I woke up on October 4th to a very unfamiliar feeling. The Phillies season had just come to a not so dramatic end, but the playoffs had yet to start. Maybe we’ve been spoiled the past five seasons as fans, but not seeing the Phils take the field in October is just plain wrong.
This team was supposed to pitch it’s way to a 6th straight NL East title, but fell oh so short of reaching that goal. On the bright side, now is the time for finger pointing!
There is plenty of blame to go around for this fiasco, so let’s not be shy. Why not concentrate your anger at Ruben Amaro–he built this ‘flawed’ team, after all. Did he really think that a lineup carried by Hunter Pence and Jimmy Rollins could win games?
Charlie Manuel deserves a share of blame too. His hands off, low key approach is great when things are going well, but his mis-management of the bullpen and failure to ignite a stagnant lineup doomed this team countless times.
Before I get carried away playing the blame game, the end of the season does warrant some award ceremony. Since the roster is void of any candidates for MLB accolades, I am handing out the following honors for the 2012 Phillies.
With Chooch’s stellar season off the table, the Phillies non-Chooch MVP has to be Cole Hamels. Hamels was the only Phillies starter to pull his weight in gold (or millions of dollars). Cole’s consistency through the contract negotiations and trade rumors was a testament to just how good this kid is.
He finished the year with a career high 17 wins and 216 K’s. For all the sabremetricians reading, he also posted an ERA+ of 132 and a WAR of 4.2 (both bests on the club not named Chooch). It may be a bit unorthodox to give an MVP to a guy who only plays every fifth day, but is there really a position player (not named Chooch) worthy of the honor?
The answer is no. Cole was the man for the Phillies all season, and thankfully will continue to be for the next seven years.
Most “2012 Phillies” Moment of the Year
July 5th, Phils vs. Mets
Phillies lead the Mets 5-4 heading into the 9th. Enter “star” closer Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies were floundering at nine games under, but could have taken the series against the Mets in the finale, and given the club some momentum heading into the All-Star break.
The game was set up the way Ruben Amaro designed it–with Papelbon in to shut the door in the ninth. That outcome was not be.
Daniel Murphy cued a liner off of Papelbon to tie the game, followed by a dying quail off the bat of David Wright to seal the victory for the Mets. The game was supposed to end with the Phillies on top, but the balls just didn’t land their way.
If that doesn’t sum up the Phils season of heartbreak and disappointment I don’t know what does.
Big Offseason Move the Phils Should Make
Free-agency can be a major gambit as the Phillies found out recently. Papelbon was decent, but he certainly wasn’t worth the dollars the team invested in him. Hopefully, the team has learned it’s lesson and realized that it needs to create more flexibility rather than simply give away long term deals like candy. To get that flexibility the team will have to make some harsh cuts. At the top of that list should be Ryan Howard.
Yes, Howard was coming off a major injury that forced him to play below 100%, but his numbers have been steadily declining since 2009. His contract is an albatross, but if the Dodgers-Red Sox deal in August is any indication, there is no such thing as an immovable contract. The Phillies have $25 million committed to their first baseman through 2016, money I’m sure they would love to be able to spend elsewhere. I would happily pay 2006 Ryan Howard $50 million, but that player is long gone.
Players don’t get better at 32 [EDITOR'S NOTE: Chooch not withstanding], and there are no guarantees he will ever fully recover from his achilles injury. If the Phils are serious about turning around this club to compete in 2013, Ryan Howard needs to go.
Big Offseason Move They Should NOT Make for the Love of God
Ruben Amaro Jr., if you are listening [EDITOR'S NOTE: He's not.], do not– I repeat–DO NOT–sign Michael Bourn! Don’t be fooled by his high ranking in fantasy baseball leagues. While Bourn’s speed is very tantalizing, his near .200 2nd half batting average should be a warning to all GM’s. If his contract demands weren’t outrageous this would be a different story, but his projected asking price at five years is just too long. Players at his age don’t get any faster as they get older.
Projected 2013 Opening Day Lineup
- SS Jimmy Rollins (He won’t run out balls unless he bats lead-off)
- RF Nick Swisher (This will be fun)
- C Carlos Ruiz (Chooooooooooch)
- 1B Ryan Howard (Whether we like it or not)
- CF John Mayberry Jr. (Because f*@k it that’s why)
- LF Domonic Brown (One full season, that’s all we ask)
- 3B Eric Chavez (would a Chavez/Frandsen platoon be that bad?)
- 2B Freddy Galvis (when was the last time Utley played opening day?)
- P Cole Hamels (Opening day starter for years to come)
–Ethan Seidel (@yearinbaseball)