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Jimmy Rollins on the Phillies’ struggles: “It’s getting out of control now”

Jun 6, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

WASHINGTON — For the past week, Phillies front office executives have been able to divert their attention away from the slop they are currently selling as big-league baseball by focusing on the annual first-year player draft.

The first round came and went Thursday night and the Phillies pinned some of their future hopes on the right arm of LSU pitcher Aaron Nola, who they selected with the seventh overall pick (see story).

Now, Phillies officials must hold their noses and turn their attention back to the present.

It ain’t pretty.

In fact, it’s downright ugly.

The Phillies’ losing streak reached six games in a 4-2 loss to the Washington Nationals Thursday afternoon (see Instant Replay). The loss dropped the Phillies to 10 games under .500, a level of ineptitude that is likely to hasten management’s decision to sell off players and start a long-talked-about rebuilding effort.

“It’s getting out of control now,” Jimmy Rollins said. “We have a chance to go out and change that tomorrow. If not, that’s a decision management is going to have to make either way.”

Ten games under .500. There’s something symbolically futile about that number, isn’t there?

“I don’t look at it, honestly,” Rollins said. “I know we aren’t winning and we haven’t been winning. You’re going in the wrong direction if you aren’t winning.

“Everyone is just looking in the mirror, looking around, trying to find that spark.”

Only a quick and lengthy winning streak could persuade management to keep this club together. And what are the chances of that happening? The Phillies are an NL-worst 9-20 since May 5. They haven’t won more than three games in a row since last June. They have been above .500 just five days since last All-Star break. And no matter how mediocre the NL East is, the winner of the division will be well over .500.

Prospects for turning things around in Cincinnati Friday night are not good as the Phils face right-hander Johnny Cueto, who leads the National League with a 1.68 ERA.

Phillies starter Cole Hamels has dominated the Reds in his career, but he hasn’t gotten much run support this season.

Being swept three games in Washington appeared to take its toll on manager Ryne Sandberg. He called a team meeting before the series opener then watched his team get outscored, 19-6, in the three games.

“Definitely frustrated,” Sandberg said. “Frustrated that we haven’t been able to put a game together with pitching and offense. In the meantime, our bullpen has been on a good roll for eight or nine days. We need the whole package to come together.”

After 58 games this season (eight have resulted in shutout losses) and a 73-89 record last year, it’s difficult to envision the whole package coming together. This is what the Phillies are. They are a bad team and the losing has gotten to them, turning them into a lifeless bunch that stirs no fear in opposing pitchers.

Washington starting pitchers went 22 innings in the series. They struck out 20 and walked just one. Translation: They went right at Phillies hitters and threw them strikes. Why not? This is not a team that can hurt you, at least consistently, with the bats. The Phils hit just two homers in the series and both came off the bat of reserve John Mayberry Jr.

Thursday’s series finale started promisingly enough with a double by Ben Revere, a bunt by Rollins and a single by Chase Utley to give the Phils their first and only lead of the series.

The lead was short-lived as Kyle Kendrick allowed a two-out run in the bottom of the inning. He prolonged the inning with one of his five walks.

Kendrick allowed three more runs in the fifth inning, two on a homer by Adam LaRoche.

Kendrick is now 1-6. The right-hander is one of the most affable people in the Phillies’ clubhouse, but all this losing has taken a toll on him, as well. He was unusually snippy with reporters after the game. No foul there. There’s nothing to be happy about.

“I wasn’t good enough,” Kendrick said. “We lost, so I wasn’t good enough. Walked five guys, so that’s not good.”

Kendrick has been here for the good times and now the bad — 10 games under .500, the Phillies’ worst start in over a decade.

“It’s not good,” he said. “We’ve got to play better. We’ve got to find a way to start winning.”

The Phils had just four hits Thursday and are now hitting .239 as a team. Their run differential is minus-54, the second-worst in the majors.

What is wrong with the offense?

“That’s a good question,” Rollins said.

Any answers?

“That’s a good question,” he said.

  1. georgewashingtonsghost - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    All he has to do is say the word and Rollins could find himself on a winning team.

  2. Youknowimright - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    J roll is one of the most overrated offensive players in the history of mlb. One great offensive yr and then a career .265 hitter. solid defender but overrated stick.

    • scotttheskeptic - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      Sadly, the talent is there, but he is openly hostile to coaching. I am no fan of Rollins, but having watched him play for more than a decade, I can comfortably state that if he hadn’t taken as many plays off in the field, and taken some direction at the plate, this conversation begins with the question, “Where does Rollins rate all-time?” Someday, Rollins may realize the amount of his own potential he wasted.

    • mrdry14 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      Totally agree, six years ago, Rollins had the one or two good years with way more home runs than he’s hit since. Can anyone say HGH. He’s a good glove, .260 hitter with no power, a typical 8-hole hitter.

  3. Old Gator - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    What’s happening to the Feelies is what’s known in aviation as a “flat spin.” About all you can do is try to point your nose down and then pull out without ripping your wings orf. Good bloody luck.

  4. andreweac - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Amaro needs to up his game and find players who have the grit and will to win. In fact, I question Amaro’s tWtW.

    Dude clearly needs to find players who know how to drive in runs. Players with a proven RBI track record will surely fix all their run scoring issues.

    Ignore those pesky math guys that use incomprehensible, voodoo numbers like OBP, wRC+ and WAR. Folks who like WAR are blood lusting hawks who probably want to invade Russia over the Ukraine thinking Russia was still the USSR.

    • Old Gator - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      They also wanted to attack Russia when they heard it had invaded Georgia, then changed their minds when they figured out it was a different Georgia. I guess they were afraid the Russians were going to cut orf our supply of Laetrille.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      the opposite actually…

      those pesky math guys who know and use those numbers do NOT make the mistake of invading Russia over the Ukraine… as knowledge is power…

      Now… those WITHOUT the knowledge on the other hand… get spooked into doing stupid things for no good reason…

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    I don’t mean to be overly-critical of the blog here or anything, but it seems like Salisbury is just reposting his CSN articles here. This isn’t really a blog post. No opinion, analysis etc. I understand throwing the sizeable Philly contingent a bone here, but can’t you get someone to write some original content for the blog to fill that role?

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      Have they ever explained what exactly is going on? This is the second “post” by Salisbury, and I think we just had another one by someone from CSN. Are they getting “contributors” now?

      • scotttheskeptic - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        Salisbury writes for CSNPhilly. Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which owns this blog.

      • schmedley69 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        There have been posts from other CSN outlets as well. NBC owns Comcast.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        I already have news sites for that purpose. I hope this doesn’t just become a repository to articles.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        Whether they own it or not is irrelevant. As sabathia pointed out, this is literally a repost of another article with nothing added. I’d even argue it’s different than Joe Pos’s posts (who mirrors them on his personal website) precisely because that’s his personal site.

      • NatsLady - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        Doesn’t bother me. I don’t read the blogs from other teams. It’s a service if an editor picks out the best of them and puts them here. Don’t see much different than a lot of posts on this site that simply rephrase what’s been posted elsewhere and add a photo. It’s not original content and not really expected to be. If you are looking for analysis, check Fangraphs or BaseballProsepectus, etc.

    • xmatt0926x - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:17 PM

      Who said Salisbury is posting anything here by his choice?I would guess this site has come up with some kind of deal where they repost articles from writers from different cities. I don’t think Salisbury is actively employed to come up with original content for this blog.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:22 PM

        Good point. Either way, I am not a fan of this addition to the format.

      • rdillon99 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:18 PM

        I wonder whether Craig leaves a comment on these other blogs saying “reposted on”.

  6. buddysguys - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    RAJ NEEDS TO GO. Plain and simple. They need a different set of eyes on the situation. Its not a team right now, its a situation. And a bad on eat that.

  7. stupidusername - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    You can go back a week to April 29th, still the worst in baseball at 11-21. The only problem, Amaro still thinks they’re in it. Just the other day he said ‘we’re still in it because no one’s running away with the division.’ He’s (stupidly) right that no one’s running away with it, Atlanta and NYM have the 27th best record in that time, but 6.5 games back after just 58 games? What a stupid thought. Who says that about this team? It’s embarrassing as a fan to hear him speak. That’s over 18 games out of it by the end of the season, and there’s nothing that’s going to make them all of the sudden be 7 games better than the Braves and Marlins for the rest of the season.

    Nothing against this Nola kid, can’t say I know too much about him (looks like a very good pitcher from highlights), but when you’ve been one of the worst teams in runs scored for the last (at least) 3 seasons you might want to find some hitters. But we know Amaro loves pitching, so he naturally has already drafted 2 pitchers this year. Just saying, maybe we look elsewhere with Lee and Hamels under contract for so long.

    • schmedley69 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      The Phillies took the best player available in their slot. That is the smart thing to do. You don’t reach for a certain position need and pass over a better player. I’m glad they finally took someone who is close to being ready, and not the “high ceiling, toolsy” high school outfielder who’s primary sport was basketball or football. Those guys never seem to make it to the big leagues. That’s what they have been drafting for most of the last decade. They would be a lot better off now if they had drafted more polished players who ceilings may not have been as high, but who’s floors weren’t as low either.

      • stupidusername - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:45 PM

        That’s all well and good they got a college player since they haven’t taken one in the first round since ’07. I didn’t say anything about taking a high school player. And I’m not specifically talking about just the first pick, but using both picks on pitchers. At some point the Phillies will acquire a batter that can drive the ball that is under 34 years old, right?

    • scotttheskeptic - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      This is more than a “quick fix situation.” We won’t see decent baseball in Philly until 2018 or 2019, unless the A’s move back before then.

  8. scotttheskeptic - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    Two and a half weeks ago, I read a column (cannot remember if HBT, CSNPhilly, or the Inquirer) that stated that this current 20 games in 20 days stretch would be very telling as to the immediate future of the club. They have played .294 baseball since.

    The trouble is, how does one have a fire sale when has no saleable goods.

    Utley – 10/5 rights, and possibly not physically right
    Rollins – 10/5 rights
    Howard – literally gonna have to pay someone to take him
    Lee – injured, return unknown

    That leaves Hamels and Ruiz, and maybe Papelbon, as the only viable trade bait. The other 18 guys on this roster – meh! Not much of a fire sale.

    • bolweevils2 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:44 PM

      10/5 rights, sure. But wouldn’t they likely agree to a trade rather than stick with this sinking ship? It’s not as if the Phils are going to be competitive again in Utley/Rollins tenure there if they insist on staying.

      To me the bigger obstacle is whether the Phils are willing to eat enough salary to get some solid prospects in return for them. If it’s just to dump salary, that doesn’t help you rebuild.

      • greymares - Jun 6, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        If your happy where you live and your happy with what your being paid and it’s all guaranteed why up root for a few years.

      • scotttheskeptic - Jun 6, 2014 at 5:32 PM

        We know where Rollins stands on the issue. 8 more hits (or approximately 115 at bats at his current pace) may change that. Utley just signed an extension, and my understanding is he did so intending to remain in Philadelphia.

  9. tvguy22 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Gosh, who saw this coming? Oh wait, everybody except Rube.

  10. andreweac - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    I could care less if HBT uses content from another site. Doesn’t help SEO wise but as a user I use their iOS app to read about baseball news. As long as HBT keeps publishing information of interest it will continue to be my default source for MLB news.

    I would assume most users don’t spend all day looking at baseball blogs searching for duplicate content…

    • spursareold - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:43 PM

      No, some of us spend all day looking at baseball blogs searching for UNIQUE content. Who wants duplicate content?

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        Pretty much this. I come here for unique takes on baseball, and basketball (PBT) as well. I have a Yankee specific blog I read for team related news because I avoid places like ESPN and the NY Media like the plague.

  11. carpi2 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    It sounds to me every active player on this roster would benefit from a change of scenery. Time to start the dismantling of this roster, and selling off the parts to the highest bidder. Maybe, in return, we can get a few decent building blocks.

    I’m a life long Philly fan, and loved watching this core of guys win the team’s first World Series, in my lifetime; however, this team has fallen into complete disrepair. It would be more entertaining to watch the team rebuild with a whole group of young players, than to continue watching lifeless baseball by a group of veterans.

  12. drs76109 - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:45 AM

    Kid? (RAJ to rest of us)

    Yeah, Cholly.

    As a senior adviser, i want to advise you that it was grossly unfair to fire me and leave this bleep sandwich of a team to Rybe Sandberg. It just wanted fair to Ryne.

    Ok, Cholly. Oh, Cholly: can I have your autograph?

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