Donut Age: America's Donut Magazine

No ophense?

The Phillies looked horrendous out of the gate, going 1-6 in the first week-plus of the season. Just as a I feared, the main culprit has been an anemic offense, which scored only 16 runs in the first 7 games. Last Wednesday's rain-out in Cincinnati apparently gave them time to find their bats: they've doubled their run production in just three games (all wins). However, even with that flurry, the Phils are still second-last in the NL in runs scored (trailed only by hapless Expos) and at least half their starters have begun the season in major funks.

The good news so far has been the torrid hitting of 1B Jim Thome (.359/.390/.564) and LF Pat Burrell (.351/.415/.541). These are encouraging since Thome is a notorious slow-starter and Burrell is trying to bounce back from a poor 2003 season. In addition, 2B Placido Polanco (.293/.370/.415) has been reasonably effective in the second spot, while 3B David Bell (.276/.364/.552) has been hitting well at the bottom of the order. If they can sustain that kind of production (optimistic but not impossible), there's reason for hope yet.

The stinkers so far include CF Marlon Byrd (.229/.325/.257), RF Bobby Abreu (.121/.293/.303), SS Jimmy Rollins (.121/.211/.182) and C Mike Lieberthal (.125/.152/.313). I have every confidence Abreu will snap out of it and post his usual excellent season, but the other poor starts are more worrisome. Either Byrd or Rollins is being counted on to occupy the leadoff slot this season (Bowa has tried both so far), and the Phils cannot afford a major out-producer at the top of the lineup. I also worry about Lieberthal. He's always struck me as an unlikely offensive star, and as a 32-year-old catcher, he's especially vulnerable to sudden, steep decline.

It's obviously way too early to be drawing conclusions, but the offense will have to do better than it has thus far for the Phils to compete.

Update (11:30 PM): Phils win their fourth straight, completing a sweep of the Expos, on CF Doug Glanville's walk-off homerun. Rollins was back in leadoff, where he hit a triple and took a walk, while Thome and Burrell continue to carry the offense (combined 3-7 with a walk and a HR). .