Charlie Manuel seems like a man who is running out of answers. The Phillies manager is trying everything to get the team jumpstarted and nothing has worked to date.
The Phillies are 9-14 and Manuel keeps saying the same thing.
“We have to score runs,” he said.
If only it were that simple.
And if only that were the lone problem.
The Phillies are not playing good defense, have had their share of base running blunders, have seen an inconsistent starting rotation, although that has been the least of the problems lately, and a bullpen that entered Thursday with a 1.43 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) which was 27th in the Major Leagues.
The bullpen couldn’t get the job done for a second straight game in Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Manuel seems to have wracked his brain in coming up with something different.
“We have been using everybody,” he said. “Believe me, we are trying and guys got a lot of life when the game starts, but we are not getting it done.”
That is basically what it comes down to and the question is do they have the talent to get it done, or is this who they are?
One thing that will help will be the return of catcher Carlos Ruiz, but expecting him to have the career year he experienced last season may be too much to ask.
Still, barring any rainouts, he could return from his 25-game suspension for Adderall, Sunday against the New York Mets and it should provide a boost.
“I think Carlos Ruiz is a huge part of our team and obviously our best player last year and getting him back can only help,” said Cliff Lee, who threw 122 pitches and allowed three runs in Thursday’s loss. “His bat, his game-calling, his leadership behind the plate is something that definitely can help us, no doubt.”
Yet Lee wasn’t about to think the Phillies will suddenly turn it around with the addition of one player.
“We have to do a better job of playing a complete game,” he said. “There is no way around it.”
When the starting pitching has done well, there has often been no offensive support, or not much from the bullpen.
All areas of the game have yet to click at once.
And the longer it goes, the more one will question whether the Phillies have the ability to turn things around.