Fast forward five months and that original prediction couldn't seem further from the truth. After an extremely disappointing first half, the Phillies find themselves in third place in the National League East with a 47-43 record. One could argue that they have been the biggest underachievers in the league thus far, with the roster that they have assembled. In fact, the Phillies have struggled tremendously in virtually every facet of the game.
Offensively, the Phillies bolster the most inconsistent lineup in major league baseball. They currently rank in the bottom third of every important batting metric including team batting average (.246)-17th, HR (115)-20th, OBP (.325)-15th, SLG (.424)-17th, and OPS (.749)-18th. They have only scored 442 runs in 90 games which places them at 14th in the league.
The statistics alone are bad and show a team that reeks of poor execution with the bats. However, the eye test truly cements the depths of ineptitude that this offense has fallen too. What exactly is the problem?
For starters, losing Andrew McCutchen was a major blow to the lineup. The leadership that he brought to the table as well as setting the tone as the consummate leadoff hitter. Also, losing Odubel Herrera for the season was a blow, even if Herrera was not having his best season. He was still a player with upside that provided skill from the left side of the plate.
Others point to a failed organizational philosophy at the plate. To often the Phillies hitting approach just flat out sucks. No one truly knows for sure why the Phillies offense has sputtered to this point. However, no one can deny that it can only get better from here (we hope). It has truly been a disappointing season at the dish.
While the offense has been below average, the Phillies pitching has been even more of a dumpster fire. Phillies pitching has given up 153 home runs (27th) in the league thus far. Only the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners have served up more.
They are ranked 23rd in opponents batting average at .265. Moreover, they have only struck out 751 hitters which ranks them 22nd. In a league where making teams swing and miss is so important, the Phillies have failed miserably in these areas.
Starting pitching has been abysmal sans Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin. Besides those two guys, this staff has been terrible. Nick Pivetta and Jared Eickhoff have ERA's approaching 6.00. Vince Velasquez has shown more of the same ineptitude. Any and all rookie spot starters that they have brought up have been just as bad. And finally, $75 Million Dollar man Jake Arrieta has been less than pedestrian.
And then there is the revolving door bullpen. If it were not for Hector Neris, this area could be called a complete washout. Truly the unit has been decimated by injury.
David Robertson has only played in 7 games and has been out since April. Seranthony Dominguez was facing surgery and is still trying to return from the mound. Neshek, Arano, Hunter, Morgan, Garcia and Rios have all tasted the injury list as well.
So the million dollar question at this point remains...where do the Phillies go from here? This is crunch time folks!
We have reached the turning point of the season in July. The Phillies success or lack of success the next week will truly dictate the answer to that question.
If the Phillies can somehow come out firing, find their mojo and gain some ground in the division fast; then Klentak will have no other choice than to add some players at the deadline. However, if the team comes out flat and continues to falter the organization may have to fold its hand and look towards next season.
This is an extremely fluid situation that could be the defining moment of Matt Klentak's career. One of Klentaks biggest mistakes thus far has been his failure to improve the starting rotation.
Klentak has completely ignored this hole and now it is coming back to bite him in the ass. He had a chance to get Cole Hamels at last years trade deadline and declined. He had a chance to get Patrick Corbin or Charlie Morton in free agency but passed. There was even Dallas Keuchel who he could have had for a cheaper one year deal in June and he chose to look the other way again.
Well, Klentak cannot continue to ignore this area of need anymore no matter what happens this season. It all comes down to whether he is willing to part ways with good prospects for a rental, sell the farm for controllable star talent, or wait for next years free agents (basically give up on this season).
Of course the majority of fans will say make a trade and win now. But its not that simple. First of all, the Phillies farm system is not that good and Klentak will be competing with all of the other GM's whose teams are in win now mode. Secondly, if you want the starter like Matt Boyd or Trevor Bauer with controllable years it may cost you Alec Bohm. Are you really prepared to trade away your 3B of the future for a really good #2. For me its a no doubt about it NO WAY!
If I was Matt Klentak, there is one Starting Pitcher that makes perfect sense and bucks the trend of both of these scenarios. If the Arizona Diamondbacks make Zack Greinke available that's who I am calling.
First of all, Zack Greinke will cost next to nothing in prospects. The Phillies will only have to be willing to pay the remainder of his hefty contract which should not be an issue; beings that John Middleton is willing to spend stupid money. Secondly, Greinke is under control for 2.5 more seasons. At 35 years of age he is still at the top of his game and would be an excellent #2 starter to complement Aaron Nola.
In my opinion this is a no brainer. All of the other SP are going to cost multiple prospects and I am not willing to part with these players, especially when the Phillies don't have many of them to begin with. If Klentak can sure up the rotation I do expect that this team can contend for at least a wild card. However, if he ignores the issue the season will be over.
The current roster has an obligation to be better in the second half. As bad as they were during the first half, they still remain in striking distance of the division leading Braves. However; it all comes down to the next few weeks. Either these players realize what is at stake and come to play or they will be playing golf come October. Crunch time has arrived folks...its up to the players to execute on the field.