The Walking Wounded
Is there a doctor in the house? Apparently, there are a few very busy doctors in the Phillies clubhouse since the season ended. It had already been disclosed that Scott Eyre was pitching the latter half of the season with bone chips in his elbow, so the fact that he will have surgery tomorrow is no surprise. Eyre performed admirably despite the injury and ended the regular season with a 1.50 ERA in 42 appearances and a 2.08 ERA in the post-season. His future is uncertain though; the Phillies may offer him a spot if surgery goes well, but he also may simply choose to retire and be home with his family. It will be a while before any decisions are made.
But the fact that Raul Ibanez was hurt the entire second half of the year was not disclosed until Sports Illustrated broke the story in late October that Ibanez was playing through both a sore groin and an abdominal tear. Ibanez will have surgery Monday as well for a sports hernia. But this begs the question, had the Phillies carried on without Ibanez and gave the playing time to a healthy Ben Francisco, would that have helped their chances to win the World Series?
Ibanez was hitting .312 before the All-Star break; afterwards, he hit only .232. And in the post-season, he managed only a .259 average and a .481 slugging percentage. Whether or not Francisco could have been a bigger producer if he was given the playing time prior to the post-season, we will never know. But the Phillies had other options and instead left Ibanez in; it appears that may have hurt the team’s chances. We all admire Ibanez for his determination, but the decision is questionable based on the results.
And then the big X-Factor, Brad Lidge. The decision to keep Lidge on as the closer for the post-season may have single handedly destroyed the Phillies repeat hopes. Because as it turns out, Lidge also had serious injuries for most of the year. He will have surgery on Wednesday to remove loose bodies from his elbow and may also have damage to his right flexor tendon. Whether or not the Phillies were aware of this before or during the playoffs has not been announced. But it does raise eyebrows.
The Phillies were on the verge of a huge comeback in Game 4 of the World Series when Pedro Feliz knocked a game-tying homer in the 8th inning. Had they won the game, the Phillies would have been tied 2-2 with the Yankees and momentum would have been on their side, especially with Cliff Lee pitching the next day. But Lidge blew any chance of that happening when he allowed 3 runs in the 9th and dashed the Phillies hopes. I strongly believe that was the turning point that handed the series over to the Yankees.
So the question then is, with such injuries plus his entire 2009 history, why was Lidge allowed to pitch? Obviously, Lidge knew something was wrong. If he did not tell, then shame on him. If he did and the Phillies choose to let him go out there anyway, shame on the management. Either way, the Lidge experiment, along with the Cole Hamels experiment and other injuries, took down the Phillies this year.
And the real shame here is that there were other pitchers who could have filled in; JA Happ for Hamels, Ryan Madson or Chan Ho Park for Lidge. You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well, what is it IS broke? That is a question the Phillies will be asking themselves all off-season.
In other news, Brett Myers was told he will not be with the Phillies next year. He is currently a free agent. Pedro Feliz is still in limbo with the status of his contract option.
Player photos by Jenn