The Key Here is Howard: Phillies Year in Review, Part Three


A tearful Phanatic has placed a pillow over the face of the 2013 Phillies, eyes clenched as they began to twitch frantically under his weight, and then lied still. The end is here.

And so, we at TBOH have come up with some general questions about what could go right next season and what so stupid about the recently completed one.

Here are parts one, featuring Ethan Seidel, and two, featuring John Stolnis. Today, Wednesday, we got Ben “Ben-dnesday” Horrow:

Sep 13, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (38) hands the ball to manager Ryne Sandberg after being removed from the game against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

What does Ryne Sandberg need to do to be the Manager of the Year? How will Kyle Kendrick ruin it for him?

In order to become manager of the year, Ryne Sandberg needs to outdo the expectations set forth for him by a combination of the media, the fans, and the organization. Managers win these awards when their team, usually a team with few big names, accomplishes something either historic or unexpected. It always helps to come from a smaller market in which the media in particular places fewer expectations. Overcoming things like injuries or a trade that dumped big name players in order to reach the playoffs is usually considered important when considering the winner of the award.

Playing in Philadelphia, and barring any major free agent signings this offseason, Sandberg has a chance to win the award if the Phillies make the playoffs next season, and will assuredly do so if the Phillies experience injury issues as well. Also, never discount the efficacy of a well-timed and well-placed bribe.

The mere idea that one player can preclude a manager from the award is ridiculous, but unfortunately it’s reality. KK won’t by himself, but he could be a nice poster child next season for the type of team the Phillies will be, mediocre.

Without Charlie Manuel, the Phillies see a dramatic drop in Folksiness%. What are the best ways a full year in Ryne Sandberg’s clubhouse will be different?

I enjoyed the folksiness of Charlie, especially since it was an awesome tool in deflecting the media attention from his players. Sandberg will have his own style, and hopefully it allows him to accomplish his two most important tasks as manager, and that is dealing with the media and keeping the players mentally and emotionally fit. Much of what a manager does is not screw things up. Keeping things on an even keel matters a lot. For example, a manager that doesn’t have the respect of his players is bad, but once that respect is gained, we don’t measure managers based on how respected they are. Also I hear beer and fried chicken are causes of losing, so hopefully they keep Delmon Young from returning.

Sep 28, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) watches from the dugout against the Atlanta Braves in the third inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Sandberg has talked of how important Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins’ roles will be next season. Why is he putting so much emphasis on the older, more injury-prone crowd? And did he not see Chase Utley? He’s standing right there, thinking about hitting mechanics. Wave to Chase, everybody! Oh, he looks mad. I guess he always does. Still, though; stop waving.

It makes sense that out of the three most notable veterans on the Phillies squad, that Sandberg would single out the performances of Howard and Rollins as vital to the 2014 Phillies’ success. Utley has been the team’s most valuable player this season, and he’s done so while missing games due to injury, and not playing nearly as effectively as he did earlier in his career.

Despite his drop in production and overall value, both Howard and Rollins’ production have dropped even more. Both players have shown they can be quite valuable and productive in the past, but due to age and diminishing skills, they have become shells of the players they once were. Really though, the key here is Howard who is younger than J-Roll, and has either been abysmal on the field or injured and off of it.

He gets paid way too much money (thanks to one of the worst contracts in baseball) to be as bad as he has been. Given the looks of the roster right now, both guys will be asked to start 150+ games, and if they don’t produce, the replacement options aren’t very appetizing. This is the hand Sandberg has been dealt, and he’s merely pointing out an obvious fact, but unfortunately, he’s betting on a long shot.

Darin Ruf’s role on the 2014 Phillies will be as a _______ly effective _______.

(As a 120 wRC+ hitter)

He’ll be an outfielder and 1st baseman, but predominantly an outfielder. Overall, looking at Ruf’s defensive abilities at 1st and in the outfield, his value to the team will come through his hitting. If he hits, he’ll play, but if he struggles, it becomes tough to justify his place in the everyday lineup. I think his hitting is good, and while he might not have the same roll on a better team, he can help the Phillies lineup.

He should become the platoon man against LHP at 1st base and play the rest of the time in the outfield, but more likely he’ll either play the outfield or start on the bench.

How many miles away from Philadelphia will Roy Halladay spend next season?

765, which is the distance from Philadelphia to Wrigley Field in Chicago. I know he’s said he wants a WS and that’s it, but I don’t see any contending team taking more than a spring training invite on him right now. A team like the Cubs would pay him to come in, hope he pitches well with the intention of trading him at the deadline. That’s more likely.

How many miles away from civilization will Roy Halladay spend the next season?

I believe that in his mind, Roy is never far from Colorado’s awesome mountainous landscapes. So….. 100 miles from civilization should do it.

Assuming Hamels and Lee are retained, fill out the last three spots in the rotation. EXTRA CHALLENGE: Do it again, using solely arms from the farm system. Ha ha, no, don’t. Actually yeah, do it.

1) Lee, Hamels, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Pettibone

2) Lee, Hamels, Kendrick, Pettibone, Morgan

Kyle Kendrick showed a glimmer of dominance early in 2013, and is almost 30 years old now. Assuming someone else is now the ‘little brother’ of the team, who is it? Or do the Phillies not have the chemistry to establish jokey little roles like that anymore, choosing to brusquely pass each other in the hall and avoid speaking to each other?
I think Ben Revere is that guy, but I think a more realistic choice is Cody Asche. If the Phillies have problems with each other, it’ll only make it more difficult for a team that doesn’t stand to win many games right now.

How many Phillies problems were solved by the demolishing of the Vet Stadium tower?

Negative. It has no impact, but given that the team gains 2-3 problems per week without doing anything, it’s had the opposite effect.

Sep 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (26) scores as Atlanta Braves catcher Gerald Laird (11) can

Chase Utley: Offensive leader and ideal example for young players to follow, or unkillable baseball cyborg who will stand amongst the smoldering ashes of Citizens Bank Park as the lone survivor of the End of Days?

Yes to the leader, but no to the cyborg. Utley, while god-like is just that, only similar. He’s human, and when he passes away, he’ll have his his bones buried under the second base bag at CBP allowing him to haunt the stadium until it eventually goes the way of the Vet. It allows him to have that leadership-like influence over every young player the Phillies will have for the next few decades.

Rank these young people in the order of their significance to the 2014 campaign: Cody Asche, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, Ethan Martin, Jonathan Pettibone, Justin De Fratus, Jake Diekman.

Pettibone, Asche, Diekman, De Fratus, Martin, Hernandez, Galvis.

Will the Phillies do the responsible thing and start hunting for starting pitching to sign or will they do the ‘Phillies’ thing and immediately sign a 40+ outfielder who has to sew his arm back on between innings to be an everyday corner outfielder?

I’ve made the case on TBOH that the Phillies should start and continue to start an outfield of Revere, Brown, and Ruf. Still, everyone knows that RAJ’s spending senses are tingling and to leave those urges unfulfilled is tantamount to not urinating with a full bladder. The smart signing is someone like Mike Morse who can play outfield and 1st and is a power right-handed bat with veteran experience, but not so old. Also he’d cost some money, but nothing that would cause Ruben to not be able to upgrade elsewhere.

I think the Phillies will go looking for both outfield and pitching help. Looking at the outfield market there are some glaring mistakes waiting to be made, including Delmon Young (again), Jason Bay, etc… Nonetheless, the market for pitching has just as many mistakes waiting to be made. Knowing his love for big name pitchers, RAJ will probably look to overpay Ervin Santana, Rickey Nolasco, Josh Johnson, or Phil Hughes. The best we can hope for will be a couple of overpaid relievers.