Recently, the reigning World Series champions the Philadelphia Phillies have certainly struggled. Pitching, hitting, fielding, and pretty much every single aspect of their game has dwindled since beginning inter league play.
To find out more about their struggles and what could happen by the trade deadline for the Phils, I called upon Phillies blogger Josh Semless.
1) Obviously the Phils have had their share of problems with their pitching. Are there any rumored moves the Phils may be making by the trade deadline?
Semless: Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies' front office would love to acquire a proven starting pitcher, but that is becoming increasingly more improbable with the state of the trade market. A combination of injuries and having few teams out of contention makes this a bad time to desire a starting pitcher.
Some of the top names that have been tossed out there, like Jake Peavy and Erik Bedard, are out. Even lower tier arms that have been rumored to be available, such as Chris Young, have been struck by the injury bug.
The Phils were rumored to be close to a deal with the Rockies that included landing Jason Marquis (9-5, 4.22 ERA), but the Rockies recent surge has proved to be a deal killer. The Red Sox’s Brad Penny was involved in probably the second strongest rumor for quite some time. A combination of Dice-K’s injury, John Smoltz’s struggles in his debut, and an injury to Jason Donald make this very unlikely. Jason Donald is one of the Phillies’ higher rated prospects and is currently a shortstop for the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs (AAA). The Red Sox had coveted him after losing Jed Lowrie to an injury.
Things could certainly change as we get closer to the trade deadline, but as of now the real hope is that the Phils can fill their needs from within. We’ll see how that works out as Antonio Bastardo has struggled as of late and also left Thursday’s game with a left shoulder strain. Two names I think we might be able to hold out hope for is Seattle’s Jarrod Washburn and possibly a guy like Doug Davis of the Diamondbacks. Regardless, it won’t be an A-list starter like Charlie Manuel and the rest of Philadelphia would want.
2) Jimmy Rollins has been benched for his poor play. Just batting over .200, and six home runs. Will J- Roll be able to bounce back or will his benching negatively effect his play?
Semless: Charlie Manuel has benched Jimmy before. This has probably been the biggest and most frustrating slump of his career, but Jimmy Rollins will once again become Jimmy Rollins. He is simply too good to not get back on track. Statistically speaking, J-Roll has batted over 20 points higher for his career in the second half. September has also always been his best month by far. In order for the Phils to be successful they need Jimmy to be the table setter that he has been in the past. He knows that and he will definitely get his act together very soon. J-Roll’s struggles are a concern, but not even close to the starting pitching.
3) Is their cause for concern after the trouble the Phils have had against the American League during interleague play this season?
Semless: The Phils are more concerned with their struggles as a whole than they are facing interleague opponents. Believe it or not, their biggest rough patch last year came at almost exactly the same time. Between June 16th and June 29th, the Phillies went 3-9 and that stretch also included a 6 game losing streak. Much like this year, that was all during interleague play as their 2008 interleague record ended up at 4-11. That being said, we all know how the rest of the season and postseason played out. Hopefully the Phils follow the same pattern and bust out of this downward spiral, as they are about to start their last interleague series of the season.
4) Even the closing spot has been cause for concern after the perfect 2008 season. Can Brad Lidge regain his dominance, and will Ryan Madson ease back into the set up role?
Semless: Ryad Madson’s recent struggles prove that the need to possess that “closer’s mentality” is no joke. Ryan started the season with 28.1 IP, 2.22 ERA, .202 BAA, and 0 HR. After moving into the closer role, Ryan went 0-2, 7.0 IP, 6.43 ERA, .310 BAA, and 3 HR. He also only got 2 saves out of 4 opportunities. He will definitely regain his confidence in the set up role, as he knows there will always be Brad Lidge to bail him out. As for Lidge, his knee is definitely no guarantee, but I think it is safe to say that his 15 days off helped. He started the season on the disabled list last year and we all know how he faired once he came back. There is still a reason to be concerned, but Lidge will start to close in on his 2008 form if he is 100%.
5) What has the problem been for the Phils at Citizen's Bank Ballpark this season?
Semless: In my opinion, this is one of the most unexplainable questions in the MLB at this point in time. The home and road splits for the Phils are completely mind-boggling. The players, the manager, and the experts have no answers. Some people are suggesting that the players have too many things going on when they are at home, especially since demand has increased after their championship season. While that may be true, can it really explain a 13-22 home record compared to a 24-11 record on the road? That cannot be the only reason. A lot of it is probably just coincidental. The Phillies rank second in attendance to only the New York Yankees and the fans are behind this team more than ever. The law of averages will come into effect and they will manage to turn this abysmal home record around.
I would like to thank Josh for taking the time to give you guys some great insight into those Phightin Phils. To read more about the Phillies make sure you check out Josh's Phillies Blog.
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