April feels like a real, real long time ago.
The 47 games that have taken place since the first marking period ended have been largely forgettable, shoving the Phillies along at a 14-33 clip. That’s bad! But at least the crew went out with a bang, cracking six homers in beating the Padres, 7-1.
Given how keenly aware we all are of every nick and flaw of this team, it’s worth taking some time to look at the positives. Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco have done a bit better; Aaron Altherr is still leading the pack at the plate; Nick Williams is here and Aaron Nola looks healthy; ...Luis Garcia is good?
These aren’t going to turn this tin foil season into Waterford crystal, and the dish being served is still a plate of lemons, but I think by this point we’ve at least learned to hold our noses before chowing down.
All stats through the All-Star break (87 games)
The Good: The Mercenaries
Howie Kendrick and Daniel Nava are really just stopping by. In the process, they’ve become two of the lineup’s best hitters. It’s really very charitable of them.
Kendrick needs to get healthy before another team will seriously inquire at any price. Nava, though, is at .299/.391/.409, and his switch-hitting ability should make him a bit more appetizing; the platoon split he’s always had is still present, but being better against right-handers is, at least, the better of the two options in a mutually exclusive world.
Kendrick, though his injury is nagging, has a beautiful .349/.403/.476 line still, and stands to be a low-risk rental even with nicks and dents.
Honorable mention here to Nick Williams, who hit his first career home run Sunday. There’s more than a little expectation that this section could be solely his in the near future.
The Bad: The Bench
Nava aside, there’s really not a lot coming from the reserves lately. Brock Stassi, Cam Perkins and Ty Kelly are all OPSing below .600. Cameron Rupp has been hot-and-cold to the point of seeing an increasing share of his playing time lost to Andrew Knapp. But all of this leads us to, sadly, the lowest point, and that belongs to...
The Ugly: Andres Blanco
For years, Blanco was the diamond in the rough of this club. Hitting .274/.337/.457 over three partial seasons is the stuff cult heroes are made of...on contending teams, anyway. Now, Blanco’s magic appears to have run out, and his 2017 numbers are securely in the tank. A .151/.225/.204 line will not be blocking anybody who proves that they’re worth a look, nor will it likely appeal to teams wanting to shore up their postseason roster.
Blanco was able to take the mound and pitch, facing two batters back in early June against the Braves. That also didn’t go so well, but what else should we expect there?
Look, what Blanco has provided for this organization since 2012 (!) needs to be appreciated. And there will, ideally, come a time for that recognition. Right now, though, is not that time. Not yet. Right now it’s just kinda sad.
Hitter Report Card
|Hyun Soo Kim||-||-||C-|
The Good: Pat Neshek (again, duh) and Luis Garcia
Neshek is the Phillies’ lone All-Star representative. It’s deserved, the guy’s been fantastic all year, and you’ve heard plenty about him. Rumor has it a certain Phillies blog may even be dedicating a day of posts to him sometime soon?
Garcia, though, has begun to take naysayers like me by surprise. He had a terrifically crappy outing in early June against the Braves, but since then has pitched 14 innings with 14 strikeouts and one run allowed. He’s still throwing hard, but that alone got him into trouble the last few years. Now, he’s sacrificed some strikeout power for a bit more plate control, shaving pounds of fat off his walk rates in the process. It might be a stretch to call him a piece to build around, but turning a corner at 30 is no small feat.
Tip of the cap to Aaron Nola, as well, for looking healthy and pitching like his old self. Nola is a critical piece of this team’s future, and no rotation piece’s performance is more important to this team right now.
The Bad: Edubray Ramos
When you’re a young player with the raw talent a pitcher like Ramos has on a bad team, you only get sent to the minors if you’re really in need of some instruction and soul-searching. Ramos has a Major League arm, and has flashed evidence of that on multiple occasions, but this season he has frequently looked lost and his stuff flat.
Barring injury, he’ll be back with the Phillies before too long. At just 24, his future remains plenty bright; he’s just missing the piece that will make him a consistently good MLB reliever. As with all the other young players in this organization right now, the Phils have shown they’ll be patient and work on helping Ramos figure it out.
The Ugly: The Castaways
There finally came a day in June where Matt Klentak and the Phillies front office must have been flipping a coin to determine which exact day they’d be cutting bait with the likes of Jeanmar Gomez and Casey Fien. Gomez was jettisoned the same day as outfielder Michael Saunders, in a dramatic act of purging; Fien had four stanky outings before he found his way onto the DL. He was only meant to be a warm body for this club, but that only gently softens the blow.
Perhaps more surprising was the designation for assignment and subsequent trading of Joely Rodriguez to Texas. The numbers bear comparison to former Phillies legend J.C. Romero in terms of sheer wildness and the walks borne of it, and Joely only seemed to regress as the season went on, but despite that, he’s just 25 (roughly the same age as former Phillies southpaw Jake Diekman was when he debuted). There’s time for him to figure things out, but it seems a change of scenery was necessary.
Pitcher Report Card
What grade would you give the 2017 Phillies in MP3 (7/10-8/27)?
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As always, the grades above are gospel and definitely worth getting upset about if you disagree!