Reigning MVP Jimmy Rollins has spent a good chunk of the season as a spectator. Former MVP Ryan Howard has only started to hit in the last week or so to improve his batting average to a whopping .188, while his 60 strikeouts have caused an overly breezy spring in Philadelphia. Opening Day starter Brett Myers’ ERA (5.91) is among the worst in the league for a starting pitcher. However, with all of that being said, as of today, the Phillies are two games ahead of the Mets in the standings.
In Flushing (very appropriate), Omar Minaya has to publicly state that manager Willie Randolph’s job is safe. Willie Randolph has to publicly state that pitching coach Rick Peterson’s job is safe. Billy Wagner continues to rip his teammates. Jose Reyes continues to sulk. On the bright side, a statue has been erected on the field at Shea. Wait a minute… that’s Carlos Delgado. Oops.
Meanwhile, free agent signing Geoff Jenkins, who has one at-bat in the last week while the Phillies have faced a bunch of lefties, doesn’t complain. He’s frustrated, but he understands that his role is to face righties and the team is better with Jayson Werth (3 HR, 8 RBI last night) in the lineup against lefties. Pat Burrell wishes Charlie Manuel wouldn’t pull him for defense late in games as he plays for a new contract, but he doesn’t rock the boat. Even combustible Brett Myers is shockingly calm has he continues to struggle.
Will the Mets’ private team meeting solve their problems? Perhaps. But with some of the divas in that locker room, I have my doubts. The Phillies haven’t had problems like this in the locker room, not coincidentally, since Billy Wagner left. His mouth moves as fast as his upper-90’s heater. If he could only control his mouth like he controls his pitches, that team meeting may have been a lot shorter.
Feel free to claim that team chemistry is overrated, but look at the results on the field last year and this year. The Phillies are no more talented than the Mets. Charlie Manuel is not a better manager than Willie Randolph. But if that chemistry can will a team to a few extra wins, that could be the difference between a postseason appearance and a major disappointment. Just ask the 2007 Mets… and the 2008 Mets.