There is a lot of angst in baseball reporting concerning the Phillies. They lost their hold on first place in the NL East and have struggled offensively and with their fourth and fifth starters. Jimmy Rollins and J. A. Happ have been among the missing and many are wondering what is wrong with the Phillies. This Fan believes that history repeats itself and the Phillies have the NL East right where they want them.
Right now, the Phillies are sitting with a .524 winning percentage after the Red Sox spanked them on Friday night. Moyer was bombed in the first inning. They are 3-7 in the month of June. Time to panic? Let's look at some history:
2007: First half: .500 winning percentage. June's record: 15-13. They went .608 in the second half and won the division.
2008: First half: .542 winning percentage. June's record: 12-14. They went .606 in the second half and won the division and the World Series.
2009: .558 winning percentage in the first half. June's record: 11-15. .592 in the second half and got to the World Series.
The Phillies will figure out what to do in the bottom of the rotation. Moyer, Blanton and/or Kendrick will get going or they will bring somebody in that can get the job done. It will have to come from outside the organization though as they have no starters looming in the high minors. Brad Lidge looks like the stopper of old since coming off the disabled list. Rollins will get back. Utley and Victorino aren't going to remain in the .260s with their batting averages. Ryan Howard isn't going to keep slugging in the high .400s.
The Phillies do have to figure out what is going to happen with Raul Ibanez. Many are calling for his head since he really hasn't played well since the first half last year. Ibanez is sitting with a 91 OPS+ right now (100 is league average) and his slugging percentage is under .400. He is 38 years old too. Ibanez is also in the negative numbers in fielding metrics and according to FanGraphs.com has a WAR of -1.3 which is terrible.
The Phillies have a couple of options in the high minors. Domonic Brown is their best prospect and considered by Baseball Prospectus to be a five star prospect. His current line at AA: .309/.376/.569. Why not call him up and let the kid play? The other option is Tyson Gillies, their second best prospect. He is more of a speedster and a centerfielder and is considered a four star prospect. But he's not playing well right now at AA and would seem to need more time. Actually, an outfield of Brown, Victorino and Werth is enough to salivate and the Phillies should give that a go.
The bottom line, though, is that the Phillies are right in their past track record and there is no reason to believe that they will not fare any worse than in the previous three years.
But there is one reservation about that statement. Last year, the Phillies absolutely feasted on the Nationals (15-3) and the Mets (12-6). Both teams are stronger this year and the Phillies have a losing record so far against the Mets. The Phillies never have matched up well head to head with the Braves, their leading current rival, and this year has been no exception.
We'll just have to see how it plays out. But certainly, don't count the Phillies out.