At Four Weeks, Some Observations on the Phillies


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The season is four weeks old, and the Phillies are who we thought they were. At 9-17 so far, they are in last place in the NL East, as expected. While they have been decently competitive at home, 6-6 so far, they are 3-11 away from Citizens Bank Park. On Sunday, they paraded out a line-up with one guy hitting over .250 to start the day. The pitching staff remains something like a game of alphabet soup, with a constant mix-and-match approach to who the five guys are. Oh, and of course, the sell-off has not begun yet. The Phillies had a losing week, and it is apparent there will be many more of those. Here are some observations of this team:

  • Chase Utley is ridiculously lost out there. His defense has certainly taken a step backwards over the last year or two, but now his offense is beneath any acceptable level. Utley is hitting .108 and has a .398 OPS a month into the season. Yes he has three homers and is leading the team with 14 RBIs, but all that shows you is how flukish RBIs can be. He looks completely lost.
  • The Phillies have just three hitters at .300 or higher, and one of them is Cole Hamels. Cody Asche is the only other guy over .250, and he’s way down from his hot start. This offense is epically anemic.
  • Great job by Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis through four weeks to show they want to belong here. Herrera has lived up to the billing that he can hit, while Galvis has surprised with his offense. IF Galvis is playing anywhere near this level 100 games from now, or even is just playing decently, one will have to discuss whether Galvis or top-prospect J.P. Crawford should be worked out a bit at second base, so that both could stick in Philadelphia in the future. Because this team is so bad, questions of whether it’s Galvis or Crawford at shortstop, Franco or Asche at third, and Herrera or Quinn in center for the future don’t have to be answered right now. The Phillies can actively experiment with all of the above before the season is out, and look at moving some of them around the diamond.
  • I like that we saw Severino Gonzalez throw a couple of games this week. I suspect that we’ll see Adam Morgan get a look at some point too. I like that we’re looking at our young guys. I hate that we are also wasting a lot of starts on guys that won’t be here after this year. I’m not at all looking forward to Sean O’Sullivan’s return, and after having seen Chad Billingsley in AAA a couple of times, I’m unexcited to see him in Philadelphia too. The Phillies rotation after sending Gonzalez back to AAA yesterday, currently consists of Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Chad Billingsley, and an opening that O’Sullivan is likely to fill. They will almost certainly entertain trade offers on at least the first two, while no one thinks the other three are long for this roster. I’m ok with the fact that we’re going to have to watch a lot of rotten baseball this year, I just hope that we will use as much of the time as possible to get looks at younger arms that we can evaluate.
  • Ben Revere’s numbers are quietly creeping up after his awful start. His average is up to .239, which fits his normal MO with this team. Slow starts, good finishing numbers. I continue to speculate that Revere could be a trade chip later, while I also continue to say that I like him much more as a left-fielder.
  • Ryan Howard had a good game yesterday, and certainly he’s had his moments this season. Howard does lead the team with four homers, a commentary more on the team than on his play. The truth is though that Howard hasn’t been very good overall. He is hitting .193 four weeks into the season, with a .657 OPS. Has Darin Ruf played him to the bench? Not really. Does that change that Howard is an overwhelming economic and opportunity cost for this team by being on this roster? Not at all. With his 10-and-5 rights now in hand, the only way out of Howard is probably a buy-out at this point, but that has been the truth the Phillies won’t accept for a while. It is the reality though.

So with all of that said, here is my regular weekly wrap-up:

  • Record- 2-5, 9-17 overall.
  • Highlight- Severino Gonzalez became the youngest Phillies pitcher to make his debut in over a decade at age 22, and in his second start on Sunday, he got his first MLB victory.
  • Lowlight- The team lost five in a row this week. Take your pick.
  • MVP- In what was an awful week, it is hard to pick a winner. Howard won last week, and almost could win this week again, but I’m going with Odubel Herrera, who continues to impress me each week.
  • Least Valuable Player- David Buchanan got demoted this week, but he was bad just one day. Chase Utley’s average dropped from .121 to .108 this week. He can’t lose with that.
  • Most Overrated “Issue” This Week- Who should hit clean-up? Who cares? The answer is none of the above, but since you have to pick someone, it doesn’t matter who.
  • This Week- The Phillies visit Atlanta for three games, then come home to play the Mets for a trio.
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