2011 Philadelphia Phillies: Perhaps We've Been Underestimating the Little Guys?
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Like many of you, I'm sure, I am still high as a kite from the Phils' Opening Day victory over the Astros.
Also like many of you, I've been a huge proponent of this team learning to hit in succession (what many refer to as "small ball") rather than to wait for the Big Three to hit home runs.
Last year, the team received enormous boosts from a few players who were not stars, or for that matter, even regulars.
Wilson Valdez comes to mind, but there were others, including Schneider, Sweeney, Gload and Castro.
This year, so much has been made about Chase Utley missing...well, we don't yet know how much of the season he'll miss, or if he will even play at all.
Chase Utley is my favorite player since Mike Schmidt. In my opinion, he's the best and most complete player on the team. He embodies the ideal way that the game should be played.
Having opined thusly, I will say that Chase is still one player. Can he be replaced by Wilson Valdez? Let's not get crazy.
However, Wilson Valdez is a decent player that seems to come up big in the pinch. So did quite a few of the Phillies' "little guys" in today's win.
I suppose that the only way to have achieved a more perfect scenario would have been for Roy Halladay to get the win. I'm not worried about that, though, as he will have more than his share by season's end.
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What these guys did in the ninth inning was a true team effort. As a lineup, as individual hitters, they had confidence in one another. Nobody tried to do too much. With only one exception, each player picked up the preceding player.
The point of this small article is that the team seemed to actually do better last year when they had these seemingly insurmountable injuries.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you all that a lineup full of Valdezes would be superior to a lineup with Utley, Rollins and Howard.
What I will say is that, as these star players get older, they need more and more of a breather to stay in top form. These bench players (some of whom are thrust into starting roles) are capable Major Leaguers.
It may behoove Charlie Manuel to trust his "reserves" more and get them some serious at-bats. It was a strategy that Jim Fregosi employed with the '93 club, and with outstanding results.
I'm not saying to platoon players. What I am saying is that guys who are not wiping dust from their uniforms due to idle status won't be prepared when they do need to come in to help the ballclub.
I certainly want to see Chase Utley return as soon as possible. And though Brad Lidge is about as consistent as half of an umbrella, I'd like him back—if for no other reason than to help cure our seventh inning dilemma.
This baseball team can do great things.
It is a team that wants to win, and a team that will do well to remember the utilization of the little guys!
As always, I seek your input, even if you think I'm off my rocker. Thanks for reading!
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