Greetings From Clearwater – Midseason Meaningless Hardware Edition

Originally written by Bradley Ankrom.

It hasn’t been the most encouraging half-season of baseball down on the Phillies farm. There have been a couple of bright spots, notably the play of Cesar Hernandez, Jesse Biddle, and Lisalberto Bonilla, but plenty of disappointment. Let’s take a look around the farm and hand out some meaningless virtual hardware.

HITTER

PA

AVG/OBP/SLG

HR

SO%

BB%

SB

SB%

BIP

ALTHERR, A

21

LWD

LF

274

.234/.296/.367

4

20%

7%

20

80%

.283

ALVAREZ, M

22

CLR

LF

77

.184/.195/.197

0

34%

1%

2

67%

.280

ASCHE, C

22

CLR

3B

258

.346/.376/.449

2

13%

5%

9

82%

.390

BARNES, J

25

CLR

DH

62

.145/.226/.164

0

31%

10%

0

.216

BARNES, J

25

REA

DH

56

.208/.286/.229

0

16%

9%

0

.250

CASTRO, L

23

REA

RF

231

.288/.320/.442

4

16%

3%

4

44%

.328

COLLIER, Z

21

CLR

CF

67

.367/.403/.517

1

12%

6%

2

100%

.396

DUGAN, K

21

LWD

1B

195

.253/.344/.447

6

24%

9%

3

100%

.311

DURAN, E

21

CLR

SS

209

.258/.297/.340

1

15%

4%

4

40%

.302

ELDEMIRE, G

23

LWD

RF

227

.210/.344/.293

1

22%

15%

18

82%

.282

FRANCO, M

19

LWD

3B

260

.207/.269/.338

6

15%

7%

1

50%

.223

GALVIS, F

22

PHI

2B

200

.226/.250/.363

3

14%

4%

0

.253

GILLIES, T

23

REA

CF

192

.280/.349/.423

2

16%

6%

7

64%

.328

GONZALEZ, G

21

LWD

2B

126

.181/.230/.181

0

19%

6%

5

100%

.228

GONZALEZ, G

21

PHL

2B

3

.000/.000/.000

0

67%

0%

0

GREENE, T

19

WPT

2B

4

.333/.500/1.000

0

25%

25%

0

.500

GREENE, T

19

LWD

SS

89

.147/.270/.267

1

42%

15%

2

100%

.263

GREENE, L

19

WPT

LF

4

.000/.000/.000

0

50%

0%

0

HERNANDEZ, C

22

REA

2B

273

.316/.341/.444

1

14%

5%

12

52%

.364

HEWITT, A

23

CLR

RF

201

.249/.303/.432

8

30%

5%

6

60%

.322

HUDSON, K

21

LWD

CF

206

.202/.262/.271

1

31%

4%

22

81%

.296

JAMES, J

23

REA

CF

227

.252/.286/.408

6

27%

5%

5

45%

.319

MARTINEZ, H

22

LWD

1B

182

.262/.330/.341

0

18%

8%

1

100%

.323

MOORE, L

21

LWD

C

116

.177/.319/.271

1

25%

14%

0

0%

.242

OVERBECK, C

26

LEH

1B

252

.255/.298/.413

6

20%

6%

0

.300

PERDOMO, C

22

LWD

2B

152

.206/.276/.279

1

8%

7%

6

67%

.218

POINTER, B

20

LWD

LF

209

.222/.321/.417

7

31%

11%

7

78%

.300

POINTER, B

20

WPT

RF

4

.000/.250/.000

0

25%

25%

1

100%

QUINN, R

19

WPT

SS

5

.250/.400/.250

0

20%

20%

0

.333

RUF, D

25

REA

1B

272

.329/.393/.547

11

17%

9%

2

100%

.361

RUPP, C

23

CLR

C

185

.220/.281/.333

4

19%

8%

0

.256

VALLE, S

21

REA

C

213

.259/.277/.413

7

26%

3%

0

0%

.312

WALDING, M

19

WPT

3B

4

.250/.250/.250

0

50%

0%

0

0.5

 

PITCHER

W-L-S

G

IP

FIP

WHIP

SO/BB

SO9

BB9

H9

HR9

AUMONT, P

23

LEH

1-0-8

18

18.0

4.04

1.78

1.53

13.5

8.5

7.5

0.5

BIDDLE, J

20

CLR

3-3-0

12

60.3

2.92

1.24

3.33

10.4

3.1

8.1

0.4

BIRMINGHAM, J

23

LWD

0-0-0

9

7.7

7.77

2.35

0.56

8.2

11.7

9.4

0.0

BONILLA, L

22

REA

2-1-1

14

22.3

2.20

1.12

3.44

12.5

3.6

6.4

0.4

BONILLA, L

22

CLR

1-1-1

10

13.3

1.60

0.98

4.50

12.1

2.7

6.1

0.0

BUCHANAN, D

23

REA

3-5-0

12

72.3

4.41

1.33

1.74

5.0

2.9

9.1

0.9

CLOYD, T

25

LEH

7-1-0

10

64.7

3.57

0.91

2.92

6.4

1.8

6.4

0.7

CLOYED, T

25

REA

3-0-0

4

25.0

2.45

1.00

6.67

7.2

1.1

7.9

0.4

COLVIN, B

21

CLR

3-4-0

16

63.7

4.78

1.65

1.36

7.5

5.5

9.3

0.7

DE FRATUS, J

24

CLR

0-0-0

1

1.0

3.40

1.00

0.0

0.0

9.0

0.0

DIEKMAN, J

25

PHI

1-0-0

13

10.7

2.66

1.78

2.29

13.5

5.9

10.1

0.0

DIEKMAN J

25

LEH

1-0-5

13

15.3

0.96

1.04

7.33

12.9

1.8

7.6

0.0

DUKE, R

23

LWD

0-2-3

9

9.7

3.39

1.45

4.00

11.2

2.8

10.2

0.9

DUKE, R

23

CLR

0-1-0

13

21.0

2.21

1.10

4.67

12.0

2.6

7.3

0.4

GAILEY, F

26

REA

2-2-0

15

13.3

4.48

1.88

2.33

9.4

4.1

12.8

1.4

GAILEY, F

26

CLR

0-0-0

4

3.3

2.20

2.70

2.50

13.5

5.4

18.9

0.0

GARNER, P

23

CLR

3-3-0

12

62.3

4.56

1.62

1.15

6.5

5.6

9.0

0.4

HOLLANDS, M

23

LWD

0-1-0

9

21.7

3.23

1.48

3.00

8.7

2.9

10.4

0.4

HOLLANDS, M

23

CLR

3-0-0

3

16.0

2.84

0.69

14.00

7.9

0.6

5.6

0.6

HYATT, A

26

REA

1-0-0

3

17.0

4.70

1.29

2.11

10.1

4.8

6.9

1.6

HYATT, A

26

LEH

2-6-0

10

51.0

5.46

1.57

1.43

5.8

4.1

10.1

1.6

JOHNSON, J

22

PHL

0-0-0

1

1.0

2.41

1.00

27.0

0.0

9.0

0.0

JOHNSON, J

22

REA

0-0-0

6

5.3

1.37

1.31

11.8

1.7

10.1

0.0

KNIGGE, T

23

CLR

3-1-5

25

34.0

2.67

0.97

2.64

7.7

2.9

5.8

0.0

MANZANILLO, E

20

LWD

0-5-0

11

49.3

4.57

1.91

1.42

6.8

4.7

12.4

0.4

MARTINEZ, L

20

LWD

3-4-0

12

58.3

6.25

1.65

0.83

4.6

5.6

9.3

1.2

MAY, T

22

REA

6-4-0

13

69.7

3.87

1.31

2.70

9.4

3.5

8.3

1.0

MORGADO, B

23

LWD

2-0-0

8

15.3

4.18

1.57

2.33

8.8

4.1

10.0

0.6

MORGADO, B

23

CLR

0-0-0

3

7.3

4.08

0.95

3.50

8.6

2.5

6.1

1.2

MORGAN, A

22

CLR

2-6-0

12

68.0

3.00

1.19

4.00

10.1

2.5

8.2

0.7

MURRAY, C

22

LWD

1-3-4

20

30.7

3.95

1.60

1.92

7.3

3.8

10.6

0.3

NESSETH, M

24

LWD

5-1-2

16

41.3

4.37

1.31

1.22

6.1

5.0

6.8

0.2

PETTIBONE, J

21

REA

6-5-0

14

86.7

3.45

1.34

2.43

5.8

2.4

9.7

0.5

RAMIREZ, J.C.

23

REA

0-2-3

16

27.3

4.81

1.24

1.29

5.9

4.6

6.6

1.0

RAMIREZ, J.C.

23

LEH

0-0-0

4

5.0

1.04

0.80

8.00

14.4

1.8

5.4

0.0

RODRIGUEZ, J

21

REA

4-1-0

13

73.7

3.52

1.26

2.16

8.7

4.2

7.2

0.4

ROSENBERG, B.J.

26

LEH

1-0-0

12

22.3

2.64

1.21

4.67

11.3

2.4

8.5

0.8

ROSENBERG, B.J.

26

PHI

0-1-0

2

1.7

9.13

2.40

3.00

16.2

5.4

16.2

5.4

ROSENBERG, B.J.

26

REA

1-0-3

5

8.0

3.18

0.88

9.00

11.2

2.2

5.6

1.1

SAVERY, J

26

PHI

0-2-0

16

20.3

4.66

1.28

2.60

5.8

2.2

9.3

1.3

SAVERY, J

26

LEH

0-0-2

4

5.7

3.75

0.88

6.00

9.5

1.6

6.4

1.6

SCHWIMER, M

26

LEH

2-1-6

15

18.3

3.48

1.20

4.50

9.3

2.5

8.3

1.0

SCHWIMER, M

26

PHI

0-1-0

12

13.3

4.56

1.35

1.12

6.1

5.4

6.8

0.7

SHREVE, C

24

REA

0-1-1

5

5.7

4.64

2.12

0.60

4.8

7.9

11.1

0.0

SHREVE, C

24

CLR

1-1-2

13

20.0

4.35

1.15

3.17

8.6

2.7

7.7

1.4

SHREVE, C

24

LWD

2-1-0

6

15.0

4.60

1.27

2.29

9.6

4.2

7.2

1.2

SOSA, J

22

CLR

3-3-3

26

33.0

3.49

1.36

3.60

9.8

2.7

9.5

0.8

STEWART, E

21

LWD

3-6-0

14

69.3

4.55

1.31

1.20

6.2

5.2

6.6

0.4

WRIGHT, A

22

CLR

6-1-0

13

69.0

3.55

1.41

2.23

8.7

3.9

8.7

0.4

First-Half Player of the Year: Cesar Hernandez has swung one of the most consistent bats in the organization over the season’s first two months, and has already established a new career high in doubles and is sitting one triple shy of his career-best. Hernandez has plus speed but isn’t a burner, and could use some work on his base stealing technique after being thrown out in 48 percent of his stolen base attempts this year. He’s had three or more hits in five games this year, including four- and five-hit efforts on May 4 and April 17, respectively. Scouts aren’t totally sold on the pop in Hernandez’s bat, and while most believe he’ll be a big leaguer, few expect him to develop into a first-division regular.

First-Half Pitcher of the Year: Jesse Biddle was a mess at the start of the season, with an ERA approaching eight after his first three starts. Since April 26, however, he’s gone 3-1 with a 1.84 in nine starts, including eight-consecutive outings where he allowed two runs or fewer and a stretch of six-straight quality starts. His command has wavered at times, but on the whole he’s lowered his walk rate while increasing his strikeouts. He still has a few things to work on – holding runners, gaining consistency with his fastball command, etc. – and should spend all year in Clearwater.

First-Half Breakout: Despite struggling in his professional debut last summer, the Phillies dispatched third baseman Cody Asche to Clearwater for his first full season. Last year’s fourth-round pick out of Nebraska, Asche has ranked among the Florida State League’s leaders in batting average for most of the year, and currently owns a .346/.376/.449 line. He hasn’t displayed much power this year, but some scouts believe he could eventually hit 8-10 home runs annually. That will play in the majors if he’s able to stick at third base, which isn’t a guarantee. If he has to move across the diamond, his future becomes much less interesting.

Other First-Half Storylines:

At the end of April, the Lakewood outfield of Aaron Altherr, Gauntlett Eldemire, and Brian Pointer was hitting .286/.389/.533; since then they’ve combined to go .185/.284/.378, and Pointer was demoted to short-season Williamsport earlier this week. Of the three, scouts are least bullish on Pointer, whose diminutive size and lack of athleticism are stark contrasts to Altherr and Eldemire. Altherr’s combination of age and tools makes him the best prospect, and he’s shown some signs of life with the bat in recent weeks. Eldemire has patience and speed, but more than half of his times on base have come via a walk or hit-by-pitch.

Tyler Cloyd threw a no-hitter in his season debut at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but was forced back to Double-A when the IronPigs rotation became overcrowded. He went 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts for Reading before being recalled to Triple-A in early-May. For the year, Cloyd has run up an impressive 10-1 record to go along with a 2.21 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, though his success has done little to change scouts’ opinion of him. Cloyd succeeds with ordinary stuff by getting ahead of hitters with a heavy sinking fastball and relying on his defense to get outs behind him. His luck this year has made him more confident and, in turn, more aggressive. There’s a chance he makes it as a big-league middle reliever, but he has little chance of starting for a competitive ball club.

Phillies top prospect Trevor May got off to a strong start at Reading, carrying a perfect 5-0 record and 2.40 ERA into May, but the wheels fell off in the season’s second month. He’s looked better in his last two starts, striking out 15 batters while walking three over 11 1/3 innings. May’s slider is his fourth-best pitch, and he tends to lose his mechanics when he messes around with it, which could be the root of his May struggles. He’s expected to spend the second half in Reading, but a September call-up to Philadelphia isn’t out of the question.

 

Did the Phillies Collapse?

When referring to sports teams, the word “collapse” is usually brought out when a team has a lead in its division very late in the season, but inexplicably defies the odds to miss the post-season. The Phillies have been a part of a few over the years, some good and some bad. Most recently, the Phillies were the beneficiaries of the Mets’ late-season woes. In 2008, the Mets had a 3.5-game lead in the division with 17 games to go, but went 7-10 while the Phillies won 13 of their final 17 games to seal the deal. The previous year was very similar, but the Mets squandered an even bigger division lead. With 17 games left, the Mets had a seven-game cushion in the NL East, but finished out the schedule 5-12 while the Phillies went 13-4, clinching on the last day of the season.

The most famous collapse in Phillies history, though, came in 1964. Gene Mauch’s squad had a 6.5-game lead with 17 games remaining and their manager could see the finish line in sight. Mauch leaned on his two aces Jim Bunning and Chris Short on short rest to seal the deal, but it turned out to be the wrong strategy. Bunning never had more than three days rest in the month of September while posting a 4.06 ERA, including a 7.36 ERA in the five starts during the collapse. Short also never had more than three days of rest in September despite posting a 3.00 ERA in the month. However, he posted a 4.40 ERA in his final five starts to close out the year. The Phillies went 4-13, including ten consecutive losses, to close out the season, squandering their near-certain playoff berth to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Timing is important in the storyline, of course. Teams have lost 13 of 17 before, but few of them timed them perfectly with the end of a season while desperately holding on to first place. It makes for a very intriguing story, one that will be passed down from generation to generation. Another part of baseball’s narrative machine is the saying, “you can’t win the division in April, but you can lose it.” Obviously, that’s true of any month, really. For example, the Phillies’ 17-8 record in September 2008 certainly helped, but it would have been nice in April or May as well.

This year’s iteration of the Phillies have lost 12 of 16 games in June, falling from 2.5 games out of first place to nine games. Because it happened in June and not at the end of September, this can’t be described as a “collapse”. However, this recent nightmare makes it likely that the Phillies will not be in a position to collapse in September. They may even return from the All-Star break as sellers, saying goodbye to franchise stalwarts like Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, and Joe Blanton. Under these unique circumstances, can we refer to the recent stretch of games as a collapse? Given how much further down in the division the Phillies sunk and how poorly the Phillies have played on both sides of the ball, so to speak, it’s debatable.

I compared the final 17 games of 1964 and the most recent 17 games to get a feel for how both teams fared. I also compared their performances to the league average. Below, you’ll see hitting and pitching stats. In the “scale” rows, 100 is average; below 100 is below-average and above 100 is above-average. Remember that higher is worse for ERA, walks, and home runs.

AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO
1964 PHI .233 .296 .350 .646 .117
1964 NL AVG .254 .311 .374 .685 .120
Scale 92 95 94 94 98
2012 PHI .256 .314 .403 .717 .147
2012 NL AVG .252 .318 .398 .716 .146
Scale 102 99 101 100 101

The 2012 Phillies have hit ever so slightly better than the league in most categories while the 1964 Phillies were significantly below the league average.

ERA K/9 BB/9 K/BB HR/9
1964 PHI 4.14 5.4 2.3 2.36 0.64
1964 NL AVG 3.54 5.7 2.7 2.11 0.8
Scale 117 95 85 112 80
2012 PHI 4.73 8.9 2.6 3.43 1.07
2012 NL AVG 3.93 7.7 3.2 2.43 0.9
Scale 120 116 81 141 119

The Phillies’ pitching has been worse despite better components, and they have had problems all over. Vance Worley is the only starter with an ERA below 4.50 since June 2. In the bullpen, everyone not named Jonathan Papelbon or Antonio Bastardo has had trouble recording outs as well.

Although the 2012 Phillies haven’t performed as badly as the 1964 Phillies at the end of the season and it may not be colloquially referred to as a collapse, their 4-12 run will be the stake in the Phillies’ heart if they indeed approach the July 31 trading deadline as sellers. It is certainly not how the Phillies saw the 2012 season unfolding, even with the first-half absences of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. As Matt Mullin tweeted to me recently, the Phillies are proving Murphy’s Law with the ever-increasing adversity standing between them and defending their five-year run atop the NL East.