Friday, January 24, 2014

State of the Phillies: January 24, 2014

Like many people, I would like to know where this 2014 Phillies team is headed because as of right now this Phillies baseball team does not have much of a chance of making the playoffs in 2014. Going into this off-season the fans have been sitting on their hands hoping for Ruben Amaro Jr. to make some big moves instead he signs big Byrd's. 

Last year the Phillies had 73 wins. The second wild card team in the Cincinnati Reds had 90. That means the Phillies were 17 game out of the playoffs which is nowhere close to contending. As of right now the Phillies have only made marginal improvements to the team. Signing Marlon Byrd is an upgrade in right field but not by much. Byrd had a solid 2013 season but how much faith can you put in a 36 year old juicer? Don't hold your breath. But wait there's more.....they also signed Roberto Hernandez who is at best a number four starter and he will give the rotation some depth and Hernandez has a chance of pitching well this year but how much can he really help this team? Is he going to bridge the gap between the 73 win team and a 90 win team? No chance. The other moves this off-season from the front office have been additions in Brad Lincoln and Wilson Ramos. For Lincoln the best case scenario is that he becomes a 7th inning pitcher for the Phillies, similar to a Chad Durbin in 2008 and 2009. Ramos will be the back up catcher for Carlos Ruiz and there's really nothing more to say about that.

The biggest thing Ruben Amaro Jr. is banking on for 2014 is the health of the veteran players on this team like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz and even Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. In my opinion, the only chance the Phillies have at the playoffs in 2014 is if everyone stays healthy for the most part (losing a guy here and there for 15 days is acceptable) and these veteran players listed above play like the way they are getting paid. But in all reality, the chances of Howard, Utley, Rollins, and Carlos Ruiz playing 120 plus games each and producing like we expect is highly improbable. 

In addition, the bullpen would have to improve from last year. Papelbon has to be able to close out games better, Mike Adams needs to stay healthy, Bastardo needs to stay away from PEDs. I like the bullpens chances of bouncing back better than the offense. Hopefully Diekman can be a good situational left-handed reliever and Rosenberg can emerge as a good bullpen pitcher. 

Let's not forget about the young players in Domonic Brown, Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, and Jonathan Pettibone. Dom Brown had a solid month of May but everything else was pretty pedestrian in 2013. Cody Asche got his feet wet in 2013 but can he turn into a good everyday player? Will Darin Ruf ever play like the player he is in the minor leagues? 

Right now the Phillies 2014 starting pitching rotation is Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Roberto Hernandez and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez or Jonathan Pettibone. Keep in mind that Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has not pitched a single inning in the United States. The Phillies will need Lee and Hamels to pitch as a well as possible in 2014 and for Kendrick to pitch like he did in the first half of 2013.

If ALL of this happens in players staying healthy, veterans performing well and young players emerging then the Phillies have a chance of making the playoffs but in every baseball season there are multiple injuries for each team and Ruben Amaro Jr. would be naive to think that injuries won't happen in 2014 to injury prone players.

And one more thing and this may be the most important thing. The Phillies clubhouse needs to be more cohesive in 2014. We hear in the media that there was a lot of finger pointing and some players did not get along in 2013. For any team to be successful in sports they have to be able to get along, and play as a team. It may sound cliche but it is true.

It might be time to blow up the entire team instead of giving the fans false hope every off-season. This core of Phillies players had a great run but the end is here.

But have no fear Abreu is here.....