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Phillies can't go from champs to chokers


Can you imagine the possible headlines the morning after baseball's regular season comes to a close next week:  Phillies


Yes, bad thoughts always seem to creep back into the minds of Philadelphia Phillies fans right around this time of the year when the team appears poised to make another post season.

Yeah, yeah, I know our beloved team are the defending champions of baseball. However, the baseball gods really have a crappy sense of humor. Rewarding a team that has become the standard for futility in major league baseball history one year, and responding with a swift kick in the pants the next year would not only be beyond devastating, but absolutely demoralizing to a team and the entire city that has come to embrace them. The Phillies reign as champions may be ending soon. And hopefully, it's not sooner than you think.

This team should be absolutely humiliated that they lost another game to Ed Wade and the Houston Astros  Monday night let alone lose to Yorman Bazardo, a pitcher who hasn't won a baseball game in two years. Moreover, a five run seventh inning that started with two outs and NOBODY on base is an absolute disgrace. The Phillies are clearly playing the worst of all of the teams vying for a playoff spot in Major League Baseball. Here are some other things to consider as the season comes to a close.


Cole Hamels continues to show that he may NEVER be a legitimate number one starter:

Has there ever been a Phillies starting pitcher in recent memory who falls apart with two outs more than Cole Hamels does? Everyone in Citizens Bank Park tonight knew that Michael Bourn was going to score after his cheap broken bat single. The fifth or sixth inning is when Hamels usually "fails to hit his spots." He did this in both the sixth and seventh inning tonight. Just when you think he's got it together, Hamels gives a performance like he did tonight. IF (and this is beginning to be a pretty big if) the Phils reach the post season, he is your number one starter. Unless he pulls off what he did last year in the post season, the Phillies will go home very early.


Cliff Lee is more of a question mark than we thought:

I must admit, I was not sold on Cliff Lee when the Phillies originally pulled the trigger on the deal. After his first six starts, he won me over. Then, Lee promptly went 2-3 in his next six starts allowing 24 earned runs. Will the real Cliff Lee please stand up?  If "Evil Cliff Lee" emerges, fans will be forever asking the question: "Should Ruben Amaro have traded for Roy Halladay?"


Does ANYONE want to pitch consistently in the bullpen?!

It''s no secret that Charlie Manuel has been tinkering with his bullpen. Part of it is because he needs to use whoever is healthy and stands a legitimate chance of getting someone out. Part of it is also to see who "has it" in big situations in crunch time, and who doesn't. Tyler Walker, once considered a dark horse to possibly make the Phillies post season roster, has effectively pitched himself off of it with his abysmal performances on Saturday night and Monday night. Clay Condrey, who has been on and off the disabled list all season, is not too far behind.

On the other hand, Chad Durbin, who hasn't really been effective since August of 2008, could have found his way on the roster IF the Phillies clinch the NL East due to his clutch performance on Sunday. You probably think I'm crazy, but as the great Thomas Magnum used to say, "I know what you're thinking, and you're right." One performance doesn't make or break a roster spot. Manuel however, has no choice but to go with the hot hand. And when you are as cold and inconsistent as the Phillies bullpen has been, your hot hand is anyone who can nail down a win for you at this point in the season.

Dark Horse- Jamie Moyer

Personal feelings aside, Jamie Moyer  has been more consistent than inconsistent since being demoted to the bullpen. It could earn him a role in the bullpen if Brett Myers is not ready to pitch, J.C. Romero blows out his forearm again, or if Scott Eyre's arm literally falls off. Don't be surprised if a final roster spot comes down to Moyer or Brad Lidge.......


Final Thought

For only the second time in 126 years, the Phillies ended 2008 on top of the baseball world. I can't recall a world champion who ended the next season with a historic collapse of epic proportions. We have two championships, we don't need two collapses. We buried 1964 in 2007, let's not bring it back. Jimmy Rollins said last year that his goal was to ultimately change the culture of the Phillies franchise. One of a winner, and not an also-ran. The team did this last year, and is poised to make several more runs at a championship over the next few years. If the team fails to clinch a playoff spot this season, the culture of this franchise will be right back to where it was before October of 2008. Old feelings that have been repressed will resurface. People will start getting nasty again. The team doesn't need that, and the city doesn't need that either.

Jimmy, it's up to you guys during these next six games to keep the foundation you've so proudly built. Letting it crumble would leave a black mark, and a pretty big one too.

Good luck


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