Charlie Manuel isn't a happy man these days, and it's easy to understand why.
In the last 30 games, the Phillies are 12-18 and have averaged just 3.97 runs per game. To put that in perspective, the Phillies averaged 5.41 runs per game in their first 69 games, in which they went 41-28. And for anybody who thinks 1.44 runs per game isn't much a difference, it is a huuuuuuge difference. The Chicago Cubs lead the National League, averaging 5.29 runs per game. The San Diego Padres are last in the league, averaging 3.79 runs per game.
In other words, the Phillies have gone from one of the best offenses in the National League to one of the worst -- and they've been stuck being one of the worst for more than a month.
"Our situational hitting is absolutely terrible," Manuel said. "Absolutely off the chart, really."
"It's going to be hard for us to win" if situational hitting does not improve, Manuel said. "[On Saturday], we hit all those balls down to third base in one inning - absolutely bad hitting. I'm not trying to hurt anybody's feelings, but if I do, if I'm talking about you, that's good. I mean to be talking about you."
The Phillies acquired Joe Blanton last week because they felt their offense eventually would come around (of course, they also tried to put together a package for Matt Holliday and Brian Fuentes, so they're a little more concerned than they have let on). But Blanton is not going to help much tomorrow night if he allows three runs in seven innings against the Mets and the Phillies can score just two runs. That's been happening too much lately.
"I hear everybody [praise] our lineup, but evidently they don't really evaluate our lineup right," Manuel said. "It's not like I'm throwing anybody under the bus, because I'm not. It's about our team. I'm included in that."
Burrell never has been a fan of the late-inning defensive replacement. He understands being replaced for a pinch-runner, if he walks in a tie game or the Phillies are down a run. But otherwise he would like to remain in the game. Its costs him about 100 at-bats per season, and right now the Phillies could use help offensively.
"I'm upset, absolutely," Burrell said. "I'm upset, and I have been for a long time. It's not personal. I don't want to ever come out of close games."
I get the feeling, however, that won't change -- unless Burrell's latest comments get Manuel to rethink his policy. Burrell and Manuel have talked about this several times in the past, and Manuel simply prefers to have somebody play defense for Burrell in a close game.
In the Phillies Notebook: Cole Hamels said pitching on six-days rest hurt him.