Philadelphia Phillies Philes Vol 1.22: An ace among jokers

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Despite last night’s win, the Philadelphia Phillies are a bad team, and major changes need to occur. That and more in the 22nd installment of Phillies Philes.

Leading off

There’s a saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Last night the Philadelphia Phillies put a beating on the lowly Miami Marlins. This, in the same week of sweeping a two-game set against the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, winning their first series at Fenway since 1999.

And I couldn’t be less impressed.

The Phillies are a joke. They lack hustle, play without integrity, and go through the same uninspiring motions as their disingenuous manager.

I don’t believe Gabe Kapler‘s the problem, but I no longer believe he’s part of the solution. At the end of the season, it’s time for him to go.

Matt Klentak can join him, along with the team’s analytics department that continues to emphasize launch angle swings as the strikeouts and losses steadily grow. Computers do a lot of wonderful things. They don’t, however, win baseball games.

A sign of the times

More from Philadelphia Phillies

There was a subtle moment in last Sunday’s game against the Padres that really stood out for all the wrong reasons and perfectly reflects the troubled state of this team. It’s been bothering me since, and perhaps you picked up on it, too.

In the top of the sixth inning with the Phillies down by one, Scott Kingery lazily fielded a base hit up the middle. Noticing Kingery’s effortless pursuit, the Padres’ Eric Hosmer aggressively turned the would-be single into a double. Mind you the Phillies lost to the Padres the day before despite being hot on the heels of the Cubs for the second wild-card spot following an impressive sweep.

Yet Kingery showed no urgency, no emotion, no hustle.

Had he busted after the ball, the runner would have been forced to settle for a single. And though Hosmer would be left stranded at second, the display exemplified an underlying problem for the team which directly correlates to their sub-par record: inconsistency and lack of effort.

Yes, teams and players will struggle with hot and cold stretches throughout seasons, but effort is always controllable and one the Phillies seem to frequently struggle with. This falls on Gabe Kapler, the front office, and every player.

Or maybe the players just don’t care.

Would a team that cared allow the Padres to take two of three on their home turf? Would a team that cared blow a seven-run lead to the worst team in the National League in the midst of an alleged playoff race? Would a team that cared have then allow said opponent to tally 19 runs in utterly embarrassing fashion?

Every single test the Phillies have faced this year; they’ve lost. They led the division out of the gate. Then they battled to hold onto their lead before ultimately succumbing to the Braves. Then they battled for second place with the Nationals. Then they battled for the second wild-card spot. Now they’re battling for third place with the Mets, who visit Citizens Bank Park next weekend.

How do you think the Phillies stack up against the likes of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, recently-acquired Marcus Stroman, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz? It says something when the Phillies second-best starter is Jason Vargas whom the Mets traded to make room for Stroman.

The Phillies are the fourth-best team in their own division, and I’ll be shocked if they finish the season above .500. The team hasn’t done so since 2011. Why would I all of a sudden expect them to pass a test now?

One shining star

On Tuesday night, Aaron Nola delivered one of his best starts of the year as he shut down the powerful Red Sox lineup, going seven innings while allowing just four hits and two runs en route to the 3-2 victory. With the win, the Phillies snapped a two-game losing skid led by the efforts of their ace. In the process, Nola reminded everyone he’s willing to carry the load.

Which is good. Before the game, Gabe Kapler suggested the Phillies may ride Nola every fifth game for the rest of the season. He certainly gives the Phillies the best chance to win and turning to him as much as possible can only help a team in dire need of staying afloat.

Most Valuable Phillie Power Rankings – Top 15 (through 8/24/2019):

  1. J.T. Realmuto (C) – Previous Rank: 1 (↔)
  2. Aaron Nola (SP) – Previous Rank: 2 (↔)
  3. Bryce Harper (OF) – Previous Rank: 3 (↔)
  4. Rhys Hoskins (1B) – Previous Rank: 4 (↔)
  5. Hector Neris (RP) – Previous Rank: 6 (↑ 1)
  6. Jean Segura (SS) – Previous Rank: 8 (↑ 2)
  7. Cesar Hernandez (2B) – Previous Rank: 7 (↔)
  8. Scott Kingery (OF/INF) – Previous Rank: 5 (↓ 3)
  9. Vince Velasquez (SP) – Previous Rank: 10 (↑ 1)
  10. Mike Morin (RP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↑)
  11. Jason Vargas (SP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↑)
  12. Blake Parker (RP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↑)
  13. Jose Alvarez (RP) – Previous Rank: 11 (↓ 2)
  14. Juan Nicasio (RP) – Previous Rank: 12 (↓ 2)
  15. Nick Pivetta (SP) – Previous Rank: 14 (↓ 1)

“Ring the Bell” Award Winner of the Week

This week’s honor goes to Phillies beat writer Jim Salisbury from NBC Sports Philadelphia, who so eloquently wrote ahead of Friday’s opener against the Marlins:

"“A poor showing in Miami after a sweep in Boston would be like drowning in the bathtub after a successful swim across the English Channel.“"

Someone call 9-1-1. There’s an unresponsive team in the tub.

Phillie Pholly of the Week

This week’s Phillie Pholly goes to the entire team for their lack of effort and careless attitude. As the season has progressed, I questioned us as spectators for improperly gauging the talent on this team. However, the more I see, the more I think the players just don’t care, and that’s not good.

Truthfully, I think it’s a combination of both. But as mentioned earlier, effort is always controllable, and I just don’t see it from this team. For that, every player takes home this week’s inauspicious distinction.

Well, every player not named Aaron Nola.

Phillies Phlashback

Do you remember Charlie Ferguson? Of course not. He last played baseball 132 years ago for the Philadelphia Quakers, who would become the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite only four seasons with the club, Ferguson made a lasting impression.

On August 29, 1885, the 22-year-old shut down the visiting Providence Grays 1-0 at Philadelphia’s Recreation Park, keeping the opposition hitless in the process. The no-hitter is the first thrown in Phillies history and came in just the second season of the franchise’s existence.

In the Quakers inaugural season the year prior, Ferguson won 21 games as a rookie on a team that would finish with only 39 total. He also pitched a whopping 416.2 innings on the season with a 3.54 ERA.

Through four big-league seasons, the University of Virginia alum tallied a 99-64 record and 2.67 ERA. He also played outfield and batted .288, notching 191 runs, six homers, and 157 RBI in 963 career at-bats.

Ferguson died from typhoid fever on April 29, 1888, just prior to the start of the baseball season. He was 25-years-old.

Next. Phillies allowing 19 runs to Marlins is beyond embarrassing. dark

On Deck

A crucial week awaits the Philadelphia Phillies. After today’s finale in Miami, the team heads home to take on the sinking Pittsburgh Pirates for three before hosting the Mets for a pivotal weekend series. The Mets are currently a half-game behind the Phils, who sit 1.5 games back of the Cubs for the second wild-card spot.