Written by: Ray Hagan (@rayhagan19)
It’s time to panic.
Fine, "panic" is a strong word, but it’s definitely time for concern. Everyone knew coming into this season that the Phillies offense of today wasn’t NEARLY as potent as the offense of the 2008 or 2009 teams. Some of the faces were the same, but the games had slipped with age. Everyone knew
that this team was going to miss the injured Ryan Howard. When the news
came out that Chase Utley wouldn’t be joining the team on Opening Day for
the second straight year, the news went from bad to worse.
Still, with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels fronting the rotation,
teams would be just as hard pressed to score against the Phillies as
Philadelphia would be against them.
Currently the Phils sit at 5-7 and in last place in the NL East. They are the ONLY team in Major League Baseball that has a losing
record which has OUTSCORED their opponents for the year. In twelve games
the Phillies have allowed 34 runs…that’s less than 3 per game. Unfortunately
they’ve only mustered 35. They rank 28th in runs scored, 27th in On Base
Percentage, and 27th in Slugging Percentage. The question at this point is
no longer if they can hang on until Utley and Howard make it back, the
question is, can those two, coming off of chronic knee problems, and a
serious Achilles injury can even do enough to get this team back on track.
Sports Radio stations in this town are now debating the wisdom of perhaps
trading Cole Hamels in order to procure a legitimate offensive player,
since he’s in his walk year. That’s outrageous! They’d be cutting off
their nose to spite their face. The team has ONE strength, and that’s the
rotation. The replacements for Howard at first, the Nix/Thome/Wigginton
combo has hit at a scorching .181 clip and managed to cobble together
exactly 4 extra base hits with 1 HR in 55 ABs. Ouch.
The Phils minor league system isn’t doing them any favors. Domonic Brown,
considered the 4th best prospect in MLB going into 2011 didn’t even crack
the top 100 in 2012. The highest rated Phils prospect according to
Baseball America is Trevor May, and he’s 69th. Also, he’s only in AA,
which leaves them with a very bare cupboard.
I’m not going to take a "sky is falling" attitude with this team, because
they should be in each and every game, with a few more bounces here and
there going their way, this team could easily be in a much better position.
I would lobby, however, that maybe it’s time to be proactive. Brown still
has value, though not nearly as much as in previous years. He’s not doing
them any good sitting in AAA when the team also has Scott Podsednik, who
had a great spring, and would be the first call up in the event of injury. I
would suggest that a package of Brown and 4th Starter Vance Worley could be
very interesting to a team that is looking to get younger and cheaper
The Phillies' biggest mistake was not signing Michael Cuddyer. Both parties
had mutual interest, and now Cuddyer is tearing the cover off the ball for
Colorado while the Phils are struggling to produce runs. If I’m the
Phillies, I’m attempting to correct that error right now. Get Colorado on
the phone, send Worley and Brown, and bring in Cuddyer. Are you overpaying?
Absolutely, those two are worth more than Cuddyer. But the window to win
with this team is closing quickly. It’s time to make sure that this team
wins while it still can. He’s signed beyond this year, and more
importantly, he’s flexible. He can play third when needed, and first as
well. He gives you production from the corner outfield spot as a
Polanco is past his prime, and more importantly, he hasn’t bounced back
from his sports hernia. When Polanco’s contract expires after the year,
Cuddyer slides right in as his replacement. A better option would be to
include Victorino over Brown if possible. He’s in his walk year as well,
Pierre could fill in in center, and the savings would allow the Phils the
flexibility to bring back Roy Oswalt as a fourth starter.
Oswalt is sitting out there waiting for a call, and can, without question,
give this team solid production in the fourth spot in the rotation. If
it’s not Cuddyer, it desperately needs to be something, and it needs to be
something soon, before this window closes.
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On the same day Ian Desmond withdrew from the 2012 NL All-Star team with an oblique strain, Bryce Harper has been selected by Tony LaRussa as the replacement for Giancarlo Stanton, who will have knee surgery. Youngest position player in an All-Star Game ever.
"I don’t have words to explain it right now. It’s exciting to go. …