The Phillies’ struggles finally reached a tipping point yesterday. After seeing the offense fail to put a run on the board during Cole Hamels’ gem, Ruben Amaro decided that something needed to be done.
That something turned out to be the dismissal of hitting coach Milt Thompson. Greg Gross, who was the hitting coach from 2002-2004, was named as his replacement. The offense wasn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard back then, so I’m not so sure this is an improvement.
It’s hard to understand why a hitting coach gets fired when a team is struggling, especially after the offensive numbers that the Phillies have put up over the past few years. However, when a team has struggled for as long as the Phillies have at this point, something needs to change. A shakeup like this could be what the team needs to get out of their slump, but it’s hard to make a change like that when the person you’re talking about is Milt Thompson.
Milt was a part of the “Macho Row” 1993 National League champions and will always be a fan favorite because of that. Since coming back to the organization in 1998, as a minor league coach, eh’s climbed up the ranks. He was even held in high enough esteem to survive the firing of Terry Francona and become part of Charlie Manuel’s staff.
When it comes down to it, the Phillies have struggled mightily with putting runs on the board and the first target for those struggles would be the hitting coach. You would think that a player like Jayson Werth, on the verge of becoming a free agent and potentially signing a huge contract, would be having a career year. Instead, he got a hit with a runner in scoring position for the first time in a month last night. Ryan Howard, on the other hand, the most secure player on the team, has been turning it up in the second half, like usual.
Many never thought the struggles would continue for this long, but they have. There is no way Roy Halladay should have 8 losses while pitching for this team, but the offense has let him down on a few occasions.
The second half has been the Phillies’ strong suit over the past few years, so there is hope ( & time) for them to turn it around. With the Mets losing last night, the Phillies are back in second place, albeit 7 games back. It’s a long climb back to the top, but if the offense starts clicking again, there is still the possibility of a third straight National League East title.