15 April 2004

What was the Biggest Surprise of the Opening Week?

This whole first week was one series of surprises after another. What was most shocking? Was it the Mariners’ near-slide to 0-6? Was it the Tigers, who didn’t win game #5 in 2003 until May 5th, surging to 5-1? Was it Ken Griffey’s amazing ability to stay healthy for five whole games?

No, I think that this dubious honor must be awarded to…

…your 2004 Philadelphia Phillies!!!

Notice I don’t say my Phillies. I would, of course, like the Phils to win, but I won’t lose any sleep over it if they finish the season 2-160, a result which I don’t think we’re in much danger of seeing. On the other hand (where, it turns out, there’s a wedding band…and five fingers), if they don’t start scoring some runs, that second win of the season may take a while.

The Phillies’ starting pitchers were not stellar, but if they finish the year with the same 3.82 ERA they had after six games, it’ll be a good season. The bullpen, despite its Burba-esque 5.06 ERA, was not the reason for this slide. It was the hitters, or rather the lack thereof.

Catcher Mike Lieberthal was hitting .100, an even buck, even though he had one of the team’s only two homers. Second-year leadoff man Marlon Byrd was getting on base at a paltry .320 clip. Number two hitter Jimmy Rollins sported a measly .190 average, with an OBP under .300. Bobby Abreu, who should be protecting cleanup hitter Jim Thome, was batting only .091 in the #5-hole, which may help explain why Thome had not yet scored or driven in a run through the Phils’ first six games. The whole team managed only 16 runs, scoring less often than everybody but Montreal in the first week of the season, and everybody expects Montreal to suque.

But as shocking as this first week’s events may have been, if the Phillies don’t get their buts in gear, the next significant occurrence in Philadelphia will come as a shock to nobody:

Larry Bowa on the unemployment line.

What do some of my colleagues think about this? Find out here.

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