That is one way to describe the first half of the Phillies 2012 season. And a mild one at that.
During the first half, they achieved a dismal 37 – 50 record, they sit at the bottom of their division 14 games behind the first place Nationals, and only the Rockies, the Padres and the Cubs have worse records in the National League. If you consider that it took the Phillies until near the end of the season to reach 50 losses for all of last year, it’s more than disappointing; it’s downright disgusting.
What’s worse is that the return of Chase Utley didn’t help boost the team even a smidgen. The Phillies have gone 1 and 10 since Utley’s return, and ironically the game they won was one he did not play. Ryan Howard returned soon after, and the losses still kept coming. Here’s to hoping that the return of Roy Halladay next week brings better results.
If it doesn’t, what’s a fan to do? It’s not like we don’t know what it’s like to cheer for a bad team. We’ve had plenty of lean years watching terrible baseball before the wonderful stretch of the last five seasons when we’ve scored five division titles, two National League Championships and a World Series. After tasting such sweet success, we’re spoiled, making it all the more difficult to return to mediocre.
However, baseball waits for no one. With or without the confidence of the fans, the Phillies begin the second half of the season tonight in Colorado with several burning questions. Among the most important: Will they be sellers at the trade deadline? And will they sign Cole Hamels for 2013 and beyond?
A trade deadline looms
Although some believe it’s best to blow up the team completely, I want the Phillies to remain buyers and not sellers at the deadline on July 31. At minimum, a nice bullpen piece would be most welcome. Call me crazy, but even when facing all of the cold, hard facts, I’m not ready to give up on this season or the next few seasons if the Phillies go into “rebuild” mode. Sure, it will take a miracle to reach the Nationals and pass three other teams along the way, but it is possible.
With 75 games left, the Phillies would have to play on a 65 – 10 pace to match what they did last season, or at least a more doable 50 – 25 pace to compete. Last year, the Cardinals pulled out all stops and achieved the near impossible, and the year before that, the Giants pulled off something similar. History proves that championships, especially in baseball, go to the teams that get hot at the end.
Testing free agency?
Events this week renewed my hope in resigning Cole Hamels. I chalked him up as all but gone, but the ace pitcher gave an interview at the All-Star game that indicated he wants to stay here and that the Phillies will have the last bid to keep him here. He mentioned that the Phillies organization has been wonderful to both him and his family, and he enjoys his teammates. He also gave an interview earlier in the week to a Comcast reporter where he stated that even if he was traded at the deadline, he could see coming back to Philadelphia next season as a free agent, just like Cliff Lee. An interesting yet far-fetched scenario, but again, it’s possible. Plus, reports yesterday indicated that the Phillies plan to make one more push to sign him this week.
No excuse zone
Fans can say the team is snake bitten all they want, they can place the blame with Charlie Manual, Ruben Amaro Jr., or the players. They can say we had a good five-year run but it had to end sometime. None of these excuses are acceptable. This team has to come back with vengeance beginning tonight and look they give a damn if they expect me to care. At the very least, I’d like to see some competitive, enjoyable baseball in the second half.
Here’s to hoping they give us that and a whole lot more.