Midseason Report Cards for All 25 Philadelphia Phillies
Well, it hasn't been pretty.
The Philadelphia Phillies are now more than halfway through the regular season, and it has been a horrendous one for a club that came into the 2012 season with World Series expectations.
They've been riddled with enough injuries and inconsistent players to make any holey comparisons, like to afghan blankets and Swiss cheese, seem too kind.
If you're looking for a bright side, I'm struggling to find one. Is the fact that this team still has another half season to play really any more comforting? Is this a team that can truly leap over at least three good teams in their own division to even have a shot at making the postseason?
I'm not so sure.
But one thing I am sure of is what needs to change. In this slideshow, we'll take a look at the first half of each Phillies' player and slap a grade on them. They'll either have to stay the course or get better to make a difference.
Can it be done? Well, only time will tell.
Antonio Bastardo seemed to have things on cruise control early in the season amidst speculation that he could be dealing with an arm issue, but it didn't take long for him to stall.
Given the state of their bullpen, the Phillies absolutely needed Bastardo to come in and be, at the very least, close to the same guy he was last season. He hasn't come close.
While the strikeout rate remains strong, his walks and home runs rate are quickly ballooning out of control.
Joe Blanton is another guy the Phillies needed to step up to the occasion in 2012 who hasn't been able to do so.
After showing that he is fully healthy following a lost 2011 season, Blanton could have secured his future with a solid season. A free agent after the season, Blanton will be one of the few starting pitchers with the ability to make a difference at the back end of a rotation.
Of course, it doesn't look much like that right now. The only thing keeping me from giving him an "F" is the fact that he still has some value for the Phillies, despite the numbers.
Another lost season for Jose Contreras. Despite his comments after learning that he'd need to undergo Tommy John surgery, you would have to think that this is the end of the road for the big, Cuban right-handed reliever.
It's a shame too. After missing nearly all of the 2011 season, Contreras was finally rounding into form in 2012.
It's clear that this season has been a learning experience for Jake Diekman, and it would be unreasonable to expect otherwise. But with that being said, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic for the future.
The power lefty reliever has been electric out of the bullpen this season, showing off an impressive fastball, slider and changeup repertoire.
He'll need to work on improving his command and control if he wants to pitch as the club's set-up man, but I believe that is his ceiling. Maybe higher.
Roy Halladay is going to have to earn this season's stripes in the second half.
Reports surfaced early in spring training that he wasn't himself, and by the time he went on the disabled list, scouts were convinced that something was wrong with him.
They cited his pitch selection and fastball velocity, among other things. Turns out they were right, as Halladay was suffering through a strain of the latissimus dorsi.
Halladay was serviceable before going on the DL, but if the Phillies want to stave off selling, they'll need "Doc" back at full strength.
Without a doubt, Cole Hamels has been the best of the Phillies' "three aces" this season, almost de facto given Roy Halladay's injury and Cliff Lee's bizarre win-less streak.
All Hamels has done is post elite strikeout, walk and home-run rates while collecting 10 wins for the Phillies.
Here's where things get interesting, though. Compare his numbers to those of teammate Lee.
More on that in a bit.
Some people are willing to give Kyle Kendrick the benefit of the doubt. I'm not one of them.
The Phillies came into the season having handed Kendrick a two-year deal to buy out his arbitration move, a decision that will, without a doubt, come back to bite them in the you-know-what following the season.
Now, instead of having the option to non-tender Kendrick, the Phillies are stuck with his contract throughout 2013.
That wouldn't be a problem if he was pitching well in any role the Phillies decide to give him. He's pitched in the bullpen. The results were poor. He's pitched in the rotation. The results stunk.
Now he's being skipped over in the starting rotation because the Phillies actually want to have a legitimate shot at winning this series against the New York Mets.
Cliff Lee, on the other hand? I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Here's why:
I don't care about the wins statistic. Sure, winning ball games is the most important thing any baseball player can do, but this is a team sport, and I refuse to measure a pitcher's individual success by how much his team stinks—well, in this case anyway, for Lee and the Phillies.
Look at the bigger picture here. Lee has posted a K/9 rate of 8.97. He's posted a BB/9 rate of less than two. He's allowed less than a home run per every nine innings. Lee's FIP and xFIP are 3.02 and 3.05, respectively.
Those are elite pitching numbers, and you want to tell me that Lee isn't an elite starting pitcher in this league because the Phillies can't hit, play defense or hold a lead?
The only reason that I didn't give Lee an "A" is because this is a "show me" town. I understand that. The fans want wins.
But I'm tired of the Lee trade talk. I don't want to call it stupid because, well, it's more than stupid.
Jonathan Papelbon's last three outings haven't been the standard for him this season, so I'm willing to give him somewhat of a break and give him that solid "A," though I think that he's earned it regardless.
He's posted elite strikeout and walk rates, but at the end of the day, all you really need to know is that the Phillies paid Papelbon to turn save opportunities into saves, and he's done so quite easily.
The Phillies have 36 wins. Papelbon has 18 saves.
Papelbon has saved half of the Phillies' wins. He's been the lone bright spot in a rough bullpen, not to mention an All-Star.
Joe Savery was recently demoted to Triple-A, so that should tell you just about everything you need to know.
Here's more information, though, in case you were curious.
Savery was bad throughout the first half of the season. His strikeout rates didn't come anywhere close to matching the impressive numbers he's posted in the minors, and he had a tendency to serve up the home-run ball.
With that being said, Savery was actually much better in the role he should have been pitching in: left-handed specialist. His numbers were much better against lefties than right-handed batters. Chalk at least part of this bad grade up to bad managing.
It doesn't seem like it, but I'm giving Mike Schwimer an optimistic grade because I think the improvements he made are legitimate and going to stick over the long haul.
Like I said about Jake Diekman, Schwimer doesn't have much experience pitching against Major League hitters, and he is going to have to go through a bit of a learning process. He's progressing nicely.
In his last 13 outings (13 innings pitched), Schwimer has surrendered just two earned runs—both solo home runs. He's allowed 10 hits and three walks, but struck out 11.
That's since June 2. If you narrow that down even further, to his last five appearances (5.1 innings), Schwimer has been even more impressive. He's allowed just six hits and hasn't issued a walk, striking out four. He hasn't given up a single run over that stretch.
Maybe I'm being a little optimistic, but I'm certainly seeing what has made him a top prospect.
When I started thinking about what to write for this slideshow, I was going to talk about how I excluded Raul Valdes' start against the Pittsburgh Pirates because it was an anomaly.
Then I looked at the statistics again and realized the three-run home run to Bucs' catcher Michael McKenry didn't even matter. That's how good Valdes has been.
He's been the unsung hero of the Phillies' bullpen, logging 19 innings before July, despite the fact that he didn't start the season with the club and then was sent back to Triple-A for a while.
His strikeout to walk ratio has been spectacular all season long, and he's held his own against both right-handed and left-handed hitters.
I'm still trying to figure out why he isn't playing a more of an important role.
Vance Worley was none too pleased when Phillies' beat reporters mentioned the possibility of a sophomore slump during spring training, and the second-year right-handed pitcher has done everything within his power to push that slump out of mind.
Realistically, he's been one of the Phillies' top three pitchers this season. I'd put him behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, in that order.
With that being said, I'm giving Worley a solid "B+" because he's been very good this season. He's made just 12 starts and collected four more wins than Lee.
His numbers aren't quite as good as Hamels', however, so I'm not quite comfortable giving him an "A." But it was close.
Carlos Ruiz has been the Phillies' first-half MVP. Hands down.
The man has done everything for this club. He's been an iron man, playing his usual high-caliber level of defense.
But of course, it's been the incredible offensive performance that earned him this mark. Ruiz has led the MLB in hitting for most of the season and has already set a new career high in home runs with 11, and climbing.
Also, it's only the first week of July.
It's a shame that a man putting up MVP-caliber numbers can't even land a start in the All-Star Game, but that's an argument for another day.
The Phillies signed Brian Schneider to start once a week and play solid defense, so you can't grade him on any expectations higher than that.
With that being said, before the ankle injury, Schneider was doing a solid job as the Phillies' back-up catcher. His offensive numbers cooled exponentially as the season wore on, but it was also easy to see how comfortable pitchers are throwing to him.
Once again, the only thing saving Placido Polanco from getting an "F" is his stellar defense. Otherwise, this guy has played like a very replaceable bench player for the Phillies this season.
The name of Polanco's game has always been contact and on-base percentage, and he's on the precipice of setting new career lows in both of those categories this season.
That's why it should be fairly obvious that if the Phillies have any real intention of staying in the race this season, they'll need more offense at third base.
Jimmy Rollins is playing better baseball right now, but it's not anywhere closing to being the level of baseball that the Phillies need out of the man they call their "spark plug."
After signing a new three-year contract with the Phillies over the winter, it looked like a good deal for both sides, but Rollins has struggled throughout most of the regular season and hasn't lived up to his end of the bargain.
If the Phillies had any legitimate options outside of Juan Pierre, I'd suggest moving him out of the leadoff spot. That pretty much tells the story of this club.
Ty Wigginton is slumping into oblivion.
Throughout most of the regular season to date, Wigginton was a solid addition for the Phillies. Sure, he was playing more than anticipated, but the Phillies were getting away with it.
Wiggginton was helping them out from the right side of the plate. To this moment, he's one of their only, legitimate right-handed power options.
But it hasn't been pretty for Wigginton as of late. He has just one hit in his last 13 at-bats, and defensively, he's making Ryan Howard look like a Gold Glove defender.
I'm still adamant that Wigginton was a great pickup. The Phillies just haven't been able to use him the correct way this season.
Hopefully, that changes in the second half.
Juan Pierre continues to defy the odds and hit like it's 2004.
There's not enough that can be said about the way that Pierre has stepped in to help the Phillies this season.
He signed a minor league deal over the winter with no guarantee that he'd make the club, and now that we're in the beginning of July, he's played the most games in left field for the Phillies this season.
That's because Charlie Manuel hasn't been able to take his bat out of the lineup. He won't face much left-handed pitching, but there's no doubt that Pierre has been one of the best, if not the best, minor league deal of the last offseason.
It was unreasonable to believe that Hunter Pence could step right in and fill the shoes of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard offensively. Those are big shoes to fill.
Pence is at his best when he is playing a complementary role, and even though he didn't have that opportunity in the first half of the season, he is still managing to have one of the best seasons of his career.
He'll probably never thrive the way he did in his first half season with the Phillies, but if this team wants to seriously look towards the future, Pence will get a contract extension.
He's developed surprisingly excellent power since coming to Philly, having posted an ISO of .210 this season—a would-be near career high.
The most home runs Pence has ever hit in a single season is 25 in a three-year stretch from 2008-10. He already has 16 this season, and we haven't even reached the All-Star break.
He didn't become a superstar, but he's a big piece of this puzzle and having a great season.
The 2012 season has been a disappointment for Shane Victorino.
With their big offensive players on the sideline to start the season, Victorino was a guy that the Phillies really needed to come in and produce, but he never got on the right track in the first half.
The numbers are down across the board, and while you can place some of the blame on an abnormally low BABip, that won't tell the whole story. Victorino's power numbers are way down. So is the batting average.
He hasn't even played the same level of defense this season.
Heading into a contract year, he may be doing the Phillies a favor by catastrophically dropping his price, but at this rate, would they even offer him a new deal?
Out of curiosity, if you could have Victorino at five years and $45 million, would you do it?
That should effectively sum up Freddy Galvis' season.
He came into spring training without a spot on the Major League roster. After the team learned of what would become Chase Utley's absence, Galvis won not only a spot on the roster, but a job as the club's starting second baseman.
Then he slumped through most of the regular season and was a non-factor at the bottom of the Phillies' order. He suffered a Pars fracture that will most likely end his season, and then to put the cherry on top, MLB suspended him for 50 games after he tested positive for a banned substance.
John Mayberry Jr.
To put it lightly, John Mayberry Jr. hasn't had a great season.
The Phillies basically told him that the left field job was his to lose when they passed over signing a free-agent outfielder (excluding Juan Pierre's minor league deal, of course). All he needed to do was show that he could handle the strain of playing regularly.
Well he couldn't do that in spring training. He struggled mightily.
Those struggles carried over into the regular season, and he hasn't shown many signs of snapping out of this funk. Several baseball people think his swing could use tweaking.
The Phillies won't give up on Mayberry because there is definitely still potential there, but how long can they wait? Can he ever be an everyday outfielder?
I wouldn't say that losing Laynce Nix "derailed" the Phillies' offense, but it was damn close.
Nix was one of the club's hottest hitters through the first couple months of the regular season before he was sidelined with a severe calf strain that has cost him most of the season to this point.
The Phillies should get him back sometime after the All-Star break, and he'll definitely give the now Jim Thome-less bench a boost in left-handed power.
Mike Fontenot has been a solid pickup for the Phillies.
He supplanted Pete Orr for the final spot on the club's bench after spending a few weeks in Triple-A Lehigh Valley and made an impact when he reached the MLB. He's hit well since joining the Phillies and made Orr expendable.
When Chase Utley returned, he made Michael Martinez expendable. Apparently, the Phillies are comfortably with his ability to play shortstop in a pinch, if need be.
He's not going to set the world on fire, but Fontenot can be a very solid bench player, and he's been just that for the Phillies.
Here are a few various grades for guys that haven't been with the club long enough to qualify for their own slides...
Chase Utley: A (Just 14 plate appearances, mind you, but he really does look healthy.)
Hector Luna: D (Hasn't gotten on base since June 24.)
Michael Martinez: F
Pete Orr: C (Was doing a solid job. Mike Fontenot was just doing an even better one. No room for both.)
Erik Kratz: C (He does have the same amount of home runs as Placido Polanco in just seven at-bats though.)
David Herndon: F (Just five innings before getting hurt. Wasn't pitching well.)
Mike Stutes: F (See Herndon, David.)
Brian Sanches: F (Hasn't thrown many innings, but the ones he has have been terrible.)
BJ Rosenberg: F (Never got a chance to really show what he can do before being sent back to Triple-A.)
Jeremy Horst: B (Looks like a solid left-handed specialist, albeit in just two innings.)