Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Batting Seventh... Shortstop Jimmy Rollins

Sorry about that little break since Saturday- but having the exacta "backward" (ed. yes, yes, that is another word for wrong!) for both Triple Crown races was enough to sour me on life for awhile.

Not that things are better today. The Phillies lost a semi-bad one last night- say, about the fifteenth loss that makes you want to lay down this season. The Marlins got good starting pitching- and a succession of relievers shut them down (where on earth did Toronto and the Marlins find these guys?)- so you can’t say the Phillies “lost it”. As the Phillies waste May getting to .500, as opposed to chasing the wild card, this is an important six game trip against division rivals. It is also the one game on the trip where they figured to be favorites in Las Vegas. So, down one to love already, 2-4 seems likely, 3-3 at this point would be celebrated- as another week falls off the calendar.

Today, the guys at We Should be GM’s capture the feeling of futility that only the Phillies can engender- so check them out. I don't have as many problems with Charlie as they do. But one thing that makes me crazy is his absolute refusal to dumb roles down for guys who are struggling. I mean, if Rollins doesn't hit another home run, by say August, could we move him out of the three-hole then?

To wit: Howard, Rollins and Gordon have to play- and play a lot- in 2007.

But Howard catagorically doesn't have to hit clean up night after night when he's hitting .200 for weeks at a time. Rollins doesn't have to hit lead-off, or worse THIRD(???), when he doesn't have it going. Look at the picture above- he has a pose perfected for popping up a 3-1 fastball- which has to tell you something? Hit him seventh for a week or so. And Gordon doesn't have to close when he stinks- although, yes, they had no other realistic options for most of that period.

He did it with Thome too. Play the guys- you have to- but put them in roles where they are asked to do less for a week or two.

I mean, one clear reason for the Phils' recent string of good play was Howard wasn't killing them night after night in the clean up spot. They aren't going to make the play-offs without Howard hitting an effective clean-up- but they can survive, and will be better!, if he hits for a week or two someplace in the lineup more conducive to hitting .190 for three weeks.