The Phillies have now completed 10 percent of their schedule and if they keep going at this pace, they'll lose over 100 games this season. They currently have the worst record in baseball. But they're not the worst team in baseball, and they won't lose 100 games.
One of the many things that drives me nuts about this team is that, for the last half dozen years, their players have repeated over and over and overandoverandover some variation of, "We're better than we've been playing!" It's one thing for the Braves or Red Sox to say that, but this group has never won anything. They have a few players who have had success with other teams, but the core group of Rollins, Burrell, Myers, Madson, Howard, Utley, etc. has been together for quite a while and has consistently floated right around .500. They haven't been underachieving -- this is how good they are, and no better.
But they're not this bad, either. They'll even out around .500 again.
Four of their 11 losses have come in extra innings. While that's demoralizing and seems to confirm the perception that their crummy bullpen and lack of clutch hitting are killing them, extra inning games are a crapshoot. Over the long haul, they basically even out. Of course, if they would get clutch hits and stop blowing leads, they wouldn't even be in extra innings in most cases.
They've been leading the league in on base percentage most of the year, although the Mets passed them in the last day or two. They're not hitting for any power or driving in the runners they do get on base, but, over a full season, any team that puts that many runners on base is going to score runs. They led the league in runs scored last year, and their true level of ability (even without Bobby Abreu) is closer to that than to where they are now.
Their pitching has been the biggest problem, and it's not clear that it's going to get much better. Moving Brett Myers to the bullpen is just insane. The party line is this:
"It was twofold," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "One, we think Brett will have a bigger impact on our club. We'll be able to use him 60 to 70 games, as opposed to 33 to 35. I think he's got a chance to really help us in a lot of ways."Yeah, and I drove my car backwards, I'd get to spend more time listening to the CD player. But it would be harder to get where I want to go, it would take a lot longer, and I'd have a much greater chance of wrapping myself around a telephone pole.
The problem is that although all this stuff evens out in the long run, all of these early season losses count against them now and forever. They're digging a deep, deep hole, and they almost certainly won't climb out of it this season. Instead of their usual 86 wins, they might scratch and claw to 82. That won't get it done, once again.