Friday, April 26, 2013

What is wrong with the Phillies?

The Phillies are 9-14 (.391), 4th in the East (7.0 games behind ATL) & 9th in the Wild Card race

The Good News:
  • 139 games to go and the Phillies are a second-half team
  • Roy Halladay
    • First two starts: 7.1 IP, 15.21 ERA & K/9, 1.83 aWHIP*, 7.46 P/PA**
    • Last three starts:  21.0 IP, 1.71 ERA, 0.62 aWHIP, 6.86 K/9, 3.83 P/PA
*aWHIP = (H - HR + BB + HBP) / IP
**P/PA = # pitches thrown / number of batters faced
  • Carlos Ruiz returns on Sunday.
  • Cole Hamels: 11.47-ERA in 10.2 IP in 1st two starts; 2.57 ERA in 21 IP in last three
  • Team ERA minus Team RPG = 1, so lots of the games are close... on average
  • Bastardo & Papelbon: 16.1 IP, 1.68 ERA, 0.56 aWHIP, 0.81 K/IP
  • The Phillies are the best in the MLB in pinch-hits.
  • M. Young just ended a 12-game hitting streak and is not a defensive liability at 3B (yet).
  • Utley is healthy and hitting well.
  • Kendrick has put together a lot of quality starts.
The Bad News:
  • The Phillies must not dig themselves into too deep a hole: four below .500 come All-Star Break is the limit; they're five below .500 right now
  • Cliff Lee is starting to struggle, blowing a lead yesterday and allowed 5 R on 7 H & 3 BB against the Cards
  • The bullpen, except Bastardo & Papelbon, is under-performing
    • Durbin has allowed 80% of his inherited runners to score
    • It has a 7.32-8th-inning-ERA with five of the players having allowed at least two runs
  • The team cannot walk, but can get on-base through hits
    • Is Charlie Manuel's philosophy detrimental to the team here? As a whole? Will Sandberg fix it? Where have Joyner & Henderson been? What t** h*** have they been doing?
  • Hitting with RISP is a big problem
  • Utley's fielding has been abnormally abysmal.
  • Howard has only two HRs this year, but he's never had a hot April, at least in the last few years.
  • Catchers are struggling to hit, but are ok with the glove
  • Brown hasn't brought much of his spring success into the reg. season
The Minor Leagues:
  • Shout-out to AA Prospect (and 2010 1st round pick) Jesse Biddle for his 16-K, 7-inning performance in which he retired the 1st 19 batters faced & hit two doubles and scored a run
    • He struck out 14 on 73 pitches in the first six innings!!!
    • His performance with the bat looked like the 2011 version of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee
    • Bold Prediction: he'll get a mid-season promotion to AAA come July 1. He already skipped Low-A ball in Lakewood, going right to High-A ball in Clearwater last year.
  • Pettibone earned another start for the Phillies after a nice debut.
  • Hot in AAA: 
    • 3B Cody Asche: near-.300 AVG
    • RHR De Fratus & LHR Savery: 19.2 IP, 0.94 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 1.09 K/ IP between them
    • SP Adam Morgan: 24.2 IP, 2.55 ERA, 1.04 aWHIP, 5.98 K/9
The Answer:

Could Sandberg be the answer? Right now, the answer is no. There are plenty of games to go for this typically second-half team. Obviously, the Phillies don't play ALL nine innings. I think the team's biggest problem is hitting: team OBP & team AVG with RISP. Don't be too aggressive... wait for your pitch & know your opposing pitchers' tendencies well (a.k.a. scouting)! A next biggest problem is the relief core, which is not much smaller than the hitting problems, especially because the 'pen has improved slightly because the starters' longevity increased.

However, this can be solved with a roster make-over:
  1. D. Young (ankle) and Chooch (suspension) are close to returning
    • Carrera will almost certainly be placed on waivers when D. Young returns
    • Quintero is doing better than Kratz, but given Kratz's $400k contract and age & experience, he will likely stay on the active roster when Chooch returns
  2. Some of the relievers must soon be send down: De Fratus & Savery are doing well in AAA while Aumont & Durbin struggle here in Philadephia
I don't think trading for prospects (or giving Roy Oswalt a job) is the way to go here -YET. But come mid-July, we must do something if the team is still struggling.

The Line-Up:
  1. Please continue to split up lefties Utley and Howard, especially against a left-handed starter.
  2. Put more righties into the line-up if possible (Mayberry is doing pretty well right now, getting Chooch back will help)
  3. Have Revere hit 8th with Chooch 5th and Kratz/ Quintero 7th
  4. Find another lead-off candidate besides Rollins and Revere... put J-Roll 3rd or 6th in the line-up sometimes. Could Laynce Nix be that candidate?

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