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Writers Roundtable: Can Adams, Hamels, Ruf Help?

mike-adamsQuestion: The Phillies are currently 6-7, do you think they’ll stay around the .500-mark all season or will the return of guys like Mike Adams, Cole Hamels, and Darin Ruf make a real difference?

Don McGettigan (@DonM409): The Phillies have done some unexpected things in the first two weeks of the season: leading the NL in On-Base Percentage, 2nd in the NL in Batting Average, 3rd in Hits, but they’re among the worst teams in many Pitching and Fielding stats. It all balances out in the end and the Phillies will find ways to beat themselves easier than they’ll find ways to beat their opponents. They’re lucky to play in the NL East with the equally sorry Mets and Marlins, but I still think this team has too difficult a road ahead to finish above .500.

Jon Nisula (@JNisula): Baseball is a funny game. A couple years ago, a 6-7 start would’ve been a disappointment. But this year, with the expectations significantly lower, 6-7 is causing some optimism in Philadelphia–especially after a sweep of the Marlins that included a win over José Fernández. The Phillies will get some more help, too, with some important players coming off the DL. However, Chase Utley is going to cool off, and I still don’t trust the guys in this lineup to continue to get on base as much as they have. I think the Phils will struggle to stay at .500 as the season progresses, but I won’t rule it out. Tommy Lasorda once said, “No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.” Taking that wisdom, and remembering that it is a long season, I’ll keep an open mind with this team. Because, hey, baseball is a funny game.

Eric Seidman (@EricSeidman): I’m sticking to my guns on this one – the Phillies will hover around the .500 mark for most of the season, but a key injury or two will cause them to lose a lot of games late in the year. They’ll finish with 74-78 wins even though, for most of the season, they looked like they could potentially compete for a playoff spot.

Ian Riccaboni (@IanRiccaboni): I hate to be the bearer of bad news but… there is no way Chase Utley can get on base at a clip of .500 or higher for the rest of the season. Utley is single-handedly winning baseball games for this team right now while others (see Howard, Ryan’s defense) are doing their best to lose them. The rest of the line-up, including Jimmy Rollins, Cody Asche, Ben Revere, Marlon Byrd, and Carlos Ruiz, are playing at level you should reasonably expect them to play at through the season and the pitching is probably WYSIWYG, too. I’m going to have fun watching them, but I don’t see this team cracking .500 at the end of the year. Their warts (lack of starting pitching depth, no bench, bad defense) will cost them more games than offensive hot streaks will win them.

Alex Lee (@AlexLeeTSR): The patience at the plate has been a pleasant surprise, but you could argue that them being only 6-7 despite turning a huge weakness into a strength (through 13 games at least) is a bit damning. After all, they’re 5-1 against the Cubs and Marlins and 1-5 against the Rangers and Brewers, along with last night’s loss to the Braves. The return of Hamels will be a big boost, though it should be offset by the offense cooling off. Ultimately, I still see the same glaring issues I saw a month ago so I’m sticking with a win projection in the low 70s. I hope I’m wrong, as it’s been nice to see some decent baseball over the past two weeks.

Ryan Gerstel: The Phillies started the 2008 season 6-7 as well, although the core was younger, and there was more depth on the roster. However, they ended the season on top of the baseball world. I’m not saying that this team will be in the same position by season’s end, but they have certainly given us reason to remain/become optimistic for the remainder of the season. They played pretty good baseball this past weekend after that terrible series against the Brewers. This week’s series against the Braves will say a lot about the current state of this team. Getting pieces like Hamels, Ruf, and Adams will certainly be a big boost for this team. The offense has shown the potential to be one of the best offenses in the league if they can just start hitting with RISP. I’m remaining optimistic about this team’s chances. It’ll be interesting to see what transpires in the Braves series.

Kenny Ayres (@KennyAyres8): It all comes back to health. Sure, Hamels will make a difference, but how much of a difference will he make if AJ Burnett or any other starter goes down? How much does Adams matter if Jake Diekman’s shoulder gets sore? If the team stays healthy, they will finish above the .500 mark. Of course it helps to have players come off the DL, but unless you can keep other good players from going on it, it’s for naught. In terms of sheer ability, they have actually shown some potential in a number of areas, especially offensively. They are more patient than year’s past and are generating a good amount off offense here in the early going. If the defense tightens up and those aforementioned players come back ready to play, it could at least a year where we can stand to watch games in August and September.

Pat Gallen (@PatGallen_975): Cole Hamels will absolutely make a difference, there’s no doubt about it. Mike Adams and Darin Ruf are major questions. Adams, because of his health. Ruf, because of playing time. If Adams can consistently throw 90 and be a decent enough 8th inning option, than he’ll help. Ruf position with the team is unsure. If Ryne Sandberg uses him in a platoon of sorts with Ryan Howard, plus gives him a start a week in right field to keep his bench bat warm, he can absolutely give this team a spark from time to time. All of that said, I still see this team being a .500 ballclub, even when healthy. Too many things have to go right and I’m not sure that these three returning players can do enough to change that.

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