Now the absence of Raul Ibanez will test the Phillies.
The hits keep coming. Now, pretty much out of nowhwere, a lingering groin problem that nobody mentioned for months has landed Phillies leftfielder Raul Ibanez on the disabled list.
From here, the glass is starting to look a little less half-full.
The starting pitching has begun to revert, unable to give the Phillies the requisite innings. The bullpen, in mid-June, is a smoldering husk, overused by necessity. Brett Myers, the No. 2 starter, is likely gone for the year. The closer, Brad Lidge, is still on the disabled list. The record at home is as abominable as it is inexplicable. And Ibanez, everybody's favorite story of the 2009 season, is on the shelf with the kind of injury that only kind of gets better when it decides to get better. An MRI is likely coming -- and say a prayer that he hasn't torn it.
Murphy is all over the details. I'm just here to convey this growing feeling of unease. I know, I know, the Phils still have their lead in the National League East over the Mets and the rest -- and that is why the glass is still viewed from here as half-full, not half-empty.
But if you are the Mets, watching this all from a distance, what do you think? The Mets have been clobbered by injuries this season, absolutely slaughtered. They also have a bit of, uh, history to overcome if they are ever to be considered serious challengers. But they're hanging around. As the Phillies begin to drop here, they're hanging around. It's a long year and stuff happens and enduring the stuff is what baseball is all about -- all of that is true. And the Phillies have shown a significant ability to endure the last few years. It is just that the challenges are growing here while the biggest challenge -- starting pitching, underlined -- remains unresolved.
And so, on the day Raul Ibanez goes to the disabled list, you wonder what's next. That is what this is starting to feel like. That is what the dominant question is starting to become. What's next?