Look at the Phillies roster. I even gave you a link to make it convenient. Out of their 13 current position players, a grand total of three are under 30. One of those players, 22-year-old Freddy Galvis, has a grand total of 13 career at bats. There’s no question the Phillies have an elite pitching staff, but where are the runs coming from?
In their infield, as currently constructed, has injury prone veterans Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins on the left side and Galvis, Ty Wigginton, the ancient Jim Thome and the incredibly young (he’s a baby at 28) John Mayberry on the right side. Those six players hit a total of 66 home runs last season. They are being asked to replace the production of injured superstars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who combined for 44 last season.
In the outfield, Mayberry and Hunter Pence are the only real power threats, with Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre providing the speed. Philadelphia really has to hope that Laynce Nix and Dominic Brown, who is currently in AAA for some godforsaken reason, add some power to this offense because there’s really not much of it.
Granted four games is a small sample size, but Philadelphia has put up a total of six runs while posting a putrid team slash line of .204/.269/.255 in the process. In Monday’s 6-2 loss to Miami, Omar Infante hit more home runs (two) than the Phils have all season as a team, one. The team’s only offense came on a two-run Galvis double, his first major league hit in 13 at bats.
Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel summed his team’s problems up in one simple sentence after the game: ”We’re not hitting the ball hard enough to score runs.” One pretty large problem is that they may not have the players on the roster to hit the ball hard enough to score these runs.
It’s just a simple question: until Howard and Utley come back, where is the consistent offensive production coming from? Until players step up and the Phillies produce runs they’re going to be in a tight NL East race throughout the season.
The Yankees lost its first three games of the season and a general sense of doom, panic and hysteria has commenced in and around The Bronx. There is a mix of items to be legitimately concerned about and things that should be brushed off as byproducts of a three-game losing streak that’s commonplace over the course of a 162 game season, especially against a fantastic team like Tampa Bay on the road.
Hiroki Kuroda’s performance is cause for concern, there’s no question about that. He’s gone from the light hitting NL West to the AL East, where every lineup is imposing and threats emerge from every spot in the order. I don’t expect a strong season from Kuroda.
The ballpark factor does not work in Kuroda’s favor. Dodger Stadium is a pitcher’s park where the ninth fewest runs were scored and the 12th hardest place to hit a home run in 2011, according to ESPN’s park factor. Yankee Stadium was the fourth easiest stadium to hit a home run and Kuroda is going to give up at least 30 this season.
The Yankees are going to have to mix and match pitchers in their rotation not named CC Sabathia over the course of the season. New York has enough quality pitchers, Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Michael Pineda, Andy Pettitte, to ride the hot hand and be fine because of their superior bullpen.
Mariano Rivera’s Opening Day meltdown should not be cause for concern. As I wrote on Friday, closers in their first or second appearances can be troublesome. After not facing a ninth inning or high leverage situation in several months, it’s natural for pitchers to not be ready for the pressure and the intensity of a high leverage situation. Even legends like Rivera are susceptible to this.
A trio of encouraging signs in the lineup come from Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. Rodriguez’s early vitality to begin the season means he could be in line for a strong start after such a small sample size. Gardner stole 49 bases last season with a .345 OBP. He was at .375 over the weekend, and he could be an even larger menace if he gets on base that often. Swisher’s health was an issue going into the season and his raging start is a strong sign.
Mark Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter and he did get on base over the weekend, but he looked awfully sluggish as 2011 ended. Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson will be more players to watch in the upcoming series in Baltimore, who swept Minnesota to begin its season 3-0.
This could finally be the end of Lamar Odom’s tumultuous relationship with the Dallas Mavericks. After he found out he was ticketed for New Orleans in the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers that was scuttled by the league, Odom no longer wanted to play in Los Angeles so he was sent off to the Mavs for a first round pick. Odom’s relationship with Dallas went about as well as the relationship between his sister-in-law Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. Odom will not be with Dallas for the rest of the season.
“The Mavericks and I have mutually agreed that it’s in the best interest of both parties for me to step away from the team,” Odom said in a statement to ESPN.com. “I’m sorry that things didn’t work out better for both of us, but I wish the Mavs’ organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship.”
Odom has had some personal issues over the course of the season, including his father’s poor health, and his minutes and production declined as the season progressed. Dallas has until June 29 to buy out his contract or pay him $8.2 million guaranteed for next season. The Lakers want him back, but they’ll likely have to wait for next season to get that opportunity.
“It’s tough,” Bryant said. “He comes to a team that’s pretty much set, you know what I mean? So it’s hard for him to find his niche. The fans, they don’t really understand what he does or how he can do it, you know what I mean?”
There are no plans for Dallas to bring Odom back this season and his Mavericks career is likely over. Do Lakers fans want him back?