It's the Twins, they actually are named Minny and Paul! photo: Chauncer / flickr
Somehow you have to feel bad for Charlie Manuel with the Phillies performances we've seen lately on the baseball field. The manager takes all of the credit when things are going great, and now has to fend off many criticisms now that this season is really going where no Phillies fan ever dreamed that it has gone so far.
The other day after the second loss to the Baltimore Orioles in extra innings, Charlie Manuel was talking to the press, he said the Phillies were "Thinking about winning." He also said, that he believes the Phillies are going to rebound from the terrible hole that they have dug themselves in last place in the NL East.
The tough circumstances that the Phillies find themselves in now can lead to a lot of different scenarios. The one glue that is holding this all together right now is that the Phillies fans haven't deserted this team yet. Granted, a lot of the games at home were almost sold out before the season started, and the fans who bought tickets to all of the games now either have to go see the Phils, or try to dump the tickets on the Stub Hub marketplace. All in all though, the fans haven't yet thrown in the towel so far.
One scenario the Phillies could find themselves in is that there will be a break up of some of the superstars on this team. To have a payroll like the Phillies have and then end up in last place like the Phillies are makes no sense. Ownership knows that with a last place team, there will be repercussions down the road with the fan base. No one likes to spend a lot of money on tickets, parking and concessions and see this ball club continue to play as it has been playing. Again, there were a lot of tickets sold for this year before the season even started, but that doesn't mean that next year will be the same thing.
Charlie Manuel himself, could even be looking for a new job soon. Stranger things have happened and Manuel plays every game by the book. He never ventures into changing the way he does things, even though the Phillies may benefit from that from time to time. Maybe it's time to get someone new into the position, as it seems as if the past 5 years of success have now run their course.
Ruben Amaro Jr. hasn't revealed too much of what he has planned for this Phillies team now that they occupy last place and there is no easy exit for them for the foreseeable future. Amaro himself will start to come under scrutiny by the fans and ownership, as this prolonged slump takes hold of the team. Will he deconstruct the Phillies and face a worse outcome by lacking talent that he would trade away.
Waiting for Howard and Utley to come back and save this team isn't the answer either. Their presence back on this team will be welcomed but not what it takes to save the team from poor play.
Nevertheless, it's the Phillies and the Twins starting off a three game series tonight in Minnesota. I don't know about you, but suddenly I could care less about interleague play. I like the Phillies playing their National League opponents, the luster of interleague play has been lost with me.
Phillies projected starters for the 3 games in Minnesota:
Tuesday: Kendrick (2-5 4.44 ERA)
Wednesday: Hamels (8-3 2.93 ERA)
Thursday: Blanton (5-6 5.40 ERA)
The Phillies optioned Raul Valdes to the minors to make room for a righty in the bullpen. Valdes with his 2.13 ERA, was one of the bright spots in the Phillies bullpen. These are the kind of moves that you scratch your head and wonder why. Scott Proefrock, Assistant Phillies GM, has been fielding a lot of the questions about what moves the Phillies have been trying to make. Ruben Amaro Jr. has chosen to stay out of the limelight for now as things continue to get worse for this team. Maybe they should have sent John Mayberry Jr. down and kept Valdez in the rotation. Things that make you go hmmmmmmm.