What We Learned About the Phillies in the First Half

Well, that could’ve been a whole lot worse. The Phillies hit the All-Star Break with a 42-48 record which places them ninth in the National League. The NL has been criticized since before the start of the season for a lack of parity. With very few exceptions, it was clear before the season began who would be contenders and who would be engaged in battles for last place. The only NL teams with a better record than the Phillies right now are the eight considered clear “contenders” entering the season. In a league of “haves” and “have-nots”, the Phillies are the winningest “have-not”.

However, there’s a difference between being a surprisingly good team and having a surprisingly good record and the Phillies decidedly fall into the latter distinction. After all, they still have the third worst run differential in the majors. But the biggest storyline for the Phillies isn’t their surprising proximity to a winning record. The most important thing for the team is still their future outlook and 2016 has gone about as well as could be hoped for through that lens.

They’ve seen breakouts and strong performances by young players at the major league level. Upper level prospects who have seen their stocks rise or hold steady include Jake Thompson, J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens, and Rhys Hoskins. There have been a few unexpectedly fun surprises as well including Hector Neris, Jeanmar Gomez, Cameron Rupp and, the out of nowhere, Tommy Joseph.

Of course, it hasn’t all been good. When dealing with a large enough quantity of baseball players, injury setbacks are inevitable and, naturally, they’ve come for a handful of Phillies prospets including Mark Appel, Roman Quinn, and Jimmy Cordero. Nola’s recent struggles have been unsettling, even if the overall prognosis remains positive. Maikel Franco hasn’t quite put together the breakout sophomore campaign many hoped he would. And, maybe it’s just me, but there’s a constant feeling that a catastrophic injury to Vincent Velasquez is just around the corner.

With a mix of the good and the bad, here are my top five takeaways from the first half:

5. Placeholders aren’t fun to watch.

Speaking as a biased observer who has watched the team regularly during the decline over the past five seasons, one of the most exciting things about the 2016 version of the Phillies is that they’re interesting. On any given night, there are a handful of guys on the field who could easily be key contributors in the Phillies next postseason performance. It’s a massively welcome departure from bad Phillies teams of recent years which consisted of players who were clearly not a part of the Phillies future.

Unfortunately, the formation of a new core is still an evolving process which means there’s more than a little roster filler still remaining on the team. There’s a very real sense each night that every starting position player not named Herrera or Franco is simply bridging the gap to the arrival of the next key members of future Phillies teams to arrive. It’s easy to know intellectually that patience is a virtue when it comes to player development, but after years of watching roster filler it’s hard not to get antsy for the future to continue arriving. With the potential upcoming arrivals/returns of Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford, and Jake Thompson, it’s getting easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel where it will no longer be necessary to manufacture emotional investment in roster placeholders.

4. Maikel Franco is streaky

Franco hasn’t yet emerged as a consistent middle-of-the-order presence to help anchor a lineup. With his tremendous power and contact ability, all the potential is there, but he’s been unable to exhibit the plate discipline necessary to capitalize on his talent. He is the kind of player I like the most in that he’s a player who has demonstrated again and again an ability to adjust to his level of competition. To me, that’s the key to being a productive ball player — can you adjust to your opponent? And until Franco shows he’s run out of adjustments, his track record provides reason for optimism. Franco has been streaky this year. That doesn’t mean he’ll always be streaky, but it does mean that right now his rolling-wRC+ chart looks like this:

Franco rolling wRC+

Those are tremendous peaks and valleys. At the risk of stating the obvious, for Franco to take the next step forward, he’s going to need to find a way to produce more consistently at the plate.

3. Bullpens are unpredictable

Entering the season, the Phillies bullpen was a terrifying unknown. After the departure of key bullpen pieces Ken Giles, Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Diekman, and Justin De Fratus last season, the Phillies declined to bring in established talent to take over those roles. Their biggest addition was a league average reliever in David Hernandez. Beyond that, their spring training bullpen was a collection of oft-injured veterans on minor league deals and an uninspiring collection of AAAA arms. It was a plan that could have backfired horrifically, but in the end, the Phillies found a bullpen mix which has gotten them through the first half.

Don’t misunderstand, the Phillies bullpen hasn’t been great. In fact, their team bullpen ERA of 4.39 ranks 21st among all major league teams. But Jeanmar Gomez has emerged as a surprisingly effective closer with a sub-3.00 ERA and a profile that can perhaps best be described a closer’s version of a junkballer. Yes, Gomez has a mid-90s fastball, but nothing about his repertoire exhibits the type of dominance we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from closers. However, he’s found a way to make it work exceptionally well through movement on his pitches and stellar command of the zone. Additionally, Hector Neris has emerged as a tremendous (if still occasionally inconsistent) setup man thanks to his filthy splitter.

The rest of the bullpen has been largely mediocre, if with occasional flashes of brilliance. Andrew Bailey has had moments where he resembled the dominant reliever he once was. Edubray Ramos has been stellar in his brief stint with the big club. And Severino Gonzalez, who was an unmitigated disaster as a starting pitcher a year ago, has reemerged as a reliever with potential value.

Some things in baseball are predictable. Bullpens aren’t one of those things.

2. Odubel Herrera is Good

This needs little explanation. The Phillies lone all-star representative has taken tremendous steps forward this season at the plate. His home run power is up and his plate discipline is improved. He now has a career 113 wRC+ a season and a half into his major league career and if he can find a way to capitalize on his speed both on the bases and in the field, he has all the makings of a solid regular for years to come.

1. The Phillies young rotation has tremendous potential

Odubel Herrera is one potentially solid regular, but the Phillies young rotation currently features four pitchers all of whom could be taking the ball every fifth day for a long time. None of them are sure things — though Nola sure has looked like one at times. In fact, chances are extraordinarily slim that Nola, Eickhoff, Velasquez, and Eflin will all stick in the Phillies rotation for years. Injuries will come. Bullpen demotions will happen. Trades and free agent signings will occur. But right now, the Phillies have a young rotation that has put up results and it’s been fantastic to watch.

Were it not for the surprising production out of their rotation, the Phillies would likely be battling the Braves for last place. Instead their rotation has the sixth highest K% (22.1%) in the majors. Their run prevention has struggled at times and their 4.33 ERA ranks just 13th in the league, but all ERA indicators reflect strong underlying peripheral stats [FIP – 3.99, xFIP – 3.86, SIERA – 3.93].

Although the Phillies future lineup is still taking time to develop and emerge, there is reason for optimism that the rotation could be a true strength for the Phillies soon, if it isn’t already.

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  1. Romus

    July 12, 2016 08:38 AM

    Maikel Franco’s Rolling +wRC graph looks like my last EKG.

  2. phil krajewski

    July 12, 2016 09:45 AM

    Corrine, I share your optimism, analysis, and excitement about this group of players and feel that the future could be both bright and arrive more quickly then anticipated. While your article concentrates on individual achievement and some small parts (rotation and bullpen) of the whole, there is that more gray nebulous abstract area that would also have to evolve to help solidify these guys into a team capable of being able to take a punch, recover quickly, and have a short memory when it comes to defeat. It is somewhat of an enigma to me how to build chemistry and confidence but I suspect that it would evolve as certain players exhibit a steady leadership quality spiced with an even temperament and the occasional tantrum while using one another as daily examples on how to rise to the occasion and quietly get the job done. Quiet support in down times and holding up the clutch performance as the ultimate rite of excellence…….and the list would go on and on. It will be interesting to see who the next Dave Cash/Tug McGraw/Jimmy Rollins/Lenny Dykstra will be. I enthusiastically look forward to seeing how this will all play out.

    • Romus

      July 12, 2016 10:33 AM

      philk., very well put.
      “…..who the next Dave Cash/Tug McGraw/Jimmy Rollins/Lenny Dykstra will be…..”
      I envision the Phillies looking to JPC as the bus driver for the team and its future, along the lines as Jeter was for the Yankees from ’96 thru a few years ago. And possibly Williams as another piece in the leadership mold.
      As ARod was to Jeter on the Yankees , I can see Franco playing that role with JPC at some point with the Phillies.
      Pitching wise….plenty of take charge guys in Nola, VV, Eflin and Thompson eventually

    • Carmine

      July 12, 2016 12:38 PM

      I always felt bad that Dave Cash was gone before the team achieved success in the 1970s.
      And personally, I don’t want another Dykstra.

      • phil krajewski

        July 12, 2016 05:10 PM

        Hi Carmine
        In hindsight I would agree with you on Lenny Dykstra, and his off the field activities while playing left something to be desired, but his energy and ‘I can run through a brick wall’ attitude would be the type of person I would want on my team – and I was glad that he was a member of the Phillies leading the charge. His on the field qualities (with the cockiness and arrogance) had a contagious way of leadership that helped to win a pennant. Sometimes it pays to take the bath water with the baby even if our sensibilities get tweaked. Phil

  3. JustBob

    July 12, 2016 10:39 AM

    This is still a bad team that overachieved in large part due to winning 1-run games and how surprisingly effective Gomez was as a closer. If this team has issues at their closer, they are likely closer to a 35-win team and right among the bottom-feeders in the NL.

    Braves and Padres also spent big time in the international draft his year and the Brewers & Braves both have some really nice trade chips yet at the deadline. The Phils have neither.

    The rotation is the one part of the team you hang some hope on that this might be contending team in 2 years although there isn’t an ace on this team. Nola also has been a mess and has limited upside if he is doesn’t master a third pitch along with the injury factor to Velasquez. Hope these guys continue to pitch as well while they acquire that ace via a trade or possibly free agency.

    • Tim Guenther

      July 12, 2016 02:26 PM

      You’re being swayed by recency bias with Nola, forgetting that he was one of the best pitchers in the league for the first two months of the season. His recent rough patch has been an ugly combination of losing his command and running into some unfortunate batted ball luck. With his history of exceptional command, there’s no reason to think it won’t come back.

      As for a third pitch, Nola’s changeup has a 16% whiff rate and 62% GB rate this year. If that’s not an effective third pitch, then I don’t know what is.

      • JustBob

        July 13, 2016 01:21 AM

        It is looking at his overall record and what he was done so far at the MLB level. You can’t simply throw out the last 5 starts.

        Hopefully it is just a dead arm but if his 2-seamer command and control aren’t spot on he gets hit and gets hit hard.

        As for this team, they have outplayed their record and won a ton of 1-run record games (20-9). In fact, it is the best record in MLB in these games. It has been long demonstrated that there is little inherent skill in winning 1-run games. If their even .500 in those games, their a 35-36 win team. If being a realist gets me a ton of down votes, so be it.

      • Steve

        July 13, 2016 06:29 PM

        Winning close games is equal parts luck and skill. It takes a special quality to be able to perform your best when the pressure is on (close games). Granted there isnt a while of pressure on this team in’16, but some of these guys are learning how to do just enough to win, and how to not make costly mistakes when the game is on the line. If the ’10 and ’11 teams were a little better at this they may have won another WS.

    • Gil

      July 13, 2016 05:06 PM

      Hi Bob,

      I’m a baseball fan, the phillies are my team, I support them no matter what.

      Reality has forced me to accept following many bad phillies teams over the decades, and this season has been a very pleasant surprise so far as the team has won more than a dozen games at this point in the season as they won last season. Furthermore, they have done it on the strength of decent pitching and defense. They were quite fun to watch until this year’s June swoon, and started being more fun again as mid-season approached.

      That is reality my friend. Glass is half full as far as things go with me regarding this team this year so far. What you have presented as reality is more hypothetical because they have won more than 35-36 games. Their actual record is reality even if they have won a bunch of one-run games.

      Sure, they’re not a good team, nor remotely should anyone consider them contenders even if they creep near the wild card in the ebbs and flows of the coming dog days of summer, but they have signed their latest draft picks and spread their international money around on a bunch of young players and added another layer of talent to their already well-stocked system. Looks like things are going according to plan fairly well and my choice is to root for my home team with appreciation for being better than expected.

      They were projected to lose 100 games this season and barring injury with fingers crossed that Nola regains command/confidence, it doesn’t look like they’re going to lose nearly that many. I’m hoping we see a 73 win season – that is the most I figured they could win this year coming into the season. 68-69 might be more realistic, but I feel optimistic that they will hit better in the second half than the first. One can dream after all.

      • BobSmith77

        July 13, 2016 10:04 PM

        It isn’t hypothetical. Gomez has been incredibly effective in 1-run save chances which had been the majority of his saves. That is the main difference in why this team had won that many 1-run games. If he hasn’t stepped up or if they have closer problems, they might be neck and neck with Braves instead.

        I would expect readers of this blog to be objective about it and not used well-worn, hackneyed cliches about their grit and determination.

        As for their international spending, they stil only spent less than 70% if their overall pool and no other team in the Top 3 by pool size had ever spent less than 50% of their international draft pool on July 2 as the Phils did. The Phils simply couldn’t get enough high-profile guys to sign with them including no one from the Dominician Republic or Cuba.

        This team is certainly in a much better position than last year at this time but still has a ways to go before being competitive again let alone a playoff contender that wins 90 games or so.

      • Gil

        July 14, 2016 07:31 PM

        Glass is half full buddy – they have 42 wins – not 35. That is reality.

        “If he hasn’t stepped up or if they have closer problems, they might be neck and neck with Braves instead”

        The above quote is theoretical – not reality – and the reality is that they are not neck and neck with the Braves.

        I expect folks who post on this blog to offer relevant insights instead of insisting that their negativity masquerading as something insightful is relevant. I find your comments boringly typical of a negative mindset that ignores reality when it doesn’t fit one’s opinion.

        The Phillies have played better and produced a better record as a result of being a better team than you seem to think they have been because of what their record might have been if things had played out differently in the season’s first half.

        “Gomez has been incredibly effective in 1-run save chances which had been the majority of his saves.”

        The above quote is based on actual performance. Sure sounds hypothetical to me to suggest that they would have been much worse if they hadn’t won so many one run games. Bottom line, again, is that they won those games and it’s a shame that you feel they don’t count or must be devalued.

        I would hope that readers of this blog, and especially those who post their opinions, would be respectful of each other even when disagreeing. Might want to take an anger management class or maybe have a cool drink and chill out there Bob cause it ain’t cool to insult people in this forum.

        I am not objective – I am a fan and I support my team and my team is the Phillies. I am sorry that you feel an honest statement such as this to be hackneyed cliche when it is, in reality, an honest position statement from a local who has enjoyed following his team this year far more than any year since 2011.

        All I can add about your comments about how they didn’t spend enough money to sign international players is to say that unless you actually know the team’s actual plans and budget you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

        Guess my level of presumption is lower than yours, Bob, but I don’t need the Phillies to win 90 games this year to make me pretty happy. I would be quite pleased to see them hit 70 wins (though I’d prefer 73) if they play the second half with the same grit and determination (ha) that they played with prior to the June swoon and just before the break. Bet you boo at games. I don’t.

  4. Steve

    July 12, 2016 12:52 PM

    Slugging % to Record
    Yr Phils/Opnt +/- W/L W % The Climb(On the Cusp)
    2003 .419/.401 +.018 86-76 .531
    2004 .443/.448 -.005 86-76 .531
    2005 .423/.426 -.003 88-74 .543
    2006 .447/.460 -.013 85-77 .525
    The Peak(Playoff Teams)
    2007 .458/.451 +.007 89-73 .549
    2008 .438/.410 +.028 92-70 .568
    2009 .447/.427 +.020 93-69 .574
    2010 .413/.405 +.008 97-65 .599
    2011 .395/.361 +.034 102-60 .630
    The Descent(Fell out of Contention)
    2012 .400/.407 -.007 81-81 .500
    2013 .384/.415 -.031 73-89 .451
    2014 .363/.387 -.024 73-89 .451
    2015 .382/.445 -.063 63-99 .389
    The Rebuild(Hope each year is >= to the prior)
    2016* .394/.443 -.049 42-48 .467
    The Climb(Playoff Contention)

    *Through all star break

    Ok… so had a little time and felt like analyzing Slugging % to Winning %/Record etc.. Labeled the periods The Climb, The Peak, The Descent, The Rebuild

    This was done to kind of take one offensive area, one that I feel is a important offensive category that imo I don’t see being a strong suit in the rebuild process, at least not yet but hope to see it get better but have my doubts. This Future team to me seems “small”… not that small can’t pack a punch it just doesn’t seem that they are putting enough thought into getting some muscle, maybe they figure when the core is there they’ll buy muscle… idk

    Anyway, you can see from 2003 – 2006 when the Phillies were getting good/were good they were slugging the ball at close to the same clip as their Opponents. From 2007 – 2011 they were slugging the ball above their opponents in every year they made the playoffs. From 2012 – 2015 they slugged the ball well under their opponents.

    So far this year, they are again under their opponents. Now i’m aware it’s rebuild time, guys are young etc., I’m just not convinced the team they are building is going to be a team with much “Slugging” and to me “Slugging” is a damn fine indicator of Offensive prowess. Sure many other factors go into overall team performance, but when Isolated to one metric such as slugging.. you can see the how each team did over the past 13-14 years above. Sure the league changes from year to year, every few years to every few years (interesting how low their opponents slugging was in 2011? 4 Aces.. )

    Looking at both 13 year averages…. Phillies .416… Opponents .418 I have to imagine the future will baseline back to the low .400’s but they will need to get overall stronger to push it up into that .425 range and pitching will need to get better to keep opponents down in that low .405 range.. which to me would equate to getting to that Peak team range again (they averaged .0194 above their opponents from 07-11 when they were a playoff team and themselves averaged .430, this is why i feel that a .425/.405 gets them into that Peak range again… sure it could be say .400/.380 but i don’t see their crop of arms holding opponents down in that .380 range… i think the best that can be hoped for with a nice stable of arms is to keep opponents down to say that .405 range in which case they need to slugg at a rate of at least .415… last time they did that was basically 2010.

    Basically, in summary… I think they need to focus a lot more attention on getting stronger and hitting the ball better then they have been doing… how much time do we give before judging the new guys…. my threshold is somewhere in the 2019 range all star break. If by then the numbers aren’t starting to show an increased slugging % overall as a team I’ll feel that whatever trajectory this rebuild took was not curated to the best of anybody in the organizations ability.. from the players… to the coaches… to the scouts… to the management… and to the owners. I don’t feel there will be a time when their pitching is going to dominate to the point of keeping their opponents to a sub .380 slugging percentage, and I feel if over the next few years whatever they are doing can’t increase slugging as a overall number to that .400 mark that this rebuild is going to take A LOT longer then being advertised. Also, on a positive., i do feel like the chemistry of the team, albeit a bunch of dudes probably not going to be on the next playoff team is very positive and quite infectious and has helped them battle to imo this improbable 42-48 record. With how bad they have hit this year it’s a testament to the back end of the bullpen and some of the grit these guys are playing with to battle in the face of knowing that they aren’t winning anything for some time. They have some ballers who if nothing else are fighting in hopes of staying around for as long as they possibly can in the big leagues… that is just awesome to see in my opinion.. numbers be damned. Fun time to be watching baseball at least again in Philly even if it’s a patchwork makeshift team of fill ins till younger guys get their call ups.

    TLDR and i’m a horrible speller and writer so i’m sure this was littered with errors ZFG!

    • smittyboy

      July 12, 2016 01:44 PM

      Well done on all counts. Thank you !!!

    • Romus

      July 12, 2016 02:57 PM

      When it comes to future slugging….I am hoping the likes of adding JPC, Williams, Cozens, Hoskins and Alfaro/Knapp can raise that bar into the range of somewhere between .440 and .450.
      Pitching, on the other hand, like you allude to, may be a real question mark if it is an ‘ace’ that you would like to have every fifth day on the mound. The overall staff could be a group of very good 2 thru 4s. Whether that is enough to keep the opponents under a .400 slugging percent remains to be seen.

    • Steve

      July 13, 2016 09:39 PM

      Slg % is awesome. Unfortunately it doesnt win you game 5 when Wainwright is on the hill pitching out of his mind. Thats when you need to manufacture a run. That being said, im pretty sure the future RF and LF will hit better than bourjos and goddell. Doobie and Frqnco could develop into your 3 and 4 hitters depending on quinn and JPC. I expect the Phils to buy 1 sp and 1 bat in the next 3 years, depending on how the “core” develops. Good things are comming

  5. JRVJ

    July 12, 2016 02:47 PM

    I beg to differ that Maikel Franco has not put together a breakout sophomore season. He has a BREF OPS+ of 115, which is not too shabby. He also has a BREF oWAR of 1.6, which is also pretty solid.

    What seems to be killing Franco’s overall numbers (at least by BREF) is that his dWAR is -0.6. That has kept his WAR down to 0.9.

    I do realize that he is streaky, but it seems to me that some serious positional analysis needs to be done with Franco, because he seems to be giving away a lot of runs at 3B.

    • Romus

      July 12, 2016 03:06 PM

      Franco’s first 40 games vs his last 43 would on a quick glance, would appear to be night and day when it comes to fielding. The raw metrics indicate improvement. In one stretch he had a 31 game streak of error-less ball.

    • 100Bucks

      July 13, 2016 01:15 PM

      I also give Franco more credit than Corrine does. He is on pace for 30 Homers. That is not a deep statistic, but it is a benchmark that very few Phillies have attained. If he hits 30 in 2016 then he could be hitting 40 homer guy when he hits his prime. That would provide the team with an important part of every great lineup.

  6. Hunter

    July 12, 2016 06:46 PM

    I’m really enjoying not having to hear people constantly b!tch & moan about Ruben Amaro.
    Thank you.

    • Bob

      July 12, 2016 07:37 PM

      He should of taken the Red Sox deal headlined by JBJ.

    • Romus

      July 13, 2016 07:58 AM

      Hunter…funny how things work out in life….Ed Wade was the foundation architect for the last Phillies championship, and Ruben could be the one for the next…just as Sam Hinkie could be the one for the 76ers next.
      However, all canned for their team’s poor performances.
      There must be a moral in that somewhere.

      • Bob

        July 13, 2016 11:16 AM

        Ed Wade made some of the worst trades. Amaro gave out some of the worst contracts and failed to make necessary trades. I can’t believe these guys get credit for anything.

      • Romus

        July 13, 2016 03:10 PM

        Bob…….they were at the helm when certain players from the Rollins/Utley/Howard/Hamels/Madsen era were selected….and when certain trades were made from Dec 2014 thru the Hamels deal of last year.
        Incidentally …granted Schilling and Rolen were bad deals….but also one of the worst trades in Phillie history could be a Pat Gillick blunder with the White Sox involving one, Freddy Garcia.

      • Bob

        July 13, 2016 05:08 PM

        Ed Wade ran the team into the ground through sheer incompetence. He made every wrong move you could possibly make. Ed Wade was not known as even an average scout. To credit him with being an eagle eye of talent is beyond comprehension. His free agent signings were either bad or underperformed. His trades were so bad. And his tenure in Houston was just as bad. He hasn’t been successful at any of his stops.

        Amaro has now buried this team for years through his exorbitant contracts, doubling down on aging vets, trading prospects and ignoring the future. This Phillies’ team is still years away from being respectable. Even after the current hot streak, the Phillies run differential is -87. That’s horrific. The only teams with worse RDs are the Braves and Reds who are both tanking.

      • BobSmith77

        July 13, 2016 10:07 PM

        There are still Amaro defenders out there?

        The reason he took a coaching gig at 1st this year in part is because he as never going to get another front office gig given his public snafus and tenure as a GM here. This franchise basically was at the point of collapse last year when he was fired.

      • Gil

        July 14, 2016 09:31 PM

        How could Ed Wade have run the team into the ground when a number of players he was responsible for signing formed the core of what was arguably their most successful team in franchise history?

        It is supremely unfair to ignore that the team’s current best players at all levels of their system were either drafted by or traded for by Amaro, and extending some fairness doesn’t mean saying that Amaro did a bang up job. He totally deserved to be fired, yet nobody’s accomplishments deserve to be so discounted for their mistakes. Amaro and Wade deserve more than to be written off as losers deserving nothing but scorn. How would the Phillies look without Nola and Eickoff? How would they look without Herrera? Maybe you could be a little more balanced in your assessments.

        I’ve seen a lot of great players in my life, and pound for pound, Chase Utley is right at the top of my personal list of seriously great players. If not for a late start and injuries, he would be a hall of famer. Who signed him? Who signed the team’s all time leader in hits and unquestionably best shortstop in team history? Who signed the guy currently leading the Rangers to the postseason? Nuff said.

        How would you apportion out credit for the Phillies success if Wade and Amaro ran this franchise into the ground? How did they manage to win the WS and reach the postseason for 5 years running? Do they deserve no credit?

        Memories are funny, Bob, and they can be selective or inclusive, for most they are somewhere in between. Do you remember Game six of the 1980 world series? I sure as heck do! Saw Rose catch Boonie’s dropped foul ball and Tugger’s most amazing ever for me final WS moment live, and am filled with gratitude and thankful to have had that experience.

        The fifth game of the ’83 playoffs were pretty amazing as well in the 500 deck at the Vet when everyone shouted “F LA” as the board flashed “Beat LA”. Does anybody care that Al Holland captured magic that year similar to how Gomez has this year? Does it matter today that the team’s front office that followed the Carpenter family actually ran the franchise into the ground? The team wasn’t good for decades once you take out the ’93 squad, but boyoboy 1993 sure was special.

        I have loads of great memories – saw the Phillies crush the Mets on my birthday at the Vet when Von Hayes hit two homers in the first inning, was at the ugly maroon uniform game, was at the game where Schmidt ran out in a long-haired wig. I didn’t ever boo Schmidt (or any of our team’s players maybe with the exception of Randy Lerch when he complained because he was left off the ’80 postseason roster because he was ineffective) and am the guy at the stadium today wearing a Carlton t-shirt because I didn’t have the nerve to buy myself an Eickoff one last winter. Think you’ve inspired me to go buy one sooner than later.

        I’m sure lucky to have seen both eras of the best Phillies teams in franchise history, and that truly memorable ’93 season.

        Anyhow, as you can see, the stinking glass is half full my friend and I wish there was something I might say to help you better enjoy and appreciate this positive-minded way to view the fun successes to which Wade and Amaro contributed instead of continuing to deride them for unsurprisingly failing to be perfect.

      • JustBob

        July 14, 2016 11:41 PM

        Gil I am not sure even sure what your larger point is. Amaro made a few good move early in his tenure and was able to acquire veteran starting pitching which helped the Phils to ensure some extended success through ’11.

        He was a bad overall GM though who deserved to be fired last season though and given what he accomplished here I would be stunned if he ever got another GM role.

      • Gil

        July 15, 2016 01:54 PM

        My points were to clarify the differences between being hypothetical (if this had been then that would have happened) and realistic (the Phillies have won 42 games in the first half) and attempt to illustrate how we are able to make choices on how we view the past and envision the future.

        I am a longtime fan who has seen many great moments in team history and has also endured (like us all) many years of bad teams, and my choice is to acknowledge Wade’s and Amaro’s ups and downs, yet focus more on the positives they accomplished rather than their failings.

  7. Major Malfunction

    July 13, 2016 09:01 AM

    “Their biggest addition was a league average reliever in David Hernandez.”

    Prior to June 13th, he had a 2.37 ERA and was looking to be quite a good pick up. He got crushed at Toronto 3 days later and hasn’t been the same pitcher since.

    In the last 11 games (including Toronto), he has a 10.03 ERA and batters have a 1.123 OPS. His pitching line has been 11.2 IP, 20 hits, 13 ER, 5 BB 4 HR, 12 Ks.

    If he was hurt, you would think he would not be getting Ks at a high rate. He’s in quite a funk right now, although his last 3 appearances have been good. Hopefully he’s turning it around.

    • Romus

      July 13, 2016 10:39 AM

      MajMal…..though his ERA is over 4 right now in over 40 innings….like you posted that Blue Jay game really thru that out of whack, he does have a good whiff ratio….11 K/9 but a rather pedestrian BB/9 ratio of 3. He could be a good setup man for a contender down the stretch.

  8. joe goldberg

    July 13, 2016 10:48 AM

    Let’s not forget the cash they’ll have to spend once Howard, Chooch, and Matt Harrison’s salaries come off the books. I’d imagine it’s very unlikely they’ll sign any high priced free agents over this winter, but they will spend after next season if there’s a glaring need (say, you’re right about Velasquez going down for instance). We’ll win between 77 and 81 games this year, in the mid-80s in 2017, then become a legitimate contender for the division in 2018.

    • Steve

      July 14, 2016 05:52 AM

      Money is not an issue. They have a but-load to spend right now and still be under the luxury tax. Their total payroll is going to be rediculous when Howard and Cooch come off the books.

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