|Picture by Richard Wilkins Jr.
Some initial thoughts on what went wrong in 2014:
- Cliff Lee's health- If you stopped here, this team was doomed from this. I'm not blaming Cliff so much, he's in his mid-30s and this happens at that age. I'm blaming the Phillies for this killing them off. Cliff is simply that important to this team, and it showed.
- Dom Brown- It's not just that Dom had a bad season, or a bad attitude it seemed- it's that the Phillies were banking on him. He was the bridge from the old players to a new regime, he was going to be an MVP contender. We thought 2013 was a break-out year, but it was a break-out month really.
- Bobby Abreu had a bad spring training game in right, and our GM is stupid- You pick your bench to hit, not to play defense, unless you're Ruben Amaro Jr. Now, Abreu's bad day in the final 96 hours of spring training did cost him a spot, but more symbolically serves as a reminder that he was cut and Darin Ruf was never committed to, but Tony Gwynn Jr. and John Mayberry Jr. were on the team for months. The bench selection produced an incapable bunch.
- Early bullpen losses- You might question me putting so much emphasis on the bullpen blowing 1/5 of the April and early May games, because it was early. Fair. On the other hand, this team needed a good start to feel like a contender again. This team couldn't hit enough to sustain giving away games. This hurt.
- Ryan Howard- I hate to do this to a Phillies legend like this, but he hit .223. His OPS was .690. He lead the league with 190 strikeouts. His 23 homers and 95 RBI's don't negate those awful numbers. He had to be old Howard for this team to contend. He's not.
- Chase Utley's bad second half- What? Yeah, Utley was horrible after the All-Star game, and seemed to tire. This should be fixable in 2015, but it didn't help in 2014.
- Burnett and Kendrick- I should be happy we got 400 plus innings from our third and fourth starter, but I watched them. Neither was very sharp this season, and it hurt bad.
- Sandberg's hands were tied by the front-office- He wanted to bench Ryan Howard, and the GM supported him. He basically had benched Dom Brown, but then started to play him again, oddly. The front office was making non-baseball decisions, at least I think, and it hurt the team.
- Some bad guys got starts- I put this on Sandberg. Too many at-bats for Jayson Nix, Tony Gwynn Jr., and the other garbage on that bench. Galvis and Hernandez never broke out either, which was disappointing.
- The team wasn't shook up at all- The team was out of it since June, at least. They never dumped guys off the roster and shook it up. A younger team might have played harder down the stretch. This group never was shook up though at all, and just got older and worse.