OK, then. The NL East fourth-place Phillies, who had appeared quite recently in two World Series and even more recently won 102 games in a season, have begun to make the necessary changes to a team that has played mediocre, then horrible baseball for the past two years. Long-time pitching coach Rich Dubee has been sent packing. Some of us are a bit unsure what Dubee might have done about injuries to three of his five designated starters, but then again, the rest of the staff was laughably bad, particularly the relief pitchers for the first half of the season. The Fightin’ Phils sent a total of 27 “fighters” to the mound this season, only nine of whom managed more than 25 appearances, and two of them had 28 appearances. One of the nine, Antonio Bastardo, was suspended weeks ago in connection with the Biogenesis scandal. Another, Jake Diekman, was part of that laughably bad “thing” early on. (Towards the end of the season, however, he seemed to have digested the notion that strikes need to cross the plate.)
Bringing up the rear of the Phillies pitching effort this season were eleven hurlers who posted ERAs over 4.50, including one who touched the 30-game mark, Kyle Kendrick (4.70), then hit the disabled list.
The only bright light on the mound this year for Philadelphia was Cliff Lee, who posted a 2.87 ERA and set an MLB record for the monthly strikeout-to-walk ratio (54:1 in September). Nine pitchers, who appeared in an obscene 135 games, had ERAs over 5.00.
No, the pitching wasn’t very good, but bad as it was, the offense was worse. This is the reason that baseball fans in the Delaware Valley likely yawned at Dubee’s dismissal. The Phillies need run producers and need them badly, beyond the now healthy Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the latter of whom we’re told will be in great shape for 2014 – or rather, Howard has been told by his manager he’d better be in shape in February.
Consider the woeful matter of the Phillies’ RBI production, the forever-most-important offensive consideration. No player drove in more than 83 runs (Domonic Brown), and the runner-up (Chase Utley) trailed by the leader by 14. The third place finisher (Ryan Howard) was 26 RBI further back and didn’t play half the season. The fourth place finisher, Michael Young, was traded because…well, who wouldn’t want a player who can drive in 42 runs in 126 games? The top Phillies’ RBI to OAB ratio was Brown’s at 1:6, not actually out-of-sight behind NL RBI leader Paul Goldschmidt’s 1:4.8 , but consider the outfield production behind Brown. The second most productive “outfielder” this season was Darin Ruf, who actually played bunches of games at first base and only had 251 OAB. He drove in a run every 8.4 AB; behind Ruf among outfielders was Delmon Young, who was also jettisoned and earlier than M-Young. His numbers were 1:8.8, and he gave back half the runs he drove in with his tendency to run in slow, curious circles in right. More important is that the difference between 4.8 and 8.8 is another game without an RBI.
So, surely, the pitchers need to be better coached, pitch better, and so forth, but don’t expect any excitement in Phils Land unless Ruben Amaro signs or trades for somebody of the caliber of Carlos Beltran, Corey Hart, or Shin-Soo Choo. Forget Giancarlo Stanton. Amaro has asked “ten times .” The answer is: “No.”