Baseball Notes: The Phillie Fatigue
I'm getting close to finished with all of the teams in the majors so I might as well finally get to the Philadelphia Phillies.
I have seen the Phillies play live at least once. Just before I moved away from Pittsburgh I went to a July 3rd game at PNC Park against the Phillies and got the chance to get to know a few of their fans after the game at a 4th of July party. These guys were "on" for a few hours after the game with the attitude of combative fans that Philadelphia is notorious for. It look a little time to cool down and after a while the fanaticism wore off and they were pretty cool guys who were pretty laid back. Once the buzz of a game wears off those crazy battery throwing, Santa booing, Phillie fans are regular people coming down from a mob mentality.
My first memories of the Phillies was the footage of Jon Kruk ripping his shirt off at home plate in 1993 and I've kind of been annoyed at them ever since. For my 8th grade year book I put my pet peeves simply as "The Phillie Phanatic." It's not entirely true, the Phanatic is the most entertaining thing about the Phillies, especially over the last few years.
The Phillies won the World Series in 2008 on an electric offense anchored by Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. The problem was that these three players were given huge new contracts as they were getting older. The Phillies nice run around the years of their World Series Championship fizzled after a few years as their stars grew old before their enormous contracts expired.
Utley and Rollins are now gone but Ryan Howard remains to platoon at first with Tommy Joseph but he still can't hit over .200. Ruben Amaro, Jr. was the GM that oversaw the Phillies after the Championship and he failed to restock the minor leagues well enough to give hope that they would get out of the NL East cellar any time soon. There are a few promising younger players on the Phillies roster now, SS Freddy Galvis, 3B Maikel Franco, SP Jared Eikoff, and SP Aaron Nola but the true stars of the youth movement in Philidelphia has come since Amaro was canned.
SP Vince Velazquez and OF Odubel Herrera have been break out stars. Velazquez came over in a trade with the Astros where he wasn't even the biggest name coming in the deal with former #1 overall pick Mark Appel joining the top of the organizational prospects list. Velazquez has been one of the better strike out pitchers this year despite not having qualifying innings, as he would be 5th in the NL in K's per 9 innings if he had logged enough innings.
Herrera was a huge surprise. He was a rule 5 pick before last year and was an anonymous player most of the year, but this year he was the Phillies' representative in the All-Star game. He was a guy who came from nowhere to hitting .288, 15 homers, and 25 SB's. He's a speedy center fielder and a surprise centerpiece of this younger Phillies team that is still awaiting a few more top prospects including J.P. Crawford, a short stop with a lot of promise.
The Phillies started the season strong thanks to the power arms in their rotation but they will need to do a lot of growing up with their young players and moving on from their last remaining old players to get back to being a division bower in the near future.