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When It Rains . . .

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The Phillies have not escaped the torrential rain of the past few days here on the East Coast. Literally, over the past three days, they've had two rain outs.

Figuratively, though, it's a much worse story for the Phils. When it rains in Phillie-land, it really pours.

Since June 11, the Phillies are 3-13. They have dropped 5 straight, including two crushing extra inning losses against the Red Sox. They have gone from 5 games over .500 to 5 games under .500. They are now 11.5 games behind the Mets and only 3.5 games ahead of the last place Nationals and Braves.

But that's almost inconsequential given the off-field news this week. Leading the way, of course, is Brett Myers' assault charge against his wife. Not only are Myers' actions a huge black mark against the team, but the team's stunningly slow response to the situation made it even worse. Only after intense media criticism, including at least two excellent columns from Jim Salisbury in the Inquirer over the weekend, did the Phillies release an official statement yesterday condemning domestic violence. Myers is now taking a leave of absence until at least after the All-Star break. I'm fully behind this move, although the team's on-field product will suffer, as Myers has been the Phils' best starting pitcher so far this year.

There's more bad news in the starting rotation situation. Jon Lieber is on a rehab assignment in the minor leagues and is pitching quite poorly. Against single-A competition, Lieber gave up 4 runs in 5 innings yesterday, allowing 7 hits. In his first rehab start, he only gave up 1 run in 3 innings, but he allowed 4 hits and hit a batter. That's not the kind of pitching one would expect from a major leaguer against single-A competition.

The team got even worse news on the rehab front yesterday. Randy Wolf, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, now has a hairline fracture in his pitching hand, suffered on a comeback liner in one of his rehab starts earlier this month. The official word is that this may only delay his comeback by a week or so, but I find it hard to believe that a broken bone in his pitching hand will be so inconsequential. Even worse, I am scared he rushes back and further hurts himself or the team in the process. It's not like the Phillies are the most patient or open team with injuries.

What was looking like a possible post-All-Star break infusion of three front-line starting pitchers is now seriuosly in doubt.

This is not a good time to be a Phillies fan. There were high expectations this year, particularly given the anticipation that the Braves would finally cough up their hold on the division. The Braves have done their part, but the Phillies have flopped so far as well. It shouldn't be long before the team sells off its pieces before the trading deadline, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Gillick will refrain, saying the team is still competitive and in the process miss an opportunity to improve for next year. He didn't earn his name "Stand Pat" for nothing.