Amaro: 'I think the guys are just not hitting'

Amaro: 'I think the guys are just not hitting'

April 19, 2013, 11:15 am
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They’re down to .245 as a team, which over a full season would be their lowest batting average since 1991.

Their on-base percentage so far is an anemic .291, which over a full season would be their worst since 1942.

They’re on pace for 131 homers, which would be their fewest since 1998.

Their team OPS so far is .677, which would also be their lowest since 1991 and the glory days of Wes Chamberlain, Dave Hollins and Sil Campusano.

And maybe the most remarkable stat of all: The Phillies have gone four straight games without drawing a single walk, a streak that matches the second-longest in baseball history.

The Phillies aren’t hitting, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has no answers.

“I think it's good hitters not hitting well more than anything else,” Amaro said Thursday. “I think we've got some guys who can hit. I think the guys are just not hitting.”

The Phillies have lost four straight games, scoring just seven runs in those four games. They’ve scored 13 runs in their last seven games, and this is only the fifth time since 1976 they’ve gone seven straight games without scoring more than three runs.

After getting swept by the Reds in Cincinnati -– and getting outscored 16-4 in the three games –- the Phils opened an eight-game homestand Thursday with a 4-3 loss to the Cards. Not surprisingly, they were unable to tie the game after getting runners on first and third with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth.

With the Braves off to a 13-2 start, the Phils find themselves 7½ games back just 2½ weeks into the season.

This is the farthest back they’ve been this early since 1997, when they opened up 4-11 to fall eight games behind –- who else? -– the 12-3 Braves.

“Unfortunately, just like things can snowball on the positive side, I think we've kind of snowballed a little bit on the negative side,” Amaro said. “Hopefully we have a couple of good days of swinging the bats and get people on board. We're just not doing what we're supposed to be doing, and I think the players know it.

“I think we will [hit]. I have confidence in them. These guys have a track record, and hopefully they'll turn it around and bounce back.”

They have a track record, but other than Chase Utley (.298, 13 RBIs) and Michael Young (.339), none of the regulars are hitting. Ryan Howard has his average up to a respectable .274 but has just one home run.

The biggest problem has been a lack of production from the outfield. Phillies outfielders are hitting a composite .219 on 40-for-183 with just five homers and 15 RBIs.

The Phils have now sent 135 consecutive batters to the plate without drawing a walk. Not including an intentional walk five games ago, that number goes up to 142.

“I think it's ridiculous that we've had no walks in three days,” Amaro said before the game Thursday. “I cannot believe it.

“More importantly, it's about not just walks, but producing, and we haven't done that. We haven't gotten hits, period. We haven't gotten hits with runners in scoring position, we haven't gotten hits to lead off innings. We need more people on base and more offensive production.

“You've got to give some credit to the pitchers, but not all of it. We just need to be better. It's as simple as that. Right now we're not.”

Delmon Young is expected to join the Phillies at some point, but Amaro said Thursday he’s still a ways away. Young is in extended spring training in Florida, and his rehab stints haven’t been scheduled yet.

Young, a career .284 hitter, has driven in as many as 112 runs in a season back in 2010 with the Twins. He hit .267 with 18 homers and 74 RBIs last year with the Tigers.

“He’s progressing,” Amaro said. “He’s not ready to be here yet. When he’s ready to be here, he’ll be here.”

Maybe the lack of offense shouldn’t be surprising considering the roster is aging, and the offense has been declining steadily for several years.

Here’s the Phils’ OPS year-by-year the last seven years: .812 in 2007, .770 in 2008, .781 in 2009, .745 in 2010, .717 in 2011, .716 in 2012 and .668 through 16 games this year.

They were second in the majors in OPS in 2007, top-10 in 2008 and 2009, then 11th in 2010, 15th in 2011, 16th last year and 26th so far this year.

But Amaro rejected the notion that the Phils’ offensive struggles have been continuous.

“I don't know how continuous it is,” Amaro said. “I think it's something that existed last year because we didn't have the two guys in the middle of the lineup (injured Utley and Howard), and that hurt us.

“There have been times when we've had some offensive success but it hasn't been as consistent. I couldn't put a finger on it. I think it needs to be better, though.”

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