COMMENTARY | There's no reason to panic yet in Philadelphia, even after a 7-5 opening-day loss to the division rival Atlanta Braves. Even though Cole Hamels, the de facto "ace" of the pitching staff, couldn't hang a zero on the scoreboard to save his life, there were a lot of positives to take away from the loss.
Positives, however, are not what fuel water-cooler conversations in Philadelphia. At least none that I have ever been a part of.
Sure, fans will be happy that Chase Utley went 3-for-5, including a home run and three RBIs. They'll be happy about 10 hits and 5 runs from a squad that struggled to score the last two seasons. They might even be mildly pleased with the performances of Domonic Brown (1-for-3 with a walk) and Ben Revere (1-for-4 with a stolen base and a run).
What fans won't be happy about is the defense. Ryan Howard will hit home runs, Ben Revere will steal bases and the pitching staff will do its part to keep them in ballgames -- even with Roy Halladay being a shell of his former self. But the defense just looks plain bad and shows no signs of improving anytime this season.
While they committed no official errors, there were several misplayed opportunities to go along with a limited range by their aging infield. There is no help on the proverbial horizon, either, as the return of Delmon Young will probably hinder their defense even more.
Domonic Brown may have been the Phillies' most complete hitter in spring training, but he appears flat-out lost in left field sometimes. His instincts aren't all that bad -- he has the right idea most of the time. It's the execution that needs work.
The Phillies have, however, dealt with sub-par defense in left field before and still had success, which is the only glimmer of hope in the situation. They've gone from Pat Burrell to Raul Ibanez since the 2000 season, and both made up for it with their offense. If Brown has the same kind of success at the plate as he did this spring, they'll live with it.
Outside of Revere and Jimmy Rollins (to an extent), this defense is suspect at best and could essentially nullify a resurgent lineup that promises to outperform its 2011 and 2012 performances.
Ender Inciarte, who was supposed to be their late-inning defensive replacement in the outfield, was designated for assignment after just one game in a big-league uniform, leaving infielder Freddy Galvis as their only defensive tourniquet coming on the bench.
They can sit and hope the defense is solid enough when it needs to be, but if the bats don't outperform the gloves and errors start popping up at the worst possible moments, this could get ugly.
Scott Lentz is an award-winningfilmmaker and screenwriter from Philadelphia. He is a contributor to Yahoo! Sports and The Gaming Advisory. For more baseball commentary, questions or comments, follow Scott on Twitter: @scottlentz27.
- Sports & Recreation
- Domonic Brown
- Atlanta Braves
- Cole Hamels
- Chase Utley
- Ben Revere