Phildelphia Phillies: Have They Reached the End of an Era?
Monday August 20th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: The Philadelphia Phillies are entering a rebuild mode. Or so it would appear. General manager Ruben Amaro dangled Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino away at the trade deadline, and now he’s left with nothing but little cash and prospects. The Phillies, though, were supposedly over the luxury tax until they traded away their two outfielders, so a move to free up a portion of their payroll seemed inevitable, just not in the fashion of trading away a cornerstone type piece in Pence. Since the departure of those two outfielders, the team is hitting a soft 221/.295/.363.
So which path does Amaro take during this crucial upcoming offseason? Does he rebuild for the future or does he attempt to craft a team that’s essentially a one and done gig? Given the amount of holes the Phillies’ current roster possess, the idea of going all in seems silly. It’s not like they have a ton of flexibility either. As I already mentioned, they are just a tick below the luxury tax. And with nearly $80 million invested in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Jonathan Papelbon for next season alone, a big splash in free agency doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
The parts they do have, are simply aging. The core of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are far passed their primes and injuries have numbered their chances of ever returning to old form. Howard, who suffered an Achilles injury while grounding out to end the NLDS last year, has been on a downward slide insce 2009. Here are his WOBA numbers since 2009—09’ .393, 10’ .367, 11’ .354, 12’ .335. Clearly, his stats have slipped. That’s not to say that he doesn’t still boast the sheer power that saw him hit 58 home runs in 2006, but his effectiveness is steadily declining. Although, he will likely remain the Phillies’ starting first baseman until 2014 when he becomes a free agent, barring some peculiar action.
Utley, though, has seemingly lost a good chunk of his game. Maybe it’s his problematic knees, or maybe it’s just the fact that he’s aging, but his days are numbered at second base. Freddy Galvis sparked the Phillies lineup before being suspended 50 games for taking a PED. He primarily played second base in Utley’s prolonged absence, making him a piece that could replace him when he becomes a free agent in the winter of 2014. Although, that’s not set in stone, either. Reports state that it’s unlikely that Galvis will touch the field again this season, though.
Simply, the Phillies need to start from scratch. Glaring holes consist at third base, centerfield, and their bullpen. After dealing Pence and Victorino, they don’t have much to turn to within the organization. The Braves’ Michael Bourn could potentially be an option to fill one of the two holes in the outfield. But realistically, everyone in the Phillies would prefer to see highly touted prospect Domonic Brown finally break through and hold down the fort in right field. Brown, who has had a ton of pressure placed on him since tearing up the minor leagues for the past few seasons, has yet to show any signs of carrying that success over to the big leagues. Though with the slim outfield depth, Brown just recently got called up to show if he has changed at all. The Phillies have stated that the lengthy right fielder will get a chance to play all three outfield spots in order to evaluate what they need to target in the offseason.
Third base is also another position in need of help as Phillies’ third baseman have hit just .249/.293/.318 this season. The mix of Ty Wigginton and Placido Polanco hasn’t merely been enough to qualify as even adequate. But the market for third baseman is slim. Chase Headley would fit right into the hotspot for the Phillies. In fact, Amaro could pursue him during the winter if he’s back on the market, seeing that the Phillies showed slight interest in him at the trade deadline. He’s young and cheap which would fit the job description for Philadelphia. However, the Phillies have much bigger issues than finding a suitable third baseman.
If there is one hole that the Phillies should shift the majority of their focus to during the offseason, it’s their bullpen that has posted a staggering 4.10 ERA in 2012. Sure, Papelbon has been OK, but the rest of ‘pen has been surprisingly bad. This comes after the Phillies ‘pen had posted a 3.37 ERA since 2009. Age, fatigue, and some mediocre arms are all to blame. But it’s not even worth counting how many times that their bullpen has costed them wins. It’s that bad. Fortunately, it’s the one area of need that is the easiest to improve.
The Phillies, though, are approaching an end of a very successful era. While it’s tough for fans to face the truth, their run of winning the N.L East for five consecutive seasons is rapidly approaching an end. While Amaro and his crew will try to patch together a playoff team for the 2013 campaign, there’s no foreseeable moves that could be done to bring them back to being a powerhouse in such short time. The glory days might be done for a while. Now the era of starting over is beginning, as the trade deadline was just the tip of the iceberg.
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
Jake Dal Porto is a high school student from the Bay Area. He is a big time Giants fan and his favorite players are Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, and Sergio Romo. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter:@TheJakeMan24
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Posted on August 19, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged chase headley, chase utley, cliff lee, cole hamels, Domonic Brown, Freddy Galvis, hunter pence, jonathan papelbon, michael bourn, mlb baseball, philadelphia phillies, placido polanco, roy halladay, Ruben Amaro, ryan howard, shane victorino, Ty Wigginton. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.