Phillies not just bad, but borderline unwatchable

From the start, this Phillies season was no fairy tale.  No Ryan Howard, no Chase Utley and an offense full of old, replacement-level players is not the way a 102-win team looked to come back from a disappointing NLDS loss.  But few people could have predicted the painful, train-wreck of a season the Phillies have had thus far.

After 63 games, the Phillies find themselves, miraculously, just five games under .500, but 9.5 games out of first place in the NL East.  But that’s not the worst part.  Roy Halladay injured himself in mid-May and Cliff Lee is win-less through 10 starts despite a 3.18 ERA.  But that’s not the worst part.  The Phillies are 5-11 in one-run games, 2-6 in extra inning games and the largest deficit they have climbed out of is two runs.  Throw in the fact that there is not a single exciting player on the offensive side of the ball and only one position player that is even close to deserving of being an all-star and you have nearly unwatchable baseball.

There are some bad teams that are decent or even fun to watch.  Take the Oakland A’s for example.  Are they nine games under .500?  Sure, but at least they have international import Yoenis Cespedes, a fun to watch centerfielder and Josh Reddick, who is having an all-star worthy year in right field.  On top of that, the A’s have one of the most promising minor-league systems in baseball, so at least there is hope for the future.

Unlike Oakland, however, the have no great minor-league system.  They have two truly all-star worthy players, but one is Cole Hamels, someone whose success relies on other players.  The other is Carlos Ruiz and neither he nor Hamels plays everyday.  To make matters worse, the Phillies just don’t have any exciting players that instill confidence at the plate.  Sure, Victorino and Pence are good players, but Pence has had major troubles both in the field and at bat, having already hit into nine double plays.  Victorino is not having a good year either, batting just .253 with an unimpressive OPS of .744.    But the most important difference between the Phillies and the A’s?  The A’s weren’t favorites to win their division and possibly compete for a World Series title.

That’s what makes this season the worst.  The Phillies had very high standards, rightfully so with some of the best starting pitchers in baseball.  But as the Phillies pitching has gotten better, so has the pitching from the rest of the league and at this point, a team of wash-ups and constantly injured players just won’t cut it.

There is no point in giving up hope in the Phillies; there is no place to go but up from last place.  But this team is tough to watch, never keeping leads, rarely coming back from deficits and finding themselves down in close games.  On top of all of this though, when watching a Phillies game, you have to put up with the unintelligible blabber of Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler.

While watching the Phillies will always be a priority, the Phillies losses and the way they have suffered these losses just makes the team worse and worse to watch.

Two games down and the Phillies have played just as expected

Nobody was concerned about the Phillies pitching and everybody was concerned about the Phillies hitting.  If games were played on paper, nobody would have been shocked if the Phillies won 130 games on pitching alone, winning games 1-0.  Without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the line-up would be even more anemic they said.

Well, as sad as it is, if these two games are any indication of things to come, the nay-sayers and skeptics may be right, as the Phillies have shown nothing but dominant pitching and dormant bats.  In their first two games, a win and a loss, the Phillies have scored one run, giving up two runs, neither of which are surprising.  Game two even took extra innings to complete, both teams only able to score one run in nine innings (whether it was because of the Phillies’ pitching brilliance or the Pirates’ hitting incompetence, the world may never know). Continue reading

Season Preview: Starting Pitching

In 2007 the Phillies had one of the most dominant offenses in baseball, coming in second place in the MLB, as a team, in total runs, home runs, slugging percentage and on-base-plus-slugging (OPS).  In addition, the Phillies had the 2007 MVP in Jimmy Rollins, as well as Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, both of whom finished in the top ten in MVP voting.  However, the Phillies pitching was far different from their hitting, finishing 23rd in ERA, and batting average against, as well as 20th in quality starts, 18th in strikeouts, and a pitiful 27th in shutouts.  All of this was even with Cole Hamels, who was an All-Star and finished sixth in Cy Young voting with 15 wins, a 3.39 ERA and 1.12 WHIP that was sixth best in the MLB.  It did not take long for the Phillies pitching to catch up to them, as they were bounced from the playoffs in just four games by the eventual World Series runner-up Colorado Rockies.

The next year, the Phillies made major improvements to their pitching staff, adding key pieces like 2008 hero Brad Lidge and Jamie Moyer to help fill the team’s major holes.  The additions certainly helped, turning the Phillies into a top ten team in most pitching categories and leading the Phillies to their first World Series victory in 28 years.  Since then, pitching has come first in Philadelphia and this year’s group of starting pitchers is no exception. Continue reading

Red October Takes Two Meanings: Phillies an Cardinals to Square Off in NLDS

By Greg Frank

Overview:

The Phillies did away with their 8-game losing Sunday afternoon in New York behind Roy Halladay in a 9-4 win.  They next headed south to the ATL and three days later eliminated the Braves from playoff contention.  The beneficiaries of the Phillies sweep were the red hot St. Louis Cardinals.  Having won six of their last nine the Cards took full advantage of Atlanta’s collapse, scoring 21 runs in their final two games of the regular season propelling them to a Wild Card berth.  Tony La Russa’s bunch was once 10.5 games behind Atlanta in late August and now are playing the Phillies in the NLDS….impressive to say the least. Continue reading

Phillies End Season With Drama, and a Win

NOTE: Dear loyal readers (if there are any), sorry for not posting for a while, but school + meaningless games= no time for writing.  But now that the playoffs are back, so is Phighting On.  Enjoy!

Thirteen days ago, on September 15, the Phillies punched their ticket to the MLB postseason, rendering nearly every single remaining game useless.  Three days later, the Phillies clinched the NL East division title, and two days after that the Phillies clinched the NL’s best record, allowing the team to just relax until the playoffs started.  However, that did not stop the Phillies from affecting other teams’ playoff chances, coming into a game on Wednesday with Atlanta that would ultimately decide the playoff fate of the NL Wild Card.  The game, like the Cardinals and Astros game that also decided the Wild Card fate, could have been dull, a quick blowout, sending the Braves either straight to a one game playoff with the Cardinals, or straight home until spring, but instead, the two teams played a 13 inning thriller, leaving the regular season with a bang. Continue reading