The Phillies' franchise outlook has been improved a lot by Domonic Brown's emergence.
"You are what your record says you are" is a phrase tough guy wannabes and other unpleasant people like to throw around with great self-satisfaction to point up the shortcomings of everyone but them.
I really dislike people who break this old chestnut out every time somebody else makes a mistake or three. Which, I guess, makes it all the more galling that I am applying it to the 2013 Phillies.
It really fits, though.
Until Matt Harvey abused the Phillies on Sunday afternoon, the Phillies were an even 49-49 on the season.
In 2012, the Phillies went 81-81.
You do not need to be a mathematics major to see that the Phillies played 260 games in a bit more than a season and a half and won exactly half of them.
The Phillies' record, then, says they are a .500 franchise. And you know what?
So does their roster.
The Phillies have about half of an outfield.
Domonic Brown is set to be a fixture in left field. Ben Revere has shown flashes of exciting promise, but his .324 lifetime on-base percentage does not suggest he will ever be more than an adequate leadoff man.
Delmon Young has hit decently and fielded pretty poorly, i.e., he is exactly what he was advertised to be.
The Phillies have about half of an infield.
Jimmy Rollins is having a pretty nondescript campaign by his standards. Chase Utley has been resurgent when he has played. And there ends the good news in the infield.
Ryan Howard is featured in every "worst contract in baseball history" piece the blogosphere can pump out. Michael Young is at the top of every "first Phillie likely to be traded" list (H/T Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports).
The Phillies have about half of a starting rotation.
Cliff Lee is an All-Star and shows no signs of slowing down. Cole Hamels has been a hot mess for most of 2013, but it is probably too soon to say he cannot regain ace form in 2014 and beyond.
As an aside, though, the Parcells quote absolutely applies to Hamels this season. His earned run average is over four and he is 4-12. His WHIP this season is a full tenth higher than his career average in that statistical category. He is what he is right now.
After Lee and Hamels, the Phillies have a whole lot of "meh" at the back end of the rotation. Kyle Kendrick is trying as hard as he can, but he will never be confused with an ace.
Jonathan Pettibone, John Lannan and the others pitching on days four and five are only placeholders until better options come along.
The only places you cannot say the Phillies have half a roster are in the bullpen and on the bench.
Because in those areas, the Phillies have much, much less than glass-half-full situations.
The Mike Adams signing can fairly be called a loss. As such, the Phillies are back to handing the ball to the likes of Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus and Antonio Bastardo in the late innings, hoping none of them burst into flames trying to get the game to the suddenly iffy Jonathan Papelbon.
And you can't make me talk about the Phillies' bench options (beyond Kevin Frandsen, who has been really good) so I won't.
Besides, if you want to watch the Phillies' bench, based on the team's injury problems you can just watch the game from the first inning on—John Mayberry, Jr. and Darin Ruf would be, at best, bench players for most contending teams.
Despite all of the foregoing, the Phillies continue to cling desperately to their .500 record and their dwindling hopes of stealing a playoff spot in an underwhelming National League.
As last year showed, though, .500 becomes less of an accomplishment and more of a burden with each game that falls off the schedule.
The primary bit of good news for the Phillies going forward is what promises to be a wild shedding of salary soon after the season ends on September 29 in Atlanta.
If the Phillies decide to sell Papelbon before the trade deadline, that would be another $13 million saved next season.
So in truth, the future for the Phillies looks quite a bit brighter than the present. For one thing, the National League East is not exactly populated with dominant teams in the way of the 1927 New York Yankees or the Big Red Machine.
Brown, Revere, Lee and Hamels are a reasonably solid core to build around, prospects like Maikel Franco and Jesse Biddle are in the pipeline and the team should have a lot of money to spend next winter.
Getting to that promised time, though, might feel interminable as the 2013 team trudges toward another Even Steven season likely to end without a playoff run.