With no Ryan Howard, no Roy Halladay, no Ben Revere, no power from Carlos Ruiz, no consistency from a $50,000,058 closer and no bench depth, the Phillies --- wait for it --- really aren't that good.
But in a season where their division is ordinary, they do have one remaining opportunity to be special, in at least one way.
Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels have the chance --- heck, they are paid a combined $44.5 million for it --- to be a reliable, dominating, one-two left-handed punch in the post-All-Star break portion of the season.
When they are right, and recently they had been, Lee and Hamels can give even the 2013 Phillies a reason to be feared.
That's why the way Hamels pitched in a 5-4 loss to the Mets Saturday --- poorly, that's the word --- should have had the only the Phillies in fear.
“He was having command trouble,” Charlie Manuel said. “He walked a couple of guys, and that hurt him. He had a big pitch count in the first few innings, and on a day like today, that's pretty important.”
Hamels had been splendid in his last three starts. So maybe the heat and the Mets and the laws of average had him due for an off game.
But if the Phillies think they can win anything this season with Hamels showing command trouble, they are wrong.
So Hamels fell to 4-12, and looked 4-12, lasting only five innings and allowing seven hits. But Lee will go Sunday against Matt Harvey, and that means the Phillies have a chance to win the series.
For them to win more, though, they need Lee and Hamels --- the both of them --- to dominate. Given the rest of their troubles, it is the only thing that elevates them to even fringe contention.
Check out my column on the Hamels issue in the Daily Times Sunday and, as always, on delcotimes.com