In the short term, Roy Halladay’s latest DL stint may help the Phillies. That is how bad things have gotten. Cloyd, Morgan, the pitcher the Phillies call up will likely perform like a bottom of the rotation starter. This means, they could at least keep you in the game, something Halladay failed to do in four of his seven starts. And, things were only getting worse. The last two times out, the game was over by the 3rd inning. That wears on a team’s psyche. That it is the former ace getting hammered probably makes things all the more uncomfortable. At least the other 24 guys won’t have to watch Halladay get rocked any longer. It’s something no one wants to see.
The 2012 season fell apart with a Halladay trip to the DL. The offense was just good enough last year to win some games and solid pitching through May had the Phillies over .500 at the start of June. But then Halladay went to the DL, the Phillies went in a prolonged slump and didn’t bottom out until they were 14 games under .500. This DL trip won’t cause that kind of damage, but the Phillies could be looking at a similar record come the All-Star Break.
Somehow, even with the addition of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Michael Young–the Phillies offense has gotten worse. A good bit worse, actually, as they average 3.5 runs a game and rank near the bottom in almost every offensive category. How did this happen? Well, Utley’s solid start hasn’t offset Ruiz’s career year from 2012. Ryan Howard has been good for only 1 of 5 weeks. Michael Young is hitting for no power, which magnifies the loss of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino. Between CF, the corner OF spots and catcher, the Phillies have been historically bad offensively. Roy Halladay has nothing to do with that.
The problem for the Phillies is that while the offense will likely get a little bit better, it’s certainly not going to be good enough to win games on their own and it won’t be enough to cover for a rotation with two AAA guys in the 4 and 5 spots. Throw in the still pitiful middle relief and the Phillies have no formula to win. They can’t out-hit you, and it’s much harder for them to out-pitch you than it used to be.
Yes, the Phillies have gotten off to some average starts during their playoff streak and of course last year (when they were an identical 14-18), but they arrived at 14-18 in a different manner this season. There is a different look about them, and they’ve done it against mostly inferior opposition. Good teams have completely handled the Phillies to this point and as they embark on a stretch where they’ll face SF, Arizona, Washington, Atlanta, etc., you have to believe that their current win pace, as troubling as it is, might not even be sustainable. This team could easily tumble to 10, 12 games under .500 in the next six weeks.
The question is, if they get there, what will be the course of action and do the Phillies have the proper personnel in place to carry out a plan that could re-shape this team? Without a quick turnaround, the Phillies will have to break their commitment to the status quo. One of the first posts I ever wrote about the Phillies talked about how I hoped fans liked this group of players, because they were stuck with them. That has certainly turned out to be the case as Ruben Amaro has shown only minimal amounts of creativity as he tries to escape the burden of his own contracts.
To execute a reversal of fortune, the Phillies are going to have to shed a lot of payroll. I don’t think they can pull of a trade like Boston did with LA, but you see how that salary dump has been a reset button for that franchise. The Phillies look like they have had the Roy Halladay decision made for them. That’s 20 million dollars of relief. Chase Utley to an AL contender? That’s 15 million more. Carlos Ruiz? Five million. Could you move 50% of Cliff Lee’s deal? I think Ryan Howard’s contract is the only one that you are truly stuck with. You probably hold onto Hamels because of his age, but other than that, if the Phils become sellers they must really sell. S
Strip it down and find someone else to rebuild it, because Ruben Amaro has proven already that he’s not the right guy to spend 160 million dollars. The Phillies need a player development guy and someone with a better feel for putting a team together.