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.
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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Postseason baseball has been awesome this year. The play-in game, however unfair a concept, certainly didn’t make the playoffs any less interesting. All four division series went 5 games, Raul Ibanez stole A-Rod’s emergency stash of mojo, the Nats blew a 2-run lead in what could have been the final inning of the NLDS, and Chipper Jones’ last professional baseball game featured this…
But as delightful as the experience has been so far, it is, of course, bittersweet. Our Phillies have been toast since July, and though their late playoff push was encouraging, it ultimately did little to pacify an increasingly irritated fan base. The Eagles are floundering, there’s no hockey, and the Sixers are missing their biggest acquisition. We need some catharsis. I’m here to help.
Some of the problems that led to the Phillies’ 81-81 finish were apparent from the start of spring training. Although nobody could forsee Doc’s malady or Cliff’s poor luck, there were obvious issues at left field, all four infield spots, and in the bullpen. It was Amaro’s job to fill these gaps. Now with 162 games-worth of hindsight at my disposal, I’m going to revisit Amaro’s most important offseason acquisitions and issue his final report card.
There’s a decent chance he’ll get held back a grade.
As much as I adore Philly sports and the majority of our fanbase, I have to admit that our rotten eggs are a terribly annoying bunch. Negadelphians. I usually find it pretty easy to tune out this angry, misinformed, imperceptive bunch but lately the Negadelphian discourse has focused on one player more unjustly than most.
Jimmy Rollins has two narratives in this town. For most people with eyes and brains, he’s seen as the heart of the Phillies. Still great at defense and hitting pretty well despite his advancing age.
To others, Jimmy is a lazy player, whose occasional tendency to
pop out laugh in the dugout jog to 1st base is cancerous to the team and competitive spirit. He should have been replaced in the offseason, or he should have been traded at the deadline. To people who see Rollins like this, I can best respond with the table below.
(MLB shortstops in 2012, min. 400 plate appearances, ranked from highest SLG to lowest).
Rk Player SLG PA Age Tm Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP OPS 1 Ian Desmond .516 494 26 WSN NL 116 467 66 137 31 2 23 68 24 100 2 0 1 15 17 6 .293 .330 .846 2 Derek Jeter .443 670 38 NYY AL 145 621 93 200 30 0 15 55 39 82 5 4 1 21 9 4 .322 .366 .809 3 Jose Reyes .438 666 29 MIA NL 148 598 81 172 35 11 11 56 58 51 0 5 5 10 35 10 .288 .348 .786 4 Jimmy Rollins .437 653 33 PHI NL 146 593 93 150 33 5 22 63 55 91 0 2 3 9 30 5 .253 .315 .752 5 Starlin Castro .427 637 22 CHC NL 149 597 73 169 25 11 13 76 31 94 4 0 5 11 25 13 .283 .320 .747 6 Erick Aybar .421 517 28 LAA AL 131 484 61 143 30 5 7 42 20 54 5 5 2 11 17 4 .295 .329 .750 7 Asdrubal Cabrera .420 574 26 CLE AL 133 517 63 139 31 1 15 59 50 92 5 0 2 15 8 4 .269 .338 .758 8 Zack Cozart .402 560 26 CIN NL 127 523 70 127 32 3 15 32 29 103 3 2 3 10 4 0 .243 .285 .686 9 Jhonny Peralta .399 534 30 DET AL 137 484 53 120 31 3 12 60 45 95 2 1 2 18 1 1 .248 .313 .712 10 J.J. Hardy .394 656 29 BAL AL 145 609 77 144 29 2 21 66 36 97 3 6 2 19 0 0 .236 .282 .676
Jimmy Rollins is one of the 5 best shortstops in all of baseball. Let’s break this down.