonna that he is, is in the last year of his contract. We all know he's positioning himself for the spotlight of New York or Los Angeles. It's a recipe for disaster. Their other outfield partner, John Mayberry Jr., has been horrendous in spring training and has never had a full time job in the majors. This outfield is going to be more troubling than the infield, if that's possible.
Sure Roy Halladay is good, and Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels can sometimes be counted on to pitch well, but if they can't win a short series against the Cardinals in October, can we count on them to do much over the course of 162 games? I mean, Halladay in game 5 last year - I still can't forgive him for letting up a run in the first two batters, let alone not making up for it with his bat later in the game. That's just not acceptable in a key playoff game. Beyond them, we're counting on another one-season wonder along the lines of J.A. Happ and Kyle Kendrick. How'd those guys work out in year 2? And the other guy in the rotation is injured all the time and eats too many cookies.
The bullpen could be decent, but it also could be horrible. Sure Jonathan Papelbon had a great year last year, but does anyone remember how good Brad Lidge was in 2008? What did he do the following year? Yeah, I try not to think about that either. The rest of the bullpen? Who? Everyone talks about this team's pitching, but we're going to be disappointed folks, real disappointed.
The stadium is not what it's cracked up to be. Citizens Bank Park is showing its age as it approaches almost ten years old. Tickets are absurdly expensive. No one pays attention to the games because they're all drunk and wandering the endless concourses. And the team has to resort to padding its attendance announcements by calling varying attendances "sell-outs." Clearly it's a sign of a franchise in decline.
There's no reason to think the front office has any idea the trouble this team is going to face. Ruben Amaro Jr. is smug, we all know that. Part of that is that he never admits any mistakes. If the team isn't as good as it was last year, and I have a deep fear that cripples me at night that this team won't even match its win total from last year, let alone eclipse it, he'll just shrug it off with some nonsense about "randomness" or "can't win them all." He'll never have that press conference we're all thirsting for, where he tearfully acknowledges he has no clue what he's doing, all us bloggers know better, and that he's sorry for putting this crap-in-a-can team on the field for us to "enjoy." Can we accept this as fans? Hell no.
Look, if you like watching 162 games with scores of 1-0 or 2-1, most of which the Phillies lose, then maybe you'll have something to look forward to this year. But, for those of us who don't think that's what fun is, this year is going to be horrendous.
There's just nothing to look forward to folks. We're all doomed.
Addendum: Thanks to Christopher A in the comments, I realized I didn't even mention the minor leagues. Our best prospect is once again in AAA, even though he should be in the majors by now. Turns out, he never learned that fielding is a part of baseball. The rest of our high-level prospects are playing for the Astros, Blue Jays, or Indians. And the guys we got for Cliff Lee (remember when we just had to trade him or else the world would collapse? yeah, good times) are jokes. This year, we'll be lucky if we could cobble enough prospects together to trade for Mike Pelfrey mid-season.