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Six things we learned during Phillies' final homestand of 2012

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Much like the entire 2012 season, the Phillies’ final homestand at Citizens Bank Park was mostly one to forget. There were some great moments, such as Ryan Howard’s 300th career home run, as well as Darin Ruf’s first career four-bagger. For the most part, however, the team’s 2-4 record was a microcosm for a season that Phillies fans in general would like to forget.
 
As the Phillies prepare for their earliest offseason exit in six years, we leave you with some interesting tidbits to chew on in regards to your favorite team in red pinstripes for 2013. Some good, some not so good. But then again, it’s been that kind of year.

1. We may have seen the last of Roy Halladay’s greatness.
 Truth be told, I started seeing signs of Roy Halladay wearing down in mid-season 2011, and everyone thought I was nuts. In saying that, I surely wasn’t prepared for a decline this steep in 2012. Halladay shrugged off concerns of his decreasing velocity in March, but it was obvious something was wrong with him from the start of spring training.  Even after finally going on the disabled list, Halladay was still inconsistent upon his Halladay: Lee/Associated Pressreturn. The Phillies needed him to step up in the biggest game of the year against the Braves last Saturday, and he didn’t even last two innings.

Probably nobody in the Phillies' clubhouse took that loss harder than Halladay, but all those complete games and innings pitched over a decade-plus may have finally taken its toll on him. Maybe it’s his ailing shoulder, maybe it’s age. Nonetheless, 35-year-olds don’t just regain their dominant form unless they’re on some type of PED. After watching him dominate for the better part of two years in a Phillies uniform, it’s a possibility that Doc’s better days are behind him, and the Phillies need to be prepared for this if it is the case.
 
 2. Tyler Cloyd should NOT be in the Phillies’ rotation in 2013.
 Tyler Cloyd was a nice, feel-good story for a team struggling to stay in the Wild Card race. But despite winning the Paul Owens Award, his story looks like it might end before it begins. Despite pitching some nice games against the powerhouse Reds and hopeless Mets, the right hander seems way too inconsistent and has below average stuff to remain in a rotation for an extended period of time. After all, there’s probably a reason why scouts were always skeptical of Cloyd until his breakout season in triple-A this year.  

Even if Cloyd pitched halfway decent against Houston and Washington this month, it may not have been enough to keep the Phillies in the race for a post season berth. A 15-1 record down in the minors is great, but life in the show is a whole new ball game. Just ask Joe Roa.  If one of the Phillies’ starters gets injured next season (which is never out of the realm of possibility), you might see Cloyd again, but there are other options down on the farm for the Phillies.

 3. So far, it looks like Darin Ruf can rake!

 I know, I know, he’s only had 13 at-bats at the major league level, but Darin Ruf is off to a good start in his first three starts in the bigs. Ruf homered for his first major league hit Tuesday night against the Nationals and has collected four more hits for a .385 average.

 

Drafted in the 20th round by the Phillies in 2009, Ruf, much like fellow Paul Owens Award Winner Tyler Cloyd, seems to be late bloomer, improving each year in the minors. His 38 home runs at Double-A Reading this season (including 20 in August) made his September call-up inevitable.

 

Of course, a handful of games won’t determine whether Ruf is the real deal or will make a roster spot in the spring. Furthermore, it is undetermined if he can even play left field consistently. However, with the Phillies' Wild Card hopes all but officially dead, the team will most likely give Ruf as much playing time as possible before the curtain falls on 2012.

 

4. Phillies fans still really loathe Jayson Werth

 The boos towards Jayson Werth were magnified this homestand. He was literally booed every time he was in the general circumference of game action. Of course, it’s the first time Werth had returned to Citizens Bank Park after putting a “hex” on Phillies fans because a few of them cheered as he left the game in Washington after brreaking his wrist. You know, because a few drunken idiots with no access to television knew he was seriously injured on that play...........

 

Anyhow, Werth still can’t let this go. He goes and steals the Phanatic’s keys before Wednesday’s game, and then there’s that whole foul ball incident in the ninth inning- right before he drove in two runs in the Nats’ 8-4 win.

 

Now I know what you’re thinking: stealing the Phanatic’s keys is funny. Normally, it would be, but it's coming from Werth, so his act (along with the foul ball incident) comes off as nothing but pretentious. And no, Nats fans, I’m not some bitter Phillies fan who gave Werth grief for taking the money and leaving town. No human being in their right mind would turn down $126 million. It’s the fact that Werth still can’t get over that the Phillies chose to sign Cliff Lee rather than keep him and has parlayed this into some personal vendetta. Jayson, I enjoyed your time here. After all, you helped us win the only championship this town has seen since Kajagoogoo was making hit records. You’re beyond rich, and you’re going to the playoffs while the Phillies will watch you on television. That alone makes me want to boo you, but life is good. Start acting like it.

 

 5. Phillies fans really do respect Chipper Jones.

 During his first decade and change in the majors, I thought Chipper Jones was a punk, and it didn’t help that he played for the Braves, who would always manhandle the Phillies on the way to what always seemed like their 3,000th straight division title. Offensively, “Larry” flat-out dominated the Phillies more than almost any opposing player ever has in their history. Now 40 years of age, Jones has decided the 2012 season will be his last. In response to his retirement, the Phillies honored Jones last week prior to the start of their series against the Braves.

 

Historically, there’s never been any love lost between Phillies fans and Jones, but to the fans’ credit, they stood up last Friday night and gave him a standing ovation for all those years of torment. This isn’t news to me, but to all you national media meatheads out there, Philly fans DO respect opposing players- we just hate them because they’re on the other team and don’t play for us! 

 

6. Phillies fans still showed up to Citizens Bank Park despite a shoddy product in 2012.

Despite finishing below .500 at home for the first time since 2000, the Phillies still sold out 62 of their 81 home games in 2012 and brought in over three and a half million fans. Now granted, a lot of those tickets were purchased before the season started and the presence of StubHub could possibly inflate those numbers, but 257 straight sellouts over the better part of three seasons is still 257 straight sellouts- the longest streak ever in National League history and the third-longest in Major League Baseball history!  With this Phillies team seeming to age by the second, the real question is how the numbers will look in 2013 following a disappointing season.

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Halladay: Associated Press