Midseason Review: Philadelphia Phillies

Remember when the Philadelphia Phillies had one of the best rotations in baseball and won 102 games in 2011?

Reliever Jonathan Papelbon sure does and voiced his displeasure while at Tuesday’s All-Star Game over how far Philadelphia has fallen. He wants out and is not keeping it a secret.

“It’s time to you-know-what or get off the pot,” he said more than once during a 30-minute media session ahead of the All-Star Game. “The Phillies have got to make a decision. You’ve got to go one way or the other.”

Philadelphia actually can only go up because it is at rock bottom, maybe even deeper than that. The Phillies  enter the All-Star break with baseball’s worst record at 29-62, which is 9 1/2 games worse than the next team, the Milwaukee Brewers.

They are on their way to losing at least 100 games for the first time since 1961. They need a 34-37 record after the All-Star break to avoid the 100-loss mark. Breaking the franchise record of 111 losses is more realistic.

The Phillies lost manager Ryne Sandberg, who resigned before he could get fired, and now play on an interim basis under Pete Mackanin. Their general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is hanging on by a thread.

Long-time baseball executive Andy MacPhail was hired at the end of June to work with club president Pete Gillick before MacPhail takes over that position next year.

MacPhail has this mess to sort out: Philadelphia ranks dead last in runs per game, team ERA, starters ERA, batting average against and homers allowed. The Phillies are also tied for third worst in fielding percentage, fourth worst hitting with runners in scoring position. The relievers show no relief, ranked as the No. 22 bullpen in ERA.

With the season lost a long time ago, Philadelphia must hope for its young talent to work hard on improving. Top young prospects from other organizations should arrive by the July 31 trading deadline.

Dealing Papelbon (1.60 ERA and 14 saves) and Cole Hamels (3.63 ERA in 116 2/3 innings) to contenders appears imminent.

The only other established starter this season, right-hander Aaron Harang, is 37. A youth movement in the last 71 games in the season will likely affect his starts.

Graphic via gazettenet

Besides Hamels and Harang, no other regular starter has an ERA less than 6.08. The Phillies’ 2014 first-round pick Aaron Nola, right-hander from LSU, is already at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He appears ready for a call-up with a 3-0 record and 2.43 ERA in five starts.

Philadelphia’s management likes what it sees from dynamic young third baseman Maikel Franco, who is batting. 284 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI. Left fielder Ben Revere, only in his fifth major-league season, appears promising batting .297 with 21 stolen bases.

Revere might actually be trade bait along with Harang, Hamels, Papelbon and veteran Ryan Howard to get some new blood pumping into the organization. The Phillies have the ninth-largest payroll despite their worst record in baseball. Sweeping changes should be expected.

At least Philadelphia plays 16 of its last 25 games at home, which is a necessary help to avoid the 100-loss plateau. The problem is the Phillies probably will be close to that mark by the time those home games come about.


Graphic via www.phillyvoice.com

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