By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) —Win two, lose three. Win three, lose two. Win five, lose five. It’s been that kind of helter-skelter theme with the Phillies this year. Charlie Manuel admits his hands are tied. The players, well, some of them, don’t think there is anything fundamentally wrong. And a loyal fanbase that deserves better and expects more is anxiously waiting, as the season approaches the midway mark, where this team is headed exactly.
The Phillies could potentially be a team that’s tuned out its boss for the first time in the last nine years. Charlie Manuel may have a folksy way about him that makes him endearing to the media that cover the team and to fans. But the players continue to make the same mistakes, ad nauseam. It makes you scratch your head and wonder what’s really going on here.
Manuel is certainly pounding away each time the Phils blow another lead or their bats go silent for long stretches.
They keep swinging at bad pitches. They have dubious approaches at the plate. Even Manuel himself seems to have thrown up his hands.
“If I knew the rest of the lineup was going to be fine, if I knew that, don’t you think I’d do something about it?” Manuel responded to a question by the intrepid Howard Eskin Friday night, after the Phils blew a 3-0 lead to the lowly New York Mets, en route to dropping two of three during the weekend. “Does anyone know it? I don’t think so. Do you know it Howard? Who does know it. I don’t know what I can do, Howard. If we don’t hit and score runs, I don’t what we can do.”
The Phillies are currently ranked 25th in Major League Baseball with 283 runs this season. The Phillies have been outscored by 59 runs, which is the second-highest total in the National League behind the Miami Marlins (minus-90), and third-highest overall in MLB (behind the Houston Astros minus-96) entering Monday night, June 24th games.
Yes, things are that bad.
In the past, Manuel had always been able to get through. He was always able to lean on Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels to further his message. But Rollins is on the downside of his career, Utley has been hampered by injuries, Howard is a shell of himself playing injured, and Hamels is locked into his own little world, mired with a league-high 11 losses.
The 8-0 loss to the Mets on Sunday was one of the worst this core group has ever had. The 4-3 extra-innings loss to the Padres Monday night was as disheartening.
The Phillies’ clubhouse knows what’s going on. They know Manuel is in the last year of his contract and probably won’t be re-signed. Some may even be looking to get out of Dodge before the whole thing collapses.
Is anyone listening? Does anyone care?
Tune out the Skipper, maybe.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.