Chase Utley leads the Phillies into Chase Field for a three game series against the D’backs. Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Diamondbacks return home having won two consecutive games. Sadly, this matches their longest winning streak of the season. However, given how they won the first game, you could make the case that the worst is over and that they are about to have a 4-2 or 5-1 home stand. Seeing is believing. Up first are the Philadelphia Phillies who come into Chase Field having just taken three out of four from the Dodgers in Los Angeles. With a look at how the Phillies are doing in 2014, I asked Michael Lacy, the Editor of thatballsouttahere, a fellow FanSided site, five questions about the team. Here are Mike’s answers to my inquiries:
1-Kevin Towers is not too popular in Arizona. What do Phillies’ fans think of GM Ruben Amaro?
Amaro is not especially popular with Phillies fans. Most fans see that the team has declined from a champion to an also-ran under his watch, and assign most of the blame to him, even though I feel he doesn’t deserve most of it.
2-How much has Cole Hamels been missed?
It’s hard for a starter to have that much impact in the relatively short time he was out. Maybe they win two more games if he was making his regular turn. Going forward, he should help matters, especially because it will help ease the burden on an overworked – and undertalented – bullpen.
3-Is Ryne Sandberg settling in as manager?
He’s definitely had his growing pains. His handling of his relievers has been curious at times, but in his defense, he isn’t choosing from a lot of good options. On the positive side, he’s not afraid to challenge his veteran players, some of whom may have grown a bit complacent in recent years.
4-It looks as though we are seeing the Chase Utley of old. Can he go for 30 and 100 again in 2014?
Utley has been in classic form, but I’m slightly worried that he’s going to wear down. Even in his best years, Utley would often start off hot and then sputter a bit down the stretch. 30 home runs may be too much to ask for, but somewhere in the 20s seems realistic.
5-Does this core group have one more division title run in them?
I think there’s too much talent elsewhere in the division for a title to be realistic. But if they can stay healthy, I think a wild card berth is definitely obtainable.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Mike for his time today. Be sure to catch my answers to his D’back questions at thatballsouttahere.com