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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Walking Wounded: The Philadelphia Philllies

J.A. Happ has been out since April 16. Ryan Madson has been out for about 6 weeks, ever since he kicked a chair that had the nerve to be made of metal and not marshmallow. Happ, by the way, is the one who went to Northwestern. For purposes of this narrow discussion, I'd bet that the Phillies' brass wished that Madson had so as to distinguish the physical principles of metal versus marshallow or foam rubber. At any rate, the set-up man has been gone for a while.

Carlos Ruiz is on the 15-day disabled list.

Chase Utley and Placido Polanco joined him today.

So, 37.5% of your position players from your starting lineup are on the disabled list.

Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero and Joe Blanton also spent significant time on the disabled list, as did Jimmy Rollins.

Replacing Happ is Kyle Kendrick, who is destined either to have a career as a long reliever or to be yanked up and down from AAA over the next four seasons before fading into the sunset or rehabilitating himself as a knuckleballer.

Replacing Ruiz is Dane Sardinha, a 31 year-old journeyman (Brian Schneider is now the starting catcher). Replacing Utley and Polanco on the roster are Brian Bocock, an AAA shortstop hitting .179 (remember, the Phils traded promising infielder Jason Donald to the Indians last year as part of the Cliff Lee deal), and replacing Polanco is veteran 3B Greg Dobbs, who had hit .040 as a pinch hitter and was 2 for 17 at AAA after being sent down about a week ago. Dobbs, of course, is saying that he's seeing the ball better, but what else is he supposed to say.

Yet, going into tonight's game in Cincinnati, the Phillies were only 3.5 games out of first place in the NL East.

So, tonight's starting lineup was the following:

Shane Victorino, CF (hitting all of .249)
Greg Dobbs, 3B (hitting all of .125)
Jimmy Rollins, SS (struggling since returning from the DL for the second time)
Ryan Howard, 1B
Jason Werth, RF
Raul Ibanez, LF (hitting .244 and usually looking outmatched)
Brian Schneider, C
Wilson Valdez, 2B (and he hit a 3-run homer tonight).

Not exactly the lineup that won the 2008 World Series.

The Phillies might be able to fake it for about the next 6 games before the entire league wakes up and licks its lips at the prospect of pitching to guys like Dobbs, Schneider, Valdez and Juan Castro, the Phillies' other back-up infielder. It could be that the Phillies make a move to get some infield help, or it may be that they call up slightly ailing Cody Ransom from AAA Lehigh Valley, where he had hit about 16 home runs the last time I checked. He could fill in at 3B.

It could be that the Phillies rebound and make a run for the playoffs. It could also be that this just isn't their year.

The time right before and right after the All-Star break will speak volumes.


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