Welcome Guest | Register | Login

Philly2Philly grades the 2010 Phillies at the All-Star Break

"Bookmark



It is now the midway point in the season for the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies. And what once started out as another promising season has now turned into one of concern. The team has suffered a barrage of injuries to key players such as Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, and Brad Lidge. Last year's Rookie Of the Year runner-up J.A. Happ has thrown just over 10 innings all year. With the emergence of the Atlanta Braves as a front runner in the National League East, the Phillies have their work cut out for them in the second half. For now however, Philly2Philly is handing out grades for the team's first half.Congratulations Roy Halladay, you are at the top of the class of the 2010 Phillies at the All-Star Break. Photo: Wilfredo Lee. AP

Infield:

Ryan Howard- Yes, Howard's power numbers are down and his average is up. Some of those home runs might be needed now more than ever due to the Phillies' lack of offense these days, but Howard will always be a home run threat no matter how high his average gets. Moreover, you can always pencil him in the lineup as he has become one of the most durable players in the league. Howard is producing in one form or another. He is currently tied with David Wright for the league lead in RBI's going into Sunday's game. Bottom line, if you take him out of the Phillies lineup, the team is fighting to stay out of last place. Howard gets a solid A.

Chase Utley- Utley has had a hard time staying consistent this year. You'll never know if he is healthy or not because that's the kind of gamer he is. Right now, the Phillies' offense is just a hair better than the 1989 squad, so Utley will have to have a strong return whenever that might be in order for the Phils to even sniff the NL East crown. He gets a B so far.

Jimmy Rollins- Rollins was off to the best start of his career before he suffered that calf injury prior to the home opener. Rollins has had some big game-winning hits upon his return, but altogether hasn't been able to get things going offensively. One thing that hasn't suffered is his defense, which I will take over anyone in the game today (that means YOU Derek Jeter!). Like Utley, Rollins will need to step things up after the break. Because of his prolonged absence, Rollins gets an incomplete.

Placido Polanco- When healthy, Polanco gives the Phils a solid bat in the number two hole. This is no surprise to Phillies fans who watched him here in the early 2000's. Polanco has struck out a little more than expected when compared to previous seasons, and defensively he has his rocky moments, but everyone knew that going into the season. Oh yeah, he is currently third in the league in hitting at the break. Not too shabby. Polanco gets a B+.

Wilson Valdez- He is a human double play machine, but Valdez has done better than people could have asked for while Utley and Rollins have missed considerable time. Nobody can replace the production of either member of the Phillies double play combo when healthy, so we'll give Valdez a B-.

Outfield:

Raul Ibanez- Is anyone surprised at Ibanez's lack of production? He has never been quite the same player since his injury last year. Combine that with age, and Rauuuuuuuuuuul has looked out of sorts this season. As of late, Ibanez seems to be coming around, but seven homers from your corner outfielder when the rest of your offense is struggling is not good. I feel like a broken record, but Ibanez ALSO needs to deliver in the second half. If not, Domonic Brown  might not be far behind. Raul will always be a cult hero in this town, which isn't an easy thing to do when you replace someone like former whipping boy turned Phillies legend Pat Burrell. Not only that, but when you think about it, Ibanez has basically one incredible half-season during his two years in Philly and that's about it up to this point. He gets a C.

Shane Victorino- Victorino seems to have switched roles with Howard: sacrificing 40 points from your average to hit more home runs. With his tools, Victorino should be one of the best all-around talents in the league and one the best number two hitters in the game. He already is a Gold Glove center fielder, he's one of the fastest guys in baseball, and he is capable of hitting for power. In saying that, Victorino (along with the whole lineup) is way too impatient at the plate, he rarely bunts, gets horrible jumps on the base paths, and has been known to make decisions that go beyond the level of comprehension of the Phillies' coaching staff- and not in a good way. Moreover, calling out the fans is never good, either. To be honest, we're not front runners, Shane. When we pay good money to watch uninspired baseball, we will let you know. Don't be surprised if Victorino is dangled as trade bait when the deadline approaches.  Not because he's a bad guy or isn't talented, but because his contract makes him tradeable, almost more than anyone in the starting eight. Victorino gets a C+ for the first half of 2010.

Jayson Werth- Werth is an interesting case. He's still among the league leaders in doubles and Will Jayson Werth be in Philly after July 31st? Photo by Joe Vallee Sr.: JosephV985@aol.comslugging percentage, but since May (as with almost the entire Phillies' offense) has taken a tailspin. Some say it's the pressure of a contract year (which Werth has vehemently denied) or possibly the trade rumors. Fact of the matter is, nobody has really stepped up during this time. With his impending free agency, expect the Werth trade rumors to get heavy in the next few weeks, although insiders say Victorino is the better bargain due to having more years on his contract. Werth gets a C+.

Catcher

Carlos Ruiz- Ruiz is not an All-Star (but we hope he eventually gets the nod one of these years). However, not every team needs to have an All-Star at every position. Championship teams thrive on players like Ruiz who get things done when it counts the most. Whether it's breaking up a perfect game, handling the Phillies' pitching staff, or hitting a 60-foot infield single to win a World Series game, Ruiz is THAT guy for the Phillies. Chooch has missed some time as well, and although his replacements filled in nicely, the entire dynamic of that pitching staff changes when he is out. His numbers might now show it, but Ruiz is one of the most valuable guys on this team. He gets a well-deserved B+.

Starting Pitching

Roy Halladay- What more can you say? Halladay definitely comes as advertised. The man is a beast. If the offense on this team wasn't so damn anemic (never thought I'd say that), Halladay would have about 13 or 14 wins as opposed to 10. Halladay pitched nine shutout innings Saturday, yet still got a no-decision. The man throws a perfect game, and the Phils barely squeaked out one run. Without Halladay, the Fightins would be in dire straights. The only black marks on his season so far are probably the two disappointing losses against the American League rival Yankees and Red Sox. Nonetheless, Halladay still gets an A+. And the best part is, we have him for three more years.

Jamie Moyer- Moyer is a freak of nature. He has just one less win than Halladay, and has thrown two complete games this season. And yes, he is 47 years of age. We talk about Moyer all the time. The only reason why he doesn't get an A is due to the fact that although he is effective, he can still be as flammable as the Kingsford Charcoal on my porch at a moments notice. B+.

Cole Hamels- I'm going to give Hamels a B/B+ because he's much better than his 7-7 record indicates. The bullpen has blown several of his potential wins, and to his credit, he hasn't popped off as much as he usually does. I believe he is still a work in progress, but it looks like he has started to turn the corner. I really hope I don't live to regret writing this. The real test will be if and when the Phils return to the playoffs.

Kyle Kendrick- If not for Kyle Kendrick, the Phils wouldn't have won the NL East in 2007, so I have to give him that. Kendrick has kept the Phillies in some games. At times, however, Kendrick has also gotten rocked out of his socks. After three years, you know what you're getting with him. Kendrick gets a C. I would say he is a fifth starter at best, but he is probably the number four on this team team right now due to the ineffectiveness of....

Joe Blanton- In Blanton's defense, he was injured in spring training, and hasn't really gotten back on track. In all actuality, the Phillies probably brought him back too soon so he's been catching up ever since. If the Phillies acquire another starter, Blanton will almost surely be the one demoted to the pen despite his hefty salary. We'll always love you for that World Series homer, Joe, but so far we have to give you a D for 2010.

Bench: C 

It's tough to completely judge your bench when they have become your starters. Valdez, Juan Castro, and Dane Sardinha have no business playing full time in the majors. Greg Dobbs was designated for assignment, but was recalled due to the rash of injuries on the big club. To his credit, he has raised his average close to 40 points. The reason: most likely because he is getting more at bats. As you recall in 2007-2008, Dobbs spelled Burrell, Howard, and Pedro Feliz on more than one occasion when those guys missed time.

The same might be said for Ross Gload and Ben Fransisco, who frankly should both get more playing time due to the lack of offense from Ibanez alone.  Brian Schneider is a veteran who can handle the pitching staff and even deliver a big hit when needed. He is a strong improvement over Paul (Wacko for) Bako in 2009. Who knows? Maybe all this playing time from the bench will keep them fresh for the playoffs if the Phillies are lucky enough to be there again. I still think however, that a veteran right handed hitter with some pop would be a nice acquisition for the stretch run. And despite his Friday night heroics, I'm not sure Cody Ransom is the answer.

Bullpen: Incomplete

In the beginning of 2010, it seemed either the Phillies' offense (early in the season) Can Brad Lidge get it together to save the Phillies' season? Photo: Joseph Vallee Sr.: JosephV985@aol.combashed their way to victory, the starters would finish games, or it was never a save situation. This bullpen has thrown the fewest innings in the NL. We know Danys Baez is attrocious, and everyone else is so damn inconsistent and-or has missed time due to injury. Chad Durbin has also missed some time as well. This can be said for everyone in that pen with the exception of Baez, David Herndon and Jose Contreras, who have gotten knocked around at times despite being healthy. Herndon hasn't ever pitched in the majors, and nobody knows how old Contreras really is.

By now, it's a foregone conclusion that Lidge might always be a work in progress. It was rather heartbreaking that the fans booed either 1. Lidge on Sunday. Or 2. Charlie Manuel's  decision to pitch him in the ninth inning. I want to win another title more than anyone, and handling Lidge with kid gloves has indeed gotten tiring. In saying that, Lidge helepd this team win a championship: only its second in 126 years and Philly's first and ONLY title in the last 27 years. Yeah, he is up and down like a seesaw, but Lidge is one of those athletes in this town who (in my opinion) will always deserve a free pass. Chicago Cubs fans would literally offer a body part to witness what we did in October 2008. We do need some insurance with the closers role in some form, but that's up to the brass.

Hey, maybe "The Nasty Boys"  approach Manuel is using with J.C. Romero followed by Lidge can work. You just don't know. The uncertainty also goes for Ryan Madson, who has just returned from injury. I'd like to see Ruben Amaro try and land a veteran reliever just for safe keeping. Everyone's role will most likely be defined in the next few weeks.

Overall Team Grade: C+

I was worried about this team going into the season. I figured the team would always hit, the bench was improved, the bullpen had the potential to be a mess, and that the starters might be average except for Halladay. Turns out the starters pitch gems that they can't win because of the lack of offense, the bench needs improvement, regular slumps have turned into monthly slumps, and the bullpen is more of a train wreck than not. The hitters don't take pitches, they constantly fail to manufacture runs, and fundamentally leave much to be desired. The Phils did sweep the Reds four straight. However, they won both the last two games by 1-0 scores. A win is a win, but that doesn't exactly scream "encouraging" from an offensive standpoint.

That's the craziest thing about baseball. You just never know. Sometimes that's a good thing, other times it's a nightmare. With healthy players returning, and a few moves here and there, the Phillies could be right in the thick of it until the end.

The second half starts Thursday.

Joe Vallee can be contacted at jvallee@philly2philly.com