The Phillies have had an interesting season. After winning the NL East five years in a row, including two seasons with World Series berths and one championship, they are 46-57 and currently last place in the division. Although many felt the team could no longer perform and big changes needed to be made at the deadline, the Phils might have overreacted.
They had increased their win total in each of the past five seasons, and the team's 102 last season were the most in franchise history. This season has been disappointing, but if one acknowledges all of the setbacks, the Phillies were in decent shape before they broke up their core.
When a team is without their third and fourth hitters for most of the season, it is reasonable to believe the offense will struggle. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have been out, and the team clearly missed them. Utley has finished top-15 in MVP voting for 6 of the last 7 seasons and was a huge part of Philadelphia's offense. The 5-time All-Star has hit 5 home runs and 14 RBIs since returning in late June and is showing Philadelphia he can still perform.
When a team is without their third and fourth hitters for most of the season, it is reasonable to believe the offense will struggle.
Howard, a former Rookie of the Year and NL MVP, was an even bigger loss. Since 2006, he has had four seasons with over 45 home runs and six with over 30. His power hitting ignited the Phillies' offense and consistently brought in over 100 RBIs each season. It's not easy compensating for that sort of run production. He returned in early July and has been slowly regaining his form.
Aside from losing two All-Star sluggers, they also lost their ace. On May 28th, Roy Halladay was placed on the DL with a sore right shoulder. He ended up missing nearly 8 weeks and just recently returned to the lineup. The right-hander was not only the anchor of the rotation, but also a leader. His teammate, Juan Pierre, claimed "everybody looks to him (for leadership)" and asserted that "Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are both tremendous guys, but Roy's the anchor." He has been an All-Star in the past four seasons, and finished top-five in Cy Young voting for the past six (winning it in 2010).
The Phillies lost three of their most valuable players for an extended period of time and were still able to manage. When put into perspective, 11 games under .500 without your second, third, and fourth highest players is not bad at all. Although some contracts were monetary disasters, the team had enough money to pay them and could have focused on working towards next season. Instead, they made some trades.
The trade of Hunter Pence will probably have the biggest impact. In the absence of Utley and Howard, Pence was an offensive leader. The 29-year-old is having a down year, batting .271 with 17 home runs and 59 RBIs. When a “bad” season consists of those numbers, it's a pretty good sign. Although Howard is the team's run producer, his average has slipped and he does not get on base as much as he used to. Pence filled that void, boasting a career batting average of .290 and on-base percentage of .342.
Instead of holding on to their top hitter, he was traded for a group of prospects, highlighted by catcher Tommy Joseph. Although potentially a valuable prospect, Joseph will not be ready for a few years and will have no impact next season. The trade is a huge blow to the team's offense and will certainly harm them next year. They will save anywhere between $14-15 million in payroll, but the market for outfielders is very thin (Josh Hamilton isn’t going anywhere).
The trade of Shane Victorino is the only reason for hope. He was likely going to be gone as a free agent next season anyway, and the Phillies obtained two solid pitchers in return. The bullpen currently ranks 27th in the MLB in ERA, so any help is good.
Bottom line: the Phillies may have overreacted. When you have so much success with a healthy team, then struggle without your top three players, there seems to be a direct correlation. Utley, Howard, and Halladay have all returned, but without Pence and Victorino the offense won’t be the same. With additional salary space, the Phillies need to make big moves this winter to save their hopes of contending again in 2013.
Fan Hub Action
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
Scott Cohen May 1st
but it shouldn’t require guts. .like you said it’s nobody’s business but his own
Hisham Zameeth April 30th
best player ever…..
Kareem Musa Mayowa April 29th
We don’t need to be hopeless about the situation bryant his. Because even david villa situation also up to the level of his own to…
Maritess Lim April 28th
I still believe in KOBE’s power…… He is still the best…… He will make it possible no matter what……
mimi_aragon84 April 28th
I feel no pity for him. First of all, it is EAGLE, COLORADO, not Eagleton, secondly he enjoyed success and adulation from fans from 2003…
May 16th, 2013 12:13 PM
May 14th, 2013 1:28 AM
May 16th, 2013 9:45 AM
ALL TIME FAVES
April 16th, 2013 12:15 PM
April 9th, 2013 11:57 AM
March 1st, 2013 8:37 AM