PHILLIES NEED OVERHAUL: LOOK TO THE FUTURE

    Well here we are.  The dog days of another MLB August run for the Phillies and for the first time since 2006, they are not in contention for a playoff spot.  Unfortunately, as fans of this team we have become spoiled during the past eight years.  However, all good things must come to an end.  In the beginning of this season, I picked the Phillies to make one last run in the playoffs.  They have proved me wrong once again.  This season has been no different from the past few years, as the team has been riddled with injuries.  Unfortunately, this year their talent alone could not push them forward for one last playoff run.

     Last night was a milestone win for Charlie Manuel as he won his 1,000th game as a manager.  This is tremendous for a coach that many Phillies fans used to make fun of and humiliate.  Sorry Charlie…You have been awesome for this city and we will never forget you…just as we never forgot Jim Fregosi, Dallas Green, and Paul Owens.  Cole Hamels picked up only his fifth win with a masterful complete game showing.  Hamels is a disappointing 5-13 after a huge contract extension.  No one can totally fault Cole as his ERA has dropped to a more than respectable 3.65 and he is once again on pace for 200 Innings and 200 Strikeouts.  Hamels, like most of the Phillies has not received much offensive support from an inconsistent bunch of underachievers.

    Nonetheless, it is time to blow this regime up.  This team is way past its peak and there is no re tooling or replacing that can fix this team now.  Phillies ownership must realize that this team as we know it is done.  Believe me, as sad as it is to admit this as a fan, this team really has lost it.  It always starts at the top.  Ruben Amaro has been tremendous for the most part with an aggressive approach that has saw this team spend tons of money and make many trades year after year in order to compete for a Championship.  However, the past few years Amaro has not been able to make the moves that could retool this team and once again put them at the top.  Ruben, you are the first one that must go.

     Uncle Charlie, as much as the fans love you, the reign has come to an end.  The Phillies need a leader that is not afraid to discipline his players.  Yes, your management style did bring the team a World Series ring,; however, that team was much different than this one.  You had a younger core that was hungry…all homegrown talent…Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, and Kyle Kendrick.  Burrell is gone, Howard has been injury riddled and is a shadow of what he once was, Utley and Rollins are on the downward curve of their careers, Werth and Victorino (Both who were Rule 5 Free Agents) have moved onto other teams as have Brett Myers and Ryan Madson.  Carlos Ruiz is now a player that must go in my mind after a controversial involvement with PED’s and a 50 Game Suspension.  This leaves only two players: Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick who make up 2/5 of the Phillies starting rotation.

     The 2008 Team also had some extremely important key veterans like Jaime Moyer, Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge, Pedro Feliz, Geoff Jenkins, and Matt Stairs.  Face it tho, it was the home grown talent that brought this Phillies era to GREATNESS.  So yes, Charlie it is time to move on.  The Phillies need to rebuild.  So far…thats a new General Manager and a new coach.  Ok, now the current roster.  Contrary to what many fans have complained about, I was all for the Utley and Rollins extensions.  I believe in loyalty and these two players deserve to end their career with the team they started with.  They both still have a few years left in the tank, even if they are just here to mentor the next wave of youngsters.  

     Domonic Brown has solidified his spot as the Teams Starting Left Fielder for years to come.  Ben Revere, even after an injury is still very young and brings a lot to the table at Center Field.  Ok, so that means we need a new Right Fielder, possibly a younger free agent with some pop.  Now lets move to the infield.  Cody Ashe is your Third Baseman of the future so I would ride him the rest of this season to see what he’s got.  Freddy Galvis can be your starting Shortstop until Utley retires.  This leaves First Base with Ryan Howard.  The Phillies need to take a long hard look at this position because if I am making the decisions, I go with Darin Ruf and somehow eat the rest of Howard’s Contract.  I am sure that some American League team would be interested in his services…if only as a DH.  Carlos Ruiz needs to go and either bring up one of the young guys or sign a steady free agent.  

     Now we head to the Pitching arena, which on paper has been the Phillies strong suit the past four years.  Obviously, Cole Hamels is your ace and I firmly believe that this season is an aberration and that he will bounce back.  I think the Phillies definitely need to trade Cliff Lee in the offseason and get some young talent back to rebuild the farm.  Kyle Kendrick has been consistent enough to solidify a spot in the rotation.  The wild card is Roy Halladay.  If he comes back healthy here and is willing to sign a smaller contract to stay with the team, I am all for it.  I can see Roy Halladay ending his career here and then becoming an awesome pitching coach.  Then we have the two young prospects Johnathan Pettibone and Tyler Cloyd.  They should both be in line for a spot.  And finally, I am not a John Lannan fan so I either trade him or move him to the bullpen.  Relief Pitching is another area that must be upgraded.  I would scrap the entire roster, trade Paplebon and start over.

     Once again, I have never proclaimed to be an expert.  This is just an honest opinion from an honest fan.  I just believe that the time has come to rebuild.  No fan base ever wants to hear that word; however, this team as we know it is gone.  So in conclusion:  The Phillies need to cut their ties with Amaro and bring in a more intelligent general manager that thinks young, they should go with a manager that is tough and hard nose that knows how to get the most out of his players, one that will not be afraid to discipline and make changes.  I am not so sure that Ryne Sandberg is the answer…just a thought.  And then finally, the team must part ways with Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Carlos Ruiz, and Johnathan Papelbon all of who which can bring back some nice young prospects.  And then see how Halladay does and maybe bring him back on a smaller contract that is low risk/high reward.  This is my plan if I am Phillies ownership.  It should be interesting to see what happens in the next five months.ImageImageImage

PHILLIES: BUYERS OR SELLERS????

   Ok so it is no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies window for another World Series has almost closed.  Contrary to popular belief, I am one of the rare people that still feels that the Phillies have the ability to win a championship.  Although there is tons of evidence that this team is well past its prime, anything is possible in Major League Baseball just like any other sport.  How about a few years ago when the Phillies were the popular pick to win it all each year and then went out and were upstaged by different teams in the playoffs that carried a hot streak into October.  We had the 2009 version of the Phillies that made its second straight trip to the World Series, only to be smacked down by the New York Yankees in six games.

     After 2009, Ruben Amaro turned his attention to Pitching, mainly starting pitching as he tried to assemble a staff that could dominate the league and lead this team to another World Series Championship.  Let’s take a look back at how we got to this point.  In December of 2009, Ruben shocked the majority by trading away Ace Cliff Lee and acquiring Roy Halladay, maybe MLB’s most dominant pitcher of the past ten years.  This gave the Phillies a rotation of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick and a mixture.  But Amaro did not stop there, at the trade deadline the Phillies picked up former CY YOUNG WINNER and perennial all-star Roy Oswalt.  Oswalt gave the Phillies a three man rotation that was the best in the league.  Remember back to the end of that season…the Phillies limped into the playoffs while the San Francisco Giants were the hottest team down the stretch.  The Phillies would face the Giants in the NLCS with an opportunity to earn its third trip in a row to the big dance.  Well…we all know how that season ended…the Phillies were upset by the Giants who went onto win the World Series in a Sweep.

     No one can blame the Phillies for not trying as Ruben Amaro went one step further the following season by acquiring Cliff Lee in the Offseason signing him to a six year contract.  This was an unforgettable time in Philadelphia.  “THE FOUR ACES.”  The Phillies now had a staff of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Joe Blanton.  This was the modern day version of the 1990 Braves, maybe even better.  That Braves team had Gregg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery.  Well, this staff had a chance to upstage that staff and make history.  Well, it was short lived and injuries and other distractions hurt this team.  The Phillies ultimately lost in the NLCS to the Cardinals who went onto win the World Series.  A common denominator of this season to the past season…the Cardinals were the hottest team down the stretch while the Phillies once again struggled on their way to another Division Title.  “The Four Aces” never truly had a chance to take off and the Phillies were once again eliminated from Post-Season Play.

     Then the following season…it happened again.  The Giants once again dominated the league down the stretch and won its second World Series title in three years.  Well here we are now.  After his worst season as a pro last year, Roy Halladay is on the Disabled List after early season surgery.  Cole Hamels is 4-11 so far, and looks nothing like the Pitcher that was signed to a long term contract in the off season.  The funny thing is, Cliff Lee is 11-2 after a stellar season last year with no run support.  I think its safe to say that if it wasn’t for Lee, the Phillies would not even be having this discussion of wether to be buyers or sellers.

     Here we are, one week away from the All-Star break.  Ryan Howard is on the Disabled List with a torn meniscus.  Roy Halladay remains on the DL recovering from the shoulder surgery.  Chase Utley has just returned from the DL, where he has found himself four seasons in a row.  Adams, the million dollar set-up man is out for the season.  So yes, this team is injury riddled which would be an easy excuse for Phillies management to become sellers at the trade deadline.  Except there is one key stat that stands out.  The Phillies have dominated the Division thus far with a 23-12 record.  I firmly believe that is the most important fact.  Lets forget their inconsistency.  Lets forget their age.  Lets forget all of the injuries.  What has been the common theme the past few seasons in MLB.  It is not the teams that dominate most of the season that are successful in the post season.  It is the teams that battle adversity and become hot down the stretch.

     So with this…I ask the question…are the Phillies capable of one last run with the team they have?  I feel that the answer is definitely yes.  So with that, I believe the Phillies should be buyers at the trade deadline.  We are one game out of second in the NL East and seven games behind the Braves.  One would look at the Braves and wonder how they do not have a double digit lead in the division.  The truth is, the Braves have also been totally inconsistent as well.

     Ryan Howard has saw his best days pass him by and it may be a blessing in disguise that he on the Disabled List at this point.  The main reason being it gives the team a chance to see what his potential replacement Darren Ruf can do.  Secondly, the Phillies supporting cast of starters including Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan, and Jonathan Pettibone have done more than hold their own.  Also, despite his recent struggles, Jonathan Papplebon has the ability to dominate the closer position as he showed earlier with 14 straight saves and an ERA under 2.00.  Domonic Brown continues to shine and is among the League Leaders in Home Runs, RBI, and Runs.  Chase Utley is back and playing like his early days.  Ben Revere has hit safely in eleven of twelve games and has Eighteen Hits in Twenty-One games.

     But more important than any of these things is the awaited return of Roy Halladay.  Now Halladay may never be the Pitcher he was in his prime.  However, no one can question his heart and competitive spirit.  Halladay has never won a World Series so you can bet he will be at his best.  That is why Amaro brought him here in the first place: to win a WORLD SERIES.  Also, Cole Hamels is once again looking like the Cole of old.  So with that, I believe the Phillies should take one last crack at this.  By being buyers, they don’t have to sacrifice the farm.  I feel this team is one bat and one reliever away from contention.  Who knows what the future holds, but I think the Phillies owe their core one last shot at a ring.  By the core, I am talking about Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee.  As seen in previous seasons, anything is possible and I feel they have one last run in them.  Please Amaro…Don’t give up to soon.  This team has been there, up and down, and back again.  Lets try this one more time and at least if we fail…no one can say you didn’t go out trying!!!!!!!!!!ImageImageImage

500

Ok…so the Phillies have finally reached the .500 mark after some very inconsistent behavior in the first half of the season. First it was Roy Halladay going on the disabled list after some of his worst outings of his career. His ERA when he went on the DL over 8.00. Then it was Chase Utley going down after having an excellent month and a half. Utley looked like he was rejuvenated and was playing his best baseball since 2009.

Their starting Center Fielder, Ben Revere, who they acquired after giving up their best pitching prospect Vance Worley, is hitting under .250 with less than ten stolen bases. This is horrible production from a player who was supposed to bring swagger to the lead off spot. Then there is Michael Young, who the Phillies picked up in the off season to fill their void at third base. Yes…Young is 36 but he was projected to bring a stellar bat to Citizens Bank. Well, after hitting .350 for the first three weeks of the season, his average has now dipped to .257.

And probably the most disappointing aspect of the season so far, Cole Hamels with Nine losses and one win going into today. Also, an over 4.00 ERA. All this without getting more than 2.25 Runs a game on offense during his starts. Actually, that’s the third worst in MLB. Ouch! All of these very disheartening aspects and the Phillies were still one game under .500 going into today’s game against the Marlins. This is truly a testament to how well other aspects are going for the Phillies.

Today, The Phillies won 6-1 after winning 7-4 last night in extra innings on a walk off Grand Slam from John Mayberry. Today they were tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the seventh with Cole Hamels coming out of the game. Then wham…a two run triple for Ryan Howard and Bam…a Two Run Home Run by Dominic Brown.

Brown is finally coming into his own and is the hottest hitter in the Major Leagues right now. He has 10 Home Runs in Fourteen Games and now is second in the league with 18 Home Runs and 46RBI. Brown has been on fire and is finally showing why the Phillies would not trade him for anyone. He was their only “Untouchable Prospect.” Fans were getting weary after two seasons of disappointing call ups for Brown. Now he is their starting Left Fielder and is carrying this team on his BACK.

Ryan Howard has ten Home Runs and 30 RBI, despite seeing his production drop. And Freddy Galvis has been stellar on offense and defense in Chase Utley’s stead. In a cruel twist in events, Cliff Lee, who could not buy a win last year, is 7-2 with a 2.45 ERA and 88 Strikeouts. He is in the Top 10 in every pitching statistical category. If he keeps up this pace, Lee will be a CY Young Candidate.

The Phillies are now .500 and are looking up. They are only 5.5 games back of the Division Lead. If the Phillies can keep playing this way, they should be in great shape. Halladay is on track to come back healthy which would be like getting a star at the trade deadline as long as his shoulder is fully healed. Well, well, well. I would never have predicted this two weeks ago. The Phillies are Hot. And it’s not even the All Star Break Yet. Keep it up Boys.

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PHILLIES 2008-PRESENT

It’s hard to believe that Five Years have passed since the Philadelphia Phillies shocked the country and this city and win their second World Series, and their first since 1980. I remember what I was doing the moment that Harry Kallas and Chris Wheeler called that last pitch strikeout by Brad Lidge on Pinch Hitter Chris Hinske and the slow motion charge of Carlos Ruiz and Brad Lidge, Ruiz jumping into the outstretched arms of Lidge, the rest of the team mobbing the mound, Ryan Howard knocking over Chase Utley, Shane Victorino in an all out sprint jumping into the pile of players. These are just a few of the many memories that the 2008 Phillies provided for its fans in an unprecedented World Series Win.

The 2008 version of the Phillies was much different than the 2013 team. The only offensive players that remain are Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Carlos Ruiz. Cole Hammels is the lone pitcher that remains. Count that…Five Players…I repeat Five Players from that World Series Championship Team. Wow! My have things changed. However, those Five Players that do remain are the Five Core players that this Franchise was built around so in hindsight, they still have the core in tact.

After the Phillies won in 2008, Ruben Amaro made some unbelievable trades and acquisitions which certainly should have brought this team many more championships. That never happened…in 2009 the Phillies made it to the World Series once again, only to lose to the New York Yankees. This was after Amaro traded for former CY Young Winner Cliff Lee down the stretch, and also adding Pedro Martinez before the playoffs. The Starting Rotation of Cole Hammels, Cliff Lee, Martinez and Blanton could not get the job done. Neither could the Phillies offense.

In the offseason, in mid December, Amaro made one of the most controversial yet bold moves by trading Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners, while acquiring maybe the best pitcher in Baseball Roy Halladay. Amaro traded away its best pitching Prospects in Kyle Drabek and some other fine talent. No one seemed to care at this time as the Phillies had their Ace and Hammels and were poised for yet another run to the Big Dance. After struggling down the stretch, Amaro made another huge splash by trading AJ Happ, one of their aspiring starting pitchers to the Houston Astros for Roy Oswalt. The Phillies looked to again be the favorites only to lose to the eventual World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants.

Well…that offseason an even more dramatic roster move was made. The Phillies signed Cliff Lee to a long term contract, which gave the Phillies “4 Aces” in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hammels, and Roy Oswalt, and a great number 3 starter in Joe Blanton. It’s safe to say that the Phillies were huge favorites to make it back to the World Series and win. There have not been too many pitching staffs in history that could rival these names. However, Although Roy Halladay won another CY Young, Cliff Lee struggled and Roy Oswalt was hurt most of the year, which made him expendable. Once again, the Phillies were stunned by the upstart Saint Louis Cardinals who won the World Series. To add insult to injury, Ryan Howard tore his Achilles’ tendon running to first base in the last play of the game in that NLCS. He would be out part of the 2012 season.

The Phillies failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 2012 since 2007. This team had a tremendous run. They had so much talent, but unfortunately names on paper does not guarantee a World Series. Last Season…Roy Halladay had an injury plagued season while Cole Hammels had his best year as a pro. Although Cliff Lee had a horrible record, he became only the second pitcher to lose more than 10 games and have a sub 3.25 ERA. He also was in the league leaders in Ks, Innings, Complete Games and WHIP. Ok…so much has changed since tbs Phillies won the 2008 World Series.

Lets take a quick look at that roster that won the Trophy. Starting Pitchers were Cole Hammels, Brett Myers, Jaime Moyer, Joe Blanton, and AJ Happ. The Bullpen consisted of Clay Condrey, Chad Durbin, Scott Eyere, JC Romero, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. Brad Lidge was a perfect 48 for 48 Saves in the regular season and 5 for 5 in the post season. That feat may never be duplicated. Ok, on Offense the Phillies were stacked with power…lineup was Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Pat Burrell, Pedro Feliz, and Carlos Ruiz.

In that World Series, bench players made huge contribution. Starters made huge plays. Pat Burrel led off Game 5 part 2 with a Double. Eric Bruntlett replaced Burrell, was moved to third on a sacrifice by Shane Victorino and then scored on a single by Pedro Feliz in the top of the ninth. Then, Brad Lidge made the save after allowing two base runners. Game 4 was the blowout where Ryan Howard hit two monster blasts and Joe Blanton even hit a home run. Game 3 was the long rain delay, Eric Bruntlett gets hit by a pitch in the Bottom of the Ninth and scored on a seeing eye single by Ruiz. Game 2 was a loss and Game 1 was a tremendous win for Cole Hammels who went 8 and Chase Utley and Pat Burrell went back to back. That team had heart. That team had energy. Matt Stairs pinch hit home run in the Dodgers Series. Brett Myers 3 for 3 in a game 2 thriller. That was an awesome ride.

Now lets fast forward to 2013. Tube lineup will still have Rollins, Utley, Howard and Ruiz. But that’s it. Only Four. The Starting Pitching if healthy will trump that staff in 2008 on paper. However, will they be able to execute. We will soon find out as pitchers and catchers report this week. The Phillies will have a totally new lineup with Michael Young, Delmon Young, and Ben Revere. And Johnathan Papplebon replaces Brad Lidge as the closer. As mentioned…this team is far removed from the one that won it all. However, this team still has its Top 5 Core in tact. They could surprise everyone this year if healthy. Looking forward to it!

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Thursday Night Football Pick, Fantasy, Phillies

Week #4 already…which means another Thursday Night Football Game featuring the Baltimore Ravens VS the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens beat New England by 1 point and they are firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. The Browns have not played horrible this season, but they will not stand a chance against a Baltimore Ravens team that now has a potent offense to go with it’s stellar defense. I’m taking the Ravens by 10 points in this game. As far as fantasy goes…Start Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, And Baltimore’s Defense. Sit Anquan Boldin, Brandon Weeden, and Trent Richardson. This game should be the lock of the week. In other news…The Philadelphia Phillies Have failed to make that run that I predicted. They do not deserve to get into the playoffs. Being swept by the Astros was the turning point….unacceptable. Rumor has it that next year the Phillies will bring up Freddy Galvis to play 2B and move Chase Utley to 3B. Utley has had a comeback year and this move should benefit his health as 3B puts less wear and tear on his hips. As far as injuries go I would just sit Roy Halladay the remainder of the season. And yes…injuries did play a part in the disappointing season, but in my opinion they were not an excuse to not make the playoffs. This team was talented enough to overcome these injuries. Poor coaching, playing down to talent, and inconsistent offense were the main reasons this team will fail to make the playoffs for the first time in 6 years. Oh well…there is always next year.

Phillies Still In This

Well…you cant teach an old dog new tricks. However, an old dog can always find it’s way through difficult challenges. The Phillies have been fighting an uphill battle all season. They have truly been hit hard by the injury bug…and their Starting Pitching minus Cole Hamels has been inconsistent at best. They traded fan favorites Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the deadline as well as Joe Blanton at the waiver wire. There was also rumblings that they may move Cliff Lee. However…through all of this adversity the Phillies are only 2.5 games back of the 2nd Wildcard. As history has shown…once you get to the post season it’s anyone’s Game to win. After tonights win against the #1 Wildcard Team the Atlanta Braves…they are still in this race. They have won 4 in a row after dropping 3 out of 4 to the Astros. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley both homered again and continue to swing red hot bats. Kyle Kendrick…now the Number 4 starter went six innings and only gave up 2 runs lowering his ERA to 3.89. Cole, Cliff, and Roy have also been much more consistent as of late. Jimmy Rollins and Domenic Brown have also contributed immensely in the last month. Now they get Carlos Ruiz back for the stretch run…huge boost he is batting .332. Well…the Brewers and Cardinals are also hot but anything can happen. And the XFAcTOr is the bullpen which has really come on the past 2 weeks. 1 could argue that Jonathan Paplebon, who has been lights out, should be the Team MVP! Anyways….anything can happen…just ask the Saint Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants who both beat out the Phillies after Red Hot Septembers and rode those streaks to World Series Championships. All you die hard Phills fans…keep the faith…don’t jump off now! GO PHILLs!

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