Philadelphia Phillies: How Will 2012 Late Bloomers Impact 2013?
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On July 31st, the Philadelphia Phillies sold rather than bought at the trade deadline for the first time since 2006. Ruben Amaro essentially raised the white flag on the 2012 season.
In a pair of moves designed to save cash both this year and next, as well as add depth to their depleted farm system, the team traded Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence on the same day.
Coming off a disappointing 3-game sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves, Amaro cut bait. At 45-57, the Phils were out of contention.
Since the trades, the team has gone 29-17, somehow clawing its way back to within four games of the second wild card spot.
It’s likely too little too late as they remain a long shot to make the playoffs (Coolstandings.com currently gives the Phillies a 1.2% chance of playing postseason ball) with four teams that must collapse in front of them, but clearly they’ve turned things around and now sit at .500 with a record of 74-74.
While the team should end up watching October baseball from home for the first time since ‘06, the Phillies may have found some quality pieces that could help the team next year. Erik Kratz, Kevin Frandsen, John Mayberry, Jr., Kyle Kendrick, and Domonic Brown have each played a major role in the team’s recent surge.
Let’s take a look at how they could fit in on the 2013 Phillies.
Underdog Erik Kratz burst onto the scene after Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider went down with injuries
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The veteran minor leaguer has proven he belongs in the big leagues. While his batting average has taken a dip, he’s remained solid defensively and has provided pop at the plate with 9 home runs. And heck, it’s fun to watch the big catcher guy down base-stealers from his knees.
You can’t ask for much more from a backup catcher, and the injury-prone Brian Schneider’s best years are far behind him. Look for the Phillies to bring the feel-good local boy back in 2013 to spell Chooch on his days off.
Kevin Frandsen is scrappy, but is scrappy good enough for a playoff-contending team?
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The third baseman has been yet another pleasant surprise. He’s a throwback who goes all out, making a handful of highlight reel plays paired with some clutch hits. But while he’s hit .336, Frandsen has managed just six extra base hits in 146 at-bats.
For his career, he’s popped just eight home runs in 714 at-bats. Inevitably, his average will drop and the power just isn’t there. That won’t get it done at third base, and since Frandsen hasn’t shown he can be a utility man with the team. There may not be a spot for him on the Phillies bench next year.
John Mayberry, Jr.
Mayberry has had plenty to smile about in the second half of 2012
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One of the biggest disappointments of the 1st half of the season has turned into one of the biggest surprises in the 2nd half.
John Mayberry, Jr. has 16 extra-base hits in the 42 games since he’s taken over the starting duties in center field. However, he’s hit just .238 against right-handed pitching this year, which is in line with his career .237 average against righties, so it would be a risk to pencil him in as a regular.
Coming into the season, the Phillies were counting on Mayberry to be their starting left fielder after Dom Brown went down with an injury in Spring Training. He didn’t meet expectations early as Juan Pierre took over, and it’s likely his struggles against right-handed pitching will keep him in the 4th outfielder or platoon role next year.
Kendrick has been steady of late after adding a changeup to his repertoire
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He’s not an ace, but he’s done a nice impersonation of one in his last seven starts, winning five of them while allowing just eleven earned runs. The development of a change-up and a lower walk rate has helped Kendrick stick as a starter, and I'd be surprised to see him go back to the bullpen next year. If he keeps this up, the Phillies may just have their 2013 rotation set, assuming Vance Worley comes back strong from injury and Cliff Lee isn’t traded in the off-season.
Brown is still trying to live up to the lofty expectations set for him
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He’s the biggest wild card for the Phillies. Once one of the top prospects in all of baseball, the outfielder is now a giant question mark. But he’s a talented giant question mark, and right now, he’s cheap. Brown has gone deep three times in his last eight games, an encouraging sign for a player who hasn’t shown the power he once projected to have. He’s getting on base at a decent clip and doesn’t look lost in the outfield like he had in his previous big-league stints. Expect Brown to start in one of the corner outfield spots on Opening Day next year.