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.

Phillies shows strengths and weaknesses in win against Mets

Losing to the Mets is no fun.  Luckily for the Phillies, the past few years have been

Photo Courtesy of Rich Schultz/Getty Images

relatively easy as far as beating the Mets has been concerned, however, with an injured lineup and some timely Mets hitting, this year’s task was not as easy and the Phillies dropped their first two games of the season against the Mets.   Of course, not all of the pain was inflicted by the Mets in the Phillies first two games,  going 0-8 with runners in scoring position in game one and managing only six total hits in the second.  Both efforts were further diminished by an atypical five runs allowed by the Phillies on both nights.

The Phillies took the field on Jackie Robinson day looking to erase their Mets-related troubles with a start from Cole Hamels, against Mike Pelfrey, someone who, historically, has had all sorts of trouble against the Phillies. 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

Phillies Give Cole Hamels One-Year, $15 Million, Avoid Arbitration

Earlier today, the Phillies crossed another thing off of their pre-season to-do list, when they gave 28 year-old Cole Hamels a one-year $15 Million deal, avoiding arbitration.  The deal comes just 32 days before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.

The 2011 All-Star finished last season, so far the best of his career, 5th in Cy Young voting, while compiling 14 wins and 194 strikeouts, as well as career highs in ERA and WHIP (2.79 and 0.986 respectively).

The Phillies also worked out a deal with utility infielder and one-time pitcher Wilson Valdez (Fun fact: Wilson Valdez’s hat from that game is actually in the Hall of Fame).  The deal is reportedly worth $930,000 for one year.

The signings leave just Hunter Pence eligible for arbitration.  Pence reportedly is asking for $11.8 Million, while the Phillies are offering $9 Million.

Phillies agree to re-sign Rollins for three to four years

Coming into the off-season, the Phillies had a few priorities.  At the top of their list were a closer, some support for their bench, and last, but certainly not least, figure who would be starting at shortstop when the season started.  One by one, Ruben Amaro Jr. played Santa Claus (or Hannukah Harry based on what you believe) for the team, filling all of the team’s needs except for re-signing Jimmy Rollins or signing a free agent to fill his place.  But now, 63 just days before pitchers and catchers report for spring training, the Phillies have earned their biggest gift of the holiday season, re-signing former MVP, and clubhouse leader Jimmy Rollins to a three-year $33 million deal with a vesting option for a fourth year. Continue reading