Rich’s Everything Phillies Post, 6/18

I put this up to feel better.

Look at that price- Grandma's on to something for these Phillies. 

The minor leagues- refuge from Phillies' hell.

Alright, I'm going to jump from topic to topic. I've got lots to write tonight.

We'll start with some bad news that is not related to the team on the field currently. From the article about Dom Brown's injury:

Brown, now 24, has spent this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley to become a more seasoned player, acquire everyday at-bats and hone his defensive skills in left field. Though many outside the organization suggested calling Brown up after a couple good weeks in the batter's box, the Phillies want him to have prolonged success this season before they consider recalling him.

But it's difficult for any player to put together any type of elongated, uninterrupted string of performances when injuries keep sidelining them. That's been the narrative of this season for Brown, who is currently out yet again with a strained posterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee. It's unknown how long he will be out of the lineup, and right now it seems the only remedy is rest to let the swelling diminish.

Translation: a couple weeks before he plays. Translation two: He's not ready to come up and take the spot of a traded-Victorino.

Dom needs to play and get hot. He needs to get up this season and show he can play big league baseball. If the 2012 season is dead and done, and it's looking like it, then the goal is to get back to contention in 2013 and win the World Series. If you're going young, he's part of it. He needs to get healthy and play.

Jim Thome- you are the man. I hope the Phillies deal him to an AL team that can use him as a DH and give him a chance to win the elusive World Series. My picks- Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Tampa. Detroit's really alluring. They need help bad at DH, and Thome's showing he could provide that.

Ok, here's where I unload on this crappy team.

The Phillies are 31-37 after this weekend's sweep at the hands of a mediocre Toronto team. This means that after 68 games, with 94 to go, they are on a pathetic 74 win pace. They must go 50-44 to win 81 games this year. I've held 87 wins as the minimum to make the post-season recently. They would have to go 56-38 to do that. If it takes 92 wins to win a competitive division like this one, which isn't a bad guess, they'd have to go 61-33. All of this means, in laymen's terms, the math is heavy against them, since that would be beginning tomorrow in their home games with Colorado. I'm not saying give up, at least not yet, but these ten home games in a row may really be the last, best chance to save this season. In 19 games, when they hit the All-Star Break, if they haven't begun to change their math problem, the season will be over, and it will be sell-mode time. If after 87 games, they are still six games under, and nine back in the division, it's hard to say how they'd come back.

On the other hand, they're just five out of the post-season.

On the other hand, I ask you this- do you see a comeback out of this team? Sure, in 19 games, we may be looking at the returning Ryan Howard, to join an already back Chase Utley. Roy Halladay may be heading to make a rehab start. With that said, let's have an honest talk here- if they go 10-9, which is on the charitable side of .500, heading towards that point, they'd be 41-46. That math problem I just talked about in the last paragraph, gets harder with every game that ticks by without positive outcomes.

This team's problems won't just disappear the minute these guys get back, nor are they simple to pinpoint. If you want to argue that this team isn't that bad at situational hitting, I'll point at their lack of a come-from-behind win after the seventh, they eight walk-off losses they have against them, and zero for them, and their penchant for losing extra-inning games- like every week. The mental errors, not to mention the charged ones, the bad base running, the lack of big hits, the penchant for giving up the big hit- it's all adding up. This team is much worse than the sum of their parts. They find ways to lose. They don't fit well together in a line-up, they lack power, and they're not good enough to get over that. Their pitchers seem defeated to me- and the team's poor performance is even beginning to show up on Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in key spots.

What we can hope is that the league stays in single digits for this team to get into the playoffs, they get healthy, they get hot, and they make a run and fire into the post-season on fire- and then run over a league full of deer-in-headlight surprise playoff teams, which currently does seem possible. That seems to be less and less likely with each crappy week that passes. As is, I'd probably trade someone like Shane in the next week or two, hope it kick-starts the team, and hope I recover a good haul- which is to be read as three prospects, all of which big league caliber, and at least one is top 100, at a bare minimum. The Phillies probably hold off the 19 games to the All-Star game though before doing anything- which probably isn't the worst thing they could do.

Brad Lidge got released. Yes, the guy who said the Nationals were the most talented team he's ever been on, got released. That's a stupid statement for a guy who's been in three World Series, won one, and five NLCS's, but hey, whatever. I still like Lidge for the good times here, and for him being stand-up. I hope someone picks him up. I just don't want it to be the Phillies now.

Williamsport has a roster out. Legendary IronPig Andy Tracy will be the skipper. Some names to watch: Larry Greene (2011 supplemental first rounder, listed in the outfield), Roman Quinn (2011 second rounder, a shortstop/second base/outfield prospect), Tyler Greene (a 2011 draft pick who had been in Lakewood), and Mitch Walding (a shortstop picked in the 2011 5th round). I guess the real issue is that three-quarters of those names play shortstop, but hey, whatever. I'm super-high on Quinn personally, but we'll see.

Williamsport opens up tonight against State College.

There was a mini-Twitter-debate about whether or not the Phillies should even entertain trading Chooch. Count me on the side that says trade almost anyone if the value is right. Now this is not full-out advocacy for trading away the starting catcher at all, as I think he's a valuable piece here. He's 33 years old though, and is facing an option for this winter, meaning he could be seeking a new deal while he's very high performing, and also meaning he could have high trade value right now. I would not give away Carlos Ruiz, his value to the staff is huge, his offense is good, and he's affordable currently. I'm just saying, if someone called with some good prospects for him, and blew you away, you do it. Selling high isn't a bad thing.

Minor league updates:

  • Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA-International)- 39-29, 2nd place in the IL North, five games back of Pawtucket (Red Sox). They just split a four game set with Durham (Rays). They now head to Toledo and Columbus for the next week. Ryne Sandberg is once again impressing as a manager, winning games despite the continuing merry-go-round of players between Lehigh Valley and the Phillies. Tyler Cloyd (6-1, 2.15, 58.2 IP, 42 K, 12 BB, 0.89 WHIP with the Pigs, 9-1, 2.04, 83.2 IP, 62 K, 15 BB on the season) has been leading the staff. He leads the league in ERA. At age 25, he's starting to raise some stock for himself with the performance. Phillippe Aumont has four saves and has given up just two runs in June, out of the 'pen. The 23-year-old is on the 40-man. Cody Overbeck, Derrick Mitchell, and Erik Kratz are tied for the team lead in homers with six, Overbeck leads in RBI's with 31, and Kyle Hudson leads the regulars in average at .280. Dom Brown has a .266 average and a .730 OPS on the season.
  • Reading Phillies (AA-Eastern)- 38-28, 2nd place in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League, .5 games behind Trenton (Yankees). This prospect-packed group has lived up to their billing overall, but the "Baby Aces" are starting to do so right now. Julio Rodriguez won today, going seven strong. The 22 year old is 4-1, with a 2.81 ERA in 73.2 IP, with 71 K, 34 BB, and holding opponents to a .220 average. Top ranked prospect Trevor May went through a rough May, but is 6-4, with a 4.78 ERA in 69.2 IP, with 73 K's to 27 BB's. Fellow "Baby Ace" Jon Pettibone is 6-5 with a 3.62 ERA in 79.2 IP. He relies on the ground ball, and is generally getting it. Closer Justin Friend is 1-0, with 12 saves, and a 0.39 ERA this season. Darin Ruf (.330, 11 HR, 44 RBI's, .949 OPS) and Cesar Hernandez (.316, 1 HR, 31 RBI's, 12 SB's, .794 OPS) have been leading the offensive charge. Sebastian Valle has struggled to a .249 average and .674 OPS behind the plate, and Tyson Gillies (.280 average, .777 OPS, 35 R's, 6 triples, 7 SB's in 42 games) is out with a concussion from a collision with Jiwan James in the outfield. Leandro Castro has hit .288 this season, a pleasant surprise from him. 
  • Clearwater Threshers (A-Florida State) 34-29, 2nd place in the North Division. Jesse Biddle has been the main story, but pitching is dominating here. Biddle is 3-3, with a 2.98 ERA this season, with 70 K's in 60.1 IP, and only walking 21. Austin Wright (6-1, 3.91 ERA, 69 IP, 67 K, 30 BB) and Adam Morgan (2-6, 3.57 ERA, 68 IP, 76 K's, 19 BB's) have been pretty good too. Cody Asche (.343, .815 OPS) and Carlos Alonso (.299, .799 OPS) have been the hitting stars, though Anthony Hewitt (8 homers and 28 RBI's) has supplied the power, and Zach Collier (.339, .853 OPS) has supplied the offense since returning.
  • Lakewood (A-South Atlantic)- 26-43, sixth in the Northern Division, 19.5 games out. Well, this season's been fun, based on the record, right? Harold Martinez, a high pick in 2011, is hitting .262 at the corner infield spots, and Kelly Dugan's line isn't bad (.253, .791 OPS, 6 HR's, 20 RBI's, 20 x-BH's). Ethan Stewart (3-6, 3.76 ERA, 1 CG, 69.1 IP, 48 K's) has been the best bright spot on this team.
That's all for tonight, for my sanity's sake.