2014 Phillies Report Card: Carlos Ruiz

Catcher Carlos Ruiz could have signed with another team — perhaps a contender, for one last shot at a championship — but both he and the Phillies decided to continue their partnership, agreeing on a three-year, $26 million contract last November. Ruiz became one of only three catchers to ink a contract of three years or longer during the off-season, joining Brian McCann (five years, $85 million with the New York Yankees) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (three years, $21 million with the Miami Marlins).

To some, Ruiz was a microcosm of the modus operandi that has doomed the Phillies over the last five years: signing aging, injury-prone players to expensive multi-year deals. However, while the Phillies had catching depth, there was no obvious candidate with whom they felt comfortable starting five or six games a week. Cameron Rupp would have been the first choice, and the Phillies weren’t even confident in him backing up Ruiz, so they signed Wil Nieves for the back-up role in December. While Ruiz’s deal was for multiple years and relatively expensive given what other catchers received, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a contract that will affect their payroll flexibility nor does it have any sizable risk attached to it.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Jake Diekman

Here’s a pretty thing:

RP K IP K/9 G
Dellin Betances 135 90.0 13.50 70
Wade Davis 109 72.0 13.63 71
Aroldis Chapman 106 54.0 17.67 54
Brad Boxberger 104 64.2 14.58 63
Andrew Miller 103 62.1 14.93 73
Kenley Jansen 101 65.1 13.96 68
Jake Diekman 100 71.0 12.68 73
David Robertson 96 64.1 13.48 63
Craig Kimbrel 95 61.2 13.97 63
Cody Allen 91 69.2 11.84 76

That, friends, is a who’s who of the elite relief pitchers in Major League Baseball. Aroldis Chapman. Craig Kimbrel. Kenley Jansen. Wade Davis. Dellin Betances. Andrew Miller. And … Jake Diekman? The Phillies’ lefty from Nebraska, who was picked in the 30th round of the 2007 draft, finished seventh in the majors in strikeouts among qualified relief pitchers.

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2014 Phillies Report Card: Marlon Byrd

In November, the Phillies signed Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16 million contract on the heels of a breakout season split between the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Phillies had just completed a season in which they saw Delmon Young, John Mayberry, and Darin Ruf take the bulk of the playing time in right field, only to compile an aggregate .297 wOBA compared to the .325 major league average. Though Byrd was 36, the thought was that his breakout was legitimate and he would stabilize the Phillies’ outfield along with Ben Revere and Domonic Brown.

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Five Things We Learned About the Phillies This Season

The Phillies are in Miami to face the Marlins in their final road series of the season. Then, they’ll head back to Philadelphia to wrap up the schedule at home against the Atlanta Braves. Most likely, they’ll finish in last place in the NL East with around 75 wins, another unremarkable season and the third consecutive season in which they’ve failed to reach the playoffs.

The front office will watch the playoffs from home before putting pen to paper to begin restructuring the team for a better outlook in 2015 and beyond. They can’t do that without first looking back and taking stock of everything they learned throughout the 2014 season. Here are five things we learned about the Phillies this season.

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David Buchanan Could be the Next Kyle Kendrick

Kyle Kendrick will likely make his final start as a Phillie on Wednesday when the team will be in Miami to take on the Marlins. Kendrick is eligible for free agency after the season after earning $7.675 million in 2014 in which he was arbitration-eligible for the final time. Considering Kendrick’s poor performance over the course of the season and the money he’d be requesting, it’s hard to imagine the Phillies would pay millions of dollars to keep him around.

In eight years with the Phillies, Kendrick as compiled a 4.44 ERA (91 ERA+) over 1,131 2/3 innings. While he has by no means been a key contributor, he has provided value at the back end of the starting rotation — and, at several points in 2011-12, out of the bullpen — by being healthy and consistently being able to soak up six innings on average every time he took the mound.

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Jerome Williams Proving to be A Good Find for the Phillies

Starter Jerome Williams dominated the San Diego Padres last night, holding them to just one unearned run over 7 2/3 innings en route to a 1-0 loss. The right-hander surrendered just three hits and walked two while striking out six. Now with seven starts as a Phillie under his belt, Williams sports a 2.84 ERA over 44 1/3 innings.

It’s a surprising performance for Williams over the past month and a half, as he owns a career 4.43 ERA and posted a combined 6.71 ERA in 26 relief appearances with the Texas Rangers and two starts with the Houston Astros. How legitimate is his success and is he worth keeping around in 2015?

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Cole Hamels Continues Dominating

Cole Hamels was on point once again, limiting the Miami Marlins (though Giancarlo Stanton-less) to one run over seven innings last night. He allowed nine hits and walked one while striking out six. As usual, though, the Phillies gave him little run support and didn’t get the win until Cody Asche broke a 1-1 tie with a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Hamels has now gone at least five innings and allowed three or fewer runs in 20 consecutive starts, setting a modern Phillies record as Paul Boye pointed out on Twitter. The streak dates back to June 1. Hamels also now has the third-best ERA in the National League. If Hamels hadn’t missed four April starts — and if Clayton Kershaw didn’t exist — he would be a legitimate contender for the National League Cy Young award.

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Domonic Brown’s Improved Second Half

There is no doubt that the 2014 season is one Domonic Brown will want to forget. That said, much of his statistical struggles can be traced to a truly horrific May at the plate. His 40 OPS+ that month indicates that his offensive production was 60% worse than that of an average MLB player.

Split PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS sOPS+
April/March 105 8 24 3 0 1 10 9 18 .253 .314 .316 .630 80
May 95 7 13 3 1 3 17 6 18 .146 .200 .303 .503 40
June 106 11 25 5 0 1 11 7 19 .260 .302 .344 .646 86
July 75 8 19 4 0 2 12 4 15 .268 .307 .408 .715 103
August 61 4 15 6 0 1 8 4 12 .263 .311 .421 .733 110
Sept/Oct 22 5 3 0 0 1 1 2 1 .158 .273 .316 .589 67
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/10/2014.

After his disastrous May, Brown’s numbers have been on an upward trajectory. (*Warning: Arbitrary Endpoints Ahead*) His slash line since July 1st: .252/.304/.401. While a .705 OPS doesn’t represent a player tearing it up, it’s been good for a .313 wOBA and 98 wRC+, indicating that Brown has been producing runs at roughly a league average pace over the past couple months. Is league average production from Dom the answer for the Phillies going forward? Of course not, but it is a sign that he may still be a player with real value.

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What Got Into the Phillies’ Bullpen?

Ken Giles, obviously. But the Phillies’ bullpen overall, even excluding Giles, has been much improved following a rough start to the season. There has been a lot of turnover, as Jeff Manship, B.J. Rosenberg, and Phillippe Aumont have been eschewed. Meanwhile, Justin De Fratus has come on strong and Jake Diekman has been on the up-and-up while Giles has steadily been among the most dominating relievers in baseball.

On a month-by-month basis, here’s what the changes have looked like with the bullpen as a whole:

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