Spring Fling / Give Him a Ring / Leave Him Crying: NL East Edition

Philadelphia Phillies


Cole Hamels – SP  

Cole Hamels
CBS Sports

Fun fact #1: If you transpose the first letters of his first and last name, ‘Cole Hamels’ becomes ‘Hole Camels’.  Fun Fact #2: Cole Hamels is having a heck of a year.  Hamels is an ace by several pitching measures, rocking a top 20 K-BB%, K/9, and FIP.  Additionally, Cole will likely be traded to a new team this winter, escaping the homer-friendly Bank in Philly.  I’d be wary of a switch to the AL, but he’s certainly worth flinging around with for now.


Chase Utley‘s Last Hurrah – 2B

The Phillies are old. Old players tend not to perform as well as their younger counterparts (or their younger selves), and they tend to get hurt. To that end, we celebrate the first time Chase Utley has played a full season since 2009.

Utley was far and away the most consistently destructive offensive second baseman of the late 00s – all that stands in the way of Utley posting the best 5 offensive seasons for 2B from 2005-2009 is Ben Zobrist’s absurd 2009 season. Unfortunately, injuries began mounting with great frequency after Utley turned 30 (not exactly a surprise given the intensity with which Utley plays the game), and he managed to play in only 67% of the Phillies’ games from 2010-2013. When he was available to play he was undeniably useful, but he was not quite the force he had been previously. 2014 saw Utley finally healthy enough to play every day, and he responded by roaring out of the gate to the tune of a 148 wRC+ in the season’s first two months. Sadly, his production has cratered since the calender flipped to June – a wRC+ of 82 since that time is solidly below league average (even for second basemen). Heading into his age 36 season and with his contract possessing a vesting option, the question will be whether Ruben Amaro, Jr. feels like placing greater stock in the 2 months of fireworks or the 4 months of deadweight coupled with an extensive injury history and general decline typically associated with advanced age. If he chooses door one, he will pay Utley $15 million to be the Phillies’ every day second baseman in 2015; if he chooses door 2, he will pay Utley $2 million to go away. Something tells me Ruben Amaro, Jr. will pick door one – this time and every time.

Jim McIsaac, Getty Images
Jim McIsaac, Getty Images



The ageless wonder, Chase is still putting up numbers after all these years and flashing better-than-league-average leather at a demanding position.  The knock on Utley used to be his durability, but he may be getting more reliable with age as he’s on pace for 650 PA’s this year, after a serviceable 530-PA 2013. Chase proves we’re never too old for love and gets my Ring.


Ken Giles – RP

Eric Hartline, USA Today
Eric Hartline, USA Today

The Phillies are old. At least Giles is young, he is electric, and he would be an asset in any bullpen. He is also a reliever, and the fact that the best long-term asset this organization possesses at the major league level is a reliever should scare the collective crap out of it. Happy, Phillies? You made me break my “Do Not Marry Relievers” rule. Fear yourselves.


Phillies Outfield – OF

USA Today
USA Today

Oh, you thought maybe someone else?  Ryan Howard and his ‘I got a massive post-prime contract before it was cool’ deal, perhaps?  Or maybe Jonathan Papelbon and his bloated salary?  Jimmy Rollins looked lost at times this season too.

But it is, in fact, the Phillies Outfield that receives this (dis)honor.  Ben Revere, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Domonic Brown are all putting up below-average numbers both offensively and (shockingly) defensively, despite a cozy home ballpark that should be conducive to both.  Marlon Byrd also contributes to their defensive woes in the outfield, while mitigating a bit of the damage with his bat.  The wheels haven’t fallen off this wagon as obviously as some of the other Phillies woes, but all the indicators of impending doom are lurking.  The Phillies should have been the hardest team to decide who would be sent home crying in this game, but in fact, once the research was done it was plain as day.  I’m leaving this outfield situation behind before Byrd’s age (37), Revere’s empty average (.308, with a 93 wRC+), and Dom Brown’s literally everything (-1.5 WAR) expose this atrocity to modern baseball for what it really is.


Ruben Amaro, Jr. – General Manager

CBS Sports
CBS Sports

The Phillies are old.

Amaro really needs his own post, so you just get the plot synopsis for now.

First read/listen to this (language advisory). Then listen to this. If you don’t want to continue reading, I’ll cut to the chase: Amaro is a flipping trainwreck.

The Phillies are old. The Phillies are old because of Ruben Amaro, Jr. In addition to thinking players in their mid 30s can supply reliably above-average production year-in-year-out, Ruben Amaro, Jr. does not understand the difference between a plate appearance and an at-bat. It is fine if you do not know the difference between a plate appearance and an at-bat because you do not run a professional baseball team – Ruben Amaro, Jr. DOES, in fact, run a professional baseball team and should know the difference between these two things. One can surmise that, not knowing the difference between these two things, Ruben Amaro, Jr. does not fully appreciate the virtues of things like on-base percentage, which, when one looks at the team-wide trend of OBP over Ruben Amaro, Jr.’s tenure (DOOOWWWWNNN) and the types of players on whom Ruben Amaro, Jr. spends free agent dollars (players who are not terribly cozy with OBP… and old), would seem to be a reasonable assumption. A quick perusal through the Phillies minor league ranks (High A, AA, and especially AAA) does not reveal a lot of guys who seem cozy with OBP. The starting pitchers in the farm system are fairly low yield arms, and though there do appear to be some interesting relievers littering the ranks, the club has already elevated its prized bullpen arm to the majors (Giles).

Oh, and did I mention that Amaro LOOOOVES him some older players?

Good gravy, the Phillies are old. I have to wonder if the fact that Amaro received his introduction to the world of player personnel in the (*COUGH*) late 1900s/early 2000s (when “modern science” rendered 30 the new 20 and 40 the new 30) might have something to do with his absolutely asinine views on the returns on investment to be had from baseball’s senior citizens. Due to arcane service time rules, older players are much more expensive than are their younger counterparts, an inconvenience when paired with the reality that humans tend to get injured more easily and frequently in their thirties than they do in their twenties. In short, older players are something of an economic inefficiency within the sport – smart spending on key veterans can be somewhat profitable, but relying on a several of them is begging for a lot of D.L. days and declining production that cost a franchise a lot of money. When it works, you get the 2010 San Francisco Giants. When it doesn’t, you get the 2011 San Francisco Giants or the recent vintage of Philadelphia Phillies. In short, Amaro has managed to run the Phillies into the ground in fairly short order, things will probably only get worse in the near future once Utley and Jimmy Rollins regress/decline or get hurt (again), and there isn’t much help on the way from the organizational ranks. Also, LOLRYANHOWARD. I’m not sure if I really feel sorry for the average Phillies fan (actually, I am pretty sure that I do not), but I do have one friend who is a die-hard Phillies supporter – Mattie the Heim, you deserve better.

Who did we miss? What did we get wrong? Post your Phillies picks in the comments section below.

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