Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta Braves

27
Sep
10

PHILLIES: Welcome to the Playoffs..

While it may not have been clinched the way the team envisioned it (a win in front of the home crowd on Sunday would have probably done the trick), the Phillies, in accordance to the Padres loss on Sunday, have mathamatically clinched a trip to the 2010 postseason.

For the Phillies, it will be the fourth consecutive season that they will play baseball into October. Pretty impressive considering it seems like yesterday that this team was widely considered one of the laughing-stocks of all of baseball. By yesterday, I mean a decade ago, but regardless, the fact that this team is arguably the model of success in the NL is still somewhat unfathomable for those who recognize the past of this organization.

Now, there is still work to do be done (such as clinching the division and best-record in the NL), but now with a guaranteed playoff birth, the Phillies now have to make some decisions regarding the near future.

Right now, the majority of the speculation surrounding the Phillies is about the potential playoff roster.

Who exactly will be representing the Phillies roster come playoff time?

Picking 25 guys, all for the most part have been playing at an extremely high level since the all-star break, to prepare for a five and then seven game series against one opponent. It’s really not as easy as it looks.

If you have as much difficulty as I do trying to break down the potential playoff roster, take a look at Phillies beat writer Matt Gelb’s s prediction at “The Phillies Zone

If you don’t want to look at that, I will take a stab at it myself once, barring a historically collapse, the division is clinched (one more Phillies win or Braves loss).

Something tells me I’ll be able to do that soon.

23
Sep
10

PHILLIES: Phirst Place Phils

I wanted to wait a little bit until I wrote this post (don’t want to jinx anything), but that rationale kind of bit me in the behind once Andy Reid went back on his word and made and announcement that could possibly set back the Eagles franchise for a decade.

So, change of plans. I am now going to use this post now as a subtle reminder of what you all should really care about if you are a Philadelphia sports fan.

THE PHILLIES ARE IN FIRST PLACE!

Along those lines, if their recent play is any indication, they will finish there for their 4th consecutive season.

Phillies fans may be seeing a similar celebration in the near future.

After sweeping the Atlanta Braves in a crucial 3-game set at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies now find themselves in a position that they could have only dreamed of a few months ago. With a 6-game lead in the NL East and a magic number that is now less than a handful, the Phillies are a well-played series away from clinching another NL East crown. With a winning streak that now sits at 10 games and the best record in all of baseball during the month of September, I am going to go out there on a limb and say that it won’t be too much of a problem for the Phillies to solidify their spot in the 2010 postseason.

Unbelievable.

Think about it for a second.  This is the same team who sat in third place behind the Braves and METS of all teams two months ago. This is the same team that has seen 17 players go on the disabled list, including three players with multiple stints on the DL. And last but not least, this is the same team that almost dealt All-Star OF Jayson Werth at the trade deadline, a move which would have shown that management had ultimately given up on the season.

The fact of the matter is, even with the plethora of shortcomings the Phillies have faced, they seemed have passed every test the baseball gods have sent there way.

Sure, they may have gotten some help. The Mets and Braves showed their youth and inexperience by faltering down the stretch. That was somewhat expected. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. pulled the trigger on one of the more lobsided deals in recent history. That, again, was somewhat expected.  However, there is no way anyone could have ever expected the Phillies to play themselves into this position once again.

But, they did.

If you look at most measures of baseball statistics, they are in fact a pretty good indicator of the Phillies prominence. With a current 10-game winning streak, a MLB-best 17-3 record in September, and a NL-best 44-15 record since the all-star break, it’s clear that consistent play at this high level is what ultimately brought the Phillies back into contention.

However, stats don’t tell the whole story. They don’t fully show how the addition of Roy Oswalt, the growth of Cole Hamels, or the stability that Roy Halladay provides has made the starting pitching, not the offense, arguably the Phillies most valuable asset. They can’t truthfully describe how important the recent resurgence closer Brad Lidge has been to the team’s championship puzzle. And lastly, there is no way a box-score and a stat-line can explain how the Phillies have been able to overcome their obstacles and overwhelming odds to virtually guarantee the fans of Philadelphia another post-season run.

Unfortunately, as most of us know all too well, there are no such things as guarantees. Especially when it it comes to baseball in September.

Or October..

31
Aug
10

PHILLIES: Staying Afloat

When the Phillies were swept last week by the lowly Houston Astros, you could see the cloud of concern hovering over the City of Brotherly Love all the way from Bloomington, Indiana (where I currently am right now).

Despite some recent struggles, the Phillies are still in position to have the opportunity to celebrate come October.

Not only did the losses come in all shapes and sizes, but the ‘Stros outplayed the Phillies, who are in the middle of a pennant race, in every single facet of the game. To make matters worse, the four losses to Houston took place in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park, as the fans were treated to a series where the home team was outplayed by a visiting squad who has been in the basement of arguably the worst division in baseball all season long.

Needless to say, it wasn’t very pretty, especially with a west coast swing hanging in the balance.

In response to that pitiful series against the Astros, the Phillies have returned he favor or sorts by winning 3 out of their last 4 games on the western side of the seaboard, including a 3-game sweep of the the NL’s best team (Padres) at Petco Park.

What a difference a series makes.

However, while the Phillies got tremendous pitching, solid defense, and contributions from unlikely sources (ordering my Mike Sweeney Player-T as I write this) against San Diego, Monday night’s 3-0 loss to the Dodgers put the Phillies problems under a large microscope.

Case and point, this team just isn’t hitting.

After being shutout and one-hit by Los Angeles SP Hiroki Kuroda, the offense seems to be entering their second major offensive slump of the season.

Now, if you think that these recent offensive struggles have not yet approached the 2.3 runs per game they averaged over a 20-game span from May 22nd to June 13 (a slump that caused that ultimately decided the fate of former hitting coach Milt Thompson), just take a look a quick look at the box score. Barely a month shy of the end of the regular season, the Phillies offense, which for the fourth season in a row are in striking distance of a divisional crown, has only been able to plate 28 runs in their last 12 games. For those mathletes out there, that is, yes, 2.3 runs per game.

Can’t blame Greg Gross for this one though.

While a 5-7 record during that span is fortunate to say the least, this recent stretch of play adds an unfamiliar element of doubt to this Phillies.

As the last couple years have shown, isn’t a team who has been widely considered the favorite to represent the NL in the World Series supposed to play their best baseball when it matters most?

When you are the same team that is entering a final month of a regular season that will feature 25 consecutive games against NL East divisional foes, including seven games against an Atlanta Braves team that currently holds a 3-game lead in race for the divisional title that this Philadelphia team has had for the last three years, that answer is very clear.

Especially when injuries can no longer can be used as an excuse.

17
Aug
10

PHILLIES: The Final Push

With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both speculated to return to within the next week, or via some reports even as early as Tuesday, it looks like the Phillies will finally have their full arsenal of weapons available to them for one of the only times all season sooner rather than later.

Perfect timing.

As of Monday morning, a off-day away from returning home for a four-game series with the San Francisco Giants, the Phillies are just two games behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL East lead, and are all knotted up for the NL wildcard berth with, go figure, the San Francisco Giants.

Needless to say, it would be very beneficial for a former MVP and one of the best middle-infielders in the game to return to a Phillies team that is still is looking to be the first club in over a half a century to represent the National League in the World Series three consecutive years in a row.

When Utley and Howard return to action though, they will join a team who is arguably playing their best baseball of the season, something that has been done without their usual contribution.

Don’t get me wrong; getting them back in their normal spots in the middle of the Phillies order and right side of the infield will only HELP this team. No one in his or her right mind with any credibility in the baseball world (not saying that I have any either) can deny that.

However, with Howard and Utley being activated to the active roster comes a move that will take away a big-league job two players who have made positive contributions to this team in the absence of the two superstars.

So, who will be moved to make room for Utley and Howard?

At this point of the season, especially with the addition of Mike Sweeney, consistency issues to the bullpen, and an influx of talent in the outfield, this will be a  very difficult decision for Charlie Manuel and company to make.

Just looking at the roster, it appears that a likely candidate for designation on the surface, Wilson Valdez, will stay this time around. Valdez, who has already been placed on waivers and designated for assignment on two separate occasions this year, is the now the only utility infielder on this roster (Juan Castro was released in late July). With Utley returning just 8 weeks removed from major surgery, and a questionable health status of both Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco, Valdez’s worth to this team is obvious when you acknowledge that he is a guy who can play those three positions (2B, SS, 3B) at a above-average level defensively in comparison to his big league counterparts.

If you think that’s farfetched, just look at his defensive stats.

For those who are most likely on the way out, one guy who sticks out right now is Domonic Brown.

If Domonic Brown is sent back down to the minors, it will only be a temporary move.

Yes, I said it before; it is possible that the decision to send him back to Triple-A will stunt his growth to becoming a formidable big-leaguer.

It still might.

But, with the rosters able to expand in just under two weeks (September 1st), sending Brown back for that duration of time to get everyday at-bats should be viewed and compared to a rehab stint rather than a demotion. If it were two months instead of two weeks I would think differently, but there is no question Brown, if sent back down now, will be back with the big league club at the end of the month.  Plus, Brown is one of the few players on the Phillies active roster that does not require to be placed on the waiver wire if he is involved in a move (has not been moved before and was already a member of the 40-man roster prior to the season). So, in this case, sending him back down without any roster consequences is undoubtedly a better move than designating a veteran player for assignment and losing him to a potential contender who has extra room on their roster.

Losing a talent like Brown for two weeks and possibly slightly delaying his transformation into a star is just a small price to pay at this point of the season, especially when you are chasing teams for a playoff berth instead of being chased.

In addition to this move, which will probably be made for whichever player (likely Utley) who makes his return first, a corresponding roster decision will have to be made for the second player (likely Howard) who is activated to the 25-man roster.

To make room for Ryan Howard, Greg Dobbs might be on his way out of Philly.

The latter of these moves is tricky. Again, after taking a gander at the roster, it looks that the Phillies will either have to designate a veteran, likely Greg Dobbs, for assignment and hope that he passes through waivers, or place someone on the disabled list until September 1st, where they can be activated without any corresponding roster move.

With that said, as most of you know, a team can’t place a guy on the disabled list if he, well, not disabled. Major League Baseball mandates a distinct medical process that determines if a player injury qualifies him for the DL, a process that severely limits teams from using this roster-exemption loophole.

However, the Phillies may be able to use this tactic with one of their own without being penalized. Ross Gload, who left last Tuesday’s game with the Dodgers with a groin strain, would be able to be placed on the disabled list without any repercussions due to the fact that he received an MRI that night that showed the extent of the injury that night.

The question is, do you want to risk losing the production Gload, who had been tearing the cover off the ball prior to his injury (9-for-24 in his last 10 games) for 15 days or until September 1st, just to keep a player like Dobbs, who has been ineffective for the majority of the season but has certain appeal to the Phillies and home fans due to his versatility and overall disposition, on board?

Once Chase Utley and Ryan Howard return to action, we have no other choice but to find out.

_____________________________________________________________

UPDATE ( Tuesday 2:50 pm)

According to Anthony Gargano of CBS Radio Philadelphia (610 WIP), Chase Utley has been activated from the disabled list. To make room for him on the 25-man roster, Greg Dobbs was designated for assignment.

An option brought up earlier in the post, this is now the second time he has been designated for assignment this season. For Dobbs, the next step is being placed on waivers, in which he will either be picked up by another team, or if he clears waivers without being picked up, will either be granted his release or most likely accept an assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

For more Utley updates, follow Phillies Beat Writer David Murphy at the ballpark  here.

07
Aug
10

PHILLIES: The Unsung Heroes

It’s August 7th, and with 15 disabled-list stints, an inconsistent offense, and without any semblance of a bullpen, the Phillies are just one game behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL East lead.

Baseball is a strange game.

Although, if their recent play is any indication, the adjective “strange” may be an understatement.

In the last 2 1/2 weeks or so where all-stars Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, and Ryan Howard have been out of action for the good majority of the time, the Phillies are 13-2 in their last 15 games and have successfully creeped back into the pennant race.

Tell me how that makes sense.

Now, I didn’t have much doubt that Phillies would be back in the hunt at this point of the season, but the way the players on the field are fueling this sudden rennisance with three superstars on the DL is what will make the last 55 games of the regular season all that more special.

That is if the Phillies make the postseason of course.

Here are three guys that are helping to make that ultimate goal seem possible with their elevated play.

C Carlos Ruiz

A streaky hitter by trait, “Chooch” is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball right now. By that, I mean he’s raised his batting average 35 points in the last 11 games. While he doesn’t have that many overall at-bats because of an injury that kept him out of action almost a month, that’s still an astonishing jump when you think about it. In addition to that, Ruiz leads the team in hitting with runners in scoring position, is the Phillies second-leading hitter overall (.302 BA is second to Placido Polanco) in terms of average, and is hitting at a scorching hot .454 clip (20-for-44) in his last 10 games. He’s also hit three of his five HR’s this season during that stretch for good measure.

OF Raul Ibanez

For all those who thought the 38-year old was washed up at the end up June when he was hitting a season-low .227, it’s time for you to go crawl into a corner. Actually, I’ll come join you. To prove all the doubters like myself wrong, all Ibanez has done in the past five weeks is raise his average an impressive 47 points (to a season-high .274), and solidified his status as an integral part to the middle of the order. Recently, he’s been even more impressive. During his present 14-game hitting streak (a season high), Ibanez is hitting .431 (22-51), with 3 HR and 13 RBI’s. Coincidentally, the Phillies are 12-2 during that stretch.

P Kyle Kendrick

Can’t believe I am actually casting Kendrick in this positive of a light, but since his short demotion last month to Triple-A Lehigh Valley he’s been downright phenomenal. As the much-maligned member of the rotation by default (Jamie Moyer’s injury), Kendrick has gone 2-0 in his last three starts, with just 4 ER given up in 19.1 IP, a figure that good for a sub 2.00 ERA. He’s the fifth starter for crying out loud. You can’t expect much better from Kendrick than that.

Before this post about “unsung heroes” of the Phillies most recent play is over and done with, you can’t talk about guys making outstanding contributions without mentioning  Placido Polanco. His gold-glove and all-star pedigree makes him impossible to be unsung, but his worth to the lineup, with or without the injured players who are sidelined, needs to be noted. I was a huge proponent of keeping Pedro Feliz in the fold instead of any other FA third basemen during the off-season, but Polanco’s .321 BA, stout defense at both 2nd and 3rd base, leadership capabilities, and recent hot-hitting (has hit safely in 14 of his last 16 games with .400+ BA during that span) has made me rethink my initial stance.

30
Jul
10

PHILLIES: Reaction to Roy Oswalt

For the second year in a row, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. pulled the trigger on the deal that will most likely define the MLB Trade Deadline.

Last year, it was former Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee who was shipped to Philadelphia, a move that gained national headlines and made the defending World Series champs even more dangerous.

We all know how that worked out.

This year, it is now Roy Oswalt, a perennial ace wasting the last year or so of his prime with the Houston Astros, who will be the next one to “take his talents” to the City of Brotherly Love in an deal to help the Phillies win their 4th consecutive NL East crown.

And what a deal it was..

THE GOOD

There is so much good to talk about regarding this deal that it needs to be split up into two different categories.

WHAT WE GOT

You just have to take a look at Roy Oswalt’s career stats for about five seconds to realize the type of talent the Phillies just added to their pitching rotation. His credentials are astonishing (3 All-Star Games, Top 5 in Cy Young voting 5 different season), and with his 143-82 career record in just over 9 1/2 big league seasons, it’s easy to see why this guy has been considered an ace pitcher for the better part a decade, a distinction that Dan Haren, Fausto Carmona, and other who had been linked to the Phillies have unfortunately never had.

Roy Oswalt is the newest member of the Phillies starting rotation.

While his talent was not a question, Ruben Amaro Jr. also made the Astros address a one of his major areas of concern without involving another team. At 32 years of age, there were clearly some worries among the Phillies brass that they were getting a guy who was on the back end of his prime (which is still at an all-star level) who was being paid like a guy who was in the middle of his prime. That was proven by the Astros paying almost half of his remaining 23 million-dollar salary over the next 1 1/3 years of his contract, an incentive that gives much needed financial support to a team that now has the 4th highest payroll in baseball.

While the Astros will end up the Phillies approximately 11 million dollars for Oswalt to pitch next year and the remaining 50 games this season for the PHILLIES is good enough in itself, it is the combination of obtaining a #1 caliber starter along with that cap relief provided by the Astros organization (Phillies will only pay 12 million to Oswalt over the next 1 1/3 years, a figure that comes out to a reasonable 9.3 mil a year), is what allows all this to look like a home-run (grandslam even) in terms of the value the Phillies got in this trade.

Oh, almost forgot, the Phillies do not have to pick up Oswalt’s 16 million-dollar 2012 option that he and the Astros originally demanded either.

WHAT WE GAVE UP

I’ll be the first one to say it. Phillies fans everywhere should be grateful for what J.A Happ has given to the organization. His 12-4 season last year was pretty tremendous, and considering he was the best pitcher on the struggling staff in 2009 before Cliff Lee showed up, it’s undeniable that he played a huge part in keeping that team afloat when Hamels, Blanton and company were struggling. He really never got the appreciation his was due.

With that said, the fact that he was the centerpiece of this trade (not Domonic Brown, Jayson Werth, or Jonathan Singleton) rivals a blessing from G-D.

Phillies P J.A Happ was sent to Houston as the centerpiece of the Oswalt deal.

While Happ has a certain attraction factor because of the talent he showed as a rookie, relatively young age, and an even cheaper contract, he was truly never viewed as an asset within the Phillies organization. For instance, he wasn’t even the rotation to start the 2009 season, as he was beaten out by Chan Ho Park for the 5th starter slot out of Spring Training. CHAN HO PARK! That alone should indicate the amount of confidence that Amaro and company had with Happ.

All things considered, J.A Happ needed a change of scenery.

The Astros, by giving Happ the dubious honor of being the focal point in this deal, seem to think that he has the makings of being a stud pitcher, possibly even an ace to replace Oswalt. In contrast to this, with the way Happ was treated (especially recently), it’s possible that the Phillies viewed his 2009 year as his eventual “ceiling” or even a possible fluke.

After finishing 3rd in the NL while dealing with added pressure of being involved in the Cliff Lee trade rumors, Happ seemed to have solidified his status in the rotation coming into the new year. That was short-lived though, as a rocky start to the 2010 campaign fueled by a 3-month oblique injury was the driving force which allowed Happ to fall out of favor with management for good. The fall from grace was so drastic that when he was finally healthy enough to pitch, he was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley because of fears that he didn’t have the “stuff” that once made him so effective.

As a fan of Happ but also a Phillies diehard, I hope his career in Houston lies somewhere in between.

For the other two 19-year-old prospects involved in the deal (OF Anthony Gose and SS Jonathan Villar), the Houston Astros better pray that the baseball futures of both these teenagers will pan out. As of right now though, getting this deal done without giving away any of the top three prospects (Brown, Singleton, and P Jared Cosart) or surging pitching prospects such as Vance Worley or Brody Colvin makes it look like Ruben Amaro is getting away with felonious crime.

Or something similar to blackmail of Astros GM Ed Wade.

Don’t get me wrong, both these guys have major talent.

While the Astros won’t have the ex-Phillies and current Astros CF Michael Bourn clone in Gose (a player who stole 78 bases at the minor league level last year) in the fold, they did trade him in a corresponding deal Thursday night to acquire 3B Brett Wallace from Toronto. Wallace, who was ironically involved in a deal last year that sent former Phillies prospect Michael Taylor to Oakland, is a player who should help impact them at the big league level right away, something that could really help Houston build for the future. With Villar, the Astros get a shortstop who is projected to have three above-average MLB tools (Power, Speed, Arm Strength) when all is said and done and his is ready for the bigs.

Overall, you can’t deny that Houston did get some short-term and long-term value.

However, with the leverage Roy Oswalt was once though to have earlier this week, it’s pretty remarkable that Ed Wade could only get the Phillies to give up an OF prospect in Anthony Gose that is AT LEAST three years away from making an impact in the big leagues and the SS prospect in Jonathan Villar that has a dreadful 42 errors in Single-A this season and is not even the top prospect in the Phillies organization at his own position (that honor goes to Double-A Reading SS Freddy Galvis).

Advantage: Phillies

THE BAD

Yes, there is some bad in the trade. Well, bad is maybe the wrong word.

More like, concerned.

On paper, it shows that the Phillies traded a pitcher that was 12-4 last year and two more young prospects in addition to the 10 or so they sent in deals for Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee for a pitcher in Roy Oswalt who has a record of 6-12 this season.

Now, there is no doubt that Oswalt is a better pitcher, than what shows up in the win/loss column. His 3.42 E.RA on the season is a clear indicator of that, and even with getting awful run support by virtue of playing on one of the worst teams in baseball,  he is still among the NL leaders in K’s (13th with 120) while ranking 47th in MLB in IP with 129 (better than NL All-Star Yovanni Gallardo).

But, with Oswalt being in line for single- digit wins and the first losing season (leads MLB in losses with 12) of his career, an obvious question remains.

Can Oswalt prove that he’s still the ace that he once was?

Time will tell.

If he is not, and the chronic back issues that he has and the pressure that comes along with Philadelphia come back to affect Oswalt, then the initial excitement of this deal could go sour very quickly.

THE VERDICT

Anytime that a GM can trade for an all-star star pitcher without having to touch any other parts of his teams big league roster, give up any of his top three prospects, and get 11 million dollars in cash back from the trading partner for good measure, it has to be considered a success.

I understand, if the Phillies kept Cliff Lee, they wouldn’t have had to do this.

Have to face the facts though. GM’s make mistakes too. Ruben Amaro decided not to keep Cliff Lee. In 1997, former Yankees GM George Steinbrenner (RIP) signed an unheard of Japanese pitcher by the name Hideki Irabu to a lucrative 14 million-dollar deal. He had a career 5.15 ERA with the Bronx Bombers, and was one of the biggest busts of the Steinbrenner regime. More recently in 2006, San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean inked Barry Zito to a notoriously awful 7 year, 126 million-dollar deal, something that he is still paying for today with Zito unable to produce a winning season in the three years since signing the dotted line. These things happen.

Will this deal help bring the Phillies back to glory?

By dealing Lee, Ruben Amaro thought the Phillies could be the same caliber of team and win with just the pure addition of Roy Halladay. When he realized that his intended goal may not pan out like that, he fessed up to his questionable decision and attempted to make amense for it by making a deal for Oswalt (Lee was out of the question) in an attempt to help save the season.

You can call GM Ruben Amaro many things, expletives even, but with this trade, “stubborn” no longer remains as one of those adjectives.

Can’t look into the past anymore either.

With Oswalt now in the fold, joining NL All-Star Roy Halladay and a surging Cole Hamels, you can now debate that the Phillies have the potential to have the most dominant starting pitching in the NL. While the rotations of the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, and San Francisco Giants may be able to give a pretty good argument in that regard, there is no question that those opposing teams (and other contenders) will view the Phillies, with their improved rotation combined with an already explosive offense lineup, as an even greater overall threat to represent the NL, again, in the Fall Classic.

They have to get in the post-season first.

On a that note,  I’ll set the final scene for you now.

First weekend in October. Phillies have a 3-game series with the Atlanta Braves to end the season. NL East, of course, on the line.

The potential Phillies starters for those games.

“Halladay–Hamels–Oswalt”

That alone tells me enough about this deal. Well done, Ruben.

13
Jul
10

PHILLIES: 10 Questions at the All-Star Break

Out of all the things that are up for discussion, debate, or argument regarding the first half of the Philadelphia Phillies 2010 season, one thing is for certain.

They went into the all-star break on a high note.

Sure, they may have only scored two runs combined in their final two games, and Roy Halladay may have pitched a nine inning shutout and got a no-decision in the outing, but the end result saw four game sweep against the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds, with Phillies and the hometown fans at Citizens Bank Park being the beneficiaries of three consecutive walkoff wins.

Do the Phillies have enough resiliency to return to glory?

Not bad for a team that has dealt with more injuries than any team in professional baseball not named the Boston Red Sox, a six-week offensive slump, and had their season literally hanging on life support last week after losing a series to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates

On paper, the Phillies may look like they have underachieved for the first half of the season. As the NL champs and frontrunners to return to another World Series, being in third place and 4.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East with a 47-40 record going into the break doesn’t live up to expectations. However, if you have watched this team or read The Philly Phour, you understand that their is a common silver lining when you take into account all that is happened in the first 87 games. Looking at the reasons stated previously, things could obviously be much worse. Taking into account the injuries, the slump in May/June, and the three losses to Pirates last week first hand, it’s honestly a miracle that Phillies are still in contention at this point of the season.

It’s even more of a miracle that they have done all this without trading away half their farm system in a panic move.

With the roster from the last two years still basically together and getting healthy, and coming off four straight wins against a top-tier NL team ,  it’s difficult to predict what will transpire in the next 75 games. There are still so many questions that reside with this team, and it’s future for the second half of the season.

10 Questions

1. Will the Placido Polanco and Chase Utley get back in time to help resurrect the season?

2. Can the Phillies offense start giving Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels more run support?

3. Will Ryan Howard regain his power stroke without sacrificing his near .300 batting average?

4. Will the underachievers (Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez) start playing near the all-star level they are capable of?

5. Will the overachievers (Kyle Kendrick, Brian Schneider, Wilson Valdez, Jamie Moyer) be able to keep playing at the level we have been accustomed to seeing during the first half of 2010?

6. Speaking of Moyer, will his 47-year old arm be able to hold up down the stretch?

7. Will Ruben Amaro pull the trigger on a trade to acquire a UTIL infielder, bullpen help, or a top/middle of the rotation starter?

8. Can Brad Lidge find some form of the consistency that was present in 2008?

9. Will the Phillies organization decide to part ways with a member of the Phillies outfield trio (Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez) to make room for phenom Domonic Brown?

10. Can the Phillies stay healthy?

If the majority of the answers, especially the last one, are YES, then I still am confident that the Phillies will come back, win the NL East for the 4th straight year, and make their third consecutive trip to the Fall Classic.

Whether that happens or not, it’s going to be a entertaining next couple months if you are a Phillies fan to say the least.




The Philly Phour

August 2017
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