My friends and I often email back and forth, playing armchair coach if you will about the Phillies. I think, on paper, it is one of the best teams in the history of the franchise. My current expectations is that they will win 90 games and either just make or just miss the wild card.
With that being said, this is what I would do to tinker with the team a bit and see about getting the offense going again.
1. Tell Ryan Howard to stop swinging. Yep. Stop swinging - on the first pitch. I would flat out say to him, even if he thinks it is a perfect fastball and bases are loaded with none out - just stare at it. How many games all season have you seen Howard with the 0-2 count? The guy gets into a hole early and then pitchers have their way with him and he strikes out. He needs to start getting to 2-0 counts and seeing that juicy fastball come over the plate.
2. Lineups should be based on batting, not ego. I fully respect and understand that we want Jimmy Rollins to lead off. But it hasn't worked in 2 years. Who is our best hitter? Polanco. Time to make Polanco lead off and get on base. I know, I know, he isn't a base stealer. But imagine if Polanco, who has 23 doubles this season (which is 9 more than Rollins), leads off and is in scoring position. This would be my lineup:
1. Polanco - R
2. Werth - R
3. Utley - L
4. Howard - L
5. Victorino - S
6. Ibanez (or Brown) - L
7. Rollins - S
8. Ruiz - R
Think Rollins would flip the fuck out? Yep, but it may also motivate him and take the pressure off him.
3. Get more aggressive. This season it seems that stealing & going for extra bases is good, but I would be even more aggressive. I remember a few games where Sam Perlozzo (3rd base coach) was holding up runners too many times and it cost us the game. I think Davy Lopes (1st base coach) is excellent, but I think that we have to be even more aggressive with going for second base in a steal. Also lets try to get more aggressive with Rollins (or even Victorino) & bunting. Other teams do this, why not our fastest player to bunt about 1 time a game and run to 1st?
4. Stop pitching Halladay, Hamels or Oswalt more than 105 pitches. Pitching hasn't been a big issue, but I can't stand watching games where we have a good lead and our pitchers are treated like workhorses. It is late in the season, and we have to keep those arms fresh. There are certain situations where I can understand keeping a pitcher in - like if we only have 1-2 run difference and/or our bullpen is gassed from the previous game, etc. I just think keeping Halladay in when we have a 5 run lead after the 7th inning is ridiculous.
5. Every pitcher gets bunting practice. There is nothing that drives me more insane than watching pitchers who can't bunt in the National League. That would be 1 hour a day for all my starting pitchers. Bunt. Bunt. Bunt. Learn how to pay it down along the 1st and 3rd base paths. Too many times we have a runner on 1st and can't advance them to scoring position because our pitchers can't figure out how to bunt.
What do you think? Leave a comment below and give your own ideas on how to fix the Phillies.