There are certain moments in our lives that we can’t forget no matter how hard we try. That holds true for the happiest of moments and for the most somber moments as well. Many of us still remember where we were on April 13th five years ago today.
On that day we were preparing to enjoy a Phillies vs. Nationals tilt that took a backseat to the passing of a legend.
The Phillies, baseball and the world lost one of its greatest voices when Harry Kalas passed away. The legendary Phillies broadcaster was preparing to call a game when he passed out in the broadcast booth. Since that day, Phillies baseball just has not sounded quite the same.
I’ve spent some time following the Phillies this preseason it’s fair to say that they’re in line for a fairytale season. That fairytale unfortunately is Humpty Dumpty. The Phillies are a fragile, bumbling, egg seemingly bound to splatter across the city and truly stink up the joint if you’re a pessimist. If you’re not so perpetually hateful of joy, then they’re a wildcard contender firmly swaying on the fence. Either way, no one is comfortable.
At this point, everyone knows the story. A young team raised through the farm system came together and built a truly great era of Phillies baseball that arguably underachieved with one championship. Now that team is old, overpaid, and not nearly as likely to contend in October.
How unlikely are they to contend? ESPN figures the Phillies to be the second worst team in the entire league placing them ahead of only the Sixers-esque Houston Astros with a projected win total of 66 games. If you’d like to go with Vegas odds, the Phillies are projected in the ballpark of 77 wins for the year. In other words, it’s a good time to check out mytopsportsbooks.com.
However, the point of all this is not to discuss the problems of this year. In fact, I’m not interested in next year all that much either. I don’t care if Humpty Dumpty can stay together, I want a different fantasy–and it won’t be soon before long.
Why? The core issue of the Phillies problem isn’t actually age. It’s sentiment. the Phillies are an organization that has supported their beloved veterans to a fault. They’re the anti-Banner Eagles causing a frustrating, yet admirable quandry.
Therefore, the only way to quash the love-fest is to have it die. In 2016, the World Series era will have died a horrible death. Jimmy Rollins will be gone, as will Cliff Lee (likely opt out), Jonathan Papelbon (expiring contract), and Chase Utley (retirement). The Phillies will be left with nothing but Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, and Ryan Howard (then 38, 33, and 37 respectively) to symbolize a bygone era. Fortunately the Phillies will likely spend the rest
By removing those contracts, the Phillies will have freed up what is $64 million dollars in payroll this season. They’re currently spending $180 million total in 2014. Add in the value that management won’t spend on last ditch effort signings like AJ Burnett ($15 million) and Marlon Byrd ($8 million), they’ll have a ton of money to rebuild with a more stable foundation (and maybe a new GM?).
Also, by virtue of a low likelihood of success, the odds of the organization again hitching their cart to current players is unlikely. They won’t hold the same high-profile cache which leads to over-valuing your own players.
Am I fantasizing here? Yes. But since I can’t push Humpty Dumpty off the wall myself, I’ll dream of a clean slate.
Today is a important day for the Phillies for both long and short-term.
For those of you with the visual strength of a 90 year-old cyclops, the Phillies are playing the 22-36 Brewers today for the chance to be over .500 for the first time all year. Right-hander Tyler Cloyd will take the mound against Wily Peralta and hope to keep the good vibes of this season-high four game winning streak alive.
At this point in the year, it may seem like only a minor achievement in your quest for all of the gamer points in Call of Duty. For the team however, this will continue the trend of excising some nagging demons. Just in these last few games we’ve seen improved production at the plate from Ryan Howard, a spectacular performance from John Mayberry Jr., and a much needed win for Cole Hamels in a tight game.
All of this, paired with an easy June schedule, means that the team needs to capitalize right now if they want to be considered even a remote contender going forward. None of this “I hit the button and he didn’t shoot!” stuff.
With 54 games in the books, the Phillies have officially completed a third of their season. Given that we’ve now hit this milestone, it’s time for a good old-fashioned recap!
Run Differential: -47
Division Standing: Third
Division Record Breakdown:
*Note: 11 wins came from the Marlins and Mets. Even worse, the Phils gave up four wins to the Marlins, who have a total of just 13.
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In what appears to be big news for the Phillies, second baseman Cesar Hernandez has been called up to the big leagues. The temporary promotion comes from the placement on Michael Young on the Bereavement list, which designates that he will miss between three and seven games.
As a result, you would think that the Phillies are taking this opportunity to get a closer look at their future by bringing up one of their best prospects. The 23 year old Hernandez is batting .305/.382/.428 for the year in Lehigh Valley and the Phillies are a team that’s set to light the fuse. So, maybe this would be Hernandez’s chance to get extended reps at second while Chase Utley (a man on the way out) is recovering on the DL. The Phillies are a big ol’ stinker this year anyway.
However, this move is really nothing to get excited about. Here’s why:
“I’m going to play him. It might be hard for him to stay on the team . . . when Utley gets back, but who knows? Things happen in baseball. He might really show us he can play.” – Charlie Manuel
Quite the glowing endorsement from the skipper there. Now, how does Ruben Amaro feel?
“I don’t know how many opportunities he’ll have to play. Hopefully, it gives us a chance to see what he can do. You never know how guys are going to react their first time in the big leagues. But he’s a talented kid.” – Ruben Amaro
Man, thanks for turning a wet blanket into a SARS blanket, Rube. Outside of Domonic Brown putting it together, this is the best peek we can get at the Phillies future and it seems like there’s no expectation for him to perform well at all. It could mean that Young will only take about three games off or that Hernandez will get a start or two, but he isn’t viewed as an experimental day-to-day option yet regardless of how long he stays on the roster.
So, while the move sounds exciting and a few Phillies games will be worth watching this week or so, don’t get your hopes up.
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The Phillies will have their first crack at the reigning NL East champs this weekend as they set up for a three game series in Washington. Though, surprisingly, this is going to be a tighter game than anyone anticipated.
The Nationals are 24-23 with the Phils 23-24, and the Nats have struggled to get offensive production with a collective team average of .225 which is 29th in the majors (aka: fantastic news). So this is a great opportunity for the Phillies to kick a rival while they’re down by stealing a few games and then catch up with the first place Braves. With the Phillies winning seven of their last ten, including two of three over a solid Reds team, it’s certainly possible.
The biggest obstacle will be injuries. Chase Utley will be out with a mild oblique strain, which is unfortunate. His .272 batting average and seven home runs are both second best on the team. The Nats will be without former Phillie Jayson Werth, who is dealing with hamstring issues. He’s currently batting .260 for the year.
Finally, here are the projected pitching match-ups for the series:
FRI: Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 2.82 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmerman (7-2, 1.62 ERA)
SAT: Jonathan Pettibone (3-0, 3.00 ERA) vs Dan Haren (4-5, 5.54 ERA)
SUN: Cole Hamels (1-7, 4.45 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (2-5, 2.66 ERA)
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The last few months have been pretty interesting for the Phills. For months they were considered an afterthought in the wildcard race. They were too banged up and lacking (to say the least) in the bullpen to play the high level of baseball that this city has come to expect over the last few years. Ryan Howard was still recovering from a torn achilles tendon, Chase Utley added another chapter to his ongoing saga of knee troubles, and Carloz Ruiz, arguably the Phillies best player this season, was dealing with plantar fasciitis and had not played for about a month and a half.
When the trade deadline approached it seemed as though even the Phillies had given up on the year. Fan favorite Shane Victorino was traded to the LA Dodgers for prospects and Hunter Pence, the major trade deadline acquisition from last year, was sent to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder Nate Schierholtz and prospects. The Phillies were officially packing it in.
Then things changed.