Record: 73-89 (Fourth place in N.L. East)
What went right?
1. Domonic Brown: It’s about time! After two seasons in 2011 and ’12 where the Phillies front office gave Brown the opportunity to prove he belonged, the 20th round draft pick in the 2006 draft finally delivered. Brown was one of the top prospects in all of baseball for a couple seasons and in 2013 he showed the hype was justified. Brown showed surprising power and for a stretch in late May-early June he smashed 11 homers in 15 games. Brown has another year before he’s arbitration eligible and will try to solidify an outfield which struggled as a whole in 2013. Brown, 26, will be a fixture in the Phillies lineup for years to come.
2. Youth Movement: Due to injuries the Phillies were forced to call up some of their young prospects from the minors. Darin Ruf, Cody Asche, Freddy Galvis, and Cesar Hernandez all saw considerable playing time. Ruf, a first baseman by trade, played 48 games in the outfield. While he was not Roberto Clemente, his performance was acceptable considering his lack of experience and the poor output of the existing outfield.
Asche took over the third base job following Michael Young being dealt to the Dodgers. Asche, 23, showed excellent fielding skills and promise at the plate.
Galvis had played in 2012, but was lost to injury and suspension due to PED violations. The 22-year old has a good glove and played all the infield positions except first base. He’s a natural shortstop, but with the injuries to Utley in the last two years, Galvis has filled in nicely. He cannot hit a lick, but he did hit six homers in 222 plate appearances.
Hernandez did not get to play much as he only was called up for good in September. Lacking power at the plate, Hernandez did hit .309 in Triple-A Lehigh Valley and is a career .294 hitter in the minors.
3. Changing of the Guard: Whether the Phillies handled the firing of Charlie Manuel well or not, the ultimate outcome was positive. Manuel was a good manager, but like 99% of all coaches, there is a time to move on. Ryne Sandberg took over and instilled an entirely different mindset in the players. Hustle and hard work was drilled into the club instantly and the players responded well. Jimmy Rollins, long criticized by fans and experts from being lackadaisical and lazy in certain situations not only showed more effort, but he began to take more pitches and be a smarter hitter.
In 2014, Sandberg will no longer have the interim tag on him and he will be able to start anew in spring training with the players and hopefully that will generate a better product on the field.
What went wrong?
1. Starting Pitching: Two years ago the Phillies won 102 games behind one of the best rotations in recent memories. In 2013, however, times had changed. Roy Halladay only pitched 13 games before he was lost for the rest of the year due to injury. Doc had lost his velocity and was fooling on one; he is a free agent and probably won’t ever play for the Phillies again. Cole Hamels had some of the worse luck in baseball. His stat line isn’t terrible: 3.60 ERA with 202 strikeouts, but a 8-14 record reflect how putrid his run support was. Hamels had his rough games, but that could be attributed to the psychological strain that getting zero run support can incite.
Cliff Lee was fine, 14-8, 2.87 ERA, and 222 strikeouts. Kyle Kendrick had his moments, but was too inconsistent to be counted on for regular wins. Rookie Jonathan Pettibone, 22, showed flashes of brilliance, but at times also looked like his age. Tyler Cloyd and Ethan Martin showed they are not ready to be big-league starters and John Lannan could not stay healthy.
2. Bullpen: It becomes like a broken record after awhile. The Phillies bullpen was so unpredictable and at times, so bad that watching Phillies games was like watching the movie “Lincoln,” you know how it’s going to end and it’s bad. The Phillies bullpen had a 4.19 ERA as a group and on multiple occasions, totally obliterated the chance of the Phillies making a comeback late in ball games.
The chief scapegoat among Phillies fans was overpaid and attention-grabbing Jonathan Papelbon. The veteran saved 29 games, but his 5-1 record reflect how many games he blew in the ninth only to receive the win when the Phillies won in the bottom of the inning. During a five game stretch in June, Pap blew four games and was credited with the win in two of them. With each blown save (there were a total of 7), the boos grew louder and Ruben Amaro Jr. was double-guessed more and more.
The rest of the crew was just as poor. The litany of names is too long to mention all of them, but suffice to say that the Phillies will need to address the bullpen in the off-season.
3. Offense: The Phillies lineup of the division winning years are long gone. The Phils hit .248 as a team. 10th in the league and only hit 140 homers, 9th in the league. Players like John Mayberry Jr., Carlos Ruiz, Rollins, Michael Young, and Delmon Young were huge disappointments. Meanwhile Chase Utley showed that he can still get in done late in the year, but his health is always a concern. Ryan Howard was a train wreck and only managed to play 80 games where he struck out an astounding 95 times in 317 plate appearances. The lack of power and consistency doomed the Phillies to relying on the bullpen: doom being the operative word.
Overall Team Performance
Many Phillies fans had realistic expectations entering the 2013 season and the team exceeded those in the negative sense. The team did start to play better in the last several weeks of the season and started to show a little fight and drive, but it was way too little, way too late. Poor front office decisions paired with poor play on the field propelled the Phillies to their worst record since 2000.
Winter Meetings Goals
The Phillies already raised some eyebrows with the signing of OF Marlon Byrd and the resigning of Carlos Ruiz. Finding another power bat would be huge for the Phillies, as well as another starter to be third in the rotation. Bronson Arroyo would probably be a good fit in Philly, not too flashy but he knows how to get guys out.
Looking Ahead to 2014
This is a team that does not know what it is: is it rebuilding or going for it with what they have? Most of their decisions hint that they really want to go for it one more time with the core players they have had for 7 years. If that’s the case you can mark the Phillies up for another .500 season in 2014. Even if guys like Howard and Utley stay healthy, there’s no reason to believe they will put up the numbers they did in 2008 and ’09. This is an old team who is not getting younger fast enough.