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Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Phillies Fire Hitting Coach Milt Thompson

Does the Phillies' front office really think that the fans will buy that the team has failed miserably because of Thompson's coaching? Isn't this the same Milt Thompson who was the hitting coach when the team won the World Series in 2008 and returned there in 2009? Could he and his approach have changed that dramatically over the past season as to be the principal blame for the team's woes? And, if not, why did the Phillies do the obvious and can a good employee because some people in the front office thought this would be a genius move to draw attention away from the fact that the team has had its share of injuries and the front office itself has had a bad year.

This was a dumb move.

A transparently dumb move.

First, the Phillies have had a ton of injuries. The pitching staff has been riddled with them. Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz missed a ton of time with injuries. Chase Utley has been out for a while and might be out for the year. Hard to win when, at one time, the last four hitters in your lineup were Juan Castro, Wilson Valdez, Dane Sardinha and the pitcher. Heck, with that lineup, it would have been hard to win at AAA Lehigh Valley.

Second, is it Thompson's fault that Jayson Werth, in playing for a contract, stopped hitting well after the first six weeks of the season? Is it Thompson's fault that Shane Victorino has almost turned into Pedro Feliz, at least from the standpoint of on-base percentage, and seems to be swinging up and for the fences too much (when his size dictates that he should not be doing this)? Is it Thompson's fault that Raul Ibanez has turned into a lemon since after the first half of last season or that Utley hadn't hit as well before he got hurt than he had in years past? Or, that the Phillies' bench didn't scare anyone? Is all that Thompson's fault?

Third, is it Thompson's fault that the Phillies went into the season having let Cliff Lee to the Mariners for prospects who were designed to replenish the farm system but who might turn out to be placeholders and not much more? Is it Thompson's fault that the team signed Denys Baez to play a key role in the bullpen, when, instead, the veteran reliever right now is the pitching equivalent to bringing gasoline to the fire? Is it Thompson's fault that the three-year deals given Brad Lidge and Raul Ibanez might well rival the deal given Adam Eaton four years ago in terms of futility, and that the three-year deal given Joe Blanton looks like it could well be on the same road? Is it Thompson's fault that the top end of the farm system is relatively bare, or tha the rotation had to rely upon the aging Jamie Moyer and the frustrating Kyle Kendrick? Is it Thompson's fault that J.A. Happ got hurt and hasn't been able to contribute much this year after almost winning the Rookie of the Year award last year?

The Phillies' front office tried to pull a parlor trick on its fans with its hitting coach as the foil this week. That's a pretty pathetic move from a front office that knows better and could have done better in this instance.


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