The Phillies are now over .500 for the first time since April 5, 2012. We should not be excited.
The Phillies have strung together 5 wins in a row. We should not be excited.
After all: The Phillies are in last place. Who wants to be excited about a last place team?
Let me be clear: I don’t want to be excited because the Fightin’ Phils are over .500 again for the first time since Opening Day. I don’t want to be excited because they have won five in a row. There are far greater reasons to be excited.
Because It’s the Last Shot With the Keys to the ’08 World Series
This could be the last year that we see Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels, and Shane Victorino in Phillies pinstripes. From the 2008 World Series-team, only these three and Ryan Howard, Kyle Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, and Chase Utley remain. If they are leaving, I want to see them go out on top. Blanton (2.96 ERA, 5 K/BB) is having his best start to a season ever, quietly putting together a career year after almost being traded in the off-season for Bobby Abreu who was to be parlayed into AJ Burnett (5.12 ERA). Hamels (2.28 ERA, 9.32 K/9 IP) has put himself in the early mix for the Cy Young and will be in consideration for an All-Star nod of his own. And Victorino has had a slow start (.248/.298/.401) but has been an absolute pest on the basepaths (12/13) and is providing his usual above average defense.
Because Chooch Will Be an All-Star
We were the first Phillies blog to tackle it on May 7: Chooch has been outplaying and outperforming just about every catcher in the National League and the American League for that matter. He leads all catchers in AVG (.363), ISO (.257), SLG (.619), wOBA (.432), OPS (1.024), is second in OBP (.405), and leads NL catchers in HR and RBIs. Chooch’s 4-5 night last night with 3 RBIs further accentuated his climb to the upper-tier of catchers, moving Ruiz to 9th in the MLB in OPS and 5th in the Majors in BA (.363). Reminder: Vote for Chooch here!
Because Cliff Lee DIDN’T Win a Ring in 2009
We all remember it: the nonchalant catch in Game 1 of the 2009 World Series. Lee won Games 1 and 5 for the Phils but the Phils perished 4-2 in the Series. Lee returned the following season as a member of the Rangers, but again was on the losing side. This man needs a ring, people. Speaking of people who need World Series rings…
Because Roy Halladay Has Never Been to the World Series
I’m not sure if Halladay has ever been to the Philadelphia Zoo. There are folks lining up to take him there, though. One thing I can assure you? Halladay has never pitched in the World Series. Halladay has a 2.37 ERA in 5 postseason starts, with a 3-2 record. I don’t want to start to get antsy but Halladay turned 35 Monday and has likely this and two more seasons with the Phillies. The window isn’t closing on Doc necessarily, but this is not the time to be jumping off of the bandwagon.
Because It’s Fun to Root For the Ageless Juan Pierre
Pierre raised his average last night to an astounding .343, second on the Phillies only to Ruiz. At the beginning of the season, many Phils fans and Phillies Nation commentors were upset that Pierre beat out Scott Podsednik for what was perceived to be the last roster spot and would receive playing time over John Mayberry Jr. Pierre has been bad in the field and frustrating on the basepaths (6 of 8 in SB attempts) but there is something endearing about a guy who looks like he could be your cool uncle. Pierre is getting on base at a near .400 clip and is a pleasant surprise near the top of the Phillies line-up.
Because There’s a Lot of Talent in the 25-26 Year Olds Bullpen Club
While much ado was made about signing closer Jonathan Papelbon for $50 million, the rest of the Phillies bullpen was up in the air. There were many questions about Mike Stutes’s, 25, effectiveness entering the season injured and questions if Antonio Bastardo had hit the wall. Bastardo, 26, worked through a slow start to be phenomenal (1.50 ERA, 10.50 K/9 IP) thus far in the early going. David Herndon, 26, had been relatively effective (4.50 ERA, 8:1 K/BB) before hitting the DL, while Joe Savery has earned some major frequent flier miles getting shuttled back and forth between Philly (4.50 ERA, 1:1 K/BB) and Lehigh Valley (1.59 ERA, 6:1 K/BB).
Mike Schwimer, 26, told me in Phillies Nation Episode 9 that the young arms are pitching for team success, has had a rough stop in Philly (8.53 ERA, 3:5 K/BB) but is excelling again in Lehigh Valley (team-leading 0.71 ERA, 1.03 WHIP). Finally, Cloud County Community College alum Jake Diekman, 25, emerged during Tuesday’s matinee as a potential stopper of the future, striking out 3 of the four batters he faced en route to his first Major League win. Diekman was in Class A Lakewood as recently as 2010.
It is easy to root for every one of these guys.
Because It Would Be Fun Awesome to See John Mayberry Jr., age 28, Break Out
It’s not common for players labeled as Quadruple-A players to break out in the second half of their 20’s, but last season, Mayberry (.273/.341/.513) looked like he could break the mold. Mayberry has lost much of the early season playing time to fast starts from Pierre, Laynce Nix, and Ty Wigginton, but has quietly posted a nice .278/.308/.417 line in his last 10 games. With Wigginton cooling off and seeing more time at third thanks to Polanco’s bumps and bruises and Nix headed to the DL, Mayberry should get more consistent playing time in the next few weeks. And that will be really fun to watch.
Because Freddy Galvis‘s D Has Been Better Than Advertised
Because Freddy Galvis’s O Has Been Better Than Advertised
Galvis is a human vacuum cleaner at second base who also happens to be hitting .324/.378/.529 in his last 10 games. Not only have the Phillies not lost anything on defense by having a 22-year old start at second base, they have found what appears to be a very good developing player there who is tied for the NL lead among second baseman in doubles (11). Gavlis has been young for every level he has played at and just keeps getting better. And better.
Because You Just Never Know When a Call-Up (Hector Luna) Will Hit a Grand Slam in his First Phillies At-Bat
Because It’s Really Awesome That 2 of the 3 Catchers on the 40-Man Roster Grew Up in the Greater Philadelphia Area
Because I Really Enjoy Watching Pete Orr Take Hacks from the Left Side
Because Mike Fontenot Needs a World Series At-Bat
Fontenot was a member of the 25-man roster for the 2010 San Francisco Giants and is listed as appearing in Game 2 despite not hitting or fielding. How? He was an announced pinch-hitter and then was pulled back due to a pitching change. If not for Doc or Cliff, we need to do it for Mike.
Because No Matter How Far Out, No Matter How Late in the Season, 2007 Made Me Believe. Because of 2007, I’ll Always Believe There’s Still Enough a Chance We’ll See Papelbon River Dancing in October
It’s really easy to get caught up in the Phillies recent success, and their five game win streak, and start to root for them just for that. But as the peaks and valleys happen throughout the season, and there will be more, don’t forget, Phillies Nation, that there are plenty of reasons to root for the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies.