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Phillies must improve bench in order to repeat

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If the Phillies plan on going deep again into the post season this year, they are going to have to do it with a stronger bench.

Last year's run to the 2008 World Series Championship offered two of the biggest pinch hits in Phillies history. Nobody will ever forget Matt Stairs' blast in Game 4 of the NLCS, but let's not forget Geoff Jenkins' double to lead off Game 5: Part Deux of the World Series-clinching game. Hey, even Eric Bruntlett homered in the World Series for good measure. Now I know what you're thinking: they were just two hits. Well that can make or break the difference between hanging out at Citizens Bank Park on Halloween, or surfing on the beach in Tampa Bay. Stairs' blast ALL but sealed the World Series berth for the team, and Jenkins' double energized a cautious but excited crowd at CBP. And despite the debacle of a World Series postponed game that could ONLY have happened in Philadelphia, the 2008 Phillies were NOT to be denied.

To be fair, this Phillies lineup is not full of many players who voluntarily take a day off to where bench players can get some additional at bats. The starters have thrown so well as of late that pinch hitters have not been regularly needed.  All of this however, can change in a moments notice during the playoffs, where pinch hitting can be as common as a Pete Rose wager. While one can appreciate the durability of Ryan Howard or Shane Victorino, that doesn't necessarily help get the rust off a player like Stairs or Greg Dobbs, whose numbers have both declined sharply from last season. While Dobbs' numbers are adequate for spelling Pedro Feliz from time to time, his pinch hitting numbers this year compared to last year are from far spectacular. Stairs hasn't had a hit in a month (and will end up with about 200 fewer at bats than last year), Paul Bako has been relegated to catching Cliff Lee, and then there's Bruntlett. What is understood needn't be discussed as far as that goes. Other past reserves have also come up short during the 2009 season. Miguel Cairo was a strikeout machine, and John Mayberry Jr. has proven that he can't hit a curve ball during his short stay with the big club. The saving grace here is Ben Fransisco, "the other guy" in the Cliff Lee trade. Fransisco is a proven major leaguer. However, even he has struggled at times, failing to deliver in two key at bats vs. the Braves and Mets during the last week. You mean to tell me there is nobody out there who can play multiple positions and get the big hit when called upon? I refuse to believe this.

It doesn't exactly give you a positive outlook concerning the bench if the Phillies are fortunate enough to make the playoffs this year does it? Do you want Andy Tracy or Mike Cervenak coming off YOUR bench? That is why Ruben Amaro Jr. has to be on the phone in search of a waiver wire deal and soon. If Nomar Garciaparra is smart, he'll sacrifice his ego and try to get himself a ring. His salary would not be that expensive right now if the Phillies were to pursue him.

You have nine days Ruben, the clock is ticking...........

 

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