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Is it officially time to blow up the Phillies?


After dropping three out of four from the lowly Milwaukee Brewers this past weekend, is there anybody out there who thinks the Phillies can still actually compete with baseball’s best?


Is it me, or are those crickets I’m hearing?


To be blunt, the Brewers stink. Their starting pitching is awful, and their hitting is just a shade above the Phillies.’


You wouldn’t have known that this weekend. After dropping the first game of the series Thursday, Milwaukee proceeded to take three in a row from the Phightins- including scoring four unanswered runs of Cliff Lee Friday night and walloping Jonathan Pettibone (who is regressing during his second go-round against big league teams)  and the Phillies’ bullpen for nine runs on Sunday. The Phillies on the other hand, managed five hits- four of them were singles. Former Phillie Kyle Lohse hasn’t won since April, but that didn’t stop the Phillies from making him look like Bob Feller.  And oh yeah, Michael Young and Ben Revere hit into double plays. That’s never happened before..............Photo: LehighValleyLIve.com


This Brewers series is reminiscent of last year’s Astros series in September. Just when it looked like the team was making a late season push, the Phillies laid an egg to a team that would eventually lose 107 games and be banished to the American League.


Championship caliber teams do not lose three out of four to the Brewers. Domonic Brown is the only Phillie contributing to this team offensively, Michael Young has become a 36-year old singles hitter, and somebody please tell me what exactly Ruben Amaro Jr saw in Ben Revere. All we heard was how quick Revere was, but yet he’s third on the team in hitting into double plays (7) and not once has he ever seem to beat out a slow ground ball or a bunt.


Then there’s Ryan Howard, who only has one home run since May 7th. That pretty much sums things up right there.  If Howard were putting up even half of Brown’s production, this team would have a chance of competing for at least the second Wild Card. When does it get to the point with Howard when the team is  forced to sit him or place him on the disabled list? The ever-candid Gary Matthews even said during Sunday’s broadcast that Howard isn’t even hitting balls into the seats during batting practice. It’s so bad that Erik Kratz currently has more home runs than Howard. That’s a problem. I’m a Howard backer, but this is getting ridiculous. There’s obviously a major issue here.


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Despite Amaro’s best laid plans to improve the bullpen in the off season, almost everything has backfired. Chad Durbin was so bad he was released a few weeks back. Mike Adams, once arguably the best setup man in the game, has battled injuries, and Jeremy Horst is not the same pitcher who registered a 1.15 ERA last season for the Phillies. On the bright side, Jonathan Papelbon has been near automatic for this team- which is why the Phillies should trade him to a contender and get a nice return.


In all honesty, the same goes for Lee. With this team floundering with apparently no help on the horizon (a hobbled Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz will probably not be enough), there is no need to have that much money tied up between Lee and CoCliff Lee is back to Philly. Photo: Andrea Kohalmi.le Hamels. Lee is still at the top of his game and every team in contention come trade deadline time will be inquiring about him. Yes, the salary could be an issue, but the Phillies will just have to eat some of it if they can get a nice return.


There’s no way after watching that series against the Brewers that Amaro isn’t feeling the same way. The Phillies lead the majors in quality starts, but the team doesn’t hit anymore and their middle relief is horrendous, and what you see is what you get: a below .500 team. The team is currently eight and a half games out of first place and seven teams are vying for postseason berths ahead of them.


I could care less whether Carlos Zambrano or Roy Halladay could be in this rotation in the future- they still can’t hit, and the bullpen will most likely blow any lead they turn over to them. Furthermore, the team would probably need to include one of their starters in any potential deal. Then there’s your $100 million dollar first basemen, who has less home runs than your catcher who made $480,000 in 2012. Having nightmares yet?


I don’t doubt that the Phillies will play better in the next week or so, but that’s the problem. In the words of Bruce Springsteen: “One step up, two steps back.”  Just when they rope you in, they enter a tailspin. It seems like a no-brainer to me. Man, 2008 seems like a long time ago now.


If you’re Amaro, what would YOU do?

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Cliff Lee photo: Andrea Kohalmi

Ryan Howard photo: LehighValleyLive.com