Exactly two-and-a-half games into the season, the Phillies are down 2-1 in the fifth to the Braves, facing a home sweep, and also happen to sit two-and-a-half games behind the Mets as of this writing.
Even better, that's all true despite the fact that their starting pitchers have done the following:
14.2 IP 8 H 3 ER 3 BB 18 K
And 0 wins.
The bullpen, on the other hand, has done just slightly worse:
5.1 IP 6 H 5 ER 4 BB 3 K
And 2 losses.
(Note: I began doing the stats as of the fourth inning. But predictably, the moment I started writing all these good things about the rotation, Adam Eaton started walking pitchers and tubing fastballs. 8-1 Braves. Sigh.)
So the bullpen sucks. No surprise there. What kills me is the fact that the coaching has cost them at least one win already, possibly two.
Diesel's already discussed the lineup switch. I'm pretty much completely in agreement (for once). In two games, the situation discussed in the Baseball Prospectus article has occurred twice: late-game situation, tight game, lefty relievers come in and close the door on the meat of the lineup, because there's no right-handed threat between Utley and Howard. Burrell has quietly not been bad thus far (one promising development, along with Rollins' seemingly improved patience at the plate), but he will almost never get a chance to contribute in this lineup. So much for redemption.
(On a side note, I take issue with the BP claim that the Pat Burrell controversy is invented. However, for some reason I can't quite explain -- perhaps some residual sense of humanity and pity, not yet completely consumed by my Philly-fan hatred of my sports teams and myself; more likely, because he's absolutely critical to the Phils' success this year -- I want him to succeed. I want him to return to something near his All-Star form. Failing that, I want him to be serviceable and maybe even get a fucking chance to bat in some fucking runs this year, especially by doing one of the few thins he can consistently do anymore: raking lefties.)
So there's the lineup thing. That's one strike. However, my more immediate problem is the fact that they've apparently replaced deceased third-base coach John Vukovich with ...
(Aside: they had a tribute to John Vukovich on opening day. Also featured in the video montage on the Jumbotron: Cory Lidle. Putting that on a tee for you, Diesel.)
(Aside part deux: make one more John Vukovich crack in your life, Pat Finley, and see if I don't spit in your Smithwick's next time I see you.)
actually, it seems they haven't replaced him, and are still expecting him to hold up runners from the grave. Nothing else can explain the fact that, up 2 runs in the seventh with one out, a man in scoring position, and the reigning NL MVP at the plate, they SENT THE FUCKING RUNNER TO STEAL THIRD!
Of course, Victorino gets thrown out, then Howard walks, Utley rips a double, and Howard gets thrown out trying to score.
I should have seen this coming when I first heard the Philthies' 2007 slogan:
RED MEANS GO!