Phillies need different mind-set

Originally Published: June 24, 2005
By John Kruk | ESPN Insider
Last week, the Philadelphia Phillies got back into the playoff race with good play at home. Then they went on the road to face the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, which should have put them in a good position to maintain momentum in the race – especially considering the pitchers they had to face.

But the Phillies, who faced Gil Meche, Aaron Sele, Joel Pineiro, Barry Zito, Kirk Saarloos and Joe Blanton, lost four of six on the trip. It's not as though they were facing Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez every night. They faced average pitchers and got killed when they needed to retain their momentum. It's becoming clear the Phillies are starting to become the Colorado Rockies of the NL East.

Much like the Rockies, the Phillies play lights-out at home, but get killed on the road. That's due in large part to the fact that the Phillies have a bunch of fly-ball hitters who are trying to score runners, but aren't trying to move runners along. This is why trading Placido Polanco was such a bad idea. He was a great No. 2 hitter who knew how to move runners along and wasn't afraid to sacrifice his numbers to do so. That's the type of unselfish player the Phillies need in their lineup. Right now, they have too many guys who are paid to hit the long ball. While that may be good at home if your home park is built for it, which the Phillies' park is, it's terrible on the road when you need to play small ball.

John Kruk

Baseball Tonight analyst
John Kruk, a three-time All-Star outfielder/first baseman, serves as an analyst on ESPN's Emmy Award-winning Baseball Tonight, as well as working select game telecasts. He joined ESPN beginning in the 2004 season.