The Phillies at the Break


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It is hard to find much successful about a 29-62 baseball team, especially one that is near the bottom in most offensive, defensive, and pitching statistics. The Phillies are certainly a very bad baseball team. They are easily going to finish in last place and have the worst record in baseball. If for that reason alone, I could stop right now and declare this season an “F” so far, and not write anything further.

From the start though, we knew this team was bad, and wouldn’t contend, so it’s hard to rate this team based on won-lost records. From the start, this season was an “extended spring training” of sorts, where the Phillies would seek to look at young pieces and decide their futures here, and try to audition veterans so they can be traded. The other area of importance in 2015 would be the minor league teams, and how they did.

So how’d they do by that standard?

The bag is mixed on the younger players and how they’ve done. Obviously Maikel Franco has impressed us all, and solidified himself as a major piece of the future. Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis have out-performed my expectations for them pre-season, and could end up sticking as starters (although maybe not in Philadelphia). On the other side of that, Cody Asche has disappointed at the plate, and Odubel Herrera has mostly stayed afloat. Ken Giles has not surprised anyone, which is a good thing, but Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus have been pretty bad. None of the young starting pitchers have proven they should stick. The good news with this mix though is that this is how baseball works. You will miss on at least as many young players as you hit on. The fact that we can talk about even a few pieces sticking makes this a lesser disaster than the team as a whole. Even so, there are some young players with a lot to prove in the second half.

The veterans haven’t been traded yet, a real frustration for Phillies’ fans. Cole Hamels, the biggest piece on the market from Philadelphia, has been good overall, but did miss a start with a sore hamstring, and just dropped the worst clunker of his career in his last start. Even still, Phillies fans can look forward to trading him, provided Ruben Amaro’s asking price isn’t unreasonable. Jonathan Papelbon certainly has improved his value with a perfect first half closing, and should get his wish to be traded. Chase Utley was supposed to be just as big of a piece, but fell flat on his face this season and doesn’t have trade value now. Ryan Howard may or may not be moveable at this deadline, with his awful batting average put aside for his decent power numbers and decreasing commitment with each passing day. Ben Revere is certainly on the market, though the Phillies seem to have struck out on past trades of the outfielder. Jeff Francoeur seems to have replaced Aaron Harang as the veteran who has surprised and maybe played his way into being traded. You also can’t rule out the Phillies trading a young reliever who is club controlled to get value. The Phillies have enough guys playing reasonably well to make some major trades and get some talent back. How they execute the deadline will be crucial.

Finally, there is the minor leagues, where the season has been pretty decent. Top two prospects J.P. Crawford and Aaron Nola both played their way to promotions, and the Phillies have been generally aggressive this season with promoting players who are doing well. The teams have been very good too, especially at the low level. The GCL team and Williamsport are in playoff position, with Lakewood right there in the playoff race in the SAL. Clearwater is playoff bound after winning the first half title, and Reading is in playoff position right now. Lehigh Valley, who was awful early on, is playing very well now, as they get some premium talent up from Reading. The system has been surprisingly good, and there is reason to be hopeful about the longer term future.

So, this team is a little more than a 29-62 team, but let’s not go so far as to say they are much more. This team has no more than a handful of “keepers” on the current roster, they’ve had as many players hurt their trade value as help, and the minor league system is greatly improved, even if the help is far away. So what does that mean the grade on this team is? It’s an “F.” The product on the field is unnecessarily disgracefully bad, and we have to sit through it. They haven’t yet pulled the trigger on big trades to change the trajectory of the franchise, and we’re not seeing a ton of help arrive yet. So this was a difficult half-season to watch. Unfortunately it’s not going to change super-fast.

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