Saturday, June 1, 2013

Analyzing the Phillies after May

The Major League Baseball season is already 1/3 of the way done. So where do our Fightin’ Phils stand after 2 months? Well, they’re right about where everybody thought they would be. After Saturday’s controversial loss to the Brewers, the Phillies sit at 26-30, 7 games behind the NL East leading Braves. Coming into the season the Phils were expected to hover around the .500 mark for most of the year; and that’s exactly where they’ve been all season. Their offense has not shown up, as expected. So far the Phillies offense is weaker than Freddy Galvis on PED’s. What they have to show is a .246 and an average of 3.48 runs a game. If the Phillies have any chance at making a wild card run, their offense needs to hit better.

Ryan Howard is hitting .254 with only 7 home runs and 26 runs batted in. He is the man the Phils desperately need to get hot. Howard carried the team in 2007 and 2008 but has disappointed in recent years. Injuries have also plagued the offense. Carlos Ruiz was suspended for the first 25 games and strained his hamstring running the bases on May 20th. Chase Utley is also hurt, which is a big blow to the offense. New acquisitions Delmon Young and Ben Revere have been major disappointments. Young was hurt for the first few weeks of the season and is hitting a pathetic .213. Revere, who before this season had a career average of close to .300, is batting only .251 and is nowhere close to the leadoff man the Phils hoped they would be getting. Overall, the Phillies offense is unfortunately, exactly as we thought they would be.
The lone bright spot in the offense is Domonic Brown. Brown is finally showing his potential, belting 15 balls into the seats this year. If he keeps it up, he could keep the Phillies afloat the next couple of years and represent the team at Citi Field as an All-Star. Young players such as Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez have also been given the opportunity to play, which should help their development. If the Phillies continue to slide, do not be surprised to see prospects Cody Asche and Darin Ruf up in the Majors soon.
Another bright spot is the pitching...sort of. Roy Halladay, one of the greatest pitchers of his generation, has fallen off the face of the Earth. He holds a 8.65 ERA and was merciful put on the DL and had surgery. It looks as if his season, and possibly career, is over. Another “ace”, Cole Hamels has been awful. Although he has been the victim of little run support, he is 1-9 with a 4.86 ERA. He was expected to be the #1 starter this year but he is really a 4 or 5 starter at best. However, Cliff Lee has been brilliant as usual, posting a 6-2 record to go along with a dazzling 2.34 ERA. Also, young guns Jonathan Pettibone and Tyler Cloyd have showed promise. Pettibone is 3-1 with a 3.64 ERA and has almost always kept the Phillies in games. And other than one bad start against Boston, Cloyd has only given up 6 total runs in his other 3 starts. Kyle Kendrick has also been a pleasant surprise going 5-3 with a 3.27 ERA.

The “improved” bullpen really hasn’t been improved. The Phils did fix their 8th inning problems with Mike Adams, and Jonathan Papelbon has been phenomenal. But other than that, the bullpen is as bad as last year. Of all the relievers that have appeared in double digit games, only Papelbon, Adams, and Antonio Bastardo have an ERA under 4. That’s right, 4. IF the starters only go 5 or 6 innings, the bullpen is trusted with holding the lead, which they often fail at. After the miserable offense, the bullpen is the 2nd biggest concern on this team.

So what will the Phillies do by the trade deadline? What they should do is sell. Sell, sell, sell and sell some more.This Phillies team will probably not make the playoffs and even if they do, it will not be a deep run in October. Beloved players such as Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz will be free agents after this year. That means they should be traded. If they are traded, the Phillies could re-sign them this off season and pick up a few prospects. It is a low risk move because there is no guarantee they will be in Philly past this season and we could pick up some young guys that could help us in the future. However, I have a bad feeling that the Phillies might be buyers this July. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is desperate and may make a giant trade which could harm the organization’s future. With an extra wild card opportunity, Amaro may think we have a chance to win it and make a World Series run. If he is smart, he will depart with veterans like Utley and Ruiz. It is tough, but it should be done. Another player he should trade is Michael Young. He will most likely not re sign with the Phillies and instead of letting him walk away we could get something for him. Cliff Lee’s name has also been on the rumor mill. If I’m Ruben, I would keep him another year or two and get as much out of him as I can. Lee is under contract until 2015 with a club option for 2016 and the Phils could use him in the next few years.

The Phillies are in an important year in their franchise. It is most likely the last year of the core players that won the 2008 World Series. After this year, it is re-building. Hopefully, Amaro recognizes that and starts to re-build at the deadline. If not, it could be a long time before we see October baseball in Philadelphia.

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