Philly Sports Live

Week 9 Review

The Philadelphia Phillies are the biggest enigma in sports right now. They are a flawed team with obvious short comings. They should still be better than they’ve been, and have had so many chances to move up in the standings.

Take Domonic Brown for example, the National League player of the month for the month of May. He became the first player ever, yes ever, to hit 10 or more home runs in a month without being walked in that time. He had 2 multiple homer games in three days and currently leads the National League in home runs.

But, there is a problem with even his production, the lack of walks. This team has recently seen a power surge, relying mostly on home runs to score. That would be fine, given that they lived on the home run during their run of five division titles and World Series victory. The problem is that no one is ever on base.

The Phillies are ranked 11th in the National League in on base percentage, 12th in hitting and 12th in walks. They rank 8th in strikeouts. Ergo, the big hits come so infrequently that whether there are men on base or not comes down to chance.

Now, Brown did hit a big three run home run Friday night against Milwaukee, giving Cole Hamels his first lead since April. He would not be able to hold it. Can anyone tell me when the last multi run home run was hit and by who?

All of this starts at the top with management. Going into this offseason, Ruben Amaro, Jr. knew he had to get younger in spots and fill holes in the outfield and at the hot corner. He traded for Ben Revere and brought in veterans Michael and Delmon Young to play third and right field.

Simply put, Revere can’t hit. He just can’t. The hope was that he could be a spark plug at the top of the lineup, dethrone Jimmy Rollins as the leadoff hitter and steal 40 bases like he did last year. Well, Revere is hitting a respectable .251 with 10 stolen bases and an on base percentage of .293.

Still, he has not been on base enough to really make a difference for this club. Ideally, he’s the guy that walks to start the game, and gets in the pitcher’s head a la Jose Reyes in his prime. Maybe then he’ll steal second and third and manufacture runs by himself like Rollins did in 2007.

That has not been the case. He also does not leg out infield singles as the team hoped he would and has been doubled up more times than he should. His speed is his biggest weapon, but he just can’t put it to the opposition where it’s lethal.

Michael and Delmon are veterans who know how to hit. Michael Young has six 200 hit seasons to his credit, while Delmon was the ALCS MVP just a year ago for the Tigers. The trouble is, they’re not as young (no pun intended) as they used to be and they’re playing the field more this season than they have in a few years.

Michael got moved around the Rangers infield so much that he found himself as the designated hitter more often than not. Ditto Delmon Young, who played the field only 41 times a year ago. When asked to play the field on a regular basis, both hitters have not been consistent at the plate with the added responsibility. It seems like an easy transition because, after all, they’re baseball players.

The fact remains that neither has been consistent enough to make an impact. Michael was hitting over .300 in April, and then slipped into an 0-22 slump in May.  His average has dropped to .258 and, more concerning; he has just two home runs. He was brought in to provide good hitting and some pop. He hasn’t. Delmon is hitting just .215 and has been more of a liability in the field than a contributor at the plate.

Besides these moves that have not panned out, Amaro also swung and missed with some arms he added to the bullpen. Case in point, Chad Durbin. His veteran experience and recent stint in Philadelphia was thought to be useful and complete a revamped bullpen.

Well, Durbin allowed almost every runner he inherited to cross the plate. His earned run average for the year is an even 9.00 and he allowed a total of 25 hits in just 16 innings pitched. He was released on Friday.

Amaro’s other acquisition was Mike Adams, deemed the best available setup man out there. The Phillies lost 10 games in 2012 in the eighth inning or later and this move was made to sure up the late innings. Adams has not been bad, but has not been great either. He landed on the disabled list once already and has a history of injuries.

His ERA is close to four at 3.86 and he’s allowed almost a hit per inning at 17 hits in 18 2/3 innings pitched. He also blew the one save opportunity he had earlier this year and has allowed several one run leads in the eighth inning to slip away.

With all of this, the Phillies sit possibly locked into third place in the National League East. They’re eight games behind first place Atlanta and seem to be falling further and further out of contention. They’re also currently eight games out of the last wild card spot in the National League. Every time they’re a game below .500 they go and lose two or three to fall back down. This weekend is a great example, losing two in a row to last place Milwaukee.

This might sound crazy, but they might actually be in a worse spot than teams like the Astros and Marlins. At least they know what they are. The Phillies have a lot of decisions to make and will have to make them in a hurry.

They sit in no man’s land. Not out of it, but not close to it. So the choice is simple, add a piece or two and go for it. Or, face the fact that this team’s window to win is just about closed and they will have to start over sooner rather than later. Do they start that process now or try and delay the inevitable by adding a bat at the deadline?

If the answer is now, then it really should be now. There’s really no sense in waiting until July 31st in my opinion. Put the feelers out now that players are available and get an idea of what you can get back for next year and beyond. If they wait till the deadline, they run the risk of not getting the best deal possible as teams will try and get more for less in a reduced amount of time.

Let’s face facts; Roy Halladay is probably done in Philly after this year unless he makes a remarkable contribution later this year. That’s IF he can come back from shoulder surgery. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are not the igniters they once were. Chase still goes all out, but can’t seem to stay healthy and is not putting up the numbers fan are used to seeing.

Rollins, for all intents and purposes has checked out. He’s won his MVP and his ring and made a series of predictions that came to fruition. He’s done all that he wanted to, so what’s left? Both he and Utley, painful as it would be for fans to accept, might be more suited to help a contending team this year than hang around here with nothing to play for.

Names like Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee come to mind here as well. Amaro could indict himself for good with Phils fans if he trades Lee again, but the truth is, it may be his best option. Lee has been great for this team in 2013 and would be an attractive trade chip for a team looking to add pitching for the stretch run.

Now, the fact is the Phillies still have a chance. They’re within striking distance and could get on a roll and move up in the standings. This story could be very different in July with them looking to add another piece to push them into that last wild card or even contend for the division.

But, things have to get better quickly for that to happen. If they don’t, then the pressure cooker will heat up on Amaro and the Philadelphia Phillies to make decisions they don’t want to make.

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