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Week In Review – Panic Sets In

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Sun, April 22, 2012 09:00 PM | Comments: 29
Opinion, Posts, Week in Review

Panic is setting in.  I mean, how could it not?  The Phillies are only 16 games into the season but however you look at it, .500 ball is not winning anything.  The pitching, per usual, has upheld their part of this baseball bargain but the offense has failed to cash in any of their chips this season.

Like I said it is still early, and baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint.  There is plenty of time left for the Phillies to figure this whole thing out.  And my guess is that they will.

—————————–

Offensive Woes The Phillies as a team have hit seven home runs this season.  For the month of April last season the Phillies had hit 23 homers, well off the pace of this year.   Matt Kemp of the Dodgers already has hit 8 home runs himself.  Combined with Andre Ethier, the two have 43 RBIs.  The Phillies have only managed 42 runs total this year.

At the forefront of these offensive struggles are the injuries of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.  How close are they to returning? And is the season still salvageable once they do get healthy?

A couple of the games this week reminded how much we miss these guys and how bad the Phillies offense is struggling.

RISP woes plague Phils in loss to Giants

Phils waste Lee’s 10 inning masterpiece

Will Phillies make the necessary changes?

Bats fall silent in San Diego

—————————–

Pitching Bright Spots It hasn’t all been bad this week for the Phillies.  Cliff Lee put together an incredible outing the other night against the Giants throwing 10 scoreless innings.  Lee still only finished the game with 102 pitchers and unfortunately it wasn’t enough.  The Phils ended up losing 1-0.

Vance Worley had a career outing against the Padres, striking out 11 hitters.  He is now averaging over a strikeout an inning (21/19) in his second season with the big club.

Roy Halladay ‘battled’ Tim Lincecum outlasting the righty going eight innings and allowing only two runs.  It wasn’t quite the match up everyone was expecting to see as Lincecum couldn’t quite get it together.

Cole Hamels once again shined against San Diego.  He is now 4-0 versus the Padres.  The offense waited a lithe but finally scored some runs for our lefty and the Phillies won.

—————————–

More Bad News The Phillies sent Cliff Lee to the disable list to join Utley and Howard.  Lee has an oblique strain and the assignment is retroactive to right after his last start.  The Phillies brought up Joe Savery to take his roster spot.

—————————–

Like I said, it’s still to early worry too much but a little frustration is warranted.  This is a tough team and they will bounce back.  I just hope its not too late.

Phillies (7-9), five games back in NL East.

Avatar of Kieran Carobine

About Kieran Carobine

Kieran Carobine has written 180 articles on Phillies Nation.

Kieran has been writing since 2010 and is based in Virginia Beach.

 
 
  • Posts: 541 Bruce

    Avatar of Bruce

    I agree that it’s much too early for all the panic nonsense that is popping up here on this blog. It’s two and a half weeks of baseball so far in a six month season. I have stated before that there is much parity in East division that no team will run away with it. Obviously, the lack of offense is on everyone’s mind. I think the key hitters on the club is putting pressure on themselves and are pressing a little. As Charlie Manuel told the reporters, they need “to relax” and ignore the distractions from media and fans. Also that this is a “test” of their fortitude. Once Pence or Victorino or someone else gets hot then it becomes contagious and rest of the team will follow picking each other up. The team has a great track record for resiliency and I think we will see that again.

     
    • Posts: 0 wbramh

      Bruce, I sincerely pray you and Kieran are right and it’s way too early to judge this team’s potential. Conventional wisdom would be on your side, especially since the Phil’s pitching should keep them from falling too far behind.

      Having said that, I’m panicking.

      While Charlie talks about their “need to relax,” half the team is somnambulant and the other have needs and ambulance. It’s not fair to expect Thome to hold down first for two good reasons. 1. He hasn’t played it in awhile and 2. IMO,he can no longer play it anywhere near the efficiency of the past. I’m also suspect of Thome’s ability to meet the task at the plate. While I don’t expect him to be batting under .100 for the remainder of the year, I believe he’s much more prone to be over-matched in an increasingly pitcher-friendly game due to his aging body and slower reaction time. So I expect next to no long balls from the two infield positions that traditionally produce power – 1st and 3rd. Wigginton can hit for power but his stats don’t indicate he does it very often. Pierre still has speed and can probably still hit for average but again has no power and Galvis is not exactly Utley at the plate -not even a wounded Utley. It’s an anemic lineup and players like Wigginton, Mayberry, Pierre and Thome do not a champion make. They need a Mickey Mantle but I’d settle for another Matt Kemp.

      Which begs the questions, when (or if) will Utley and Howard return and what will we have when they get here?
      If I had to make a wager, I’d bet that neither player will be starting the 2013 season, at least as members of the Philadelphia Phillies. Ryan Howard’s salary may force the team to start him next year, but that assumes he’s going to be healthy enough to play, anywhere. Lingering leg and foot injuries can be career-ending ailments. The aforementioned Mickey Mantle would have attested to that fact. Doug Collins would tell you the same.

      Speaking of the walking (or crawling) wounded, the normally healthy Cliff Lee is unfortunately on the 15-day DL. If the team can’t keep their big three stud pitchers healthy, I’d put their chance of making the play-offs at 50-50, and only because Washington, Atlanta and Florida still have their own weaknesses (but all three are improved over last year’s models).

      On the bright side, defensively, Polanco, is looking like himself again at 3rd and I believe he’ll start hitting for a respectable if not Polancoesque average, Galvis’s defense at 2nd has been terrific (a step up from Utley’s) and Ruiz continues to be Ruiz, at least behind the plate – he’s just a great pitcher’s catcher. Victorino and Pence will (someday) start hitting and Papelbon will prove to be worth most of his obscene salary for a guy who occasionally faces three batters. But unless the team starts hitting, Papelbon may want to take a deck of cards with him to the bull pen.

       
  • Posts: 1135 EricL

    Avatar of EricL

    Take any team in the league and put $56 million dollars worth of their players on the DL. See if they’re even able to sniff .500. They’ll be fine when they get healthy.

     
    • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

      That still gives the Phillies about $118 million worth of talent on the field. The Dodgers entire payroll is under $100 million and they’re having no problems sniffing .500.

       
      • Posts: 161 therookie300

        Avatar of therookie300

        Leave the money out of the equation. Put Kemp and Either on the DL and tell me how well the Dodgers would be playing right now.

         
      • Posts: 0 wbramh

        No doubt if you took Kemp and Ethier out of the lineup the Dodgers would be an under 500 team. For the Phils, the downward slide and eventual loss of Utley and Howard is devastating even with great pitching. Ruben Amaro is right about pitching being #1, but you have to score at least 1 run to win a game and the Phils aren’t the 1965 Dodgers. That team made things happen with speed and smart batsmanship. I believe Drysdale had the highest batting average on the ’65 team (.300 with 7 home runs) but they they won a respectable 92 games in a 154 game season. The Dodgers faced a Twins team that hit 711 RBI during the season compared to just 548 RBI for the Dodgers. Yet, the Dodgers became World Champs.

        Arguably, pitching is better than ever and while we may have the equivalent of three Koufax/Drysdale-quality pitchers, even the mid-quality opposing pitchers perform like the Phils aces when facing our anemic and sleepy batters. We could use a Maury Wills type of spark which is the role J. Rollins used to play on this team. With Jimmy’s drop in performance our loss is really 3-fold.

         
  • Posts: 0 hah

    “Take any team in the league and put $56 million dollars worth of their players on the DL.”

    Perhaps Phillies team is too cheap…. you have to sign more “elite” players.

     
  • [...] Week In Review – Panic Sets In | Phillies Nation [...]

     
  • Posts: 0 Fred

    Face it, the Phillies will at best contend for a wild card spot or just have a ‘meh’ year. Either way, the team will need to make big decisions in the near future

     
    • Posts: 1135 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      No, this is wrong.

      At best the will win the NL East again.

      The Phils aren’t as bad as they look and the Nationals and Braves aren’t as good as they look.

       
      • Posts: 0 c schreiber

        Homer.

         
  • Posts: 0 brooks

    In an older post, one of our esteemed posters said that this lineup was not capable of keeping up. I disagree. Pence, Jroll, Poly (I disagree with Kieran, the fact that Poly is making contact means nothing with the bases empty), Mayberry, Thome – all of these players are on the ‘Schnide’ (I couldn’t resist). All at the same time. If any of these players were living up to their baseball card stats the team would be right in the thick of the race if not on top. The pitching has kept them afloat and hopefully, will continue to keep them within striking distance until something (I wont pretend to know what it is) gets these guys going.

    Until then, panic if you want, Cholly is probably going to keep putting the same guys out there, night after night, day after day mostly because he has nobody else to work with…

     
    • Posts: 1135 EricL

      Avatar of EricL

      Agreed, except for the Mayberry part. Mayberry is not a good offensive player; what he showed last season was a fluke, a small sample size variation, which he had never shown he was capable of, not even in the minors.

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Just to state the obvious, Mayberry should wind up somewhere between last year’s rampage and the first 16 games’ slump:

        Per 650 plate appearances:

        July 5-Sep 28 2011: .301/.358/.607 (.965 OPS) with 48 doubles, 48 HR, 148 RBI
        April 5-Apr 22 2012: .175/.175/.200 (.375 OPS) with 16 doubles, 0 HR, 33 RBI

        In fact an OPS that splits the difference (.670) should be the minimum of his range.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        (and 0 walks)

         
  • Posts: 0 Brannie

    I think the problem is that even with Ryan and Chase back, Phillies aren’t that much better off.

    Ryan is a (very) poor man’s Prince Fielder. Chase is a poor man’s Robbie Cano or poor man’s Ben Zobrist.

    I rather have Zobrist on my team any day of the week as a matter of fact.

    I rather have Kinsler too, and both are cheaper.

    That’s the bottom line here, there isn’t much improvement with these two fallen warriors returning.

    Because Chase will likely be aching, and Ryan, well… everyone knows he’ll chase everything off speed.

    The Phillies have tied so much money up in expensive pitching, and aging ex MVP’s (J-Rol, Ryan-O) that Phillies have a team that is performing like a 50 million payroll ballclub, when it in reality is 160+ million.

    Incredible.

    There has got to be some big changes.

    And I like what I see from some fans recently, they want Ruben to start make some tough decisions, start to cut some fan favorites.

    I don’t think there should ever be any sacred cows.

    Cards were not willing to sacrifice the future of the club for Albert. That’s why they don’t have a monster of a contract with him.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      While Howard is not as good as Fielder, the key question is whether Howard will improve on their current first basemen.

      As for Utley, it remains to be seen what he can do this year, but last year when he played he was AS GOOD AS CANO overall.

      More here: http://www.thegoodphight.com/2012/2/2/2715299/chase-utley-and-50-years-of-second-basemen

      and here: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=2b&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=400&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=2011&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&players=0

      On tying up money in expensive pitching, are you including the 2nd best ERA in the NL when you say they’re performing like a $50 million club?

      Not sure what you find so incredible.

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Expanding on the Utley-Cano comment, because I realize that may come as a surprise to some:

        The most important thing a hitter can do is get on base, and Cano doesn’t do that especially well.

        Utley and Cano got on base about the same in 2011: Utley .344 OBP, Cano .349

        Cano outslugged Utley, .533 to .425, and so was overall the better hitter:

        Using the comprehensive hitting stat wOBA, which is explained here (http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/offense/woba/):

        Cano .375 wOBA, Utley .344

        However Utley played his typical excellent defense last year, while Cano was his usual average/slightly below. Utley’s advantage with the glove made up for Cano’s hitting advantage.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=2b&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=400&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=2011&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&players=0

        Which gets us back to the conclusion that, while they were on the field, they were about equal:

        Cano: 5.8 fWAR per 700 plate appearances
        Utley 6.0 fWAR per 700 plate appearances

        I am not saying that Cano wasn’t more valuable – he was, because he was healthy. Nor am I saying that I wouldn’t rather have Cano going forward. Utley’s health dictates that.

        But I’ve seen these two statements quite a bit this offseason:
        - “Cano may be the best all-around player in the game”
        - “If Utley is out the Phillies aren’t missing much because he sucked last year”

        At least in 2011, these two statements were both wildly off the mark.

         
  • Posts: 0 upandaway

    I’m tired of the Howard-bashing. The guy is 4th overall among ALL active players in career slugging percentage.
    Power hitters strike out. It means nothing. Just like all if the empty criticism…

     
  • Posts: 0 upandaway

    I’m tired of the Howard-bashing. The guy is 4th overall among ALL active players in career slugging percentage.
    Power hitters strike out. It means nothing. Just like all if the empty criticism…..

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      I agree about the strikeouts, but what are you reacting to? I didn’t notice any Howard bashing in this particular thread.

       
  • Posts: 0 upandaway

    Hmm…sorry for the duplicate posts. After the first try, I got a message saying there was an error posting my message, and that perhaps it was too short. Odd.

     
  • Posts: 0 upandaway

    In response to Brannie’s post.

     
  • Posts: 0 Owen Twoo

    I want a team that wins and is fun to watch. At this point, they are neither. Plus I do not think they will sign Cole Hamels. I would trade him to the Angels for Kendrys Morales and Alberto Callaspo — both decent switch hitters under age 30. We need excitement. I would also release Pete Orr (or include him in the package to the Angels) and Lance Nix.

    I want exciting baseball and we ain’t got it.

    Owen Twoo

     
    • Posts: 0 c schreiber

      If we could get that trade for Hamels, with the state of this offense now and in the future, you got to take it,

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        No way. You get two redundant players while giving up more runs.

         
  • Posts: 0 sandy durso

    I think this season is going to be the beginning of a downward trend for the Phillies. I am not surprised by that as the signs for that were appearant in Spring Training. I am not really in a panic because to be honest before the season even started I had lowered my expectations for this team. That being said I thought the offense would be better than they have played so far this season. I did not expect a lot of runs but I also thought the Phillies could still manage to be a step ahead of being completely anmemic. I agree that some of this has to do with the injuries to Howard and Utley but overall I think we are seeing the continuation of a downward trend that is not just about streaky hitting or injuries. The Phillies look old and slow and they have lost a step. Things may well get better than they look now as the season goes on however I don’t think they will improve to the point where RAJ can be satisfied with this team if he intends to remain competitive over the next few years. I would suspect the Phillies make make a minor move or two at the trade deadline to try to get some spark in the lineup but as anyone who follows baseball knows the options are quite limited and the Phillies have some players who it would be hard to move considering their high salaries. Its going to be down year the only question is how far down? Will they win say 80 to 85 games and compete for a playoff spot or will they find themselves out by September? That of course is the question that remains to be answered but overall there are going to have to be some fundamental changes in the offseason if the Phillies want to remain a National League Powerhouse.

     
  • Posts: 0 upandaway

    Barring any lengthy dl stays by Lee, et al, I still think this club will scrap its way to a division title with 90-92 wins. If, by that time, Howard is raking, and Utley is at least getting on base, this team will be serious title contenders.
    Mark my words if you wish…

     
    • Posts: 0 c schreiber

      Another homer.

       
 
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