Chooooch!! It's been an incredible season for Carlos Ruiz, who was finally named to his first all-star team this weekend. He leads the National League in batting average (.356) and also leads all catchers in average, OBP (.420), slugging percentage (.579), OPS (1.000) and doubles (19). He is also tied for third among catchers in RBIs (43), and tied for sixth in homers (11).
Suffice it to say that Ruiz is assembling his best season. The 33-year-old catcher went from being a solid Major League catcher and a nice target for Roy Halladay to possibly the best catcher in baseball and an MVP candidate.
Chooch has always been a decent hitter, but even Nostradamus would not have predicted such an offensive explosion. Not only is his average 54 points higher than in any of his previous six seasons, but he has more home runs in three months than in any other full season and is just 11 RBIs shy of his career high.
Ruiz has not just all of a sudden found his swing and at age 33 finally discovered that "aha" moment. Rather, it appears that his newfound success was due to an altered approach.
Ruiz batted eighth for a majority of his career until this season. Hitting eighth is considered the hardest place in the order to hit in the National League because hurlers tend to be much more careful knowing the pitcher is on deck. Especially with runners on base, pitchers would much rather take their chances with the pitcher on deck than get hurt by the eight-hole hitter. Consequently, number eight hitters tend to see a lot of junk pitches and balls out of the strike zone.
Knowing they are getting a "pitch around," hitting eighth requires a great deal of patience in order to avoid expanding the zone and swinging at pitcher's pitches. The best hitters in that situation are those who realize in many cases a walk is as good as a hit. Ruiz fully understood his place in the order and employed that approach masterfully. His walk percentage was 11.8% from 2008 - 2011 and his career swing percentage on balls outside of the strike zone of 22% is nine points below the MLB average.
When Ruiz was moved towards the middle of the lineup this season, he changed his approach accordingly towards one based more on power. It certainly paid off to this point, as Ruiz has been hitting for way higher average and significantly more power. But, as you can see from the chart below, his walk percentage went down, his strike out percentage went up, and his walk/strikeout ratio dropped.
Carlos Ruiz walk and strikeout ratios
Ruiz also became less selective at the plate. The percentage of pitches in which he swung increased by seven points over his career average, he hacked at more pitches in the strike zone as well as more pitches outside of the zone. Not only has Ruiz been swinging at more pitches, but he has been swinging and missing more often and making less contact.
Carlos Ruiz Plate Discipline
|Swing%||Outside Zone Swing%||Inside Zone Swing%||Contact%||Outside Zone Contact%||Inside Zone Contact%||Swinging Strike%|
Becoming a wild swinger is not something most hitters aspire towards and it normally does not paint a particularly flattering picture. But Ruiz did not become a wild swinger; he instead became a more aggressive hitter. Hackers like Hunter Pence swing at anything they can reach and tentative hitters like Pat Burrell wait for the perfect pitch, but aggressive hitters find the happy medium between the two.
Ruiz found that happy medium and the proof lies in his production. Carlos is on pace to hit 14 more doubles than his previous career high, 16 more home runs, and 10 more RBIs. A few less walks and a few more strikeouts in exchange for more doubles, homers, and RBIs? Let's see...hmm...I think I will take that trade.
Let's face it, a new approach is just a new approach if you can't hit. Do you think if Eric Bruntlett started swinging wildly that he would all of a sudden have 11 home runs? Uhh, not bloody likely. Ruiz must be doing something else differently, and that something is more line drives and more hits up the middle.
If I had any advice for an aspiring ballplayer it would be this: hit as many line drives as you can. According to Baseball Reference, last season fly balls were hits 21.1 percent of the time and ground balls were hits 23.5 percent of the time, but line drives were hits 71.8 percent of the time.
While Chooch's ground ball percentage remained roughly the same in 2012 compared to his career average, his line drive percentage increased from 19.8% to 25.6%. Hitting more line drives also increases the likelihood of hitting more balls in the gap for doubles and over the fence for home runs. Ruiz has been doing both.
My other baseball advice: Do not hit pop-ups. Not under any circumstances. Never, ever, hit a pop-up if you can avoid it.
Infield pop-ups are outs 99.9% of the time and are completely wasted outs. There is no situation in which a pop-up is a productive out. Any play in which umpires can call a batter out before a play is actually made is probably not a good play. That's why it's no coincidence that Ruiz has hit pop-ups at a career low rate of 7 percent.
Mix a better approach with more line drives and less pop-ups and you get an all-star season for Carlos Ruiz. It's unlikely Ruiz can continue hitting above .350 and swinging like a legitimate power hitter all season, but it certainly does not appear he will dive bomb any time soon.
Phillies fans already considered Ruiz to be an all-star. Now all fans can start showing some love to a true all-star.
Worst month since 2000. Worst record at mid-way point since 1997. When comparisons are made to the Terry Francona era, things are definitely not always sunny in Philadelphia.
One sloppy, awful month is putting the Phillies on a pace to reach 90 losses one year after winning 102 games. The Phillies entered the month of June with a winning record, but after a 9-19 June the Phillies find themselves 11 games back of the Nationals for first place in the NL East and 7.5 games behind the last Wild Card spot. Now there are rumors that Ruben Amaro has been shopping Cole Hamels? Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
A win against the Marlins on June 1st put the Phillies at 2 games over .500, but they lost the final two games of the series against Miami and were swept in four straight to the Dodgers, pushing their home record to 17-24. They then traveled down I-95 and lost a series to the Orioles. It was an abysmal week+ in which the Phillies committed 9 errors in four games.
The Phillies did experience a smidgen of success when they traveled to Target Field in Minnesota and won their first series of the month. Jim Thome returned to his former team and reminded fans that he was not ready to retire quite yet. Thome hit two home runs in the series, including a 468-foot blast, and knocked in a career high 9 runs.
The Phillies followed up the Twins series by getting swept in Toronto, but came back to win two of three from the Rockies at home and then beat the Rays on Jim Thome’s record-breaking 13th walk-off home run. Their brief hot streak was short lived, though, as they lost a double header to the Rays on Sunday with Lee and Hamels on the mound.
After working a split with the Pirates, they lost the first two games against the Marlins, mercifully ending a nightmarish month.
Home record: 6-11
Road record: 3-8
Top winning streak: 2
Top losing streak: 6
Series record: 2-6-1
Began month: 27-25 - last place - 3 games behind 1st place Nationals & 1 game behind 4th place Braves
Finished month: 36-44 - last place - 10 games behind 1st place Nationals & 2.5 games behind 4th place Marlins
- Jose Contreras likely out for the season with a right elbow strain.
- Freddy Galvis was suspended 50 games for a drug test that revealed traces of the banned drug Clostebol in his system.
- Jim Thome hit 468-foot bomb against Twins at Target Field.
- Walk-off win against Rockies on a ground ball in which Todd Helton failed to touch the first base bag.
- Walk-off home run by Jim Thome against Tampa Bay Rays.
- Chase Utley returned to the Phillies on June 27 and hit a home run in his first at-bat.
- Chad Qualls was designated for assignment on June 28.
- Jim Thome traded to Orioles on June 30 for two single-A prospects.
- Carlos Ruiz finished the month with the best average in the majors at .356.
- Cliff Lee remains winless through June.
- Jim Thome hit a record-setting 13th walk-off home run.
- Jose Contreras placed on disabled list on June 2
- Brian Schneider placed on disabled list on June 26 for high ankle sprain
Average: .265 (14th)
Runs: 345 (5th)
Runs/game: 4.31 (7th)
HR: 79 (T-5th)
BB: 204 (14th)
SO: 515 (1st)
OBP: .320 (7th)
SLG: .408 (6th)
ERA: 4.13 (11th)
ERA: 3.99 (8th)
ERA: 4.52 (12th)
Average: .261 (7th)
Runs: 124 (6th)
Runs/game: 4.43 (8th)
HR: 35 (4th)
BB: 74 (T-11th)
SO: 180 (T-1st)
OBP: .320 (7th)
SLG: .425 (7th)
ERA: 4.79 (5th)
ERA: 4.99 (15th)
ERA: 4.32 (11th)
The time has come for the Phillies to take a look in the mirror - a long, hard look using one of those 50X mirrors that shows every blackhead, wrinkle, ingrown hair, and imperfection you don't want to see. The image staring back in the reflection may determine the success of the Phillies franchise in 2012 and could have implications that extend much further.
The Phillies might be every bit as bad as their record suggests and the returns of Howard, Utley, and Halladay still won't be enough for them to escape the inevitability of a baseball-less October. They might also be destined to follow the similar championship paths of the Cardinals last year and the Phillies in 2008. One road suggests “Buy, buy, buy,” while the other screams, “Sell, sell, sell.” And what about the other trail in which the Phillies have a tremendous second half surge and still fall short?
The Phils might still have a run in them when all the big boys return. The 1980 Phillies were just three games over .500 and six games back on August 10 before they caught fire and won the World Series. The 2007 Phillies were seven games back on September 12 before coming back to win their first of five straight divisions.
But they might not be destined for championship glory, and Ruben Amaro cannot allow dreams of an unlikely playoff run to cloud his assessment of the true state of the team. The Phillies don't have the financial ability or the prospects to become major buyers and too much excitement and revenue from ticket sales to hold a fire sale.
It is in the Phillies' best overall interest to retool at the trading deadline.
Retooling might just be the latest catch phrase, but the approach is not new: make a few strategic moves with a small short term price and high long term yields. Think back to 2006 when Pat Gillick traded Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle at the trading deadline, after which the Phillies went on a 38-23 run and were two days away from making the playoffs. Retooling now allows the Phillies to hedge their bets by taking a small step backwards in 2012 to ensure greater success next year and in the years beyond.
But why retool?
The Phillies expensive, aging, team has pushed them right up against the luxury tax, leaving them with very little payroll flexibility next season. They already have $111 million guaranteed for Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Halladay, Lee, and Papelbon in 2013. Pence’s arbitration figure of roughly $15 million brings the Phillies to a team payroll of $126 million for next year. With likely departures of free agents Polanco and Victorino, the Phillies will have $52 million to fill third base, left field, center field, Blanton’s spot in the rotation, and pay for the other ten or so spots. It essentially fills their payroll before playing one game in 2013.
The Phillies face the prospect in 2013 of having razor thin financial flexibility, no real prospects available to fill existing roles, and an aging team with a history of injuries. If and when the injury bug attacks the Phils again, they will be right back where they are right now.
Before anything happens, the Phillies must take care of their primary order of business:
Cole Hamels must be included in the Phillies’ future plans. Hamels is not an elite pitcher of the likes of Roy Halladay, but he is still one of the best young arms in the game. Nearly all moves the Phillies make are predicated on re-signing Cole Hamels. Ruben Amaro needs to offer Hamels at least Cliff Lee money and get the deal done RIGHT NOW. I’ll examine the implications of not signing Hamels at a later time, but for now let’s assume the Phillies sign him.
With Cole Hamels locked up, the plan the Phillies should follow within the next few weeks before the trading deadline is to trade Cliff Lee, Shane Victorino, and Kyle Kendrick. Let's examine each move.
John Kincade first brought this idea to my attention during an interview a few weeks ago. Cliff Lee is a tremendous pitcher and trading him has nothing to do with just one win to this point. He is an elite pitcher, works quickly, fields his position well, can hit, and has a perfect baseball mentality. It is also hard to forget that Lee chose Philadelphia. Unfortunately, he is a casualty of a last place team.
Moving Lee relieves $25 million of salary next year and $102.5 for the remainder of his contract. Secondly, and maybe more importantly, it will bring in much needed prospects to a farm system that has been stripped down in recent years. A quality farm system provides cheaper and often healthier options than buying free agents during the off season. We've also seen that good minor league prospects are crucial to making trades for players like Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Pence.
Lee might even garner a better return than Hamels. Free agents who sign with another team are no longer eligible for draft pick compensation under the new collective bargaining agreement. That means if, say, the Pirates trade for Cole Hamels and do not re-sign him, they are left with nothing at the end of the season. It makes potential rentals like Hamels less attractive for some teams than a player like Cliff Lee who is under contract for several years.
There's no doubt trading Lee is a huge loss, but it doesn't preclude them from winning this season since they still have Halladay, Lee, Worley, and Blanton. They may take a hit this season, but it improves the long-term success of the ball club.
If Ruben Amaro cannot find a suitable trade partner for Cliff Lee, the other option is to trade Roy Halladay. Nobody wants to do this considering Halladay is the ace of all aces and a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, plus he is a bargain at $20 million per season (easy for me to say). Since Halladay’s contract expires after next season, he poses less of a long term risk than Lee. Of course, it all comes down to the available deals. If Halladay brings in better prospects than Lee, it is an option worth considering. But I would try Lee first.
One major hitch to the giddy-up of moving Lee or Halladay is that, according to Ken Rosenthal, they both have limited no-trade clauses which enable them to list eight teams in which they would accept a trade and block 21 teams per season.
At this point it is almost a foregone conclusion that Victorino will not wear Phillies pinstripes in 2013. He’s a nice player, but he won’t be cheap and adds yet another player to a stockpile of 30 something's. Victorino should have several willing partners who could use his offense, speed, defense, and valuable veteran experience for a pennant race.
In return, the Phillies should look for a younger center field prospect who isn’t quite major league ready, but can step in to fill Shane's role and hopefully become a mainstay in the coming years. The perfect comparison is the Lidge/Bourn trade. Michael Bourn was a top talent who had not seen action with the Phillies, but he was able to start right away for the Astros. In this case, Shane won’t bring in a player as talented as Bourn, but he could bring in a younger, cheaper version of himself.
This is a move I would make right now. The Phillies need bullpen help in a bad way and there are plenty of teams equally as desperate for a fifth starter. Kendrick has obvious flaws, but he is a versatile pitcher who can fill the fifth starter role or can serve as a long man out of the bullpen. A team with a solid ‘pen who is short in the rotation might consider Kendrick valuable enough to trade a middle reliever. The Phillies won’t get a top tier set up man, but they can acquire a Chad Durbin. One likely suitor would be the Rockies. To fill Kendrick’s spot, the Phillies would need to bring up a starter from the minors like Tyler Cloyd (8-1, 2.15 ERA).
If all the moves pan out, here is how the roster shapes up for the remainder of the season:
Minor League starter TBA
Same, with one or more middle reliever coming through trades.
LF – Same
CF – Young prospect TBA (think young Michael Bourn)
RF – Same
Trade Cliff Lee in return for several prospects.
Trade Shane Victorino for center field prospect to take his place on the roster.
Trade Kyle Kendrick for middle reliever.
These three moves help replenish the farm system, add an arm to the bullpen, provide payroll flexibility, and replace age with a bit of youth.
What the Phillies see in their 2012 reflection are the results of those weird teenage years. Difficult moves made by the trading deadline might exacerbate the awkwardness this year, but could provide a championship image in the years to come.
June 26th was a historic date in American history. June 26, 2012 was the date Marty McFly traveled to in “Back to the Future.” After watching a dismal Phillies team stall out on their way to the all-star break, I would so like to steal that old DeLorean and set the clock back four years to a time when the Phillies had a young core of talent with their best days ahead versus the present team with their best days likely in the rear-view mirror.
Carlos Ruiz reminds me of where the Phillies success began as he made his first all-star appearance last night in Kansas City. When Ruiz became an all-star, he became the sixth “home grown” Phillies player from the 2008 team to make the all-star team. Of that group, Rollins, Utley, Howard, and now Ruiz were true home grown players who were drafted by the Phillies in the amateur draft, while Victorino and Werth were taken as Rule 5 selections.
Looking back on it, that is almost unheard of success. Seven of the eight regular position players began their careers with Phillies and six of the eight players were all-stars.
If I got my hands on that old 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, I would program the date to October 27, 2008, check the flux capacitor, and get that baby up to 88 mph. If you attended the first part of Game 5 of the World Series on that night in which Cole Hamels started, you would have found just one player (Pedro Feliz) on the entire field who did NOT begin his career with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Hop in the DeLorean and fast forward nearly four years and you will realize that although five of those six all-stars from 2008 still remain, much has changed. Howard is recovering from major surgery, Utley is a walking injury, Rollins is no longer the Phillies sparkplug, and Victorino is struggling and on his way out the door. Cole Hamels, the ace of the Phillies farm system and the man most responsible for bringing Philadelphia a championship, may also be on his way out.
Can the Phillies salvage what is left of that wonderful core, can they create magic in a bottle once again with a new core of local stars, or can they assemble a championship using pieces from other teams? Unless we can create our own time machines, we can only sit and wait for the answer.
Ruben Amaro’s tenure with the Phillies has brought some big, big, names to Philadelphia since he took the reigns from Pat Gillick over three years ago. Amaro landed Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Hunter Pence in hopes of bringing another championship. Well, that didn’t pan out and the Phillies are now in a position where they might be forced to trade away talent to salvage anything over the next few seasons.
Trading for marquis players has a cost far beyond the mega millions they put down. That cost is the farm system. The Phillies built this current "dynasty" based on minor league talent with players like Rollins, Utley, Howard, Ruiz, Hamels, Madson, all of whom the Phils drafted.
A few different bounces and we could be talking about a Phillies team in search of its fifth straight World Series and Ruben would be the toast of the town. Unfortunately, the reality is that the Phillies have no championships since 2008 and no farm system in which to bolster their roster.
Hindsight being 20/20, one has to wonder if the Phillies would be better off without making some, most, or all of those moves. With another trading deadline quickly approaching, let’s take a look at how exactly Ruben’s blockbuster moves have effected the organization.
First, a quick reminder of the moves since 2009:
2009 Trading Deadline – Cliff Lee Trade
Phillies trade right-hander Carlos Carrasco (AAA), righty Jason Knapp (A), catcher Lou Marson (AAA), and shortstop Jason Donald (AAA) to the Cleveland Indians in return for Cliff Lee.
December, 2009 – Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee Deals
Trading Cliff Lee - Phillies trade Cliff Lee to Seattle Mariners for right-hander Phillippe Aumont (AA), outfielder Tyson Gillies (A), and righty JC Ramirez (A).
Acquiring Roy Halladay - Phillies trade catcher Travis d'Arnaud (A), right-hander Kyle Drabek (AA), and outfielder Michael Taylor (AAA) to Toronto Blue Jays for Roy Halladay.
2010 Trading Deadline – Roy Oswalt Trade
Phillies trade left-hander JA Happ, outfielder Anthony Gose (A), and shortstop Jonathan Villar (A) to Houston Astros in exchange for Roy Oswalt.
2011 Trading Deadline – Hunter Pence Deal
Phillies trade 1B Jonathan Singleton (A), right-handers Jarred Cosart (A) and Josh Zeid (AA), and a player to be named later in outfielder Domingo Santana (A) to Houston Astros for Hunter Pence.
All told, the Phillies traded away 14 prospects, eight of whom were ranked in the top 100 at the time of the trade. Of those fourteen players:
2 never made it through the minors and are now out of baseball altogether.
3 are struggling in the minors.
3 are struggling in the majors.
As of now, it would appear that eight of the prospects will not come back to bite the Phillies. But that still leaves six potential players with legitimate shots to join the Ryne Sandberg and Ferguson Jenkins "why did we let that guy go" club (the Phillies drafted both Hall of Famers in case you wondered).
3 players rank as Baseball America’s mid season top 50 prospects: Travis D'Arnaud (19), Jonathan Singleton (23), and Anthony Gose (38). In addition, Jarred Cosart was ranked #50 prior to the season, Michael Taylor is hitting .301 in AA, and Domingo Santana is hitting .297 in single-A this year.
Cliff Lee was Ruben's first major deal and by far his best. Two of the four players the Phillies traded are out of baseball and neither of the other two have succeeded thus far in the majors.
Carlos Carrasco RHP
At the time of the trade: Carrasco was in AAA and rated the #54 prospect by Baseball America.
Where is he now: Started 21 games last year for Indians with a 4.62 ERA and had Tommy John Surgery last September.
Jason Knapp RHP
At the time of the trade: Single-A prospect.
Where is he now: Never made it past single-A and is now out of baseball.
Lou Marson C
At the time of the trade: AAA prospect and rated #54.
Where is he now: Never made it past A and is now out of baseball.
Jason Donald SS
At the time of the trade: AAA prospect and rated the #69.
Where is he now: Donald has split time between AAA where he is hitting .250 and Cleveland where he is hitting .188.
The Blue Jays had a pretty steep asking price for Roy Halladay, and it is looking more and more like they got a good return, with two potential stars of the three in which the Phillies traded.
Travis d'Arnaud C
At the time of the trade: Single-A prospect rated #81.
Where is he now: d'Arnaud is hitting .333 in AAA and ranked #19.
Kyle Drabek RHP
At the time of the trade: AA prospect and rated #25.
Where is he now: Drabek made 14 starts last season with a 6.06 ERA and 13 starts this season with a 4.67 ERA and is now on DL.
Michael Taylor AAA
At the time of the trade: AAA prospect and rated #29.
Where is he now: Taylor is hitting .301 in AAA.
Ed Wade batted one-for-three with the Roy Oswalt trade. Two of the three prospects haven't amounted to much yet, but one player is now rated #38.
At the time of the trade: Happ pitched well with a 3.11 ERA in 4 years with Phillies.
Where is he now: 4.84 ERA in three years with Astros.
At the time of the trade: Single-A prospect.
Where is he now: Gose is now rated the #38 prospect.
At the time of the trade: Single-A prospect.
Where is he now: Villar is now hitting .262 in AA.
This was the deal that hurt the most. One of the players the Phillies traded is currently ranked #39, one was ranked #50 to start the season, and one is performing very well at single-A.
Jonathan Singleton 1B
At the time of the trade: Single-A prospect and ranked #39.
Where is he now: Singleton is hitting .268 with 12 HR in AA and rated #23.
Jarred Cosart RHP
At the time of the trade: Single-A prospect ranked #70.
Where is he now: Cosart is pitching in AA and was rated #50 prior to the 2012 season.
Josh Zeid RHP
At the time of the trade: AA prospect.
Where is he now: 5.30 ERA in AA in 2012.
Domingo Santana OF
At the time of the trade: The "player to be named later" from single-A.
Where is he now: Hitting .297 in single-A.
We can't forget that the Phillies traded away a superstar when they dealt Cliff Lee to Seattle. I'm sure Ruben regretted that decision almost immediately, but there is a chance he hit on at least one player.
Phillippe Aumont RHP
At the time of the trade: AA prospect rated #93.
Where is he now: 4.15 ERA in AAA.
Tyson Gillies OF
At the time of the trade: Single-A prospect.
Where is he now: Suffered early injury and now hitting .280 this year.
JC Ramirez RHP
At the time of the trade: Single-A prospect.
Where is he now: 3.62 ERA in 16 games with AA Reading and also pitched twice in AAA.
Here’s a break down of the players lost by position:
5 right-handed pitchers (Carrasco, Knapp, Drabek, Cosart, Zeid)
1 left-handed pitcher (Happ)
2 catchers (Marson, d’Arnaud)
2 shortstops (Donald, Villar)
3 outfielders (Taylor, Gose, Santana)
1 first-baseman (Singleton)
The Phillies also gained two righties and an outfielder when they traded Lee.
The names to keep your eyes on are Travis D'Arnaud, Jonathan Singleton, and Anthony Gose, Jarred Cosart, Michael Taylor, and Domingo Santana.
Overall, I would have to say the Phillies pretty much broke even on the deals. The Phillies ended up with three ace pitchers and one decent outfielder which made them instant contenders, but there is a good chance a few players will haunt the Phillies in the majors for a long time...
The Phillies won 102 games last season, yet now find themselves in the middle of July at 12 games below .500. Which begs the question, how did they get in this mess to begin with?
I look at the Phillies win/loss chart and it’s unbelievable.
As hideous as the Phillies looked in the first couple months, they somehow hung around that .500 mark. Then BOOM, they dropped like a ton of bricks. The Phillies were three games over .500 on June 1st after defeating the Marlins 6-4. They proceeded to lose six straight games en route to a 9-26 record over the next 35 games, finally dropping to a season low of 14 games under .500 after the all-star break.
Before answering that question, it helps to see how the Phillies lost. Here's a quick recap of the first nine games of the horrible losing stretch.
6/2 vs. Marlins – lost 4-5
The Phillies took a 3-0 lead after the third inning, but Hamels gave up 5 ER in 7 innings and the Phillies scored only one run in the last six.
6/3 vs. Marlins – lost 1-5
This was a fairly routine loss, where Blanton gave up five runs in six innings while the offense scored nothing until the eighth.
6/4 vs. Dodgers - lost 3-4
Worley put the Phillies down 3-0 after two innings and only lasted four. The Phils tied it in the third, but scored nothing for the rest of the game. The bullpen miraculously pitched six straight scoreless innings, but Papelbon lost the game in the ninth.
6/5 vs. Dodgers - lost 1-2
Cliff Lee was dominant and held a 1-0 lead entering the eighth inning, but he gave up a two-run double in the eighth and lost...again.
6/6 vs. Dodgers - lost 5-6
Down 2-1 in the fifth, the Phils scored three to take a 4-2 lead, but Kyle Kendrick immediately gave up the lead in the following inning with a three spot and the Phillies couldn't come back.
6/7 vs. Dodgers - lost 8-3
Hamels blew another 3-0 lead and gave up 4 runs in six innings, thanks in part to three Phillies errors. The Phils were held scoreless after the third, and Chad Qualls finished it off by allowing four runs in the ninth, ensuring a Dodgers sweep.
6/8 at Orioles - won 9-6
The Phillies looked bad even in their wins. The took a 7-1 lead after two but scored only two runs the rest of the way. Five runs against Blanton and one against Schwimer turned a six run lead into a save opportunity.
6/9 at Orioles - lost 4-6 in extras
Despite four errors, Worley kept it close with four runs in six innings. Thome tied the game in the eighth with an RBI single, but the Phillies lost in twelve on a walk-off home run against BJ Rosenberg in his major league debut.
6/10 at Orioles - lost 4-5 in 10
Lee blew a 4-1 lead and the Phillies lost in extra innings for the second straight night.
Reviewing those games gives credence to the phrase "win as a team, lose as a team." It was a complete team effort throughout those nine contests, as they discovered new ways to lose each night. The starters couldn't hold leads, the offense failed to score late inning runs, the bullpen was porous, and their defense eluded them. Which brings us back to the question:
In a word (actually two): Roy Halladay. Teams just don't all of a sudden become terrible overnight. There must have been a trigger, and that trigger was Roy Halladay, who coincidentally was placed on the disabled list four days prior to the streak.
The problem was not that Halladay was hurt so much as what the rest of the staff accomplished in his absence. When a superstar pitcher goes down to injury, it is incumbent upon the rest of the team, in particular the starter pitchers to step it up. Here is how the Phils starters performed without Roy Halladay:
Cliff Lee - 1-4, 4.74 ERA
Cole Hamels - 2-3, 4.40 ERA
Joe Blanton - 3-3, 4.88 ERA
Vance Worley - 2-3, 3.86
Kyle Kendrick - 0-4, 8.18
The blame for this streak goes straight to the top of the rotation. Don't begin to tell me that a mid-four ERA is not horrible and that they still had decent ERA's overall: Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels choked. Lee is being paid like a big-time pitcher and Hamels hopes to be very soon, yet they pitched their worst when the team needed them the most. With Halladay gone, they combined for a 3-7 record and a 4.58 ERA. Had they reversed that record to 7-3, instead of being twelve games under .500 (41-53), the Phillies would be four games under (45-49).
The other killer is Kyle Kendrick, who had a chance to be 2012's Tad Iguchi. With a 1.65 in his four starts prior to the slide, it seemed a distinct possibility, but an 8.18 ERA in his next five starts quickly ended that notion.
Let's finish the discussion there. Sure, clutch hitting, poor defense, and a wretched bullpen did what they could to put the Phillies out of the race by the all-star break, but the crumbling began at the top of the rotation.
Think about this: if Kendrick went 2-2 and Lee and Hamels went 7-3, the Phillies would be exactly at .500.