2015 Phillies Report Card: Chase Utley

In 2014, for the first time in five years, Chase Utley was able to play a full season. The oft-injured second baseman had been diagnosed with degenerative conditions in both of his knees, then suffered a strained oblique in 2013. Though his numbers were down quite a bit compared to previous years, that Utley accrued 664 plate appearances was a victory in and of itself. The goal going into the 2015 season was to rebound to his usual level of production while staying healthy.

Things couldn’t have gone more poorly. Utley dealt with ankle problems during spring training, but made it into the Phillies’ Opening Day lineup. Maybe he shouldn’t have. Between Opening Day and June 22, Utley hit .179/.257/.275, racking up only 12 extra-base hits in 65 games. Utley was placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his right ankle, and he wouldn’t return until August 7.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Maikel Franco

Those of us who really dig deep into Phillies prospects every year have been in on Maikel Franco for a long time. He exploded onto the national scene with a huge 2013 that included half seasons in Clearwater and Reading, but anyone paying attention in 2012 saw the signs of that leap forward. Franco had a dismal first half of the year at Low-A Lakewood, then turned it on and finished strong. The same thing happened in 2014, as Franco struggled mightily early at Lehigh Valley before mashing his way through the second half of that season, (though he mostly crashed throughout a September callup).
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Royal Lessons For The Phillies

If October proved anything it’s that the Philadelphia Phillies have a mountain to climb in order to reemerge as a legitimate contender in the National League East. The New York Mets, while not without flaws, have a super rotation that is the envy of every team in the league and, unlike the 2011 Phillies super rotation, the Mets version could stick around for a long while.

On paper, their 2016 rotation looks like this (in some order): Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz. The most senior member of those five by service time is Matt Harvey who will be in his first year of arbitration. This means that, should they so choose (and should everyone stay healthy), the Mets have this entire five-headed rotation monster under team control for three more seasons. Yikes.

As the Royals proved this week, however, these Mets are not infallible. Their offense remains a concern going forward especially considering they’re poised to lose their 2nd half offensive savior, Yoenis Cespedes, and their unlikely postseason hero, Daniel Murphy, to free agency. Their bullpen proved to be a pivotal weakness in the World Series and the rotation, while stellar, appeared to meet its match in the Royals’ unconventional offense. In a series significantly closer than the four-games-to-one final result indicates, Kansas City successfully and dramatically took down the Mets to bring home a championship for the first time in 30 years. How did they do it and are there any lessons the Phillies ought to take away from their triumph over a team Philadelphia faces 19 times a year?

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Luis Garcia

This is Luis Garcia. There are many like him, but this one plays for the Phillies.

Because his is such a common name, and because I think y’all would notice if I just copy-and-pasted Corinne’s entire Elvis Araujo writeup, I’m going to figure out where Garcia ranks–not among relief pitchers, but among Luis Garcias.

Wikipedia lists 24 people named Luis Garcia. Here they are, in order of coolness.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Darin Ruf

Darin Ruf is one of the more polarizing players the Philadelphia Phillies have had in the Citizens Bank Park era. To some, he’s an underutilized power bat with untapped potential, while to others he’s (at best) a replacement player who gets a lot of hype because he’s Not Ryan Howard. In the past, I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m in the latter camp in the Ruf debate. I want to be wrong about him, and I’m happy to change my opinion if there’s a good reason to do so. Continue reading…

2015 Phillies Report Card: Justin DeFratus

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Clearly it’s the egg, because that’s where chickens come from, and the egg’s parents were some sort of freak chicken-like thing that somehow made the first chicken. I know, I know, but where did the freak chicken-like thing come from? An egg. Simple. Anyway, in the forthcoming analogy, Ryne Sandberg and his staff are assumed to be the freak chicken-like thing.

It seems the 2015 Phillies and manager Ryne “Cluck U” Sandberg were going to use Justin DeFratus in a multi-inning relief role, no question. Former Blue Jay Dustin McGowan was at the bottom of the depth chart, but waiver pickup Jeanmar Gomez and unproven pitcher-turned-barber-turned-reclamation project Luis Garcia managed to be ahead of DeFratus coming out of camp. In a three-appearance span between April 23 and April 30, DeFratus threw 126 total pitches, and this (adjusts tie) pecking order became obvious to all who were paying any attention.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Cesar Hernandez

Now that Jimmy Rollins (’96 draftee), Chase Utley (’00 draftee), and Cole Hamels (’02 draftee) have been traded away, most Phillies fans can tell you who the two longest tenured Phillies are: Carlos Ruiz (’98 international FA) and Ryan Howard (’01 draftee). But who is the third longest tenured* Phillie? Until last week the answer was Domonic Brown who signed June 16, 2006 after the Phillies selected him in the 20th round of the 2006 amateur draft. But now Brown is a free agent and the illustrious title of third longest tenured Phillie is a tie between two middle infielders who signed as 16-year-old international free agents out of Venezuela on July 2, 2006: Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez.

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2015 Phillies Report Card: Jerome Williams

Sixteen years ago, in October 1999, the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets in the NLCS in six games. The Braves unleashed an unbelievable pitching staff that included Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Kevin Millwood. Oh, and Terry Mulholland! The Braves were then summarily dismissed by the New York Yankees in four games, and haven’t been back to the World Series since. That was the second consecutive World Series sweep for New York, and the second of two titles the Yankees won against Atlanta in the 1990s.


Ken Sakamoto / Star-Bulletin

A few months prior, in June 1999, Jerome Williams was drafted 39th overall by the San Francisco Giants, 27 picks after the Philadelphia Phillies chose Brett Myers. Williams was chosen with a supplemental pick the Giants received as compensation for the departure of free agent Jose Mesa, who would go on to pitch for the Phillies in 2001. During Spring Training in March 2001, about two years after he was drafted, Jerome Williams lost his mom Deborah to breast cancer. That’s why Jerome wears a pink glove in games, pitching with his Mother’s memory in his heart and his hand.

October is national breast cancer awareness month. We all know someone affected. You don’t have to be a major league pitcher to do something to help the fight against breast cancer. Jerome Williams is awesome for helping to raise awareness of breast cancer, and he’s battled hard to stay in the majors for 10 seasons, and he’s probably a really good guy. It hurts me that the following evaluation of his season is not favorable.
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2015 Phillies Report Card – Aaron Nola

For Aaron Nola, after being the college pitcher of the year in 2014, and the #7 overall pick in that summer’s draft,  a ticket to the majors was printed on opening day of 2015. The date of arrival was the only thing left blank. Nola spent a couple months in AA and AAA before he got to write in “July 21”, and honestly, it’s pretty stunning how lax the TSA is with 2014 First Round draft picks. One of those guys could be an ISIS in disguise. (My money’s on Michael Conforto, mostly because he’s on The Mets, and I dislike them so much that I’d prefer to be marooned on top of a mountain with my religious sect than see them win a World Series. Go Royals, Boo Mets, as they say). Continue reading…