It’s only Spring Training. Thankfully, none of the games really count. Although the regulars aren’t playing entire games and many players who won’t even make the roster are seeing plenty of time, it has to be getting to the point where some questions need to be answered for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Without change, and sometime soon, a combination of panic and disappointment will set in and the realization will be reached that things may not be as hoped.
However, Cliff Lee made it quite clear in his start against the division foe Atlanta Braves that starting pitching will not be the problem. Although he gave up a home run to lead off the game, his composure allowed him to return to his usual production as an ace. Lee pitched just under four innings but struck out five batters, walking one.
Before being relieved after a base hit in the fourth, he retired eight batters in a row on just 17 pitches, all strikes. He looked to be in mid-season form after just under a handful of outings. But how long will Lee’s stability matter if the Phillies can’t produce offensively? How long will he be around before becoming a hot commodity on the trade market?
The panic will set in soon enough for Philadelphia, but not over their pitching. Rather, it’s their inability to produce anything meaningful with their bats. After bringing in what Ruben Amaro Jr. believed to be offensive help, it seems as though he was sorely mistaken. If the Phillies are going to do anything this year other than finish dead last, they’ll need to find their timing, their groove and their offense sooner rather than later.
Playing in a division with the Braves and Washington Nationals, they won’t be afforded the opportunity to wait until the season is in full swing to find the offense that’s needed.
No, Spring Training doesn’t count, but it’s necessary for players to prepare themselves for the long road ahead. It seems at this point, that the Phillies are just wasting time and not getting much accomplished. It’s not about winning, but the longer things go without solid at-bats, less belief will stay with a team that many view has already passed their prime.