Friday, October 4, 2013

It's All Over - The 2013 Phillies

I didn’t watch the 2010 World Series.

I didn’t watch the 2011 LCS or World Series.

I didn’t watch the 2012 playoffs.

Eight baseball teams are playing today and the Phillies are not one of them. I’ve avoided October baseball like the plague the last two seasons. It’s too painful to get reminded the Phillies are not a regular in the postseason any longer. We got a bit spoiled with 5 straight division titles, but now it’s back to reality.

The reality is that the 2013 Phillies were a combination of overpaid over-the-hill superstars (Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon), wet behind the ears unproven talent (Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf, Cody Asche) and aside from Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee a bunch of 4.00 + ERA arms. They held it together through the All-Star Break and the second half of the season looked daunting but doable.

It wasn’t.

The media hasn’t highlighted Ben Revere breaking his foot in the last series before the All-Star Break as much as they should have. It was clearly a catalyst for the cataclysmic tailspin that cost Charlie Manuel his job.  Revere was leading off and hitting nearly .400 from the beginning of May to the middle of July. The Phillies did not have anybody they could turn to that would make up for this kind of production.  They simply just could not score runs in the second half of July. When you couple that big loss with a pitching staff that went decidedly south in the dog days of summer; the Phils wound up losing 19 of the last 22 games Charlie Manuel coached. That was all she wrote for the 2013 Phillies.

Ryne Sandberg has come in and said and done all the right things so far. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter what he says and does next year if the Phillies don’t put more talent on the field for him. A turnaround could start with Howard and Rollins proving to themselves and the rest of us that they can still be effective Major League hitters, but it’s hard to believe they still have it in them. Their time has come and gone.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least say what a time it was!

Ruben Amaro needs to get a bit luckier than he has been the past few seasons. For the most part, I’ve agreed with the moves Ruben has made. Maybe not all of the contracts, but the players he has acquired have generally been smart decisions that just didn’t pan out. Of course, it’s a lot easier for things to pan out when Howard, Rollins, and Chase Utley combine for 100 home runs 300 RBIs while striking a whole lot of fear in opposing pitchers. Nevertheless, Amaro needs to find his versions of Shane Victornio and Jayson Werth if this team is going to make a trip back to the playoffs anytime soon.

So that’s your season recap in a nutshell. The Phillies couldn’t hit or pitch for the last 70 games and they finished with a 73-89 record. Their worst in 13 years. Worse than the Mets! They finished 4th in the NL East.

Moving on, let’s poke some fun at none other than yours truly for some seriously god-awful predictions I made at the beginning of the season. I’ll show you my prediction from this blog post I made right before the season, and then provide some analysis on it.

Without further adieu, let’s get to it! 

The Phillies: 89-73 – Wild Card winner. The Phillies have too many “guys that know how to get it done” for me to believe that this year can’t still lead to a postseason berth.

No need for analysis on this one as we just went over it, but I needed to point out how big of a homer I am right off the bat.

The Nationals: 94-66 – Division winner. The Nationals remind me of the Phillies in 2007 with younger talent. This is not good for the Phillies.

The Nationals played pretty mediocre ball all season and finished the year in 2nd place at 86-76 after making a small charge at the Wild Card in early September. It boiled down to them not hitting well at all this season. This is karma at it’s finest my friends. The Nationals SHUT DOWN their best starter last year before the season ended and did not allow him to pitch in the playoffs despite having no injury issues. I think maybe they could have used Steven Strasburg in that 5 game heartbreaking series loss to the Cardinals last year. I’m sure the Nats’ brass thought they’d be back right away and Strasburg would get his shot. The baseball gods laughed at them this year. Bottom line, when you have your opportunity you make the most of it, don’t “get em next year.”

The Braves: 87-75 – 3rd place NL East.

The Braves had two brilliant stretches this season and rode that to the NL East Division title. They started 12-1 and then when the Phillies started their nosedive the Braves won something crazy like 18 of 20. I didn’t pay too much attention to the Braves this year but they sure could pitch. If they got a lead the game was over, which I believe was mentioned in the March post. Their offense is capable of struggling big time and for this reason I don’t see them making much noise in the playoffs, but knowing my predictions they win the whole thing. Just know that they had two every day players in BJ Upton and Dan Uggla who couldn’t get their averages above .190 on the season. Cliff Lee would hit .220 at worst if he played every day, just saying.

Now the real fun starts. I’m not even sure who to get to first, let’s start here.

Ryan Howard: .277 – 43 HRs – 139 RBI – Top 3 MVP voting – The Big Piece is back baby!

Whoops!! Actual stats: .266 – 11 HRs – 43 RBI – Top 3 LVP voting. Howard never had it this season. Sure he hit .266 in the 80 games he managed to play, but he was basically a singles hitter. Let’s hope he was just not close to healthy and he can do something next year. If he’s healthy next year and doesn’t do anything, then what’s his excuse? I love Ryan Howard more than anything, but he’s starting to get to me. Side note, Howard held onto the team lead in strikeouts (95) until the last week of the season when Dom Brown passed him. Howard didn’t play after the 4th of July.

Cole Hamels: 21-7 – 2.73 ERA – 222 strikeouts. It is time for Hamels to step his game up a notch and become that pitcher you don’t worry about.

Double whoops!! Actual stats: 8-14 – 3.60 ERA – 202 strikeouts. Actually, if you look at advanced metrics (I don’t) Hamels probably had a decent year. He was certainly the top of the line ace you’d expect him to be during the second half of the season. But man, that first half had to be some kind of personal hell for him. He went from early April to early June without pitching with a lead. This allowed him to rack up losses like you  wouldn’t believe possible. Most of it was due to terrible run support, but Hamels did his share of coming up small with a lead this season. He bounced back well enough in the second half to make you think he’ll be fine, just fine, next year.

Lastly, I actually didn’t do too bad with these guys.

Domonic Brown: 150 games - .252 – 17 HRs – 68 RBI –I’m of the opinion that he will be very frustrating to Phillies fans this season. He has the tools and the power to open some eyes but he has also had enough exposure at the Major League level for me to believe that he will never be more than an average everyday player.

Actual stats: 139 games - .272 – 27 HRs – 83 RBI. Dom had possibly the best two week stretch of baseball a Phillie has ever had. He hit something like 10 home runs in 12 games. A lot of his stats are boosted by that stretch, but just to know he’s capable of something like that means quite a bit. He proved himself to be at the worst an average major leaguer this year and he led the Phillies in homers and RBI. He should be here to stay.

Chase Utley: .291 – 19 HRs – 86 RBI – 145 games played. If we’re anywhere close to those numbers I will not be surprised.

Actual stats - .284 – 18 HRs – 69 RBI – 131 games played. Chase proved plenty to a lot of us this year. He did spend some time on the shelf, but it was not knee related.  He was among the leaders of 2nd baseman in every single offensive category. If we can get another year like the one he just got out of Chase, we’ll all take it.

Cliff Lee: 15-9 – 3.45 ERA – 196 strikeouts. Cliff remains an enigma to me.

Actual stats – 14-8 – 2.87 ERA – 222 strikeouts. Cliff was not an enigma this year. He was hands down the best player on the team. He had about a three start stretch in the middle of the summer where he kept throwing gopher balls, but it did not last. Check out his stats in September and tell me he wasn’t the best pitcher in the game down what used to be the stretch for the Phillies.

5 Starts – 3-2 record – 1.85 ERA – 39 innings pitched - .183 opponets batting average - .69 WHIP – 54 strikeouts – 1 walk.

He lost a game 1-0 to end the season. Cliff Lee got it done all year, that’s more than you can say for anybody else on the roster.

Until next year folks..