We’ve finished recapping the up and down first half of the Phillies season, so now it’s on to handicapping the second half. The Phillies sit 47-40, 4 1/2 games behind the first place Atlanta Braves and have themselves within striking distance as they attempt to get healthy for the stretch run. Here, you’ll find questions about a few of the hot topics surrounding the Phils. They’ll be answered by our own Phillies Nation contributors; feel free to agree or disagree, per usual, in the comments section below.
If you want to take a look back at our review of the first half, click the links for a refresher course
1. The hottest trade rumor is now Jayson Werth and his possible departure. Do you believe the Phillies can win if they were to trade him?
- At this point in this season the Phillies are better off keeping Werth to offset the missing pieces of Chase Utley and Placido Polanco. We could see Polly back this weekend but without Werth in the lineup the Phillies will be missing a right-handed power bat. Could the Phillies win and make the playoffs if they do decide to trade Werth? Sure. But why make it harder on yourself? Keep Werth, and then take the draft picks if he signs elsewhere at season’s end. –Kieran Carobine
- No. He’s the only right-handed power hitter this team has, and while it’s not out of the question that Werth gets traded before the season’s over, that would be the white flag. No one’s going to give the Phillies a comparable bat in return for a three-month rental, Francisco, Gload, and Mayberry can’t replace his production, and there will be a learning curve with Domonic Brown. If they trade him, they won’t win. -Mike Baumann
- No, not this year. He needs to carry some of the load with Utley out and Ibanez regressing to his mean. If they let him walk after this season, I do think they can find an adequate replacement, but they need him in the lineup and in right field if they want to win in 2010. -Brian Michael
- No, he wont be traded. Should he be? Yes and no. They’d be moving forward without a power RH bat, which is a bad move. On the other hand, they could get quite a haul for him from, say, Boston. The Phils have to ride with him because we know what he’s capable of. -Pat Gallen
2. The starting rotation has been the strongest part of the Phillies team this year. Led by Roy Halladay, they have thrown the most innings in the National League. They also have the most complete games in baseball. Can the Phillies starters keep up this pace in the second half?
- Yes. If anything, they’re going to get better. I don’t think anyone would argue that Roy Halladay has been everything the Phillies expected him to be, and I think that Cole Hamels has finally settled back into his true role: a No. 2 starter who will have the occasional absurd game, the occasional disaster, and a whole bunch of 7 IP, 2 ER, 8 K performances in between.I have a hard time believing that Joe Blanton will continue to pitch as poorly as he has, and J.A. Happ is getting closer and closer to making his return and, however lucky and unsustainable you might think the performances of Kendrick and Moyer have been, at least two of the three ought to be firing at any given point, right? –MB
- Yes. There are no signs Halladay is slowing down. Hamels (3.94 ERA first half, 3.27 ERA second half) and Blanton (4.33 ERA first half,3.99 second half) have been second half pitchers throughout their career. The only thing to worry about would be an injury. -Amanda Orr
- No. I think this will eventually come back to hurt the team. It’s inevitable, these guys are human. Very few pitchers can sustain top-levels as they approach 200 innings in the year. Halladay may very well be one of those guys but I’m not going to bet on Hamels and Moyer sustaining their first half performances. Blanton is improving which will mitigate this, but so too could Pedro coming back and making a few spot starts to give these guys a rest. I’m not against this idea, though Happ could potentially fulfill this role as well. -BM
- If you really believe that Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick are the answers when it comes to postseason baseball, I have a goose that is due to start laying golden eggs that I would like to sell you. While both Moyer and Kendrick have had a few rough outings this season, they have for the most part pitched well above their heads. Like the old saying goes, what goes up, must come down. I do think Joe Blanton will pitch better in the second half, but that is mostly because I don’t think anybody believes he can continue to pitch as poorly as he did in the first half. Roy Halladay has been as good as advertised and Cole Hamels is pitching pretty close to his 2008 form. But the Phillies will not do anything in the postseason, should they get there, if you need to rely on both Moyer and Kendrick. -Nick Staskin
3. Injuries have certainly taken their toll on the team, most notably the offense. In years past, this lineup was considered a juggernaut. Are those days over or can they regain that status in the 2nd half?
- Absolutely. Over the past few years this team has really been a second half team, especially offensively. I’m not too worried about the offense. They’ll come around. -AO
- The lineup still knows how to produce, so they should be able to regain their juggernaut status. It certainly has not been running on all cylinders with injuries to Rollins and Utley – two crucial pieces in which the rest of the team has not been able to replace. No matter how well the bench players hit, having them in the lineup hurts the rest of the team. -BM
- The lineup, when all its pieces are healthy, is still a very good one. Jimmy Rollins, though his bat is diminishing, still flashes 2007 form now and then. Placido Polanco has been a fine addition. Chase Utley is Chase Utley, assuming his hand heals properly. Ryan Howard isn’t near the power threat he’s been, though if he can be more selective in the second half, perhaps he could put better balls in play. Werth is a plus and Chooch is getting on base at an excellent clip. Ibanez is, well, playing like a 38-year-old, and Victorino can barely be considered above average at this point. The lineup has its ups and downs, and isn’t the best its been in the past five years, but it’s competitive and formidable to deal with still. -Paul Boye
4.The bullpen was good, then bad, but basically it’s been all over the place. Will they go with what they have, or is a trade or move of some sort inevitable?
- They’ll make a trade and regret it. Fact is, the bullpen’s not that bad. They have the second-fewest meltdowns in the NL, the sixth-best WHIP, the ninth-best K/BB, and eighth-best ERA. They’re average. What’s more, relief pitcher performance is extremely hard to predict. They’ll wind up giving up a lot of money and prospects for someone like Bobby Jenks or Jason Frasor and have no clue how he’ll perform. Anyone remember Dennis Cook? Turk Wendell? Roberto Hernandez? Ugueth Urbina? -MB
- This is where the Phillies need to make a move the most. The Danys Baez experiment isn’t working (he’s brilliant one moment but too often brutal), and they’re not going to be able get by with Mike Zagurski as the second left-hander behind J.C. Romero. A lot of the bullpen’s success depends on whether Madson and Lidge pitch like the Madson-Lidge of 2008 or the Madson-Lidge of 2009. If Lidge fails again, Madson has been spectacularly poor as closer, forcing the Phillies to either make a deal or install Jose Contreras as the ninth-inning — both iffy propositions at best. -Jon Fogg
- I don’t think I’d call a trade “inevitable,” more like “recommended.” The fact is the Phillies really have never had a good bullpen during this successful run. The Series champs in 2008 saw a couple career years happen for guys like Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero and, while pitchers like those two are still effective, their track records suggested all along that they’d fall back to earth. Brad Lidge’s fastball velocity and command continue to fade, and as only one in every four sliders is in the strike zone, it’s a wonder any batter ever swings at a Lidge pitch. Well, maybe not a wonder; when hitters do make contact, it seems every ball in play is well-hit. I still want Mathieson up, and I’d love to add a lefty like Scott Downs or Matt Thornton. –PB
- I expect that some minor moves will be made to tinker with the bullpen. However, I’m a firm believer that you do not trade good prospects for middle relievers. Last year the Dodgers did just that when they traded for George Sherrill, how did that work out in the postseason? However, much like relying on Kendrick and Moyer, if you need big outs from Mike Zagurski and David Herndon, then you can’t really have too many expectations for October baseball. -NS
5. Dom Brown: Bring him up or keep him down?
- Dom Brown is probably ready. However, if the Phillies bring him up for anything more than a September call-up he is more than likely going to sit. Unless they trade Werth or Ibanez, Brown will be in the dugout watching games. That is not going to be any help to him or the organization. Keep him in the Valley and he can showcase in September. –KC
- There is no reason not to bring Dom Brown up. The only reason that we have not seen him yet is Ruben Amaro’s ego. Bringing up Brown admits failure on the Raul Ibanez signing of two winters ago. Look at the teams that have brought up their big prospects, Buster Posey in San Francisco. Jayson Heyward. Stephen Strasburg was considered for an All-Star spot despite being in the bigs for a month and a half. Brown might be the piece the Phillies need to ignite the bats that have been quiet for almost a month. If you continue to trot Ibanez out to left field every day to seemingly kill rallies and weakly ground out, then winning is not in your best interest – saving face on a terrible signing is. Holding Brown back at this point is simply foolish. -NS
- Bring him up only if he’s going to play everyday — in other words, only if Werth or Ibanez is traded (and Ibanez’s trade value seems to be as low as BP’s approval rating) or if someone gets hurt. Otherwise, he stays in Triple-A. -JF
- There’s no doubt everyone would love to see Dom Brown in red pinstripes, but as of now there is just nowhere to put him. That could very well change before July 31. I’d love to see him up here right now – many others would agree. Quit babying him and let him play in the bigs, right? If Ibanez had an easily-movable contract, you would maybe see that. But as it stands, Brown stays. Question is, how much longer? -PG