Philadelphia Phils' Slide Starts at the Top

Jared ShermanContributor IMay 15, 2009

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a photo during Spring Training Photo day on February 20, 2009 at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It’s time for Jimmy Rollins to show some pride.

We’re now halfway through May, and he’s still hitting a paltry .200. He continues to roll over ball after ball, essentially playing pepper with the second baseman. Never can I remember a time in which he gave away so many at-bats by swinging at bad pitches and flat out missing the good ones.

Perhaps winning the World Series sapped him of the edge, fire, mojo, or whatever you want to call it that led to Rollins making bold predictions the previous two seasons—something he failed to do this past spring.

Let’s face it, the pulse of this team is, and always will be, Rollins.

As he goes, the Phillies go. The win-loss record is staggering in the games Rollins scores a run compared to those he doesn’t. Compound Rollins’ struggles with Victorino’s inconsistency and are you really surprised that the Phillies offense has vanished over the past week and a half?

Always steady in the field, despite how he’s hitting, Rollins carried his struggles into the field today, flat out booting a ball while trying to backhand it, leading directly to an unearned run.

A lot of people are going to point to the starting pitchers as the reason for the Phillies recent struggles, but the truth is that in three of the six previous losses, Phillies starters pitched at least six innings and giving up one earned run or less.

Joe Blanton, despite giving up six runs on Saturday, pitched eight serviceable innings—the deepest any starter has gone so far this season. So in four of the six losses, the Phillies starters have done their job, with the Jamie Moyer being the exception.

Yes, the bullpen has struggled as well, but once J.C. Romero returns the first week of June, every one will then fall into their customary roles, and hopefully lead to some much needed consistency from the relief corps.

Which takes us back to the offense. Yes, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth virtually disappeared this past home stand, but it all starts from the top.

Only when Rollins decides to show some pride and play the way he is capable of will this team have a chance to string a few series wins together and, hopefully, separate from the pack heading into the All-Star break. But until then, they have to somehow keep their heads above water and hope neither the Mets, Marlins, nor Braves get their respective acts together.

The Phillies are very fortunate to be 16-16 and just 1.5 games out of first place pending the results of the Mets-Giants game tonight. It’s time for Rollins to step up and help lead this team to some much needed W’s in what, up to this point, has been a division of mediocrity.

[firedforwinning.com]