Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Vol. 1

Explaining the Phillies offense to Mrs. Gump

The first month of the season has ended and the Phillies are who we thought they were, to borrow a phrase from former NFL coach Dennis Green. They’re in last place in the NL East at 8-14, they have second worst run differential in the Majors at -40 (60 runs scored 100 given up) and they flat out can’t hit the ball. If anybody tries to complain to me about the current state of this year’s team my standard response is, “Well, what did you expect?”

This team does not have a chance to be good the same way the Sixers did not have a chance to be good in the wretched season they just finished. The problem is the Phils were put together with the intention of winning whereas the Sixers always intended to lose. This season will ramble on as a disaster but as fans of the Phillies it’s important to find some good in the ball club, even when it is almost all bad. That’s why we’re starting a new series on The Hitter’s Count Blog called The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. It’s a fitting name because each inning, each game, each series from here on out will most likely have some good, some bad, and some ugly to it, that’s just who the Phils are these days. Ryne Sandberg is the opposite of the Man With No Name because he’s not doing anything to help this collection of low grade baseball talent, but that’s for another time.

The Good

Holy shit! Is that Freddie Galvis hitting .361 after 21 games? A couple big hits? Flashy leather? Is a Phillie  making the most of an opportunity for the first time since Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth? Let’s not get carried away we’re not even ¼ of the way into the season but let’s do a quick comparison shall we?

Galvis                    Stat                        Rollins
21                           Games                  21
.361                        Avg                        .185
.403                        On Base               .280
.444                        Slugging               .333
9                              Runs                      10
3                              Errors                    4
.964                        Fielding %            .944

I’m sure none of us really expected Jimmy Rollins to turn back the clock in LA, but did anybody expect  Galvis to be out playing him at the plate and in the field after a month? No, nobody did.

Speaking of making the most of an opportunity (so far!), there’s young Rule 5 draft pick center fielder Odubel Herrera. Odoobs, as we call him, has been the most productive offensive player on the team and has held his own in center considering he was a second baseman his whole career until a few months ago. Odoobs is hitting .304 and leads the team in extra base hits (8), runs (9), and is second in steals (4), slugging (.430), and walks (5).  

Some other positives to take from the first month include Aaron "Lemon" Harang starting the season with 3 straight quality starts, he did not get his 4th against the Cardinals Wednesday night. Jonthan Papelbon is 5 for 5 in save opportunities and only given up one run. Ken Giles, the heir to the Pap throne, has the most appearances and most innings in the bullpen, and the lowest ERA – he has yet to allow a run. Cole Hamels can’t seem to find the strike zone consistently but he’s still grinding out starts, and has his ERA down to 3.19 after a rough first two starts.

The Bad

It may be hard to distinguish the bad from some of the ugly as there will be plenty of both as the season goes on, but The Hitter’s Count will do its best. So we knew the offense would be bad coming into the season, but here’s just how bad it is with league ranks and the National League averages following each stat. Note this is out of 15 teams.

Runs – 60 / 15th / 87
Hits – 157 / 14th / 180
Doubles – 26 / 14th / 36
Home Runs – 12 / 15th / 18
Average –  .223 / 15th / .248
On base – .280 / 14th / .311
Slugging - .325 / 15th / .385

Wow, painful just to get that down on paper. And that’s not even the ugly!! This is like that scene in Forrest Gump where the principal shows his mom this here’s normal, this here’s Forrest, and he points well below the minimum acceptable IQ. In this case, it’s every single offensive stat.  Too bad Sandy can’t sleep with somebody to get us out of this mess.

The Ugly

Chase Utley. My god, not sure I’ve ever seen anything as bad as Chase Utley’s stat line through the first month. Chase Utley is 8-70 on the season, hitting .114. EIGHT FOR SEVENTY! He went 3-3 with 2 home runs in a game against the Mets two weeks ago, so if you take away that game Utley is 5-77 (.064) with zero extra base hits. He does not have a double on the season. Chase has certainly hit into a ton of bad luck as evidenced by the advanced stat metric BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) where he is dead last in the league at .102. Regardless, it’s been raw sewage at the plate for Chase and stupefyingly Ryne Sandberg continues to pencil him in batting 3 every single night. Sandy had no qualms about dropping Ryan Howard down in the lineup as low as 7th, and while Howard hasn’t responded to the tune of raising his average he has belted 4 home runs this week, which is nice. I just don’t get the thought process of Sandy continuing to bat Utley in the most important spot in the lineup when he’s proven to be in the worst slump of his career. Make it stop Chase, or Sandy, one of you. For the sake of everyone.

Jake Diekman. Oh boy. 9 innings pitched, 10 earned runs, 9 walks, 2.44 WHIP, 10.0 ERA. Time to rethink some things Jake.

We don’t need to get any more in depth than this. Until next time sports fans..

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Welcome Back to Major League Baseball... Sort Of

Wishing this man all the luck in the world this season, he's going to need it.

The Philadelphia Phillies will begin their 2015 campaign this afternoon in South Philadelphia against the Boston Red Sox. It should easily be the most attended game of the season and will most likely be the only time the Phillies aren't below .500 for the year.

As the season begins it's safe to say that this is the least anticipated season in Phillies memory for anybody younger than 30 years old. I can't remember a time when there was less hope or future for a professional sports team. The fact that the people responsible for the decisions that turned a juggernaut into a laughing stock in the blink of an eye is a cruel joke played on the fans. It's insulting to our intelligence.

I normally run a season preview that breaks down the different aspects of the team but there is really no need for that this season. It's all garbage, trust me. Earlier this past week, the official Vegas lines came out for the over/under of win totals for each team in the league. The Phils came in at either 66.5 or 67.5 wins for the year depending on what site you're looking at. That is 4 games lower than any other team in Major League Baseball (The DBacks are 71.5). Vegas generally knows what they're doing if you haven't been paying attention to betting lines for the past 50 years.

I laughed at that number with the feeling that there is no way this collection of has-beens and never-will-bes (minus Cole Hamels) will be able to win that many games. Here is the text conversation that ensued from there between a few of my closest friends and I.

A few asterisks on the statements I made (I'm in blue). 
*Carlos Ruiz is 36
*Darin Ruf will turn 29 in July
*Cliff Lee is not dead 

So it will be an incredibly odd experience following this team this year. I'll tune in to catch the (luxury) train wreck that is the end of Ryan Howard's career. I'll tune in for Hamels' starts in the hope that he can be the best pitcher in the NL and net the biggest possible return for his services in a trade. I'll tune in to watch Chase Utley play in a shell of what Chase Utley used to be. I'll tune in to watch Freddy Galvis hit .215 and not be half the defensive shortstop Jimmy Rollins was. I'll tune in to watch Ben Revere be the weakest hitting corner outfielder (and really any position) in Major League Baseball. I'll tune in to laugh at anybody who starts a game for the Phils not named Cole Hamels. I'll tune in to pray Jonathan Papelbon can duplicate last season's performance so he can get traded off this team. I'll tune in to watch Ken Giles and Jake Diekman throw 100 MPH as over-worked set-up men. I'll tune in to see if the new Rule 5 center fielder, Odubel Herrera, has any discernible major league talent. I'll tune in to laugh and cry at anything that involves Dom Brown. I'll tune in to see if the new man in the booth, Ben Davis, will be better to listen to than Jamie Moyer. I'll tune in more to the radio than the TV broadcast because Larry Andersen is that good. 

Just know that I'll be tuning in way less than any year for the last 20 because the Phillies don't deserve our attention this year. The management was so insanely short-sighted that they don't deserve to be rewarded with high ratings or more than a half-full stadium. Maybe this is cynical, but considering Ruben Amaro is still calling the shots I feel like it's the only way to be.

I do love the Phillies, it's just a different kind of love these days. Here's to better days in the distant future..