Cliff diving, Philly style


Roy Halladay

Back in December I poked a bit of fun at the hysterics surrounding the fiscal cliff federal budget scenario.  It was fun because anyone with a pulse could readily assume that the horrors predicted would be more limited and less painful than predicted by the politicians and media pundits.

But when you start to talk about the ill fortunes of Philadelphia sports teams

Well, it’s only “fun” until the losses pile up so high that the fans start turning on the hometown stars.  Then it gets ugly fast.

The latest bit of Philadelphia Phillies bad news – Roy Halladay‘s shoulder – sent a good number of fans, prodded along by the vultures of local talk radio, searching their basements for the torches and pitchforks.

“It’s Amaro’s fault for bringing in a bunch of old guys!”

“Charlie let them pitch too long into games!”

“Dubee couldn’t coach a Little League pitcher!”


Picture Halladay Phillies road jersey
and hair on fire

Cliff diving for the Philadelphia sports fan usually includes a running start, a full-throated scream, and the lighting afire of whatever hair they have yet to pull out watching Jimmy Rollins’ first-pitch swings or Ryan Howards’ bewilderment with left-handed breaking balls.

Hence there has been talk about a “fire sale” and which players would be the best trade bait ; which potential free agents should be signed or allowed to walk; and whether the team should fire Manuel now or wait until the official funeral in October.

Spare me the drama, please!

In the NL East standings, the Phlailin’s are 5 games out of 1st Place (prior to the San Francisco series) with ONLY 129 games remaining!

A lot can happen in 30 games, let alone 4 times that many.  And no team should be in a position at this point of the season where the loss of one pitcher – even a multiple Cy Young Award winner (Halladay: 2003, 2010) – spells doom for a team’s season.

One possibility many fans are missing is the very real prospect that the Phightin’s pitching rotation could actually be STRONGER without the every-five-game struggles of present-day Roy Halladay.  With the emergence of Jonathan Pettibone as a promising contributor (at least in the early stages of his first cycle through the National League), it’s not hard to consider the chances that a Tyler Cloyd or an Adam Morgan (Jesse Biddle is not ready.) … could step up and at the very least, improve on the typical 2013 Halladay outing.

Kendrick has some guns.

Kendrick has a gun!

Certainly one can argue that Kyle Kendrick has demonstrated his credentials for moving up to #3 in the rotational pecking order and contributing significantly.  On most MLB teams those 4 and 5-slot rotation pitchers are a toss-up and a prayer.  Just how much worse – or better – could a pair of young arms out of the Phillies farm system do?

I’m willing to keep a smile on my face and give the kids a chance!

The real problem, the real frustration is who’s hitting at the plate, not who’s throwing to it.  A decent offense can mask a host of pitching problems.  The American League makes a living of going “all softball” in its lineups, leaving worries about pitching a distant second … or third.

The Phillies are currently hitting .239 (12th of 15 in NL) with 28 homeruns (9th), an OPS of .675 (14th) and 119 runs (12th).  Michael Young is the only regular hitting over .300 (.333).  After that, only Ryan Howard is batting over .270 (.272).  And despite his less-then-impressive batting average (.250), Domonic Brown is still tied with Chase Utley for the team lead in homeruns (6).

imagesThe crux of just how bad the offense is the fact that a team built to hit homeruns  is neither hitting homeruns nor hitting for average.

That’s what scares me the most about this season, not the pitching.

Worried? Yes … Ready to give up on the season? That could hardly be further from my mind!

There are still 129 games left … or four times the number of games already played.  That’s a long climb for the rest of the National League, just as it will be for the Phils.  A lot can happen …

It’s more than enough time for the Phillies’ bats to get their act together; the pitching rotation figured out; and to make a move into the thick of the NL East race.

Or not …

But I’d give second thoughts to launching yourself over the edge of the cliff this soon.

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