Philadelphia Phillies Philes Vol 1.19: A resilient bunch

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 21: Drew Smyly #18 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 21, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 21: Drew Smyly #18 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 21, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame is nice, but it’s missing two vital members, plus an unlikely catch and tremendous pitching in today’s Phillies Philes.

As the calendar reaches early August, the Philadelphia Phillies are neck-and-neck with the Washington Nationals for the second Wild Card spot in the National League.

After a heartbreaking loss Friday, the Phillies rebounded nicely Saturday night behind the tremendous–and much-needed–effort of their ace, Aaron Nola, who stifled White Sox hitters for seven innings.

Nick Pivetta came in as well and earned his first career save in fiery, nail-biting fashion.

Now 10-2 on the year, Nola has quietly worked his way into Cy Young contention following a rough first month to the season. It also speaks to his resilience, which is most impressive as the Phillies look to capture one of the two wild card spots.

In a one game win-or-go-home matchup, I’d take Nola over pretty much anyone at this point

If only the Phillies offense would come to life, or at least develop consistency, this team would be in much better shape.

A Productive Deadline

With the acquisitions of Jason Vargas, Corey Dickerson, and other pre-deadline signings, Matt Klentak improved the 2019 Phillies without mortgaging the future, which was the right approach.

While popular sentiment may have been for the team to acquire a flashy name, it would have cost resources that the Phillies were wise to keep.

As I’ve mentioned before, championship teams aren’t won with an open wallet, as they’re won with player development and building from within.

It’s well known that the Phillies have struggled with player development, but like playing the lottery, the more tickets you have in the pot, the better chance one will hit.

The Phillies are hoping that one will eventually hit, and pitch.

Big-name rentals are fine for teams on the cusp of World Series contention, but the Phillies are not.

They’re on the cusp of finishing above .500 for the first time since 2011, which is a big difference. If the Phillies overall trajectory continues northward, then perhaps in the coming years a bigger deadline acquisition would be worthy.

Even then, it’s best to always keep an eye on the future to improve the likelihood of sustained success.

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I’d rather a competitive team with a legitimate chance every year, than a powerhouse for a few seasons followed by a decade of lifeless, uninspiring baseball.

Props to Klentak for his smart approach.

All Smyly’s

I was too harsh on Drew Smyly. Last week I said comparisons of the recently-acquired lefty to former Phillie Cliff Lee were ridiculous, and gave Gabe Kapler the weekly “Pholly” distinction, as a result:

"“In all fairness, I think Kapler was referring to his size and demeanor on the mound, but even then, never should Drew Smyly’s name be mentioned with the likes of Cliff Lee… or anyone half as talented.For that, Gabe Kapler, you are this week’s Pholly. (Plus your team is really stinking up the joint.)”"

Smyly does resemble Lee in stature on the mound, but that’s really where the comparison should end. My “never should Drew Smyly’s name be mentioned with the likes of Cliff Lee” was fine. The “… or anyone half as talented,” part took it too far.

Smyly has been great since joining the Phillies. Through two starts and 13.0 innings pitched, the 30-year-old has allowed just one run and his team has won both his starts. That’s commendable.

The Phillies don’t need Smyly to be Lee; they just need him to be better than the trio of Zach Eflin, Pivetta and Vince Velasquez, and through two starts, he has.

Smyly takes the mound Sunday in the series finale against the White Sox.

Cliff-less in Philly

Speaking of Lee, as the 2009 Phillies reunite for Sunday’s 10-year anniversary celebration, they will be doing so without Lee. Acquired at the ’09 trade deadline, the lefty declined attending this afternoon’s event citing a prior commitment.

Most Valuable Phillie Power Rankings – Top 15 (through 8/3/2019):

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

“Ring the Bell” Award Winner of the Week

This week’s award goes to two people. On Friday night, Roman Quinn did it all.

Quinn was 3-for-6 (though could have had four hits if not for the slow-moving Jason Vargas being thrown out at second on his hard hit liner to right), scored two runs, hit a solo homer, and pitched two quality innings.

Quinn’s team-first attitude and desire to compete earn him this week’s award, which he’ll be sharing with teammate, Vince Velasquez.

A former outfielder during his high school days, Velasquez looked right at home manning left field during the 14th and 15th innings Friday night. He threw out one runner at home, almost nailed another, and made a spectacular diving catch.

According to Statcast, his catch had a 15 percent probability, and is the Phillies’ first 5-star catch this year.

Ring the bell, Roman Quinn and Vince Velasquez; you earned it!

Phillie Pholly of the Week

This weekend, the Phillies celebrated their annual alumni get-together and Wall of Fame induction ceremony. It’s a fun weekend and always great to see the returning players.

Yet through it all, two vital people in Phillies history remain ambiguously absent: former general manager Ed Wade and 1993 MVP runner-up, Lenny Dykstra.

I’ll start with Ed Wade, and I’ll do so with a metaphor.

Imagine a great big oak tree in your backyard. You can’t even put your arms around it, it’s so big. And you want to chop this tree down.

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You hack away with an ax on both ends until there’s barely any bark remaining, yet the tree is still standing. Then your dad comes in and takes one swing and the tree comes barreling down. You did all the hard work, but he gets all the praise.

You are Wade and your dad is Pat Gillick.

After just three seasons as Phillies GM (2006-08), Pat Gillick was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame last year. He received all the praise for the championship run which was built on the back of Ed Wade’s hard labor.

Wade was responsible for Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, and Carlos Ruiz donning the red pinstripes. He even brought in Charlie Manuel when the whole city wanted Jim Leyland to replace the fired Larry Bowa as manager.

Gillick reaped the fruit from Wade’s harvest, and Wade needs to be on that wall. The fact that Gillick is up there and not Wade is a joke.

Then there’s Dykstra.

The affectionately-known “Nails” was the catalyst of the 1993 team.

Finishing second in MVP voting to Barry Bonds that year, Dykstra carried the team on his back all the way to Game 6 of the World Series.

And the “Dude” was a productive player before this, too, always giving his all with reckless abandonment–for better or worse–which endeared him to the city, earning three All-Star bids while with the team.

Yet the Phillies remain committed to distancing themselves from him for his off-the-field transgressions, which is their prerogative.

If the award is purely a baseball-motivated honor, he needs to be on there, just like Wade. He certainly impacted the organization more than the likes of several recent inductees.

Mike Lieberthal was a decent catcher, and unless the Phillies want their Wall of Fame to equal a Wall of Good, he shouldn’t be on there. Likewise, Pat Burrell was good, but never great.

Even Jim Thome‘s presence is questionable. He had two excellent years with the team before being moved to clear the way for future Wall of Famer, Ryan Howard. The team also never made the playoffs behind Thome.

The Phillies organization has the right to pick and choose who they want to enshrine, but the decision-makers that continue to omit Wade and Dykstra earn this week’s dubious distinction.

Alumni weekend is great and should be a yearly event, but there shouldn’t be a specific Wall of Fame induction every year simply to appease a ritual or as a promotional tool to sell more tickets. It should be reserved for the likes of those outstanding individuals who elevated the organization.

The organization has plenty of worthy candidates coming up, but for their oversight and/or disregard in recent years, the Phillies brass take home this week’s distinction.

Phillies Phlashback

Speaking of the Wall of Fame, this weekend the Phillies inducted Bobby Abreu into their enshrined ranks. In honer of the two-time All-Star, let’s flash back to August 27th, 2000.

The Phillies were hosting the San Francisco Giants in this Sunday affair. Bruce Chen would be tasked with stifling the potent Giants lineup that included the likes of Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, and J.T. Snow.

The Giants would plate the game’s first run off an RBI single by catcher Doug Mirabelli. The Phillies responded a few innings later with a solo home run off the bat of the aforementioned Abreu.

The game would remain tied 1-1 heading into the bottom of the 10th from sunny Veterans Stadium, when Abreu stepped to the plate and did this: (See video here).

Everyone loves a walk-off homer, but what better than a walk-off inside-the-park homer! The call by Harry Kalas makes it even better!

On Deck

The Phillies travel to Arizona for three games against the Diamondbacks before heading to San Francisco for a four-game weekend set against the Giants. The Phillies just took two-of-three from the Giants in Philly.