Philadelphia Phillies Philes Vol 1.16: Drowning in mediocrity

(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

As the Philadelphia Phillies open the second half with more disappointment, we’ll celebrate “The Big Piece” in this 16th installment of Phillies Philes.

Leading off

The Philadelphia Phillies are sinking fast. They were sinking heading into the All-Star break, and they’re taking on even more water now.

After blowing last night’s game with two outs in the top of the ninth, they’re now 2.5 games behind the Nationals for second place and 8.0 back of the Braves. At this point, the only silver lining is that they’re still two games above .500.

Well, another silver lining is that Aaron Nola seems to be back to his dominant self.

Of course, what good does that do if his bullpen can’t hold a lead and his offense fails to put up more runs. Rather than swinging for the fences and striking out, perhaps they can learn to swing for contact and move base runners over. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer wins over an occasional 450′ solo home run.

The Phillies record is not indicative of who they are; it represents what they were to start the year when they found ways to win series.’ It really feels like they should be under .500, which makes sense considering that’s exactly what they’ve been the past seven weeks.

I guess the luck of bamboo has an expiration. Or maybe it’s only valid against teams named the New York Mets.

A flurry of inactivity

More from Philadelphia Phillies

With the second half underway, the Phillies look like anything but a championship caliber team. They have holes all over the lineup, and the pitching has been mostly awful (Aaron Nola aside). The trade deadline is less than three weeks away, but is now really the time to trade valuable assets to acquire a high-priced, big-name rental for a team that seems to be going nowhere fast?


Speaking with reporters before Friday’s game, team president Andy MacPhail seemed to suggest as much, and that’s a good sign. If the Phillies want to be contenders for the long haul, it would behoove them to treat this trade deadline the same as last year: explore what’s available while trading away nothing of value.

That might be a bit dissatisfying for some fans in the short-term, but one big-name player is not going to shift the tides for a team struggling to stay afloat. There are significant weaknesses on the roster, and the best approach is carefully and diligently addressing each need in the offseason.

The only way Matt Klentak should consider giving up a valuable, young asset is if the Phillies are acquiring a controllable, young player with extreme upside in return. Emphasis on extreme.

And hopefully, they share my philosophy that top prospect Alec Bohm is untouchable. He’s the third baseman of the future, even possibly as soon as this September.

The Phillies need help. Lots of it. But one band-aid can’t fix a bleeding heart.

A Big Piece of Phillies’ History

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. I’ve stated that many times before. Yet, just because baseball is a long-distance run, there’s still something to say about sprinting to the finish line. Perhaps no player in Phillies history was better at this than Ryan Howard.

“The Big Piece,” whose retirement celebration is just a few hours away down at the ballpark, was notorious for putting teams on his back and carrying them to the finish line. Not only did he carry teams, he soared with them, leading the Phillies to five straight division titles, two World Series appearances, and one championship parade.

Looking at Howard’s career regular season stats by month, September (which includes a handful of games played in October) is by far his best month. He tallied more hits, runs, home runs, walks, doubles, and even stolen bases (three, for what it’s worth) in September than any other month throughout his career. His 227 career September RBIs is second best to August – his second best month statistically – where he tallied 235 career RBI.

September is also his best month in terms of batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. When calculating Howard’s September totals into a 162-game average, he batted .271 with 149 hits, 93 runs, 43 HR, 126 RBI, and 91 walks in 548 at-bats. Those numbers are a tick above his career average.

Bottom line, Ryan Howard put together an outstanding career, and as seasons progressed and games mattered more, he delivered. He’s a pretty special player whose number “6” deserves to be emblazoned along the brick facade of Citizens Bank Park with the rest of Philadelphia Phillies legends.

Covering some ground!

Roman Quinn has been less than spectacular at the dish, but at least he can do this:

Walking wounded

Despite facing season-ending surgery for a bone spur in his elbow, the Phillies’ Jake Arrieta will continue pitching through the injury. Gabe Kapler admitted the injury has hampered Arrieta, but added, “It’s always worth considering if Jake at 85 percent of himself is a better option than what we have at Triple-A.”

Based on the brief samples of Enyel De Los Santos, Ranger Suarez, and Cole Irvin, I’d say he’s right. All of which only intensifies the Phillies’ need for rotation help…of course, at the right cost.

Most Valuable Phillie Power Rankings – Top 15 (through 7/13/2019):

  1. J.T. Realmuto (C) – Previous Rank: 1 (↔)
  2. Rhys Hoskins (1B) – Previous Rank: 2 (↔)
  3. Aaron Nola (SP) – Previous Rank: 4 (↑ 1)
  4. Scott Kingery (OF/INF) – Previous Rank: 3 (↓ 1)
  5. Hector Neris (RP) – Previous Rank: 6 (↑ 1)
  6. Jean Segura (SS) – Previous Rank: 8 (↑ 2)
  7. Cesar Hernandez (2B) – Previous Rank: 7 (↔)
  8. Bryce Harper (OF) – Previous Rank: 10 (↑ 2)
  9. Zach Eflin (SP) – Previous Rank: 5 (↓ 4)
  10. Jay Bruce (OF) – Previous Rank: 13 (↑ 3)
  11. Maikel Franco (3B) – Previous Rank: 12 (↑ 1)
  12. Jake Arrieta (SP) – Previous Rank: 9 (↓ 3)
  13. Nick Pivetta (SP) – Previous Rank: 11 (↓ 2)
  14. Tommy Hunter (RP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↑)
  15. J.D. Hammer (RP) – Previous Rank: 15 (↔)

“Ring the Bell” Award Winner of the Week

This goes to Ryan Howard, who literally rang the bell more so than any other player in Citizens Bank Park history since its inception in 2004. His 198 South Philly dingers lead all players, and his 382 career total rank second in team history behind Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (548).

P.S. And just how cool was it watching all those beautiful, majestic opposite field shots? The ball seemed to just effortlessly fly off his bat!

Phillie Pholly of the Week

Did you notice Realmuto in the wrong helmet during Tuesday’s All-Star game? Apparently, the Phillies equipment manager packed all his gear but forgot to include the catcher’s batting helmet. Realmuto improvised, ripping the Phillies “P” off his catching helmet and placing it on Paul DeJong‘s helmet of the Cardinals for both at-bats.

To the Phillies equipment manager, this snafu earns you Phillie Pholly of the Week distinction.

Phillies Phlashback

In honor of Ryan Howard’s retirement celebration, here are my top five moments from his Phillies career:

5) September 11th, 2004: Howard hits his first career home run, a two-run, pinch-hit shot against the Mets, whom the Phillies would beat 11-9. (See highlight here)

4) May 30, 2009: Howard crushes a grand slam 505 feet into the third deck of Citizens Bank Park. (See highlight here)

3) September 3, 2006: Howard hits three home runs, recording his 50th, 51st and 52nd homers of the season. (See highlight here)

2) October 28, 2008: Howard goes 3-for-4 with two home runs and drives in five to lead the Phillies to victory in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series. (See highlight here)

1) October 7, 2009: With two outs and down two runs in the top of the ninth inning of Game 4 of the NLDS, Howard laced a game-tying double to right as the Phillies would go on to win the game and the series (See highlight here).

dark. Next. Looking at Phillies needs before trade deadline

On Deck

The Phillies host the first-place Dodgers for four games before traveling to Pittsburgh for a weekend set. The Dodgers, who swept the Phillies in an ugly three-game set in Los Angeles at the beginning of June, own baseball’s best record.