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Roundtable: What is wrong with these Phillies?

It turns out, there are many answers.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After getting swept in a doubleheader by the Nationals yesterday, the Phillies are now four games out of first place. If you pay any sort of attention to the collective Phillies “mood,” you’re probably aware that there has been grumbling for some time. With so much not right at the moment, The Good Phight staff, along with some special guest stars, decided to talk out our feelings on what’s ailing this team.

Ethan Witte: Is this year starting to feel like last year? My positivity took a large hit last night.

Justin Klugh: Yes. From the recap: “But I guess my personal frustrations here lie in the fact that I never thought this team would remind me so much of the 2018 version, so early and for so long.”

EW: Perfect. Anyway, I keep thinking: what’s the common denominator here? I think I’m done with Kapler. They’ve been decimated by injury, yes, but even the weapons he has, has he shown any growth in utilizing them properly? And as we discuss his holding people accountable, has there been any demonstration of that this year?

Liz Roscher: So much of this is bad luck, but figuring out how much of this belongs in the Klentak bucket, the Kapler bucket, and the player bucket would be helpful. How much of this could have been prevented if Klentak had focused on depth (or whatever)? How much of what’s happening is due to Kapler’s in-game decisions (which I believe is the only thing he truly has control over), and how much of this is various player issues? Because it’s not just one party. Everyone is contributing to this team being where they are.

EW: I feel like the Harper signing glossed over the fact that they totally mis-evaluated the depth that they believed they had. Kingery is a big win for them, but what else have they done?

Smarty Jones: Theoretically, Kingery and Nick Williams were depth. Altherr too.

Alex Carr: I think there was too much faith placed upon guys like Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, and the like to bounce back.

EW: Williams and Altherr: when did they demonstrate they were good?

LR: lol

AC: 2017? But that’s about it.

JK: This team has been waiting for bounce back candidates to bounce back for years. Too many. Kingery is the first success story.

AC: Agreed.

EW: Kingery has the track record both in college and the minors, but Williams has always had the same scouting report and they believed they could fix him.

LR: Kingery gives me life and hope for a better tomorrow. [In regards to the others], fire up the trebuchet.

schmenkman: Kingery sucked while playing SS every day, not sure that was a big factor. Changing his approach though, probably was.

Smarty: Williams had an OPS of .749 with 17 HR last year. And he was excellent as a pinch hitter.

EW: Williams is clearly a guy who should start. He’s not a PH.

Smarty: So I don’t think counting on him as your 4th OF is a huge mistake. And if you think Williams is a guy that should start, then he is depth. It’s rare to find guys who are “perfect” bench pieces. Go around the diamond, it’s hard to find a guy who hasn’t disappointed in some manner.

schmenkman: Williams: I never expected him to be as bad as this year

  • Altherr: could have still gone either way and he went way south
  • Odubel: WTF (even on the field)
  • Franco: Some chance he could sustain his 2nd half ‘18 success, but went WAY south.

AC: It’s just one big lesson learned too late.

LR: That Kingery is doing so well after the Phillies yanked him around last year is a miracle. Where is our modern day Ross Gload?

EW: Where is our Greg Dobbs?

Smarty: Ross Gload supposedly had a lot of hits, I can’t recall ever seeing him get one. So I really don’t know if its depth as much as their guys are either underperforming or not that good to begin with. Like, Hoskins is gonna have good numbers at season’s end, but he’s also going to have lengthy slumps.

JK: It’s definitely depth, too. It’s not just one problem. A weak bench being asked to do more in the wake of an injury epidemic. Aaron Nola losing the command that made him a true ace last season. Elite starters becoming very vulnerable to prolonged, excruciating slumps. Questionable in-game management. I think all that stuff combined leads to the dreaded complacency for at least a stretch of time.

John Stolnis: Klentak didn’t have a good enough roster this off-season to plan for depth. He spent this off-season buying the core and the starters that he didn’t have enough time/money left to address the depth, and he thought he could get by with the young players. The result of not enough of the young guys stepping up.

Matt Winkelman: Part of the depth problem is this team was incredibly unattractive to veterans on minor league or small deals. Their opening day lineup was set in stone, Franco shit the bed, Herrera happened, and Cutch got hurt.

dajafi: I do worry about the complacency. That nobody--other than Franco!--seems at risk of losing their jobs over poor play is itself a problem. Though to be fair, there’s also nobody in line to replace them, which gets back to the depth point.

MW: Their SP ERA is tied for 9th in the NL. Entering the year, if I told you they had the 9th best rotation in the NL, that would probably be close to guesses +/- 2 spots. The problem is the ball is juiced, and only Hoskins and Kingery (and Cutch before the injury) have done anything with it. Realmuto has been totally fine, but a lot of that is his glove. Hernandez and Franco have been useless. Segura’s slump has dropped his line below MLB average. Harper has been solid, but not good. Nola being terrible is a real killer. If Nola is 2018 Nola, they are probably tied with the Braves for the division

Jay Polinsky: Nola not being Nola 2018 is a huge factor as well, IMO.

EW: But with Nola, did he just have a really good season, or is truly just a #3 SP that he was called coming out of college. Is his true talent level a top 3 Cy young guy, or a 4-5 WAR pitcher?

Smarty: That’s too harsh on Cesar. He was doing well for a while. Should we really expect much more than a .745 OPS and 1.1 WAR at this point?

Wet Luzinski: With no one really hitting much around Harper, it’s easy for opponents to walk him/try to get him out with high fastballs.

EW: I think it’s 50/50 Kapler and Klentak.

schmenkman: Barring off-the-field issues, I expect Kapler to be here at least through most of 2020.

Wet Luzinski: Whenever it comes, just know that I’m completely ready for this generation’s “bull in a china shop” GM to replace Klentak and immediately alienate Harper in an attempt to “light a fire” under him. Ten years of org/fan/star tension will ensue. He will be playing 1B and scrawling “Trade Me” in the dirt with his spikes in six years. “Prove me wrong, Phillies. Prove me wrong.”

Smarty: The only other thing I think Klentak should have done was add another SP (Charlie Morton!)

MW: Morton is a huge miss. Cesar’s OPS+ of 92 would be his lowest since 2015, and lower then him playing half of last year with a broken foot. Remember that when looking at raw OPS this year that offensive numbers are WAY up again.

dajafi: The Morton thing felt like a huge miss even at the time. He would have come back, and they certainly could have paid him.

MW: On the bullpen front, they started with Arano and Ramos in the minor, they have gotten contributions from Garcia and Hammer. I feel like the bullpen depth planning has been fine, given circumstance.

EW: They believed that they had seven guys that would be awesome, but never thought what about if they get injured.

Smarty: I don’t know if they could have had enough depth to withstand all these guys going down.

AC: Spot on.

JK: Okay, let’s break for lunch. This team makes me hungry. By which I mean, this team creates a void in me that I need to fill with food.