The Phillies have rounded the first quarter pole of the 2013 season and it can be tough to get a read on exactly how to feel about this team. I’ve asked two people with two different opinions on the team to share their thoughts with us in the hopes that we can find some common ground.
Providing the fan perspective is Ryan Petzar. Ryan, 27, lives in South Philly. He considers himself a diehard Phillies fan and brags about how, in 2011, he attended 35 games in one season despite not having season tickets. His favorite current Phillie is Roy Halladay and his favorite former Phillie is John Kruk.
Providing our counterpoint is Ryan Petzar. Formerly of ESPN Radio and Philly.com, Ryan is an emerging voice in the Philadelphia sports media. Ryan’s work has been featured in print with the Philadelphia Daily News and the York Daily Record, as well as online at CSN Philly, Yahoo! Sports, and Deadspin. Ryan would not give his age for this story.
Now that we know our contributors, let’s get to the questions.
RP: In general, what’s your opinion of the season so far?
RP: I guess I’m disappointed but it could certainly be worse. As of now, they’re only a couple of games below .500. None of the core players have really been lighting it up, but there haven’t been many outright disappointments yet.
RP: It’s a disaster. Even at three games below .500, they’re a total disappointment. There were a lot of factors conspiring against them at the beginning of the season (Chooch’s suspension, a murky outfield situation, etc.) but they’ve had a pretty soft schedule so far and should have been able to tread water. This team is an embarrassment.
RP: Okay, so you two are pretty far apart. Let’s try to find some common ground. What are your thoughts on the pitching staff’s early season performance?
RP: Ugh. Pitching. It sucks that all of a sudden you can’t be confident in the starting pitchers anymore. The team used to have four aces. Now we only have two. If that.
RP: Kyle Kendrick has been a pleasant surprise so far. In nine starts, he’s allowed only 19 earned runs and has an ERA of 2.82 in 60.2 innings. He’s pitched only 3 innings less than Cliff Lee and has an almost identical stat line. In fact, Kendrick is the only Phillies pitcher to have pitched a complete game shutout so far. If Kendrick wasn’t performing at the level he is now, the team would be in far worse shape.
RP: Sure, but now Roy Halladay is hurt. He’s going to be out until August at the earliest and who knows what he’ll be like when he’s back. And John Lannan, who I still kind of hate, is hurt too. They have all these young guys from the minors pitching now instead of our aces. It’s terrible to watch.
RP: Those young guys are the aces of tomorrow though. It’s cool to get to see them pitching now, doubly so when they’re doing well! Jonathan Pettibone has made six starts, fifth most on the team, and he has an ERA of 3.00. That’s definitely good. No two ways about it.
RP: You’re wrong. He’s got a 3 ERA but he’s allowing nine hits per nine innings and he’s not striking guys out like he could be. It’s just a matter of time until those baserunners start scoring that that ERA balloons.
RP: Okay, but that’s conjecture. You’re talking about something that might happen and that’s not the point of thi—
RP: [Nervous laugh] Calm down, guys. It’s just a friendly discussion. Let’s change the subject. We’ve talked about pitching, what about the offense?
RP: What is there to say about it? It’s putrid!
RP: Don’t exaggerate, man. It’s not ‘putrid’. It’s not even bad, per se. Michael Young is hitting the ball really well, same with Rollins whose power numbers are higher. Dom Brown leads the team with nine homers! It’s good to see him finally starting to produce regularly.
RP: Sure, but at this point last season the team was doing so much better offensively. Through 45 games (41 starts), Carlos Ruiz was hitting .357. This year, Chooch and Kratz combined are only hitting .222 through the first 45. Kratz has hit three homers, Chooch has none. This time last year, Chooch alone had seven.
RP: So the catcher position isn’t producing like it was. That’s a drag, but any catcher numbers are a bonus, really.
RP: .357 through 45 games is a hell of a lot more than a bonus, dude.
RP: Let’s talk about the outfield for a second. That’s the single biggest change from this time last year. All three of last year’s everyday outfielders are gone and nobody seems sure how to feel about their replacements.
RP: Ugh. Do we have to talk about the outfield?
RP: Seriously. I agree with him. Can’t we skip this?
RP: No. We have to talk about the outfield.
RP: Blah. Okay. Well, it’s not as good. That’s a fact.
RP: Through 45 games, the starting outfielders were hitting .276 with 16 home runs and 70 strikeouts. This year, the four regular outfielders combine for a .233 average, 11 homers, and 90 strikeouts. And that’s just Revere, Young, Brown, and Mayberry. It gets worse if you start including all the other guys who have played one of the three outfield spots this year.
RP: Yeah, the lack of consistency is frustrating. It looks like Charlie is starting to platoon Revere with Mayberry. Ben Revere is shaping up to be a disappointment.
RP: Revere only seems disappointing because everybody else around him is disappointing. Nobody – nobody – expected any kind of offense out of him. He’s a defensive centerfielder. But when nobody else is raking, any holes in the batting order are extra frustrating.
RP: He’s a defensive outfielder, sure, but he’ll misplay a ball like he did on the Chris Coghlan triple last night and you have to scratch your head and wonder how much better off a team with an offense like this is with a defensive specialist out there. We need runs, damn it.
RP: Yeah, no disagreement there.
RP: Hey! There we go! Something you guys can agree on!
RP: Sure, we agree that the outfield is hard to watch.
RP: Yeah. We’re miserable. You happy now?
RP: Uhh… well, that’s not what I said. Let’s, uh, let’s talk about the future. What do you see coming in the next few weeks?
RP: What do I see coming? More of the same. If not worse, I think. Halladay is hurt. Mike Adams is hurt, so guys like Jeremy Horst are relied on in the 8th, and we all see how that played out last night. Chooch is on the DL now and he’s going to miss at least a month with a bum hammy. So, yeah. It’s going to get worse.
RP: Don’t forget Ryan Howard’s knee. He’s day to day and the team is being cryptic about exactly what is wrong. If it’s something worth even a small bit of concern, you better believe that in a season like this, the team isn’t going to let him go out there every day and risk making it worse. Get ready for another month of Kevin Frandsen and Laynce Nix at first base!
RP: We already talked about Kendrick, but has anybody else surprised you this season? I’d like to focus on the positive if we can.
RP: Sure, there have been some bright spots. Chase Utley looks healthy and strong as an ox. He’s hitting the ball well and getting on base. With seven homers, he’s only one behind Brown for the team lead.
RP: Speaking of getting on base, I’m happy to have been wrong about Michael Young. He’s not the best third baseman out there, but we’ve already established that this team doesn’t need defensive specialists. He’s hitting .299 with 23 walks for a .394 OBP.
RP: He gets on base, but he only has 10 RBI. Hell, Kevin Frandsen has only three fewer RBI in like 130 fewer at-bats.
RP: Well, you can’t just take one statistic out of context and use it to damn a guy…
RP: You just did that, though! You cited his on-base percentage and used it to praise the guy! So if it’s fair game to praise a guy, it’s fair to use it to.
RP: Yeah, but it’s RBI! It’s a flawed statistic in the first place! RBI is something the player can’t control anyway so who cares—
RP: Uhhh, I don’t want to turn this into a debate on statistic, guys. Let’s try to wrap this up. What’s your prediction on the Phils’ record for the end of the season? Do you see playoffs in their future?
RP: Playoffs? Hahaha, hell no. This team finishes 76-86 and misses the playoffs all together.
RP: See, now that’s typical negative talk from the Philadelphia media. 83-79 and they get the second wildcard spot.
RP: Wait, “negative media talk”? I thought you were the Ryan that was in the media.
RP: No, I’m the fan Ryan. You’re the journalist Ryan.
RP: What? No! I’m the fan Ryan. You’re the one who’s in all those Lunch Break videos always fidgeting with your hands and stuff.
RP: Really? Jesus Christ, I’m really confused here.
RP: I think we better cut this short, guys. This was a good discussion, but it’s pretty clear that we’re not going to come to any consensus here today. Thanks so much for joining us, today.
RP: My pleasure. Oh, and Ryan: don’t forget to go pick up your schizophrenia medication today.
RP: Dude! Good looking out! I almost completely forgot!
RP: Shut up, Ryan. He was talking to me.
RP: No I wasn’t, I was talking to him.
RP: I think I need to go lay down for a bit.
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