It was a common joke I used to tell among baseball media types. “It’s a good thing the Phillies are giving out rally towels because this lineup just spit in(insert pitcher’s name) face.” The Phillies hocked up a big yellow one in Cliff Lee’s face last night. During Lee’s nine starts this year, the offense has only provided 16 runs for him. Actually 15 if you consider that Lee himself has an RBI in one of his starts. His next start will be Sunday in Baltimore against Jason Hammel, who is 6-2 with a 2.97 ERA. Normally Baltimore isn’t considered that much of a challenge but this is 2012. The Washington Nationals are in first place. Cliff Lee hasn’t one win to his name this whole year. Baltimore is even closer to Philadelphia than Washington is, so it is likely Phillies fans will be trying to build a new “Citizens Bank South” just 90 min. down I-95. That is unless the fans have given up on making that much of an effort to support the team. If you’ve turned on a game lately or been to the ballpark, you might notice a lot of blue seats visible that had been filled with people where red t-shirts and white jerseys. That’s just one sign that attendance has been down. Another sign is the efforts of the Phillies themselves to drive up ticket sales. Before 2010, many fans received emails on a bi-weekly basis offering a “two tickets for the price of one” sale on certain seats. When the Phillies got hot and the park began the sellout streak, those offers disappeared. Last month, an email was sent out offering fans the same buy one get one free deal for tonight’s game that had brought people in so many times before 2009. The writing is on the wall that the streak could come to an end. The poor play of the Phillies could move up the day that this actually happens. If it doesn’t happen this season, it surely will if the Phillies don’t re-sign Cole Hamels. Fans could decide to hold on to their money in protest or simply spend their money elsewhere rather than on a team that chose not to resign their homegrown star player.
Speaking of home grown star players, not many people chose to get on Jimmy Rollins this week for his comments. When asked about if he heard the boos, he responded, “I could care less”. That’s not what fans in Philadelphia want to hear. In this city, fans respect accountability and want understanding. Not, “I could care less”. That one seemed to fly under the radar. Back when the Phillies were rocking the win column, his “frontrunners” comment set off a storm. Maybe the fans here are starting to care less about the Phillies, so Rollins’ comment flew under the radar.
In injury news, Jim Thome was called up today. He’ll likely get a lot of at bats over the next week due to the Phillies playing three series in American League Parks. The Phillies optioned Pete Orr to AAA to make room for Thome. Orr started the season with the team after Michael Martinez went on the DL in spring training. When Thome and Laynce Nix went on the DL, Hector Luna (originally Eric Kratz) and Mike Fontenot filled their spots. With Utley, Nix, and Howard still on the DL, it’s going to be a hard situation to determine who will have to leave the 25 man roster. Here’s my revamped predictions:
If/when Utley and Howard come back, Hector Luna will be the first one to get sent down. After that, Mike Fontenot will return to AAA. Fontenot can play 2nd and 3rd, but Wiggington can also play 3rd and we know how Galvis does at 2nd. But when you have that third lineup guy in Nix? That’s going to be a killer. It’s looking likely that John Mayberry might return to the Ironpigs if the Phillies decide to stick with Nix. Wiggy and Nix were signed after Howard went down. Wiggy is actually still off the Rockies contract. There is a $4M option on him next year with a $500k buyout. Nix is on a two year deal with an AAV of about $1.2M. Mayberry might have to be the sacrificial lamb again this season. But that all depends on IF Howard, Utley, and Nix return this season. Big if. As for Michael “Predator” Martinez, it looks like he just got Wally Pipp’d.