"C'mon, Pat... It's been like 3 months since your last blog entry and you're going to throw out a cookie cutter piece like this?"
Yes, it's been too long, but seeing how blogging doesn't pay the bills and the job that DOES keep a roof over my head has been so demanding, I've had to settle for venting in 160 character or less blurbs on twitter. Besides, I've given full Blogging privileges to at least four other dudes and I know for a fact that they've been swimming in free time!
Back to the point at hand... The Phillies are a dozen games out of the division, most of my fantasy baseball teams are barely treading water, and every prediction I had for the season has already gone down the drain. So naturally, it's time for second guessing!
The Phillies woes in 2012 have been well pronounced. You don't need me to tell you that they've come up short on offense, pitching, defense, and coaching. But what I can do is remind you of a handful of guys that if were still wearing Phillies uniforms, the season may look a little brighter. There's the obvious guys like Gio Gonzalez who we unloaded in the failed Freddy Garcia experiment. And then there's Brett Myers who has proven to be an effective starter and closer since leaving Philadelphia. And there's a slew of prospects who have been traded away or otherwise unloaded in recent years. But I'd like to focus on some of the names that don't always come to mind when you think of what could have been...
Ryan Vogelsong - RHP - San Francisco Giants
rotation that includes two Cy Young award winners, a $140M man, and a 22
year old budding star, who would have expected that a 34 year old who
was pitching in Japan just a few years ago is the ace of the staff.
Following a few years of ball in Japan, the Phillies wisely were the first to kick the tires on
Vogelsong. He bounced between starter and the bullpen for the Lehigh
Valley Iron Pigs with limited success and was released mid 2010. Since then he's gone 23-12
with a 2.51 ERA for the Giants. Sometimes a prospect is overlooked by an
organization, but what happened with Vogelsong was a flat out mistake. A guy in his mid thirties doesn't just turn on a light switch and figure out how to play. The raw talent had to be there from the start and the Giants succeeded where the Phillies failed at unleashing it. Here's a
guy that immediately upon signing with a new team went on to pitch in
the all star game and follow it up with a CY Young caliber season. AND
HE WAS IN OUR GRASP!
Jason Grilli - RHP - Pittsburgh Pirates
I know what you're thinking: "Who?" What has been the Phillies biggest weakness in 2012? A shaky bullpen. With Jose Contreras, Michale Stutes, and David Herndon making early season exits to the DL and the Chad Qualls experiment not working out as planned, the Phillies have been forced to piecemeal their bullpen together with AAAA ballplayers and an array of young arms. Meanwhile, on the other side of the state, Jason Grilli has made a name for himself as one of the top setup men in baseball. But just last year he was wearing the uniform of a Phillies affiliate as he pitched in Lehigh Valley to the tune of a 1.93 ERA. Come July, he was released by the Phillies due to an opt out clause that allowed him to walk if another team wanted to add him to their major league roster. Grilli has excelled in Pittsburgh as an excellent bridge to Joel Hanrahan. He's pitching to a 2.66 ERA through 40.2 innings with a K/9 of 13.9. Even worse, he's only making about $1M. Just this week, Grilli finally proved he was human by giving up his first 8th inning lead of the season. The Phillies gave up an 8th inning lead in game 3 of the season.
Chad Qualls - RHP - Pittsburgh Pirates
Clearly I'm off my rocker with this pick, but hear me out. Sure, Qualls was a complete bust in a Phillies uniform. But I'm not looking at Chad Qualls the player, I'm looking at Chad Qualls the trade chip. When he was released by the Phillies, the Yankees swooped in and gobbled him up. After pitching much the same way he had in Philadelphia, New York shopped him around the league. Low and behold, Chad Qualls turned into third baseman Casey McGehee. McGehee has struggled this year and last, but he's still in his 20s and only two years removed from a .285 23 HR 104 RBI campaign. His first year of arbitration eligibility isn't even until next season. But most importantly, he plays third base! You know, that black hole on the left side of the infield that the Kevin Fransden is currently guarding! With a dreadful free agent market for third basemen, the Phillies are either going to have to convert a player to the position or get creative with trades. What's more creative than the Yankees turning a 33 year old dead armed Chad Qualls into a hitter capable of 20+ HR seasons on the cheap?
Scott Podsednik - OF - Boston Red Sox
Despite his impressive spring, Scott Podsednik lost his battle with Juan Pierre for the Phillies 4th outfielder job. Moving onto the Red Sox, Scotty Pods managed to hit .385 with extra base power and swipe 6 bags in his brief 73 ABs. Not to say that Juan Pierre hasn't been a better piece than I expected, but a healthy Podsednik is Pierre Plus. Even better, the Red Sox managed to flip him to the Arizona Diamondbacks for relief pitcher Craig Breslow, THEN picked him back up when the Diamondbacks released him. So the Phillies essentially let a better version of Juan Pierre escape with zero compensation and the Red Sox turned him into a quality relief pitcher AND Scott Podsednik!
Kyle Lohse - RHP - St Louis Cardnials
Remember him? Of course you do, he struck out 7 Phillies and pitched 7 innings of 1 run ball against us just last night! What you might not remember, though, is that there was a time when the Phillies big mid season splash didn't turn into the Cliff Lees of the world, but instead they were Kyle Lohse. Newsflash, though, Lohse has outperformed Lee this season! As a key cog that got the Phillies back into the playoffs in 2007 Lohse pitched average. But he was granted free agency at the end of the season as the Phillies chose to go with Adam Eaton and Kyle Kendrick in their rotation start 2008 (remind me again how we managed to win a World Series...). Lohse has been paid nearly identical money as Joe Blanton over the past two years and has outperformed him in every category. This year he's 12-2 with a 2.72 ERA and with no real front runner for NL Cy Young, he has the potential to be in the discussion.