It's a fact that this April was the first losing April for the Philadelphia Phillies in a long time.
Yes, they currently sit at 12-12, and aren't the most talked about team in the City of Brotherly Love, with the Flyers and Sixers taking the limelight for their current playoff runs.
Yes, the Nationals, Mets, and Braves are all off to decent starts to their seasons.
Yes, the Phillies are one of the oldest ball clubs in the game and are only getting older.
And finally, yes, they have superstars on the disabled list.
Some would see all this, and would start jumping off the Phillies bandwagon. But everyone should probably hold off on jumping ship. If we've learned anything over the course of Charlie Manuel's tenure as Phillies manager, it's that these players are a resilient bunch and will be giving their all the entire season.
Cliff Lee will be back by next week, and Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are making tremendous strides in their rehabs and should be back by the end of the month. The pitching staff has been the one consistent part of this team so far, minus the performances of Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick. Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hazels, and Jonathan Papelbon have been excellent so far.
The offense, on the other hand, has been putrid. Jimmy Rollins is off to another slow start, while Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino have yet to heat up.
The most consistent hitter so far this season? Carlos Ruiz. It's rarely a good thing when your bottom-of-the-lineup guy is your most consistent hitter. The Phillies are hoping that Howard and Utley can jump right back in and help jump start this offense.
Phillies fans shouldn't expect the offense of old, but instead should hope for a consistent offense that can keep their pitchers in the game, and not waste valiant efforts put forth by Halladay, Lee and Hamels. But until Howard and Utley come back, the offense needs to get something started and find ways to win more games before it becomes too late.
Should the Phillies be worried about teams like the Nationals?
Not necessarily. Washington has been impressive so far. They have a nice, young group of players that play hard every game for Davey Johnson. But the Nationals might be benefiting from a weak opening schedule, and are currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
But this year's Nationals are not going to be pushovers, as they have been in the past. Washington will be competing all year, and they will likely give the Phillies and the Braves a run for their money. The Phillies need to be able to keep the Nationals, and the Braves, for that matter, in check all year if they want to continue to be the reigning NL East Champions.
If, and when, things start clicking again with the offense, things should start to look better for the Phillies.
For now, Phillies fans should not lose hope just yet. It is still very early.
The Phillies will be fine when all the pieces come back. Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. deserve the trust of the fans.
Amaro, Jr. will do whatever it takes to keep this team a contender, as proven by the signings of Lee and Papelbon, and the trades for Lee and Pence over the years.
Focus on the success of the Flyers and Sixers, Philly fans.
The Phillies will be back to their winning ways shortly.