Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Posted: 8:37 p.m. Updated: 10:07 p.m.
By Jim Salisbury
While Phillies manager Charlie Manuel simmers with frustration over his teams weak offense, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. remains cool and composed.
Would I love to see this team perform at a higher level? Yes, Amaro said before Wednesday nights game against the Dodgers. And I still believe they will.
Because they can hit, he said. They can do things.
The Phils lost, 6-2, to the Dodgers and rookie pitcher Rubby De La Rosa on Tuesday night. De La Rosa allowed four hits and five walks in the first three innings and the Phillies mustered a grand total of one run in that span.
Manuel engaged in a slow burn after that game. We didnt deserve to win, he said. On Wednesday afternoon, he was still smoldering. We dont hit the ball hard enough to score a lot of runs.
The Phils entered Wednesday night having scored three or fewer runs in 34 of 61 games. In their previous six games, they had just seven extra-base hits and zero home runs while averaging 2.8 runs.
All this led Manuel to say that if the offense didnt improve in the next month, the Phils might have to make some decisions about personnel. The implication was that the Phils would need to make a trade to bring in bat.
I think there has to be a cutoff somewhere, Manuel said.
Manuel has never been subtle in expressing his desire to add talent during the season. Over the past couple of seasons, he has flat-out said that the Phils needed to add a top starting pitcher, and both years he got one in Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. He shouldnt hold his breath if hes looking for a difference-making bat to drop from the sky.
You will not see a major move this year, Amaro said Wednesday. I dont think we need it. Right now, Im happy with the guys weve got and Im hoping they get us to the dance. This is a good team that is not playing as good as it is.
Amaro is right. The Phils are a good team record-wise. They entered Wednesday at 36-25, three games up in the National League East. After Mondays win, they had the best record in the majors. Much of the Phils success has been built on the backs of their pitching. Manuel worries about the Phils being able to sustain that success with continued weak offense.
Im concerned about our offense, he said. I think our players know they have to score more runs.
Amaros confidence is the current makeup of his club is just one reason he says he will not be making a major move this summer. His payroll bind is a more tangible restraint. The Phils payroll, as recognized by Major League Baseball, is the second-highest in the game at just over 175 million. The Phils are within 3 million of reaching the luxury tax threshold of 178 million. They will have to pay a 22.5 percent tax for every dollar they go over that amount. All this points to a small trade, a marginal acquisition if the Phils make one.
We have some flexibility, Amaro said. Not a lot. Not very much at all. But thats my job. For 170 million-plus, we should be good enough to be a World Series contender.
Amaro spoke these words at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
Less than three hours later, the Phils were hitless through three innings against Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, and Charlie Manuel was starting another slow simmer. He never got to a full boil because the Phils offense stirred just enough to pull out a 2-0 win for Cole Hamels, who pitched brilliantly over eight shutout innings. The Phils had just five hits, but three of them were for extra bases, and Ryan Howard ended the teams six-game home-run drought.
It was hardly an offensive eruption, but it was a step in the right direction for a club that has been having a lot of trouble scoring.
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