Running on empty
Are the 2008 Phillies this year's version of the 2007 Mets? One has to ask that question as they are mired in an embarrassing slump. The only question is, how can it be fixed?
The answer to that question is a riddle itself. The Phillies sit in first place, but if they continue to play like they are they will soon be looking up, a familiar position for the losingest franchise in sports history. Just when fans get comfortable thinking that the Phillies' imposing lineup will be enough, they stop hitting.
could never be classified as a team with enough pitching to pull off a championship. The "ace" Brett Myers (based on opening day start) is just awful this season. He's 3-9 with an ERA around 6. He's That would be fine on a team with pitching. But the Phillieswon once since April18. To say he's a rag arm would be derogatory to rags. Couldn't an almost-ready minor league go 3-9 with an ERA around 6? Myers also does all of this for $8.5 million, about $8.49 million too much. Analysis: Major Problem
The real Ace, Cole Hamels (the opening night starter), is definitely a solid pitcher to build around. He's pitched better than his 8-5 record, holding a 3.38 ERA with 103 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting only .212 against him. Hamels is like the anti-Myers, as he wins and makes only $500,000, about $8 million less than he should. The biggest concern is durability. He's already logged 120 innings, and has never pitched more than 183.1 in a major league season. Will he hold up? Analysis: No Problem...Yet
Then there's 45-year-old Jamie Moyer who reminds me of Eddie Harris from the movie Major League. ("Yo, bartender, Jobu needs a refill.") If anyone expected him to be better at this point than 7-6 with a 4.13 ERA they're crazy. The main concern, besides his age, is that after putting together a string of five straight wins from May 16 to June 12, he has collected three consecutive losses since. Analysis: Give Me More Moyers Than Myers
Probably the best surprise, especially if one believes in sophomore slumps, is 23-year-old Kyle Kendrick (pictured). He's 7-3 and has become arguably the most reliable pitcher in the rotation. Kendrick is sporting an ERA of 4.59, but he seems to get good run support. The team is 12-4 in games that Kendrick starts, which shows a lot of confidence in their youngest starter. Analysis: No Problem
Rounding out the starting pitching is the Myers-like dreadful, overpaid Adam Eaton. Eaton didn't get his first decision until his seventh start, and since then he's 2-6 with a 4.86 ERA. He hasn't won since June 3, and the team is 7-9 when Eaton starts. Like I said about Myers, couldn't a rookie from the minor leagues go 2-6 with a 4.89 ERA? Eaton also makes just a hair less than $8 million. Analysis: Major Problem
The Phillies starting staff is a classic example of paying players then getting no production. Between Eaton, Moyer and Myers, the Phillies are shelling out $22,541,666. In return those three have a produced a 12-21 record, with an average ERA of 4.94. Yet Hamels and Kendrick are receiving $500,000 and $445,000 respectively . They've combined to go 15-8 with an average ERA of less than 3.99.
Two possible solutions for Eaton and Myers could be Kris Benson, who was just roughed up in a AAA start, and Brian Mazone, who is 8-6 with a 3.28 ERA for the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Benson is a former Major Leaguer who will likely just collect a paycheck and never perform for the Phils. Mazone will be 32 this month so his clock is running out. Perhaps it's time to move Chad Durbin to the starting rotation.
(Editor's note: since this post was originally published less than 24 hours ago, the Phillies have optioned Brett Myers to the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs. According to Phillies.com, "Likely candidates to fill that rotation spot are reliever Chad Durbin and Minor Leaguers J.A. Happ and Carlos Carrasco." In other updates, Kyle Kendrick, the youngest and least paid pitcher in the rotation, won again. He's now 8-3 overall, and 5-1 on the road.)