When the Phillies lost the final two games of a three-game set in Cincinnati and returned home on June 10, Ben Revere was not well-liked among Phillies fans. He was hitting a meager .282 and had made a number of poor defensive plays in center field, leading to the pitching staff giving up unnecessary amounts of runs en route to losses in otherwise winnable games. He hit his first career home run back on May 27, leading to some amusement, but he carried a .631 OPS when the Padres came into Philadelphia. Hardly the performance that makes one think “cornerstone of the franchise”.
If there was any doubt that the Phillies were out of contention before embarking on a ten-game road trip, it has been erased as the Phillies dropped two of three to the Marlins in Miami and were just swept out of Pittsburgh by the Pirates. Since sweeping the Braves in Atlanta and taking the first two games of a four-game set against the Cardinals in St. Louis, the Phillies have lost 13 out of their last 16 games.
The culprit? An anemic offense. Here are some fun facts about their 3-13 skid:
The All-Star rosters were unveiled this evening on ESPN. The 37-51 Phillies will have only one representative at the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field in Minnesota: second baseman Chase Utley, who will start for the National League.
Billy Hamilton. Jose Reyes. Alcides Escobar. Dee Gordon. Erick Aybar. These are a few of the names that have slugging percentages similar to or better than first baseman Ryan Howard. Howard hasn’t homered since June 19, two weeks ago.
At .401, Howard is one more poor game away from watching his slugging percentage dip below .400. Excluding the early April small sample, Howard’s season low for slugging percentage occurred on May 25, when it fell to .397. If the season were to end today, his slugging percentage would easily qualify as the worst of his career.
The Phillies signed three notable players from the International Amateur Free Agent market yesterday. I’ll run them down, and give you a bit of an overview of how the system works.
It’s been widely reported that Venezuelan SS Arquimedes Gamboa signed for $900k. He was BA’s #8 overall July 2 prospect, and Baseball America’s Ben Badler said that at his bonus level, he could “end up being one of the better values at the top of the market”. His 70 grade name aside, (it’s no Rock Shoulders), the “pen to paper” image of him makes him seems like a pretty small dude. Not uncommon for a shortstop.
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) July 2, 2014
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the sentiment among some Phillies fans that the club missed on Brandon Moss, who was briefly in the organization at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. I did the same with Jason Grilli last year. It’s tough to see marginal players pass through your fingertips only to go onto major success elsewhere.
Seeing Phillies fans long for Moss and Grilli is humorous, juxtaposed with a loud swath of Phillies fans fed up with Domonic Brown, calling for the organization to demote him to Triple-A, trade him, or just plain release him. I’d be willing to wager there’s a high percentage of crossover between the two groups.
Some self-promotion before we start: not only do I have a book to flog (coming out Nov. 4, pre-order now on Amazon!), I’ve started a weekly baseball podcast with my dear friend Liz Roscher, supreme empress of our rival Phillies blog, The Good Phight. It’s called Defensive Indifference, and for those of you who kept hounding me for a renewed Crash Pod, well, this isn’t it, but it’s pretty close. I’m working on getting the podcast on various syndication services and so on, so look for more of that in the future. Now, on to your questions.
@kgeich: “you have to spend the day with Ruben Amaro, what do you do? Does he survive the day? King Joffrey him?”
DUDE. SPOILER ALERT.
I think that depends on whether we’re just two dudes who just run into each other and decide to hang out and eventually fall in love, like in Lost in Translation or Before Sunrise or Blood Diamond, or if he is who he is and I am who I am. I’ve got ambitions of one day doing long magazine profiles, and if I wind up Wright Thompsoning or Gary Smithing all over someone, Ruben Amaro’s near the top of my list. He’s probably not the most fascinating person, but I get the sense that most of our frustration with the direction he’s taken the Phillies in has as much to do with PR as it does results.
Earlier, I discussed how president David Montgomery feared going into a full rebuild because attendance could fall, even though it’s already been falling and will continue to fall until the team gets better. The Phillies’ brass must be sending out the big guns in an attempt to sway public sentiment, as GM Ruben Amaro joined the morning team on 94 WIP and discussed the prospect of rebuilding.
One of the items I wrote about over the weekend at HardballTalk involved Phillies president David Montgomery and his reluctance to rebuild. Kevin Cooney of the Bucks County Courier Times reported that Montgomery worries about falling attendance when considering blowing up the team.
With the conclusion of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies reached the halfway point of the season. They stood 36-45, good for last place in the NL East and on pace for 90 losses. If they continue on their current path, 2014 will be their first 90-loss season since 2000, when they went 65-97.
Obviously, things haven’t been going so well in Philadelphia this season, as expected. But it hasn’t been the older crowd that has left the Phillies lagging behind the competition; it’s been the young guys. Let’s hand out some first-half grades and see where the problems lie.