Archive for the ‘Philadelphia Phillies’ Category

New York Yankees v Detroit Tigers - Game Four

Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. really thought he found his ball club a bargain when he signed Delmon Young to a one-year, $650,000 deal in January. Young, after all, drove in 74 runs with the Detroit Tigers in 2012 when he hit behind a pair of guys who get on base all day in Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Never mind that Young is an entirely inadequate fielder and walked just 3.3% of the time in 608 plate appearances last season. It’s all about the production, as Amaro stated back in January:

“I don’t care about walks. I care about production. To be frank with you, I’ve said this all along. All of the sabermatricians and all of the people who think they know exactly what makes a good club . . . to me, it’s more about run production and being able to score runs and drive in runs.”

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San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies

The list of baseball things Chase Utley does well is long. He’s a very good baseball player, you see. As a good baseball player, Chase Utley does this important things well: he hits for power and is unfailingly patient and plays good defense. It’s a nice combination, the combination which led him to one of the better peaks in recent memory.

Now 34-years old, Chase Utley is on the downside of his career. As a second baseman, injuries are taking their toll and the ageing process begins rather early. Utley hasn’t played 120 games in a season since 2009, the last time the Phillies played in the World Series.

For the first time in two years, Chase Utley is healthy to start the season. As one expects from Chase Utley, he’s playing well. He’s also doing other Chase Utley things. While he hasn’t been hit by a pitch yet this year (his calling card), he did swipe two bases in a win over the Mets on Tuesday night. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t thrown out. Stealing bases is one of the many things Chase Utley does very, very well.

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There was a time when a man wore a mustache not out of the aching need for irony-based attention. There was a time when a man grew a mustache and cultivated his regal facial hair in a way that commanded respect, not jokes about white vans and small children or pornographic films of the 1970s.

Was it a better world? Perhaps. Maybe our lives are all worse because a guy can’t grow a mustache without his wife threatening to pack up his children and leave until that hideous lip hair is gone for good. In times like this, we need heroes. Cole Hamels might just be the hero we both need and deserve.

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Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals

2012 Record: 81-81, 3rd NL East
2012 Pythagorean Record: 81-81
Impact Player: 2B Chase Utley
Impact Pitcher: LHP Cliff Lee
Top Prospect: LHP Jesse Biddle 

Significant Acquisitions: CF Ben Revere, 3B Michael Young, RF Delmon Young, RHP Mike Adams, LHP John Lannan, RHP Chad Durbin, C Humberto Quintero, OF Ender Inciarte, RHP Aaron Cook, CP Joe Mather

Significant Departures: 3B Placido Polanco, RHP Vance Worley, CP Ty Wigginton, RHP Michael Schwimer, RHP Chad Qualls, RHP Josh Lindblom

“All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.” – Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Despite their complete disdain for analytics, the Philadelphia Phillies string of success over the past ten years or so has been impressive. From 2007-2011, the Phillies won five straight division titles, two National League pennants and a World Series in 2008. Under former successive GMs Pat Gillick and Ed Wade, the Phillies drafted as well as any team in baseball and loaded the roster with high-upside talent like Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Cole Hamels. They also made savvy trades and free agent signings, acquiring the likes of Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino, Cliff Lee, and Roy Halladay.

But over the last few years, that core has crumbled with age and the once invincible Phillies have fallen hard. Current GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has tried to hang on too long and has made a number of questionable moves. There was the Ryan Howard extension, the Jonathan Papelbon contract and of course, the acquisitions of Delmon Young and Michael Young.

Suddenly, the once insuperable Roy Halladay is throwing 87 MPH, the back end of the rotation includes John Lannan, and the lineup features Michael Young as the projected number-three hitter. The idealistic among you might suggest that the inevitable decline is merely a symptom of a decade of sustained success, but the more realistic can look at Amaro and cast some of the blame his way for the state the Phillies currently find themselves.

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Did I miss something? Did they add not one but TWO designated hitter spots to the National League. How did this happen? I write about baseball for my job, you’d think a news flash like this would catch my eye.

But for real, Delmon Young, what? There are no bad one-year deals but there are bad players who don’t have the best reputation in the clubhouse who make a lot of outs, so maybe that tips things away from that old canard?

No matter, the veteran Phillies added two players with zero defensive value for the 2013 season, both of whom failed to post 90 wRC+ in 2012. Big things in Philly, you guys. The Darin Ruf dream must wait to live another day.

You know who is awesome? Cole Hamels. He is really awesome. He is very awesome at pitching baseballs and posing for hilarious photos and getting paid copious sums of money by the Philadelphia Philles.

For all those reasons, the Philadelphia Philles need Cole Hamels to be right as rain if they hope to compete with the Nationals and the Braves for the NL East. When news trickles out that Cole Hamels experienced shoulder soreness at the end of the season and during his winter throwing program, well, people tend to freak out.

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It is a tough go for relievers in this day and age. Well, a tough go in terms of coverage for non-closer relievers who sign contracts in the middle of December while the recently-elected Cy Young winner is being traded. When your name is as nondescript as proud member of the Two First Names club Mike Adams and you agree to a two-year deal worth $12 Million with the Phillies to set-up for Jonathan Papelbon, getting overlooked is to be expected.

Which is a shame, as Mike Adams deserves our full attention. Mike Adams is one of the finest relievers in baseball and he just addressed a serious area of need for the Phillies.

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