<
>

Phils need to right their ship

PROBLEMS IN PHILLY

By John Kruk, ESPN

The Phillies are in trouble right now and there are a couple things wrong with them. They've started making the right moves by switching up their batting order to maximize their talent, moving Chase Utley into the No. 2 spot in the order being the most significant.

Chase Utley But the Phillies need to start changing their philosophy as well. Right now they play like an American League team in that they just wait for the home run, and that's a mistake for this team. They have guys like Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Aaron Rowand who can run, and it's time to start using them to manufacture runs and to put pressure on opposing pitchers.

They also need to find a way to get some quality starting pitching because they don't have enough right now. They are expected to get Randy Wolf back in their rotation by July, but that may be too late in that the NL East is there for the taking right now. The only problem with trying to get starting pitching is that there isn't much available. This is one of those times when the Phils' upper management should've realized the problem during the offseason and addressed it instead of waiting now to try.

They have left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels, 22, who has filthy stuff and was promoted to Triple-A earlier this week. The rumor is that Hamels will be brought up to the majors in June, but he's had injury setbacks since he entered the organization and there's no telling if that's going to end. That leaves the Phillies relying for the time being on young pitchers like Gavin Floyd and Ryan Madson, neither of whom have the experience of pitching beyond 150 innings that is necessary to have a good chance of sustained success in the big leagues. This team has to be worried that those two guys are going to be dragging late in the season as they try to get used to the heavy workload.

All this amounts to manager Charlie Manuel being in trouble of keeping his job. Let's not forget that he was hired by the previous general manager (Ed Wade) and not by current GM Pat Gillick. The next 12-14 games are going to be vitally important to his job security, because this team has the opportunity to contend for a division title and Gillick knows this team has a shot. They have to make it happen now, or Manuel could soon be out of a job.

BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA

By Mark Simon, ESPN Research

Nine starters entered Wednesday 2-0 or better, but as many left with injuries (Brian Bannister and Rich Harden) as emerged victorious (Bronson Arroyo and Wandy Rodriguez).

It was still a night of impressive pitching performances, particularly from Arroyo, Angels starter John Lackey and Brewers starter Ben Sheets.

The power performances of Barry Bonds, Kevin Mench and Mike Piazza may have overshadowed the fine work of moundsmen around the majors, but we'll give them their due in this space.

ELIAS SAYS

Devil Rays pitchers issued 14 walks but managed to beat the Yankees, 4-2.

During the live-ball era, only one other team won a game despite walking as many as 14 batters, by holding its opponent to two or fewer runs. The New York Giants walked 14 Phillies batters but won the game 3-2 on Sept. 26, 1954.

More from EliasInsider

RUMOR CENTRAL

Bronx tale or Second City revival?

Carlos Pena The Yankees have a decision to make whether to call up veteran first baseman Carlos Pena from Triple-A Columbus, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. If the team does not add Pena to the roster by May 2, he can demand his release.

The Cubs are believed to be interested in signing Pena after they lost All-Star first baseman Derrek Lee to a broken wrist.

More from Rumor CentralInsider