Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Veterans Who Submarined 2013 Season
If success has a thousand fathers, failure has at least five.
Except for perhaps Domonic Brown and Cliff Lee, the 2013 Phillies have a roster full of players who must bear some degree of responsibility for the fact that Philadelphia currently trails the awful New York Mets in the National League East.
But I don't have the time to prepare a slideshow documenting every organizational and on-field failing of this franchise in 2013. And I seriously doubt you would much want to read it.
Instead, I'll single out the worst offenders and let the others suffer their shame in isolated silence.
The road to the Phillies' damnation in 2013 was paved with Roy Halladay's good intentions.
The Phillies spent the entire preseason hoping against hope that Halladay's compromised shoulder would permit him to pitch at a high level despite his decision to forgo offseason surgery.
Even through spring training, Halladay's performances were just encouraging enough for the Phillies to believe he could slot in behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee at the top of the rotation.
Sure, there were hiccups, but who could doubt a pitcher of Halladay's status when he said he was ready to go?
Soon enough, it all came apart when the games started to count.
When (if?) Halladay takes the mound again in 2013, he will return with a record of 2-4 and an earned run average just south of 9.00.
Understand: This is not laying blame on Halladay for getting hurt in the first place. That was in no way his fault.
But Halladay's stubborn refusal to accept that he needed surgery to compete at the major league level? That is on him.
Cole Hamels signed a contract extension in July of last year that set him up comfortably for life.
There is no point in begrudging Hamels his money. What was he supposed to do, say no?
It is fair to say, however, that Hamels did not give the Phillies enough return on their investment in 2013.
Hamels' last five or six starts have been good enough, combined with his peripheral numbers on the season, to convince many fans that his poor record and his team's struggles when he starts are not his fault.
This is a classic example of allowing recent developments to unduly influence long-term analysis.
Hamels could pitch seven perfect games from here to the season's end, and while it would be a historical anomaly and thrilling, it would make no difference in the outcome of the Phillies' season.
What the Phillies needed from Hamels was excellence in April, May and June, when they were still just barely in the race for a wild card berth.
So enjoy his good starts from here to the end of the season.
Just remember that their value is diminished.
Jimmy Rollins is in the second year of a three-year contract that is paying him $11 million this year.
For their $11 million, the Phillies got much less than even Rollins could have expected.
Rollins has hit five home runs, is hitting .245 and has an on-base percentage of .305.
His .982 fielding percentage combined with his diminished range leaves him, for the first time in his career since he became a starter, as a player who is marginally worse defensively than replacement level.
All of these numbers, damaging as they are, do not even tell the whole story.
Watching Rollins on a daily basis has meant stomaching countless first-swing pop-ups, weak flyouts and two-hoppers to second base. When he was not striking out, of course.
Maybe it was not Rollins' fault that Charlie Manuel stubbornly left him at or near the top of the order for most of the season.
His performance is his fault, though.
At least Phillies fans can comfort themselves with Rollins' recent acknowledgment that while there is no "I" in team, there is an "M" and an "E."
Jonathan Papelbon's 2013 numbers are, to be fair, really good.
His earned run average of 2.64 is far better than average. His WHIP of 1.05 illustrates his success in keeping runners off base during his predominantly high-leverage appearances.
Sometimes, fair or not, it is the way the numbers get posted that gets remembered.
After the All-Star break, when the Phillies' ship began to lurch and take on water, Papelbon was blowing holes in the bow.
For whatever reason, Papelbon (who was nobody's idea of a team leader at that point) suddenly found his voice, noting that he didn't come to Philadelphia for this.
Neither did we, Pap.
Perhaps Ruiz's drastic regression from last season's slash line of .326/16/68 is just bad luck. Maybe it was not all chemically influenced.
Then again, this season's slash line of .269/3/16, coupled with an anemic .351 slugging percentage, suggests that with the average and power both suddenly in short supply, Ruiz's one-hit wonder 2012 season is not only never coming back, it could not be reasonably relied on for 2013.
And it would be foolish to think 2014 or beyond will be any different.