Michael Young, Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Jose Bautista, Justin Upton, B.J.Upton, Jon Jay, Ryan Ludwick. If you’re a Philadelphia Phillies fan these are the names you’ve heard regarding the Phillies acquiring an “impact bat” for the past year. Whether it be from bloggers like myself, or actual baseball experts, all have seemed to fuel the argument that the Phillies MUST acquire an impact bat by the deadline. But do they?
Let me state that almost all of those players I mentioned earlier are pipe dreams. I’m still laughing at the guy on Twitter who is cursing the Phillies for not trading for Jose Bautista last season when he was a career utility player having a career year. While Bautista has successfully carried over his 2010 success, can anyone blame the Phillies for not mortgaging the farm for a guy who was screaming “flash in the pan”?
The Phillies are the best team in baseball. That’s not me being a “homer” that’s just simply looking at the records of all 30 major league teams. However if you were to listen to Philadelphia sports radio after a Phillies loss you would think they were in 4th place of their division, and just looking to get back in the race. When the Phillies win the phone lines are flooded with talks of “World Series” but when the team dare lose its flooded with calls of how the lineup simply isn’t good enough to win the World Series and how we need to get a bat.
I often wonder if this was the talk a year ago in San Francisco. How the team had a great pitching staff but needed to go out and get an impact bat to get them over the hump. That impact bat ended up being Cody Ross, who made no waves when he was traded during the waiver deadline. I am in the minority. I don’t think the Phillies need to acquire an impact right handed bat, and I also don’t think Ben Francisco is Eric Bruntlett incarnate.
The Phillies current offense ranks 14th in runs scored in major league baseball. They are averaging a little over 4 runs a game. They aren’t even close to leading the league in homeruns, and they’re batting average is in the middle of the pack. In case you were wondering, the 2010 San Francisco Giants ranked 17th in runs scored averaging just 4 runs per game. They ranked 11th in homeruns and 16th in average.
Let me take this time to remind you who the Phillies starters were in the 2008 World Series. Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, and Joe Blanton. In 2008 the offense made up for a pitching staff that left much to be desired, and we just can’t accept that in 2011 a pitching staff is making up for an offense that’s leaving much to be desired.
I don’t think the Phillies need to acquire an impact bat because I dare think they don’t need to score 8 runs a game to win. I hear fans call up sports talk radio and say “The Phillies can’t keep winning games 2-0” and I say why not?! It’s not like Philadelphia isn’t used to complaining. In 2008 all I heard was how the team lived and died by the home run ball and couldn’t win because they don’t play small ball. How’d that work out?
While the Phillies offense isnt the juggernaut it was in 2008, its pitching staff is living up to the hype. I recently laughed out loud t a major sports websites power rankings which stated the Phillies rotation wasn’t the “Steely-eyed, bat vaporizing juggernaut that their fans believed them to be.” I beg to differ.
The Phillies rotation is living up to all the hype they received before the season. Wednesday night’s Cliff Lee complete game shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals brought the Phillies record to 47-28, the best in baseball, but we knew that. What you might not know is just how dominant the Phillies big four (Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt) has been this season so let me enlighten you.
As of Thursday, the Big 4’s combined ERA is 2.76. They are averaging 8.38 strikeouts through nine innings, and that’s low considering Oswalt’s struggles with striking batters out this year. The four pitchers have accounted for 30 of the teams 47 wins, which is impressive when considering Oswalt’s stint on the DL.
The Phillies not only lead the league in wins, but they also lead the league in team ERA (2.98) and have the lowest amount of walks (1.94). Unfortunately they rank only second in the majors in WHIP behind the Atlanta Braves. Now I’m not a mathematical genius, but if the team is scoring, on average, 4 runs a game and the pitching staff, on average, is giving up 3 runs a game, than that would mean the Phillies are going to win most games. But that’s not good enough
Now when I say the Phillies don’t need to acquire an impact bat, I mean it, but that doesn’t mean I would be opposed to Ruben Amaro Jr. going out and getting a much needed bat for the bench. Michael Martinez isn’t getting it done, and because of Ross Gload’s hip issue he’s basically taking up two players on the roster (every time he pinch hits & gets on base they pinch run for him). I’m not however in the camp that Ben Francisco is the worst player since the great Mendoza and his putrid line.
Is Ben Francisco a world beater? No. Is Ben Francisco as bad as everyone thinks? No. Keep in mind that when Ben Francisco came over from Cleveland he was starting for the Indians. He then had to get accustomed to pinch hitting. Going from starting to coming off the bench is no easy task to get used to and Francisco has yet to master the art. What Ben Francisco is doing however is getting on base. Yes go look at his .218 average and laugh, but Francisco currently ranks third on the team in walks, with 100 less at bats than the two players in front of him. He’s seeing the ball well, and he is not the problem.
The Phillies have an aging veteran in left field, and a possible franchise star playing right. Dom Brown is currently taking his lumps, having mild success but also getting used to big league pitching. Raul Ibanez has actually had a nice two months since starting out the season hitting .247. Since May Ibanez is hitting .305 but he’s also playing on borrowed time and has never come anywhere close to the first half of the season he had in 2009. The Phillies have, and will continue to benefit from Chase Utley being in the everyday lineup.
The Phillies starting 8 is not the problem. This current lineup is good enough to win the World Series but it’s mainly due to the starting rotation. Hearing Phillies fans complain that we need to add a bat is like hearing the rich complain about how their Bentley doesn’t have bright shinny rims. While the Phillies could certainly use a decent offensive option off the bench, don’t buy into the notion that this team isn’t good enough and desperatly need an impact bat. Because their pitching staff is making you, and the rest of the league look foolish.