Phillies Semi-Weekly Report Card #8

Record since last Report Card: 3-4

Overall Record: 41-36, 3rd in division (4 games behind Atlanta)

utleyWell, it has been a bleak day in Phillie Nation.  The big hit came with the announcement that Chase Utley will need surgery on his injured thumb and will miss at least the next two months.  It’s a devastating loss for a team that has already been scuffling for the past month and find themselves in third place as the midway point of the season approaches, after back-to-back NL pennants.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the team then went out and got beat by the NL-worst Pirates, and a pitcher who had an ERA of 11.00 (not a typo) over the course of his 4 starts coming into the game.  And just to rub a little more salt in the wounds, Brian Schneider left the game with a thumb injury.  With Carlos Ruiz and Paul Hoover already hurt, that means the Phils could be using their 4th and 5th string catchers if Schneider has to miss any time.  That’s the point it’s reached with the injuries: I’m wishing Paul Hoover was healthy. 

Over the last few years, us Phillie fans have been continually surprised and amazed by the toughness of the team, and their ability to will themselves to wins.  It’s July 1st, and the Phils are down 4 games in their division, they only have one starting pitcher they can completely count on, their bullpen is shaky at best, and they have 7 players on the DL, including their best player out for a long stretch.  If they can find their back into the postseason this year, it might be their most unlikely feat yet. 

Trade Rumors

We’re 30 days away from the trade deadline, so it’s time to start really tracking the rumors that are flying around.  Theharen rumor du jour surrounding the Phillies revolves around Diamondbacks ace Dan Haren.  David Murphy of the Daily News has a good breakdown of a potential Haren deal.  To summarize, Haren’s pros: he’s very, very good, he’s made 3 straight All-Star games, he’s already signed through 2012 with an option for 2013, his contract is reasonable, he’s averaged over 220 innings in his 5 full seasons, his name starts with H-a, which would fit great with Halladay, Hamels, Happ. His cons: he’s currently having the worst year of his career (4.56 ERA), the asking price will be steep, most likely requiring Domonic Brown.

Ruben Amaro will also be looking for an infielder that can help offset the loss of Utley for the next two months and add some power from the bench when Utley returns.  The most common rumor has been journeyman Ty Wigginton, who’s having a solid season for the Orioles.  I’m not sure how good he is defensively at second, but presumably he could play third, with Polanco at second, as long as Polanco isn’t out for a long stretch himself.  And with that, onto to this week’s report card…..

Position Players:  It was a fairly average week production-wise for the offense, but the odd thing was where much of that production came from: bench players.  Ross Gload started it off with 3 hits and 4 RBI in a rare start on Friday night.  Ben Francisco got a start on Sunday and responded with 3 hits, including 2 doubles and 2 RBI.  On Tuesday, the day Utley and Polanco were placed on the DL, Schneider and Wilson Valdez stepped up by each stroking 3-run homers.  In fact, over the last four games, Valdez is 6-13 with two homers.  Finally, on Wednesday, Dane Sardinha accounted for the only Phillie runs, with a 3-run homer of his own.  Notable among the regulars, Ryan Howard had a hit in all seven games, but just one multi-hit game.  It was also a somewhat sloppy week defensively, with 6 errors committed.

Grade: C+

Starting Pitchers: Roy Halladay faced his old team, the Blue Jays, on Friday night and they surely weren’t surprised to see him pitch a gem.  Halladay’s 7 shutout innings earn him Start of the Week honors.  It was almost sad to hear the Blue Jay announcers calling that game and having to watch Halladay dominate for a team other than their own.  In Halladay’s other start of the week, he pitched solidly against the Reds but surrendered a two-run homer in the 8th inning and took the 4-3 loss.  Jamie Moyer posted his third straight excellent start, giving up two runs in 7 innings to beat the Jays on Sunday.

The lowlights came from Kyle Kendrick (not a surprise) and Cole Hamels’s first start of the week.  Kendrick gave up 5 earned runs, including Scott Rolen’s 300th career home run (ugh).  Hamels went just 4 innings, giving up 5 runs, in a loss to the Jays.  It’s sad to say, but Hamels has been nothing more than an average pitcher ever since the ’08 World Series ended.  It would’ve been hard to believe that would happen at the time.

Grade: B-

Bullpen:  If you take away the 9th inning of Tuesday night’s game in Cincinnati, the pen had a fantastic week.  Aside from that inning, the pen pitched 12 innings and gave up just one run.  However, relief pitchers have a different job than starting pitchers, and runs allowed don’t tell the whole story.  It’s all about being able to get the most important outs, the ones in the late innings of close games.  The pen was only presented with that situation once this week, and Brad Lidge blew it.  He came in with a 6-3 lead and quickly retired the first two batters he faced, before disaster struck.  A walk, a single, and long Joey Votto homer followed, tying the game at 6.  Luckily, the Phils put up 3 in the 10th and Jose Contreras was able to put it away.  But, the questions remain, of course.  Lidge has looked great at times this season, but he’s hitting a rough patch right now, giving up 6 runs in his last 4 innings pitched.

Grade: B

Up Next:  The Phils have 3 more games in Pittsburgh and it’s really important that they win at least two of them.  Following the Utley news, they could really use some positive momentum heading into a big series with the Braves on Monday.  It looks like the starters for that Braves series will be Halladay-Hamels-Moyer.

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2 Responses to Phillies Semi-Weekly Report Card #8

  1. bry says:

    I’ve been praying for a Danny Haren acquisition ever since I heard he might be available. If they can find it in the budget to pay Haren and Werth, then Brown might be expendable. It might only have to be a one-year thing, too, as Moyer could come off the books this year (despite his likely All-Star appearance) because of Haren, and Ibanez would come off the books next year.

    THIS is exactly why it was so important that the Phils get value for Cliff Lee. If Aumont, Gillies, and Ramirez were any good at all, they could use them as trade bait for Haren. But, they are all disappoinments so far, so Amaro hit the double-whammy–they lost Cliff Lee AND left themselves without a farm system

  2. Doogan says:

    Yup. It’s hard for me to see them parting with Brown to add another big contract. That would leave them with NOTHING in their farm system, and a team who would have almost every key piece over 30 next year, with the exceptions of Hamels and Happ.

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