Phillies Solutions: From Plausible to Desperate.

Any Interest in a Front Office Job?

The Phillies have two games left on what has become a long and fortitude testing road trip.  They need to win both of those games to finish the journey at 5-5.  That record would be far from disastrous, but the verdict is already in for this team in the court of public opinion.  The overwhelming negativity that surrounds the Phillies right now has taken a painful start and pushed it over the edge.  Every out the Phillies make is a new embarrassing stat, every inning without a run breeds a rueful exhale, every game story written is laced with sarcasm and fatalistic doom.  Even for a team with these expectations, we shouldn’t feel this bad.

The Phillies are hardly alone in their struggles, but for the fans they feel like the only team in the league.  I’m not sure what could happen to alter the state of mind of the fan base.  Wins haven’t really helped, any offensive production is dismissed as a fluke, short of a 15-game winning streak where the Phillies score 90 runs, I’m not sure what we can do here.  But something will be done.  Eventually.  Here are some possibilities, presented in increasing order of lunacy and desperation…

1.  Wait.  Not even this lineup can perform this poorly for 162 games.  Last night, Hunter Pence was the latest injury victim so you had a lineup out there that looked like it belonged in AAA, or an independent league.  The Phillies can wait for some guys to start hitting a little better, can wait for Howard and Utley, but with each passing game–patience becomes nonexistent.

2.  Switch the Lineup Again.  I’ve been in favor of this since the beginning of the season.  Rollins isn’t comfortable hitting 3rd.  Pence isn’t comfortable hitting 4th.  Polanco is killing them at #2, and they could use Ruiz back in the 8-hole, but that’s just not feasible with this crew.  Plug Wigginton or Nix into the cleanup spot and let ‘em swing at every pitch.  That’s what Pence is doing now anyway.  Rollins/Pierre/Pence/Wigginton/Victorino/Ruiz/Galvis/Polanco.  What could it hurt?

3.  Give up on Some Guys/Roster Shuffle.  I don’t say this as lightly as some might think, but Jim Thome should think about hanging it up.  His first six innings on Sunday I imagine had to approach being embarrassing for him.  He deserves better.  If you have to, let him go to an AL team.  He’s got no business being on this team.  He can’t pinch-hit, he can’t play enough in the field to get at-bats, and he’s a butcher at 1st base.  He’s a waste of a roster spot.  I’d give John Mayberry maybe a dozen more starts.  It’s also time to give up on Placido Polanco “professional hitter.”  These guys are sucking life out of a team that doesn’t have much spark.  If it’s Dom Brown, or Podsednik, or someone else, the team needs a makeup adjustment.  There’s a grand total of 6 (healthy) guys on this team that had roles in 2008.  There are not as many “winners” around as you think.

4. Managerial/Coaching change.  I don’t know how you blame the coaches when you start 3 or 4 guys a game that wouldn’t crack the lineup of any other NL team (save maybe Pittsburgh and San Diego).  Throw in the pitcher’s spot, the absolute lack of power and you’ve got tied hands.  I don’t think anyone is preaching “swing at the breaking ball in the dirt when you’re ahead in the count.”  Much of this falls on the players.  The Phillies have people out of their comfort zone and they’re not responding.  Is it on Charlie to get this team to come together better?  Has his message worn out?  Are too many of his old favorites gone?  Some people believe that firing a manager or coach can wake up a team.  If the Phils are floundering on the periphery of the 2nd wild-card in another month or six weeks, I wouldn’t rule this out.

5.  Massive Trade.  One of the only true options if you want to make a change to this team would be to ship off one of the aces.  You could also trade Victorino, or maybe Hunter Pence closer to the deadline, but that would defeat the purpose of improving the offense, wouldn’t it?  Hamels and Lee would be the candidates.  The obstacles:  Lee’s huge contract would limit his suitors to about 2 or 3 teams.  Hamels is a FA, so if the new team couldn’t sign him, it’d decrease your return.  Would you rather have Kyle Kendrick in the rotation and a middle of the order type bat, or would you rather keep the aces to together and stick it out.  We don’t know if the Phillies can re-sign Cole Hamels, if it’s not in the plans, it’d be hard not to move him at the deadline unless the team has turned itself around and has a firm grip on a playoff spot.

6.  Tell Ruben, “Thanks for the Memories.”  Ruben is just starting to get some heat for what the fans are seeing on the field.  He’s the architect.  He’s behind Nix/Thome/Wigginton.  He allowed himself to be too optimistic about Utley, or allowed Utley to lie to him about his condition.  He handed out extra years to Blanton and Polanco.  The nice thing about being GM is you usually get a few chances.  A coach gets maybe one chance.  A manager might get two.  A GM can usually stretch his tenure by firing other people.  I’m not going to rehash the Amaro mistakes, but what has Amaro really done here aside from spend money?  Couldn’t most any GM build a contender on 175 million?  The hard part is maintaining that level of success, something Amaro has not been able to do, and it’s not even really his success he is trying to maintain.  I think his performance to this point has been vastly overrated.

So, there are the options.  They could play out in order.  The Phillies will be waiting for a while.  After that, they might try Dom Brown.  After that it could be a coaching change.  Then if all fails, they have to start thinking about blowing it up.

In the meantime, if the Phillies have you down, I suggest taking a break.  Give it a couple of weeks.  And if you’re one of these people who isn’t going to enjoy the season unless the Phillies win the World Series, I suggest turning in your “Ill” shirt, start using your Pence Sunday alternate jersey to mow the grass and go back to doing whatever it was you did with your summers before 2007.  If you think this is bad for the Phillies, then you’re clueless.  Calling this team miserable and unwatchable is an insult to the true Phillies’ disasters that have come before them.  Show some respect.

Mock (Yeah) Ing (Yeah) Draft (Yeah)

Draft-Niks

Mock drafts lose their value faster than a new car.  The first pick Thursday night will be like that first mile you put on the odometer when you leave the dealership.  The good news is, once the draft actually starts, all the mocks go out the window.  No one cares any more who Mel Kiper thinks your team is going to pick.  The only reason fans pore over the 20 or 30 versions that have come out since the Super Bowl is that they cannot wait for the draft.  I almost added “literally” for emphasis there, but they do wait, the mock drafts just become the magazines in the waiting room.

I’ve never done a mock draft, because I know very little about the college prospects, but then I realized that doesn’t stop anyone from doing a mock draft.  If you can’t wade into the intellectual waters of Peter King, what are you good for?  So, I’m cranking out a mock.  I’m basing my picks on what players the teams could actually use, not on the teams trying to look smart, or getting blown away by someone at the combine.  Keep in mind I’m relying on position rankings and such from other sources.  I didn’t see any of these guys play.  Obviously.

1.  Indianapolis—Andrew Luck (QB)

Why Indianapolis Stinks:  They don’t have good players.

Why Luck:  I’d rather have a guy who can throw the ball through the uprights from his own 30, but I guess Luck is OK.  Also, Indy already said they’re taking him.

2.  Washington—RG3 (QB)

Why Washington Stinks:  Dan Snyder, McNabb hangover.

Why RG3:  Washington desperately needs a franchise QB, sorry Rexy, and like Indy this pick is all but announced.

3.  Minnesota—Morris Claiborne (CB). 

Why Minnesota Stinks:  Their defense looks like it belongs in the former Big-12.

Why Claiborne:  Total stud, shutdown corner.  How can you pass on a 10-year starter?

4.  Cleveland—Trent Richardson (RB)  

Why Cleveland Stinks:  Very little skill position talent on offense.

Why Richardson:  If they can’t get one of the top two QBs, might as well wait and try to land a franchise back and I trust Richardson more than a WR like Justin Blackmon.

5.  Tampa Bay—Matt Kalil (OT) 

Why Tampa Bay Stinks:  Josh Freeman(?)

Why Kalil:  If you’re committed to Freeman, why not protect his donkey ass?

6.  St. Louis—Justin Blackmon (WR)

Why St. Louis Stinks:  White WRs, gaping holes at about a dozen positions.

Why Blackmon:  Before Sam Bradford gets ground into a fine powder, wouldn’t it be nice to give him some talent at WR to see what he’s really got?  He showed some promise as a rookie, throw him a bone in year three.

7.  Jacksonville—Quinton Coples (DE)

Why Jacksonville Stinks:  They play in Jacksonville, Blaine Gabbert.

Why Coples: I don’t think their long-term answer at QB is on the roster, so an offensive pick almost seems like a waste.  You can always use pass rushers.

8.  Miami Dolphins—Michael Floyd (WR)

Why Miami Stinks:  QB Carousel, shocking lack of skill players.

Why Floyd:  Why take a project QB like Tannehill?  I know the new coach wants “his” guy, but how about not reaching?  Grab a skill player and wait for next year (or the year after to take a QB).  It’s not like Miami won’t have another high pick coming soon.

9.  Carolina Panthers—Dontari Poe (DT)

Why Carolina Stinks:  Cam Newton can’t play defense.

Why Poe:  Someone has to take the combine warrior.  Big need for Carolina, why not swing for the fences.

10.  Buffalo Bills—Mark Barron (S)

Why Buffalo Stinks:  Too close to Toronto, Gives up bushels of points.

Why Barron:  Best defensive player at his position available.  Low-risk, great stability to add to the Mario Williams addition.

11.  Kansas City—David DeCastro (OG)

Why Kansas City Sucks:  Overcome by injuries and mediocrity

Why DeCastro:  A safe pick at a need position.  Maybe a better OL helps keep the offense healthy?

12.  Seattle Seahawks—Melvin Ingram (DE)

Why Seattle Stinks:  Awful QBs, Pete Carrol can’t coach in the NFL

Why Ingram:  With Matt Flynn aboard, I don’t see an offensive player worth taking.  Keep trying to build an effective defense.

13.  Arizona Cardinals—Riley Reiff  (OT)

Why Arizona Stinks:  They handed Kevin Kolb the keys.

Why Reiff:  Arizona QBs, including Kolb, spend a lot of time running for their life.  If you’re sticking with Kolb, build the O-line.

14.  Dallas Cowboys—Dre Kirkpatrick (CB)

Why Dallas Stinks:  Can’t cover a soul.  And Romo.

Why Kirkpatrick:  The Cowboys covet Mark Barron, and could trade up for him, but if they stick, his teammate is the best secondary option who needs a big influx of talent.

15.  Philadelphia Eagles—Michael Brockers (DT)

Why Philadelphia Stinks:  Huge, Gaping, Oppressive holes in the defense.  Andy Reid’s gravitational pull.

Why Brockers:  The Eagles need help up the middle on defense.  It’s a shame a stud safety isn’t available.  Give me Brockers’ pedigree and upside.

16.  New York Jets—Kendall Wright (WR)

Why the Jets Stink:  Too defense oriented, Mark Sanchez’s anti-consistency campaign.

Why Wright:  If you remember, last year didn’t end with Sanchez on great terms with his WRs.  Plus, Tebow apparently is high on Wright.

17. Cincinnati—Courtney Upshaw (DE)

Why Cincinnati Stinks:  Cursed?  Red-Headed QB.

Why Upshaw:  Last year  the Bengals used the draft to drastically improve their offense, time for an influx of talent on the other side of the ball.

18.  San Diego—Jonathan Martin (OT)

Why San Diego Stinks:  Not enough help around Philip Rivers, Norv Turner residue.

Why Martin:  I still like Rivers more than most people.  He can handle no-name receivers, but he needs some protection.

19.  Chicago —Mike Adams (OT)

Why Chicago Stinks:  Injuries, Jay Cutler’s runaway chin.

Why Adams:  They added Brandon Marshall.  They’ve got Forte and Cutler, it’s time to solidify the front and keep everyone on the field.

20.  Tennessee—Stephon Gilmore (CB)

Why Tennessee Stinks:  Chris Johnson is now CJ1K. Hasselbeck is just a touch past his prime.

Why Gilmore: Titans have a hole to fill at corner and Gilmore is the best one left on the board.

21.  Cincinnati—Luke Kuechly (LB)

Why Cincinnati Stinks Part II:  Tough division, bad GM karma?

Why Kuechly:  Probably no chance on Kuechly falling this far, but I’ve got to get the solid LB off the board somewhere.  Cincy needs to keep adding defensive parts.

22.  Cleveland—Stephen Hill (WR)

Why Cleveland Stinks Part II:  It’s Cleveland.

Why Hill:  The Browns need to stockpile talent at the skill positions.  This is no time for a boring OL pick.  Snag a WR.  Stephen Hill sounds about right.

23.  Detroit— Janoris Jenkins (CB)

Why Detroit Stinks: Overrated D-Line, can’t stop anyone’s passing game.

Why Jenkins:  Detroit needs a corner badly.  They probably need two or three guys in coverage.  They’ll start with Jenkins and go back to trying to outscore everyone.

24.  Pittsburgh—Doug Martin (RB)

Why Pittsburgh Stinks:  Big Ben is one drunken night away from a suspension, aging defense.

Why Martin:  Anyone else not overly impressed with Pittsburgh’s RB situation?  They’ve got some good young  receivers, this seems like a good spot to land to RB of the future.

25.  Denver—Coby Fleener (TE)

Why Denver Stinks:  Peyton’s neck, traded Tebow, lacking weapons.

Why Fleener:  You know Peyton Manning’s love affair with TEs.  Why not make a mini-reach to make Pey-Pey happy?  If Peyton could make a star out of Jacob Tamme, Fleener could be a force right out of the gate.

26.  Houston—Rueben Randle (WR)

Why Houston Stinks:  Matt Schaub’s foot problems, Kubiak’s love affair with 8-8.

Why Randle:  Andre Johnson needs some heat taken off, and if he can’t stay healthy, the Texans get thin in a hurry at WR.  The defense was revamped, Foster is a stud, Houston has the luxury to take a shot at a WR.

27.  New England—Nick Perry (DE)

Why New England Stinks:  Keep Running into Eli, Gisele.

Why Perry:  Pats could use a defensive end.  They aren’t afraid to use band-aids, but at this point in the 1st round, there’s plenty of DE depth.  I’m sure the Pats will trade out of one of, or both of their 1st round picks.

28.  Green Bay– Andre Branch (DE)

Why Green Bay Stinks: It’s been 1-year since they won the Super Bowl

Why Branch:  Green Bay certainly doesn’t need help on offense.  Defense is another story.  They’re like Clay Matthews and 10 mutts out there.  Branch is next in line for the run on D-ends.

29.  Baltimore Ravens—Peter Konz (C)

Why Baltimore Stinks:  Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis can’t play forever

Why Konz:  The Ravens need to keep feeding the thoroughbred and that means blockers for Ray Rice.  If Flacco can keep it together, I think the Ravens have the makings of a real solid offense for 2012.

30.  San Francisco—Ryan Tannehill (QB)

Why San Francisco Stinks:  Alex Smith peaked last year.  So did Harbaugh.

Why Tannehill:  Tannehill will obviously be long gone.  I don’t know why.  But, here’s a spot where you could actually use a young QB.  Maybe the 49ers do something crazy and take Weeden, but a good team with a veteran QB and a solid coach is where a guy like Tannehill needs to go.

31.  New England—Harrison Smith (S)

Why New England Stinks Part II:  Seriously, have you seen how Gisele dresses Tom?

Why Smith:  Pats could use some secondary help and according to my cursory research, Smith is the 2nd best safety on the board.  Patriots have had some success drafting DBs in this late-first/2nd round area if I remember correctly. Tebucky Jones?

32:  New York Giants—Jerel Worthy (DT)

Why New York Stinks—Proximity to New Jersey, Tom Coughlin’s face’s susceptibility to cold weather.

Why Worthy—What do the Giants need?  How about an interior defensive lineman to go with their famous ends?  If not, maybe a QB, just so Eli has someone to talk to during practice.