The Philadelphia Phillies Are in Trouble

By Rich MacLeod

2008 World Series Champions, back-to-back National League Pennants, five-time defending National League East Champions, 102 game winners in 2011. These are the accomplishments of the Philadelphia Phillies since their improbable September run to the postseason in 2007. They have a star pitching staff, notable hitters in their lineup and a newly signed superstar closer and yet none of this has been a factor during these first two months of the 2012 season in Philadelphia.

When the Phillies were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last season by the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, not only did slugger Ryan Howard make the final out but he also tore his achilles, an injury that has yet to allow him to play to this point. Talk about insult to injury, or in this case, injury to insult. Not to mention second baseman Chase Utley, once a superstar, has been breaking down ever since his five-home run World Series back in 2009. These two injuries have left massive holes in Philadelphia’s lineup this season, and it has showed. Yes, we don’t know what they’ll look like when they eventually return to the club but there’s no question that they are needed. The problem is, neither of them look like they are close to returning.

While Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz have had terrific starts to their seasons, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who was re-signed in the offseason for 3 more seasons, has almost been an automatic out. Rollins is batting .230, has just 1 home run and 9 RBI and has an abysmal .286 on base percentage. In addition, Placido Polanco’s asingles hitter, John Mayberry Jr. has been disappointing and Ty Wigginton is your starting first baseman. There just isn’t much power in this lineup.

Now we move onto the pitching staff. First off, Cole Hamels (8-1, 2.43 ERA) has been phenomenal. It’s the rest of the rotation that’s had issues. Cliff Lee has been hit or miss this season, with a short DL stint, but he’s still searching for his first win of the year. Vance Worley, a pleasant surprise last season started off the 2012 campaign pretty well but he’s been injured for some time now and may be returning to the Phillies next week, if they’re lucky. Now we move to the ace, the rock, Roy Halladay. He just has not been the same guy this year. While he started out well, he is 4-5 overall this year with a 3.98 ERA. Not too mention his velocity has noticeably decreased since last season and his swing-and-miss percentage is down by over 10 percent. After getting rocked through most of May, Halladay has been placed on the disabled list with what has been labeled as a right latissimus dorsi strain. He will be shut down for 3 weeks and won’t return to the club until after the All-Star break. Joe Blanton stinks, that’s about all the analysis I need to do on him.

The Philadelphia Phillies are an old team who have been marred with injuries this season and the guys who haven’t been hurt have mostly underperformed. In a much-improved National League East, even when their guys eventually make their returns, Philadelphia is in major trouble.

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