Oh Look, The Phillies.

You Never Thought You'd Be This Happy to See Victorino.

It’s been a while since I’ve gone into any great detail with a Phillies post.  They’ve continued to plod along.  They beat up on the Reds a little bit, took a series from the Mets, but then stumbled to the finish line against the Nationals losing their last two before an off-day on Thursday.  The team looked in dire need of a day off and their effort in Washington reminded me of an NFL team that packs it in a bit too early heading into the bye-week.  Another move by a veteran team that seems content with its current standing and is never going to be able to match the fans’ daily sense of urgency/dread or whatever the emotion of the day happens to be.

The Phillies open a set with the Pirates on Friday and it marks the first time they’ve had all their position players available for the same game this season.  Shane Victorino comes off the DL and we’ll finally see the lineup that Ruben was envisioning when he decided to break the bank on pitching once again this past off-season.  It wasn’t long ago that people wouldn’t have been too pumped up about the return of Shane Victorino.  He was a complimentary offensive weapon, he made about one brain-dead baseball play a week, and even though he was a high-energy guy I don’t know that anyone thought he was irreplaceable.  Welcome to 2011.  Shane was one of the Phillies’ hottest hitters when he went down, and the attempts to replace him in centerfield have been pretty feeble.

John Mayberry has the look of a fourth or fifth outfielder, and has bought himself some goodwill with his defense, but even with an occasional big hit, he’s not producing near enough offense.  And, Michael Martinez is just a train wreck. My futile mission of the year will be to try to get this guy back to the Nationals, but that isn’t going to happen.  The Phillies have to do something with the roster to make room for Victorino.  My preferences would be*:

  1. Hey Martinez, here’s an Acela ticket, make sure you check out the Smithsonian.
  2. Ross Gload to the DL
  3. Mayberry to AAA
  4. Carry 11 Pitchers.

*Phillies just sent down John Mayberry this afternoon.  Has to be a blow to the kid in some ways, but at the same time, he’s hitting .230, can’t feel entitled.

I’m fairly sure the Phillies are not considering parting with Michael Martinez.  The word is some teams like this guy as a utility project and would claim him off waivers.  But, Martinez is a project for a losing team, not the Phillies.  I’d cut him loose.  Gload, who I like a lot as a pinch-hitter, seems hindered by this hip issue.  Putting him on the DL might be delaying the inevitable, but if he can’t play the field or run the bases, what is he doing out there?  Mayberry I think could handle a demotion at this point, but I do like him as a back-up centerfielder and he’s the only option at 1st base if Gload can’t play there.  Eleven pitchers is too desperate a move at this point in the season.  I don’t think there’s any chance they send down Brown or Francisco.  I still think Benny San Fran has some value if used properly.

The other question with the lineup is, what order do you put these guys in?  There are some issues, because some guys probably shouldn’t be hitting in their usual spots right now, and others would be best suited for the same spot in the order. Utley probably isn’t quite back to being a 3-hole hitter.  Victorino and Polanco both might be best suited to hit 2nd.  And, there is the left-handed dominance, especially if Domonic Brown plays.  Since they’re starting against a righty tonight, I’m expecting:

  1. Rollins
  2. Polanco
  3. Utley
  4. Howard
  5. Ibanez
  6. Victorino
  7. Brown
  8. Ruiz

Now, that’s loaded in the middle with lefties, but this is a sacrifice I think they have to make unless you want to hit Victorino 5th in his first game back, which I guess isn’t out of the question.  One of the biggest problems the Phillies have is their speed guys aren’t necessarily on-base guys, so while it might make more sense to hit J-Roll 6th or 7th, you then feel like you are wasting his speed.  But, at least they have some choices right now.  It certainly looks a whole lot better than:

  1. Rollins
  2. Martinez
  3. Polanco
  4. Howard
  5. Francisco
  6. Ibanez
  7. Valdez
  8. Sardinha

Or, whatever some of those nightmare lineups looked like.  I think I have blocked most of them from my memory.

I think this is actually a pretty important series in Pittsburgh for the Phillies.  It’s set up for them to get at least 2 of 3, and I think they need to do that.  They need Hamels to pitch well tonight, and Halladay could use a little bounce back himself on Sunday, he’ll be a big favorite.  And, maybe we can start an honest assessment of this offense, get an extended look at Domonic Brown, etc.  I think the Phils will get their 2 of 3, and I think they’ll start to show a little more consistent life with the bats as well.  I think Utley and Brown could be the keys to that.  Everyone else will probably find their level.  It’s not going to be a great offense, but I still think it can be good enough.

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