Don’t stick a fork in the Phillies just yet

After five straight NL East championships, will this be the year that the Phillies are overtaken in the East? I had the chance to do color for FOX this past weekend and see this team in person for the first time this year. Although I’m not willing to say that they have no chance of coming back from 14 games behind the Nationals, I am comfortable saying that this team does not have the same swagger they had over the past few years.

There are years when things just don’t go right for teams. We all know that. But it seems that if it can go wrong for the Phillies, this year it has. Cliff Lee has one win. They have played most of the year without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Roy Halladay missed seven weeks. But every team has injuries. The biggest problem I see is the bullpen.

Last year, they got great years out of Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes to get the ball to Ryan Madson. This year, Bastardo hasn’t been nearly as reliable and Stutes is hurt.

So Charlie Manuel has had to try and piece together a bullpen that can get the ball to Jonathan Papelbon with a lead. Papelbon has been pretty good in save opportunities, blowing only three. The problem has been the seventh and eighth innings. On a nightly basis, Manuel doesn’t know who he is going to run out there. Trust me when I say this: there is nothing in the game that will demoralize a team faster than losing games after the seventh inning. It puts the offense in a mindset that says, “It doesn’t matter how many runs we score, it ain’t gonna be enough.”

In years past, the Phillies’ offense could outhit poor pitching. It is not that offense anymore. They do have Howard and Utley back, and that is the one of the reasons that I’m not willing to say they are done. With those two bats back in the middle of the order, they can overcome some poor pitching. But this team has to realize that no one is going to feel sorry for them. They have been to the Postseason five straight years. There are players who play their entire careers and never get an at-bat or throw a pitch in the Postseason.

The other reason I’m not willing to say the Phillies are done is that all the teams in front of them have not won before. The Braves have won, but not with this group of players. In this game you have to learn to win. So until the Phillies are out of it mathematically, I’m not going to say that they won’t make the Postseason. Because they know how to win. But they better start remembering in a hurry, or it will be too late.


Mitch, since I’m assuming you read these items and also assuming that you also have Ruben Amaros ear to a certain extent, I would like to share my thoughts for the Phillies near future with you.
Obviously, I realize this will be lengthy but I don’t have your ear on a regular basis and would appreciate your time.
As much as no one likes change, change is sometimes necessary. In the Phillies case, this is the case. Why, because 1st of all, Charlie Manuel has repeatedly proven that he is an above average “Players Manager” but a below average to poor “Game Time Manager” and he gets payed to be capable of handling both tasks!
Move Charlie to an Organizational Position away from the M.L.B. Club and move Ryne Sandberg up, now!
Next, Amaro needs to make a Trade Proposal to the Braves: Victorino, Ruiz, Hamels(If they can’t sign him)/or Lee if they do and Cash if needed, to the Braves for Bourne, McCann and Vetners.
Why, simple. This trade is a win win for both organizations. The Braves would automatically be considered a serious contender in this years Playoffs, which I believe would excite the Braves because they immediately would install 3 proven playoff performers which would include a World Series M.V.P. (if Hamels doesn’t sign) and would still get a “ACE” Pitcher in Lee if Hamels does sign.
The Phillies immediately begin rebuilding for the future. McCann is 5 years younger and much more expensive than Chooch and Bourne who will be a difficult sign for the Braves becomes a better fit for the Phillies, who is 2 years younger than Victorino, who would also be a cheaper sign than Bourne for the Braves, he’s also a legitimate Leadoff Hitter that the Phillies have sorely lacked and will be a F.A. this year whom the Phillies should immediately attempt to sign to a contract.
Come the off-season, Amaro will have to attempt to reacquire Hamels or a replacement, plus continue to pursue additional Bullpen help but Amaro needs to add one final piece to the offensive puzzle and that is the F.A. acquisition of Melky Cabrera.
End result:

(1) Michael Bourne – CF
(2) Chase Utley – 2B
(3) Melky Cabrera – LF
(4) Ryan Howard – 1B
(5) Brian McCann – C
(6) Hunter Pence – RF
*(7) Jimmy Rollins – 3B
(8) Freddy Galvis – SS

*Prefer to trade Jimmy Rollins and keep Polanco (Still can execute a Club Option for $5.5MM for 2013) instead of retaining the $11MM for Rollins over the next 3 years. If accomplished keep Polanco at 3rd base batting 7th and add more overall quality to the defense as well by not experimenting with Rollins at 3rd.

Finally, Amaro will have to be very active next season as well, recognizing that Utley, Polanco and Pence’s contracts would need to be dealt with at that time. Either with trades or other acquisitions.

Thanks for hearing me out Mitch, I’ll be curious if you do anything with this!

Even taking into account that you wrote this five days ago, you are hopelessly optimistic. What’s so hard about admitting that they have no chance? It’s as obvious that they won’t even make it to .500 as it was that you should not have been called in to pitch in game 6.

Wow, still bitter? Take a deep breath and let it go. Would a hug help?

Even before their collapse this weekend, there was no way in hell the Phils were going to win the East, just based on numbers alone. The Nats have won 60 games, playing .600 for the majority of the season. For the sake of argument, let’s assume the Nats play .500 ball from here on out, which means they go 30-30 and end up winning 90 games, not an unreasonable expectation based on what we’ve seen the first half and the fact that they are getting healthier. The Phils, on the other hand, have won 45 games with 62 to go. In order for the Phils to win 90 games and therefore be a factor in winning the East, they need to win 45 of the remaining 62 games (45-17) – that means they have to play better than .700 ball from here on out for the rest of the season. No way, no how. You keep saying that the Phils know how how to win and that none of the other teams do. You need to take off your Phillies hat and look at how the Nats are playing every day and recognize that they do indeed know how to win and are getting stronger every day. If the Phillies really knew how to win, they wouldn’t be 15 games out of 1st. Their season ended long ago and you need to recognize this and give credit where credit is due.

When I’m done sticking the fork into the Red Sox, would you like to borrow it for the Phillies ?

how about now?

Mitch.. I agree with your assessment that Miguel Cabrerra should be the MVP, however; I strongly disagree with your reasons. I have been hearing for years that a major factor in awards are how valuable a person is to his team, or if a team would have won or not without him. That really should not have any bearing on voters choices for these awards. In 1972, Steve Carlton won the CY Young award, with the dead last place Phillies, with 27 wins. Would they have finished last without Steve Carlton?? I’m sure they would have. Carlton did not have to lead his team to any post season venues to qualify for his trophy. With today’s thinking even 27 wins would not have been enough to be the Cy Young. Year end awards should be based on individual performances. Would Cabrerra have been less regarded if his team hadn’t made the post season. Baseball is a team game and takes all 25 players to win. Mike Trout is also an amazing player and should not be judged based on the Angels third place finish. Cabrerra should be MVP due to his Triple Crown performance.

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