The Atlanta Braves won fourteen consecutive NL East titles. The Atlanta Braves won just one World Series during that stretch. Sound familiar? YOUR Phillies have now won five consecutive NL East titles, with one World Series victory. My hunch is that they have won their last NL East title for a while. I say that because, despite having a great starting pitching rotation, the position players are shot.
In my opinion, it's time to say goodbye to Polanco, Ibanez, Utley, and Rollins. It's time to rebuild. They are old, often hurt, and are no longer capable of winning the big games.
The outfield should be the strength of the team with Pence, Victorino, and Mayberry, backed up by Dom Brown (assuming he can find a way to hit above .260 and play defense). Ruiz is still solid behind the plate, but a new back-up catcher who can hit above .260 would nice. I don't see Valdez or Martinez as starters so either someone in the system steps up, or judicious trades are made for a quality infielder or two.
Fortunately, the first baseman is signed to a long term deal for major money. Unfortunately, the first baseman sucks big time (more on him later).
I don't put the entire blame for the loss on Ryan Howard although, after a less than stellar regular season, he stunk up the playoffs for the second straight year. When the money was on the table, he played real small. No, the blame wasn't entirely his. Cliff Lee blowing a four run lead in game two didn't help, nor did the lack of offensive production from the middle of the line-up help either. Other than the game one outburst, the offense was overmatched and our aces couldn't get Schumaker, The Riot, or Berkman out. Pujols and Molina had productive at-bats, and the Cards relievers made our hitters look pathetic.
Many scoffed at me during the regular season when I pulled my heart from the team. Are you still scoffing? Sorry, gang but the LSF's heart had been torn apart too often by the guys in the red pinstripes, and I wasn't going to allow it to happen again. Of course, I would rather they had won, but the loss did not tear me up. I had no expectation of them winning, so no heartbreak for the LSF.
So, now I'll address the biggest issue - that of the man with the moat. Moat Man is being paid the kind of money that guys who are THE MAN get paid. Obviously, there is no correlation between getting THE MAN kind of money and actually being THE MAN. They guy is a loser, pure and simple. You've heard the expression, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going?" Well, all Howard did was sit in the dugout with his head in his hands.
That visual was worth the proverbial thousand words.
Shit, Tony La Russo could have put HIMSELF in to pitch the ninth and Howard would have still not delivered. How apropos was it for the guy to make the last out? How perfect was it that he fell down, wincing in pain, considering all the pain he caused Phillies fans?
Reggie Jackson used to rise to the occasion during the post-season. Ryan Howard crawls under a rock and hides. Oh, how I wish the Phillies would trade him but they can't, and who would want him?
He does spit into his batting gloves better than any other player I have ever seen. What a disgusting display!
There are those of you out there who worship at the altar of whatever statistics you can line up to show how productive Howard is. Fine. You can play with your stats all winter for all I care. In the end, the only stats that matter are the W's and the L's, and Ryan Howard is a big L. His picture should appear next to the word "loser" in the dictionary.
Yesterday, Scott and I were speaking about the number of Phillies that will need off-season surgery. The list is long and includes Hamels, Pence, and Howard. Let's assume for a moment that they had all been healthy for the playoffs. Would that have made a difference? I don't believe it would have.
During our conversation, Scott said that the whole team needed heart transplants. For once, father and son are on the same page with out assessment. YOUR Phillies mailed in their performance - and I include the manager. A lack of heart and passion by the players and a stubborn manager who stuck with "his guys" instead of playing healthy players such as Valdez for Polanco, and Mayberry for Howard helped doom the Phillies to another early exit. The back-up players may have stunk up the field like the starters did, but I would have preferred a healthy Mayberry to a broken down loser.
Amaro won't be able to do a total make-over during the off-season, but he ought to try and do what GM Paul Owens did when he signed Pete Rose to come in and light a fire under the asses of the team that won it all in 1980.
I could write volumes about why Howard sucks, but I'm done. Baseball season is over and I must turn my attention to the Big Green Dream Team - or should we call them the Nightmare Team? Fat Andy is as much of a loser as Ryan Howards, so please do not drink the green kool-aid!