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Sounds like these Phillies are the Phillies you’re going to get

Which isn’t very surprising news.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Earlier this season, the Phillies needed an outfielder, and they needed some punch in their lineup, and they acquired Jay Bruce from the Mariners.

Bruce showed up in Philadelphia and, despite having hammered this team as a former member of the Mets, began immediately ingratiating himself to the fans, hitting .348 with six HR in his first 12 games with the team, including two dingers in his second game. He regressed back a bit, hitting .273 in June, but so far in July, Bruce is hitting .346 with a 1.077 OPS.

It’s a great feeling when it seems like your team made the correct move, and brought in a slugger to make things right. Remember how cool it was to watch Raul Ibanez absolutely smoke the ball as the new guy in 2009? Part of it’s a mirage, sure; but it creates this sensation that yeah, you weren’t crazy—the pieces were there (in the form of Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, J.T. Realmuto, Cesar Hernandez)—they were just a little loose. They were missing their sparkplug, and Bruce fit in there just right.

Well, things eventually went normal again in 2019, and the Phillies offense has under-performed for most of the first half, and with a weak pitching staff, it has led to the team falling 6.5 games out of a first place spot they had held onto from April 26 to June 9. The Bruce high is long over.

Now, with the second half on the horizon, it’s time for the Phillies to do...


You probably expected this. I did. It’s not the worst thing, it just doesn’t feel like the right thing. Yet. And it feels a little more like the right thing when you consider the circumstances.

Like I said, there’s good players on this team. There just are. Their 2019 numbers may not indicate that yet, but they were acquired because they [points at everyone’s statistics] have been good, and are young enough that they will be again. The Phillies not making a “big” trade doesn’t mean they won’t make the “right” trade, either. I could cite Joe Blanton here, but I won’t. I could, though. Because they’d wanted C.C. Sabathia in 2008, but had to settle for Blanton. Instead, Pat Gillick made a smaller move that wound up working out. Looks I’m citing him. Sorry.

Of course, it’s not the offense that people point to as the most tender part of this team. That would be the starting pitching, though on that side of things, the “wait-and-see” approach looks to have paid off in the form of Aaron Nola. The presumed Phillies ace struggled for almost the entirety of the season’s first half, but his last four starts have permitted us to trumpet that he has returned: 34 SO and 2 ER in his last 29.2 IP (vs. the 4.89 ERA he’d carried into that stretch and only four visits to the seventh inning in 15 starts).

As we’ve repeated leading up to the trade deadline, the Phillies are shopping without a full wallet, prospect-wise, and their top options—the Madison Bumgarner’s and Mike Minor’s out there—are on the bottom shelf. Or to put it more fairly, nobody out there is going to turn this team around.

What the Phillies need to acquire, if possible, is some resurgence and some stability. They need a bunch of great starts in a row from Zach Eflin. They need... good lord, who else is even back there anymore? Is Vince Velasquez still a thing? How long was the All-Star break?Ninety days?

Well, Jake Arrieta is still here, bone spurs and all. I suppose that was announced as a partial explanation for his ineffectiveness, but then it was announced that he was going to go right on pitching despite them, so. Buckle up, I guess. And oh right, Nick Pivetta—they need Pivetta’s deep starts to outnumber his shellackings. He’s starting off the second half against the Nationals tonight, a team against which he has been so biblically awful for his entire career that he has a 10.80 ERA against them in eight starts. Ten! Eighty! So probably, numbers like that should go down. I would hope.

And we’re all hoping it. Because if this team’s plan is to do nothing, I get it, because while I don’t hold prospects particularly close to my chest a whole lot, I also don’t see anybody out there who is worth trading away the few top guys the Phillies have. What I—and I assume, you—want is the for the Phillies to acquire a knight in shining armor to ride down from baseball heaven, collect all the Nationals on his lance, rally the team into a frenzy for the second half, and join the rotation as a No. 2 starter who routinely allows only two or three earned runs.

But since that’s not going to happen, the Phillies will, apparently, do nothing, or at most, not much. That being said, we don’t know too much about this team. They were all collected and pushed together only a couple of months ago for the first time. We know they are good players, but we don’t know if they’re a good team. Maybe they are a second-half team. Maybe they’re a better team in 2020. We’re going to find out a little more about them starting tonight starting at 6:05, when that TEN EIGHTY (Yes I wrote it in letters so that I could capitalize it) ERA of Nick Pivetta’s against the Nationals hopefully goes down and we these 2019 Phillies start a second half that shows they’re a little better than we thought.