Phillies Midseason Grades

Before suffering through the second half, Check out our take on what happened in the first

By: Michael McDermott, Rory Meagher, and Daniel Craig

Batting

McD: B-

This is an extremely generous B minus. I was very close to copping out and giving it the ol’ “B-/C+.” But I didn’t because not including the month of April, which I really don’t want to talk about in terms of how abysmal this team was, The Phillies have some pretty good things going for them hitting-wise. Of course, there’s Chooch second in the league in batting average  (Yes, I just linked you to my own story. Swag). And Hunter Pence is doing just about as he is expected to, while Utley has performed to his standard, so far (knock on wood).

My only glaring problem right now with the team’s hitters is Jimmy Rollins. Not that he is playing that badly, but he is batting around .250 as a leadoff hitter. What’s worse is that Juan Pierre, usually batting right behind Jimmy, keeps his average at around .315. At almost any given point, the guy batting behind our leadoff guy is batting 50 points better! I apologize for my failure to quantify the following situation, but I have seen far too many times Rollins provide a leadoff out followed by a leadoff hit by Pierre. Frankly it’s aggravating.

Now that I think about it and am pretty wound up, the Phils get a C+.

Rory: C+

The Phillies are 2nd in the National League in Hits (behind only St. Louis), they have the 3rd best Batting Average (.264) in the NL, yet somehow they’re only 7th in Runs. This sums up the batting situation in Philadelphia pretty well. They can slap the ball around pretty well, but once they get guys on base, they call it a day and hit the showers. Our On Base Percentage is 9th in the NL, and no matter how many times Charlie tinkers with the lineup, we can’t seem to avoid running into a dead end in the lineup right when we need a clutch hit. Hopefully the return of Howard and Utley will fix this.

I’ll give them a passing grade, but also a stern phone call to their parents about under-achieving.

Dan: C+

The “plus” is for a combination of a few surprising performances so far that have kept what ever semblance of “afloat” the Phillies still are. Chooch is the glaring bright spot here, hitting .350 (seriously?? Nice!) and mashing 13 homers. Other guys who were meant to simply fill holes while Utley and Howard were out have actually been great and exceeded expectations, such as Pierre and Wiggington’s production.

The “C” is for the fact that everyone else has crapped the bed. I suppose we all didn’t realize how important it was for Rollins and Victorino to have the protection they’ve had for years in the lineup, but apparently without it it makes them realize all of their greatest flaws, such as Victorino undercutting every pitch. And don’t let Pence’s numbers fool you. He’s technically been the premier hitter in this lineup with Utley and Howard out, and his performance sets a precedent for the rest of the lineups. So those 16 home runs and 50 RBI’s are not nearly enough to make up for all the 0-2 counts, double play balls, and missed opportunities with runners in scoring position.

Starting Pitching

McD:  B+

I had another “B+ vs. A-” debate with myself here. I really want to throw  mad props to Cole Hamels for his freaknasty pitching dominance this year. But while I know that wins are a stupid stat and that Cliff Lee is getting seriously robbed game-in and game-out, but the man only has one win and that technically reflects the starting pitching. It reflects the relievers more, and we’ll get to that, but as long as Kendrick is a starting pitcher, I can’t allow this grade to break the B’s.

Rory: D-

In the words of a flustered Quentin Tarantino – “What is going here???”

Cliff Lee is… 1-5? I don’t want to hear your excuses – the guy is 1-5, and he has an ERA of 3.98 (really earning that 21 mill).

3.98 ERA? Why does that sound familiar? Oh yeah, because it’s the same ERA as Roy Halladay, who’s sporting a 4-5 record along with a DL status. When we aligned these two stars, we never figured they’d be pushing for 4.0 ERAs, let alone playing for a combined 5-10 record! What is going on here?

As for the rest of the gang, whatever. Our team ERA is 4.23 – this is a failing effort.

Dan: B

Hamels is the only guy who makes this a grade that a parent wants to see on a report card, because I was really close to giving a C+. He’s been great as usual, despite a few slip ups towards the end of the second half. However every other starter has been average at best, with the exception of Kendrick, who despite a few solid outings has been nothing short of embarrassing.

Maybe my standards have been set a bit high due to the last few years, but Halladay and Lee were supposed to be the remedy for the growing lack of bats on this team. So when both have an ERA close to 4, with one having only one win and the other having age catch up to him, I’d consider that disappointing.

Fielding

McD: C+

Is it me, or does J-roll seem a step behind on defense this year? It’s actually pretty sad because it’s all he’s got left. But besides him, the confusing revolving door of first basemen before Howard came back prevented the rest of the infield to really start to click. Galvis was playing great, but probably because he was on steroids… too soon? It was too soon.

The Hunter Pence problem going on in right seriously has to stop. He’s misplaying a lot of balls and even his throws seem to be off-target far too often. Stuff like that is totally unacceptable.

Pence and Rollins have a fielding percentage of .973 and .978, respectively, and that just isn’t good enough for my liking. It also indicates why this team isn’t comparing well to Phillies teams of the past five years. Those last bunch of teams were phenomenal defensively, but this team is constantly coming up short.

Rory: C+

The fielding hasn’t been too atrocious, considering the injuries and everything. Polanco has played his tail off, as usual. Galvis was playing great before the injury (and other issues which we won’t talk about), and in my opinion, was in talks for NL Rookie of the Year (but there were issues which we won’t talk about).

Chooch is a boss – as could be said in almost all of these categories (maybe not pitching). Wigginton is a weak link, who will hopefully disappear with the return of Howard – as I hope most of our weak links will.

Dan: D

The offense and pitching are the heart of what’s wrong with this team, but its the defense that makes their fall truly comical. Player’s routinely play out of position in the infield, with Wiggington playing second at times, Fontenot playing third, and Who playing shortstop. Oh, and Pence has been awful. Instead of delving any deeper, I’ll simply show you this.

Ugh.

Relief Pitching

McD: F-

I actually would rather not talk about it.

Rory: D

The 8th inning/setup-guy-spot has been atrocious, in fact, so shitty that you shouldn’t need an explanation. Injuries haven’t helped. But Papelbon has been the redeeming force. I’ll give them a D.

Dan: D-

Yeah, its been pretty bad. Bastardo turned out to be a failed experiment as a setup guy, and really no one else has been consistent enough to fill the role anyway. Hell, Chad Qualls was so bad that we basically gave him to the Yankees. Do you think though that maybe, instead of paying 58 million dollars to one guy to pitch one inning, we could have spread that around the bullpen instead of relying on several still-developing, young pitchers to hold down the path from the starters to the ninth? Yeah, I thought so. We’ll get to you later Ruben.

Front Office

McD: C

I give this a “gentleman’s C.” That’s the term one of my professors used to describe the grade given to the person who shows up to class everyday and sometimes does the homework, turns in shitty papers, and does OK on the test, but fails a few of them. The grade is given just because the person had the decency to at least exist and pay attention in some sense, but the effort isn’t where it needs to be for a B or A.

That’s how the front office has been to this point. Amaro must be cooking something big (I hope) because the Thome deal was meh, signing Wigs was meh, keeping Dom Brown in the Lehigh Valley was meh, and shopping Cole and Victorino hasn’t gotten the Phils anywhere. Ian Riccaboni, with Phillies Nation wrote a great piece detailing the moves Amaro didn’t make. And it more-or-less leads to the conclusion that he seems asleep at the wheel in that he’s made more bad moves than good ones thus far — in my opinion, the moves he made right don’t justify the wrong ones.

Rory: C-

They haven’t pissed me off yet, but the fact that they’ve been shopping guys like Victorino and Hamels sends the wrong message. Don’t throw in the towel! We got half a season left!

Dan: F

The arrogance and lack of foresight displayed by Amaro and this front office has been astounding. No steps have been taken to improve this team over the course of this season. Dominic Brown could have been up by now, and say what you want, but when a team is 13 games under .500 you need to take risks on guys like him. The solution to an awful bullpen was give a couple triple-A guys a shot, then when that didn’t work it was nothing. They claimed Hamels wasn’t worth as much as Lee, despite Hamles being 5 years younger, historically better in the postseason, and a homegrown product. Oh, and they paid one man 58 million dollars to pitch ONE FREAKING INNING! ARE YOU SERIOUS? HOW DO YOU…

Just forget it.

Overall

McD: C-

All I can say is that I am so so so so so under whelmed by the Phils thus far. But, there is a lot of season left, and a lot of room to improve, and a lot of clichés to help me feel better until they’re mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Rory: C-

Considering everything, this isn’t horrendous. This is a C-minus. We can rebound from a C-minus at midterm – we got guys coming back from injury, we got people that are due for a break, which is my favorite stat in sports. Sometimes, you’re just due.

Dan: D+

It’s been really bad. And it doesn’t look like its getting better.

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