The Phillies are an interesting team. They have very little starpower, and their roster is mostly consisted of overpaid veterans past their top years and washed-up players scavenged on the free agent market for cheap. Their “ace” pitcher has a 5.06 E.R.A. Yet, this team is, at 23-15, one of MMB’s top ballclubs. How has this assembly of players who, on paper, do not look worthy of being starters on a contending team? “Teamwork,” says first year manager Jody Reed, the 52-year-old who was hired this offseason in is first coaching job ever, replacing the legendary skipper Joe Torre. “We do a little bit of everything,” says veteran second baseman Chase Utley. “Everyone contributes, and Jody keeps up a fun, winning atmosphere in the clubhouse.”
Says Jose Tabata, acquired in an offseason trade with Pittsburgh, “[This] is one of the best places I’ve ever played. The fans in Philly are great, and we just have a fantastic group of ballplayers.” GM Noah Oppenheimer sums it all up in more technical sense. “This is the Phillie Way. As long as I am here, the roster will be constructed around the sense that if we are good at everything, we will be great in total. That said, we can never stop improving, and as the trade market heats up, it could be time to add some more talent.”
What are your expectaions for the season?
“We feel that we have a stong enough team to win the World Series.”
Even with Freddy Galvis as your starting shortstop?
“Even with Freddy Galvis as you starting shortstop. Freddy plays great defense although he’d be lucky to hit at the Mendoza line this year. You can’t be great at every position.
Fine. But what happened to Jose Altuve? What happened to Tanaka? What about Bundy and Jose Abreu
“I’m not Ruben Amaro Jr., for heaven’s sake! I’m not going to trade all my prospects for old guys and I’m not going to overpay for veterans. You see where that got Ruben in the Phillies, you see where that got the Yankees with Rodriguez in real life.
But the real Phillies won a World Series! So did the Yankees.
…and so can we! We can win a World Series AND not screw the future! How does that sound?
You won’t win the World Series! Richie says you won’t!
“I don’t care what Richie said. I’m saying we’ll win, so we have just as much chance as the other 29 teams who think that they will.
We asked two NL Executives how they thought the Phillies would preform this year. One summed up his expectations in one word: “Shitty.” Said another, “The Phillies will attempt to hit, catch and throw baseballs all season, success may be limited.” Asked about his opinion on the Met’s and Red’s outlook, Oppenheimer said “I expect them both to go 0-162.” When informed the Reds have already won four games and the Mets two, he said “Then Cincy will go 4-158 and NY will finish 2-160.”
For the first three months of the season, the Philadelphia Phillies were constantly atop the NL East Division, looking great and getting hits from everywhere in their lineup. That all changed in the month of July, as the Phils went 9-18, seeing new pitcher Jake Peavy struggle in his new uniform, posting a 5.93 E.R.A. They brought in Jason Vargas in a deadline move, but in his first start yesterday he was knocked out after two innings, allowing six his and five runs. The team thought they had ace pitcher David Price locked up in a deal with Tampa Bay, but the Rays pulled out at the last second and suddenly dealt Price to the Phil’s NL East rival Nationals. Now the Phillies have two more games with the Nats, where they could potentially climb into the Wild Card lead and, with two Miami losses, be back within two games of the division lead. But the Phillies’ magical season looks over at this point, it looks as if there is no way of salvaging what was once the cinderella story of the MMB, a team who nobody thought could win but managed to prevail night after night.
There is a way the team could save themselves. It starts by winning the rest series with Washington, but to continue to win, they’ll need rookie 3B Zack Cox to find his stroke again, and little-known 34-year old SP Chien-Ming Wang to continue to pitch as great as he has all season, first with AAA Lehigh Valley and now in the big leagues with Philadelphia.
So is the season over? GM Noah Oppenheimer says no. “This team will fight till the end. We’ve found ourselves in situations like this before, and we’ve found our way back to the top time and time again. We don’t give a s— if the Nats have Price now or not, he’s just a normal pitcher, no better than what we have with Hamels and Eovaldi. You have to remember, this is a team of castoffs and veterans looking to save their career. Half the team was traded to Philly because their team couldn’t find a use for them in the major leagues. We have lots of depth, so these guys know if they can’t get their job done, they’ll lose it. They always have a chip on their shoulders no matter what, now this is just extra motivation….”
The road to October starts right now, so watch the Phillies take on the Nationals tonight on MMB.tv or CSN Philly.
Wit over a month before the non-waiver trading deadline, the Phillies front office has already began to meet their goals, acquiring Jake Peavy in a five-player deal with the White Sox. Peavy is likely to replace the struggling Kyle Kendrick in the starting rotation, unless the injury to Roy Halladay turns out to be serious.
Sent to Chicago was prospects Cesar Hernandez, Larry Green, Ethan Martin, and Aaron Altherr. “We were sad to part ways with all of these great kids, but we felt like we needed Peavy right now,” said Phils GM Noah Oppenheimer. He continued, “Jake is a very good pitcher who can come in and do his job. The market for him was small, so I think we came away with a good deal.”
Chicago reported told Philadelphia they needed to receive SP Jesse Biddle, but Oppenheimer managed to pry away Peavy without throwing in his #2 pitching prospect. Peavey, who owns a 3.94 E.R.A and will be on the hill today in the third game of a four-game set with St. Louis.
So far, the Philadelphia Phillies’ magical season has been led by the offense–but GM Noah Oppenheimer Realizes that he must improve the rotation if he would like to see his team play well into October. Despite a career year by Nate Eovaldi and a stellar campaign by veteran Roy Halladay, the staff lacks depth with Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick struggling. The team could be pursuing White Sox starter Jake Peavy, or could wait a month and look to make a move closer to the deadline. They also reportedly were turned away by the Cards while trying to get Lance Lynn.
Lee and Kendrick both have 5.48 and 6.31 E.R.A.s this year, respectively. “The on place that their not doing too good is their starting rotation,” said an MMB expert, “They can improve there, find a suitor for Cliff Lee, maybe?” Trading Cliff Lee is an unlikely scenario given his large contract. We can only wait and see what moves the Phillies wll make, but if Oppenheimer goes in the right direction, the season could be a good one for the Phightin’ Phils.
The Phillies have consistently remained in contention for the NL East crown this season, although once again they will face a test with having to turn the season around. The Phils have won just 5 of their last 10 games, and more recently have dropped their last three contests. Yesterday against the Rockies, Kyle Kendrick managed to pitch just 4.1 innings while giving up 5 runs. He has a 6.56 Earned Run Average this year after signing a 2 year/$8 million extension with the Phillies. Said manager Joe Torre, “Kyle just hasn’t been getting the movement on his pitches that you need to compete at this level.” Kendrick attributed the lack of success to not being able to put hitters away. GM Noah Oppenheimer said that while the club respects Kendrick, they are looking to find a replacement. Weather that will be from AAA or another team is yet to be determined, although they will have to act fast–Kendrick’s next start is in just four days.
On the Flip side, the Nationals have leapfrogged the Phils in the standings, winning 8 of their last 11 games. But is Oppenheimer worried? “There’s a reason we’re called the Fightin’ Phils,” he said, “we’re never going to give up. In a 162-game season, a streak like this is just a blimp on the radar.” Bench Coach Bobby Valentine says the players aren’t stressed out in the clubhouse. “The guys are still having fun, but taking the game seriously,” he said, “Joe’s done a great job of implementing a balance between the two.
The Phillies outfield will get some re-enforcement for the upcoming three-game series against Cincinnati, as outfielder Dominic Brown , who hit .304 before being injured early this season, is set to join the club. CF Ezequiel Carrera was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room for Brown on the active roster. Brown hit .400 in his rehab stint to show the Phillies he was ready for action. He is expected to step into the lineup to replace slumping RF Justin Maxwell tomorrow. 3B Ryan Flaherty, acquired from Baltimore last winter, was not called up to the big leagues. Flaherty struggled to start the season before hurting his thumb, and Zach Cox, his replacement, has impressed in the starting role. Flaherty’s success in Triple-A will determine whether he becomes the backup to Cox or if rookie Cody Asche retains that roll.
Manager Joe Torre said that he is glad to have Brown back and thinks he will give the offense the boost they need. GM Noah Oppenheimer declined to comment on the future of Flaherty. He has been criticized for trading Darin Ruf, who has hit 11 homers and for a .272 average with the Orioles in exchange for Flaherty, who to this point has been a bust.