Here at The Good Phight, we’re fans. We follow the Phillies just like you do, watch the game with as much focus and attention as you do and we strive to bring you praise when called for, fair criticism when warranted. We feel it’s only fair to give the team some ideas for resolutions for the team as they enter the New Year.
For goodness sake, use the backup catcher.
Listen, I’m not saying that Garrett Stubbs is any great shakes. Is he a great clubhouse presence? Of course. It’s clearly something the team believes in because he’s still here. He’s not taking up a massive chunk of the payroll, so if the team likes him and the pitching staff likes him, might as well keep him around.
But why not use him a little more often?
I wrote in J.T. Realmuto’s report card about how the team might want to utilize the backup catcher more often to preserve his workload for later in the season. One of the commenters noted that his rolling xwOBA suggested he was wearing down a bit as the season progressed, something that shouldn’t surprise anyone when they see how much Realmuto actually plays. What better way to do that than to give the backup catcher more time? And if the backup catcher, Stubbs in this example, isn’t cutting it, maybe it’s time to find a new backup catcher. Regardless, sitting Realmuto a bit more as the season wears on might be in the best interest of the team in October.
We all know the bit by now. The Phillies play terribly for the first two months of the season, and then Kyle Schwarber loads up the old New Year’s Eve footage on Memorial Day and the team counts down to June 1st and then start playing good baseball with a near top of the league winning percentage.
In the end, getting to the postseason is all that matters. The path you take to get there is secondary. But there’s plenty reason to believe that this team can play to its capabilities of 95+ win baseball through the ENTIRE season and save themselves the crapshoot of a three-game Wild Card series for the third straight year.
Consider the Phillies’ records on Memorial Day the last two seasons. In 2022 they were 21-29. In 2023 they improved slightly to 25-30. Now, let's look at where the division winning Atlanta Braves were on the past two Memorial Days. In 2022 they were 23-27. They flipped the script in 2023, as they were 33-23 and running away with the division. The Phillies were already 7.5 GB of the Braves before June even started. They finished the season 14 games behind the record setting pace of Atlanta. Philadelphia must start better out of the gate in 2024 if they have any hopes of ending the Braves’ six-year reign as division champions.
The Phillies need to resolve to not swing the bat if the pitch isn’t hittable. I understand that they all desperately want to be the hero, especially in important games. And I realize that the main path to heroism is through clutch hits. But it becomes much harder to do that if they continuously swing at bad pitches, because opposing pitchers quickly catch on to that fact and will keep throwing bad pitches.
Sometimes, it’s best to take some of those bad pitches. Maybe the pitcher will then have to give you a pitch you can actually do some damage with. And if they don’t, then maybe you could just take the walk and let the guy behind you in the order be the one to get the big hit. Sometimes it's okay to score the winning run instead of driving them in!
My first choice was play better in April, but since Joe already touched on that I’ll listen to Ethan and play my backup. It’s time to cut down on stupid mistakes. Errors are always going to happen, but what this team needs is to cut back on the dumbest of them. Whether that’s fielding, running, or throwing, they put themselves into a jam too often in 2023 — or cut themselves off from getting out of a jam — with stupid mistakes.