Phillies Fans: It’s Too Early to Panic

Mike Adams has been a bright spot for the Phillies' bullpen in the first week...when he's been in the bullpen.After 6 games many Phillies fans-especially those one tends to notice on the 2 local sports talk radio stations-are already well into full blown meltdown about this season’s prospects. However, in my view it is clearly too early to be writing off the local 2013 baseball season. My rough rule of thumb is that it takes until the end of April before one can sometimes come to a conclusion about how a team will do in a particular season. Yes there are exceptions to this; the 1984 Tigers on the positive end and the 1988 Orioles and this year’s Astros come to mind. But clearly this year’s Phillies team is no close to an all-time bad team.

There have been a few pleasant surprises during the 1st week of this season. Certainly Chase Utley-at least for 6 games-has played like one the player he was from 2005 through 2009-which was one of the three best 2nd baseman in modern post WWII baseball. Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo and Phillippe Aumont have looked good in albeit limited action. And Thursday’s start by Cliff Lee made us all remember why we all fell in love with him in 2009 and again in 2011.

In addition, as my Twitter timeline just reminded me, the Chooch watch is now 19 games. Barring any rainouts Carlos Ruiz will return on Sunday April 28th at Citi Field against the Mets. In addition to his bat clearly the Phillies miss Ruiz’s handling of the pitching staff as well as other things we tend not to notice when he is there. One of those is framing pitches. A catcher can get his pitcher strike calls by the way he receives the ball; in particular a lack of movement of the mitt tends to make a strike call more likely. Chooch is clearly good at this. In addition, Roy Halladay obviously misses Chooch’s presence behind the plate-and based upon his 1st two starts Cole Hamels may also be counting the days until Ruiz’s return.

Speaking of Cole Hamels his 1st two outings have been nothing to write home about. OK they have actually been terrible; a double digit ERA is never a good thing-not even this early in the season. Of course one must hope that Hamels returns to form in the near future-preferably starting this Saturday against the pathetic Marlins in Miami. Obviously without a good season from Cole any thought of the Phillies making a run at the playoffs is pure fantasy.

In conclusion-It’s early. Calm down. The only thing worse than early panic is early apathy. Of course seeing all the empty seats at the Park today indicates that there is some apathy among the fanbase. That is probably not a good thing. Sure hope those absent fans are waiting for a playoff run by the Eagles as the weather gets colder.

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Chuck Reynolds

Chuck has followed PSU football and Philly sports since coming to Philly for law school in the late summer of 1981. In fact he went to his 1st live Philly sports event-a Phillies game at the Vet against Cincinnati-before attending any law school classes. Chuck currently practices civil trial law in New Jersey which unfortunately results in a lot of contact with New York sports fans. You can follow Chuck on Twitter @SportsChatChuck, a handle invented by his wife Mary Kay, a PSU alum and diehard Phillies fan.