2013 Reds / Series Preview

Series Preview: The Fading Phillies

From 2008 to 2011, the Philadelphia Phillies towered above the National League. They won two NL pennants (including destroying the Reds in the 2010 NLDS) and a World Series title. The Phillies won 102 games in the 2011 regular season. It’s worth noting that through those seasons, their payroll grew from $97 million to $172 million. They remain one of baseball’s big money stacks.

But the Phillies haven’t been quite the same since Ryan Howard ruptured his left Achilles tendon on the final play of the surprising 2011 NLCS. Last year they struggled to reach .500. At the quarter way point this season, they sit uncomfortably in third place (19-22) in a division with Bryce Harper and Justin Upton. Injuries and age have taken their toll on the Phillies. From just the last few days, you can find calls to trade Howard, Chase Utley and Cliff Lee.

And there’s this: Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Phillies lost a series — at home — to the Miami Marlins.

That doesn’t mean Philadelphia isn’t a dangerous team. Wounded animal clichés and all. But as the Reds (25-16) head into the unfriendly confines of Citizens Bank Park for a three-game weekend series, there’s legitimate concern for both teams that the Phillies’ old selves will show up.

THE PHILLIES thirtysomething LINE-UP

The 2013 Phillies offense has been dismal. They rank 12th in the National League in runs scored (Reds are second), 11th in on-base-percentage (Reds are first) and tenth in slugging (Reds are ninth). While both teams strike out at about the same rate, the Reds lead the league in walks while the Phillies are 12th. As Greg detailed in his preview of the April series, the Phillies off-season strategy relied on underwhelming moves and hopes for a bunch of bounce-back seasons. So far, they’ve been disappointed on both counts.

The Phillies scored four runs over three games against the Reds in April (and two of those were off someone named Justin Freeman).

Player Bats Pos Age PA BA OBP SLG OPS+ BABIP SB/CS
Jimmy Rollins (S) SS 34 171 .255 .304 .382 85 .297 4/2
Chase Utley (L) 2B 34 161 .281 .335 .500 123 .283 4/1
Michael Young (R) 3B 36 154 .296 .383 .378 108 .355 0/0
Ryan Howard (L) 1B 33 155 .245 .284 .434 91 .305 0/0
Delmon Young (R) RF 27 48 .244 .313 .390 89 .273 0/0
Domonic Brown (L) LF 25 151 .250 .298 .429 94 .269 0/0
Carlos Ruiz (R) C 34 51 .234 .294 .277 56 .289 1/0
Ben Revere (L) CF 25 129 .237 .286 .263 50 .277 7/3

At Redsfest last December, Reds GM Walt Jocketty revealed that a deal had “fallen through” that would have cemented Ben Revere in centerfield and the lead-off spot for the Reds. Talk about dodging a bullet. A speeding, team-obliterating bullet. And I told ya so.

To date, Revere has no home runs and five RBI. He’s batting .237 and because of a pathetic walk rate, his OBP sags lifelessly below .290. While Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel continues to fantasize about Revere’s infield hits and stealing 60 bases, teams have routinely been tagging up from first base on Revere’s weak arm. On the other hand, Revere did do this to Super Todd Frazier.

The next time someone tries to convince you of the virtue of having a leadoff hitter whose main attribute is speed, please point out the immense value Shin-Soo Choo has offered the Reds with his home runs, doubles and on-base skills. More Choo, less Taveras, please

Ryan Howard bats clean-up. My guess is the Phillies are expecting more than heartwarming home runs for the $105 million they will pay Howard over the next four seasons. From 2006 through 2009, Howard hit 198 home runs and drove in 572 runs, but he’s not that guy any more. He was 1 for 11 with three strikeouts in the April series with the Reds.

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCH-UPS

Roy Halladay was first lost to ineffectiveness then to the disabled list for most of, if not all of, the 2013 season. Cole Hamels is 1-6 with a 4.80 FIP. Their rotation is now comprised of guys named Pettibone and Cloyd. Desperation, thy name is spelled Zambrano.

[Survey: Which post-season memory is worse for you personally, Roy Halladay or Buster Posey?]

The Phillies’ starters rank 8th in the NL in FIP (Reds are third) and 9th in strikeout rate (Reds are fifth).

Date/Time Name ERA FIP WHIP BABIP HR/9 BB/9 K/9
Fri. 7:05pm Cliff Lee 2.86 2.89 1.08 .282 0.6 1.4 6.8
Tony Cingrani 2.89 4.12 0.96 .241 1.9 2.3 11.9
Sat. 4:05pm Kyle Kendrick 2.47 3.33 1.06 .257 0.8 1.6 6.4
Bronson Arroyo 3.76 3.87 1.14 .272 1.0 1.4 5.1
Sun. 1:35pm Jonathan Pettibone 3.41 4.77 1.28 .278 1.2 2.5 5.3
Homer Bailey 3.51 2.88 1.15 .297 0.7 2.5 9.1

Cliff Lee (LHP, 34) brings a 6-2 career record against the Reds into Friday night’s game. Lee’s strikeout rate has dropped sharply this season. After averaging 9 strikeouts per 9 innings the past two years, his K/9 stands at 6.8 for 2013. Lee pitched seven innings against the Reds in April, surrendering two runs and one walk.

Kyle Kendrick (RHP, 28) has been outstanding for the Phillies in 2013. He has a 3-2 career record against the Reds, including throwing seven shutout innings in GABP a few weeks ago. Kendrick has recorded seven consecutive starts giving up two earned runs or fewer. He’s throwing his fastball more often in place of his cutter.

Jonathan Pettibone (LHP, 22) has never started against the Reds. Pettibone pitches against Homer Bailey. Bailey shut out the Phillies over 8 innings in April, giving up just two hits and no walks while striking out ten, throwing 89 pitches. The Reds won that game on Jay Bruce’s game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth.

THE PHILLIES BULLPEN

The Phillies’ closer is 32-year-old Jonathan Papelbon. While he’s converted all seven of his save opportunities and his ERA is a sparkling 1.08, his strikeout rate (6.5 K/9) has fallen dramatically this season. His career K/9 is 10.7 and was 11.8 in 2012.

Top set-up reliever, Mike Adams, remains on the active roster but recently has dealt with back issues. Their current 25-man roster shows three left handed relief pitchers, Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst (the Reds traded him for Wilson Valdez), and Raul Valdez. Bastardo is the best of the three.

**Special shout out to Greg Dafler who put together the two excellent tables for this post.

25 thoughts on “Series Preview: The Fading Phillies

  1. Too bad Todd Frazier is only going to hit .221 for his career.

    I mean, you can look at a guy like Revere and say “I told ya so” on May 17th, then let’s look at Frazier and let anyone who thought he was gonna be a bust say “I told ya so” too.

    • @CI3J: Of course it’s not just a matter of this year, but that Revere’s production in 2013 pretty closely tracks his career numbers so far. You might be right, that he’ll eventually hit that first home run in 1200 plate appearances. Revere in 2013 is just what Revere has been his entire career, a slap-hitter who depends on ground balls. The Phillies shouldn’t be surprised.

      Regarding Todd Frazier, good thing I don’t just look at batting average to judge. Or just the first part of 2013.

      I did notice in my previous blog post about Revere, the Choo trade rumors broke in the comments section. And you were against the trade then. Are you still?

        • @CI3J: I don’t agree. What’s wrong with rentals? You can’t give up top prospects constantly for rentals unless you are a large market team, but in my mind the Reds gave up a guy they didn’t want, Stubbs, plus a B-/C+ prospect in Gregorius. That is a great deal. A year is a long time. Hell, I’d have made that deal this July to rent the guy for half the year.

          Small to mid market teams have to go out and be aggressive at the trading deadline some years, also. That involves rentals because you can’t afford to sign guys like Choo long term.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

          The main problem I had is burning those trade chips for a short term solution. In that thread Steve mentioned, I also lamented about why they didn’t create a bigger package and try to get a younger, longer term solution like Dexter Fowler.

          As you said, you can’t give up prospects for rentals, especially a mid market team that can’t just throw money at whoever they want. prospects ARE the currency of midmarket teams, and when you spend that money, I prefer it to be on a commodity that will last rather than one that has a very limited shelf life.

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Choo, I just wonder if the Reds could have gotten something more long term using the pieces they used to get Choo.

        • @CI3J:

          As you said, you can’t give up prospects for rentals…..

          Except that’s not what he said, he said you can’t give up “top prospects”..big difference. And they didn’t.

        • @CI3J: As was stated below by Bill Lack, I said top prospects. Was Didi Gregorius a top prospect? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

          I’ll trade C+ prospects (which is what John Sickels had him as) all day, every day. They can be replaced with your top 5 picks the next year. The Reds also will get a pick when Choo leaves. I wouldn’t be surprised if whoever they take is a better prospect than Gregorius in a couple years.

          The Choo trade was just genius. Jocketty’s best trade, in my mind.

    • @CI3J: For Revere to be any good, he’ll have to hit about .310-.320. That is a tall order for that kind of hitter. I’m sure he’ll improve from where he is right now, but I would absolutely hate him on my team.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

        Yeah, I’m not some super fan of Ben Revere or anything, but he’s still relatively young. I’m really against people prejudging players before we even know what they are going to become.

        That said, yes, I’m glad Revere isn’t on our team this year as it seems like he still has some growing pains. But I still think it’s early to say for certain what kind of player he’s going to be He could be a complete bust, like Taveras, or he could end up having a useful MLB career, like Juan Pierre.

        But the one thing I can say for sure is I don’t know what he will be.

        • @CI3J: Yes, there is uncertainty. But there aren’t many guys like Juan Pierre. Many more guys like Willy Taveras. Just profile wise.

  2. [Survey: Which post-season memory is worse for you personally, Roy Halladay or Buster Posey?]

    I’d call that a therapy-inducing two-way tie for first.

    • @Brian Van Hook: For me it’s an easy one: Buster Posey.
      Halladay was great then and the Reds were overmatched. Buster Posey did not have to happen, and that series loss was much more diappointing/heartbreaking.

  3. Boy, this Phillies team needs to be blown up. It’s just a matter of time before the heat they’re taking for assembling this underperforming bunch will be greater than the heat they’ll take for hitting the reset button and admitting failure.

    That said, their pitching this series will be a challenge.

    • @Sultan of Swaff:

      Nothing more heart wrenching than watching a team of once great players struggling through their declining years.

      Reminds me of the Celtics, another team that had a good run but needs to admit it’s time to start over again.

    • @Sultan of Swaff:

      The Phils going to have Ryan Howard until 2016, Cliff Lee to 2015, Cole Hamels through 2018 and one more year of Jimmy Rollins. That’s a big chunk of the budget.

      Thing is even though they are a money team, you got to have talent coming up with the minors and they haven’t been able to reload there (like in their outfield).

  4. As people have noted, the Reds have drawn the tough part of their starting rotation. The mission will be to get their starters out of the game.

  5. ” …. there’s legitimate concern for both teams that the Phillies’ old selves will show up.”

    Nice double entendre.

  6. Survey Answer – For me, it’s the Posey slam. The 2010 Reds were a wonderful team with zero expectations. Just making the playoffs was HUGE. The 2012 team could have won the World Series, and I think many of us expected at least a division series win especially coming home up two games. Gah. Awful, terrible, no good memories. In my mind, I can still see Jay hitting a home run in the 9th to win that game.

  7. OT for this thread, but I just noticed that the Cubs win last night coupled with the Brewers loss dropped the BrewCrew to last place in the NL Central and the Cubs, at temporarily into 4th place.

    The Brewers season has been odd: started 2-8…then won 9 in a row…peaked at 14-11 before going 2-12 over their last 14 games. The 2-12 record includes a 4-game sweep by the Cardinals and the 3-game sweep by Cincinnati. Pittsburgh also beat them 3 out of 4.

    The Brewers have a 3-game series against St. Louis this weekend, so hopefully they can snap out of their funk and play competitive baseball again (at least until the Reds face them in mid-June!)

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