Phillies All-Star Break Analysis

The Phillies started to heat up as the month of June began, but by the time July 1 rolled around, the Phillies were colder than an Alaskan Christmas.
Bobby Abreu
- With uncertainties flying through Philadelphia like an epidemic, Bobby Abreu has been a steadfast performer game in and game out. He was named to his second All-Star game, his first as a starter, and he is very deserving of it. When other bats in the lineup cooled off, Abreu continued to swing a hot bat and carry the offense. Even though his June offensive statistics (5 HR, 15 RBI) are half of what he put up in May (11, 30), he was still one of the most productive bats in the lineup. For the Phillies to have any shot of the playoffs (which is looking very dim now), Abreu needs to continue what he's been doing all season long. Without Abreu, the Phillies, despite a $95 million payroll, are no better than the Colorado Rockies or Kansas City Royals.
Pat Burrell
- Although streaky, Burrell is on pace for a great season after two very, very bad seasons. He's not only hitting well, he's hitting well when it counts. His homeruns usually come with men on base, and are usually either game-tying, or lead-giving. His only vice is that he still strikes out too much. And when he does strike out, it's not pretty. I frequently see him swing and miss on breaking pitches away because he's pulling off too much. For Burrell to become that star player he was supposed to be, he needs to learn to go opposite field. He's becoming better at working counts, but there is room for improvement.
Robinson Tejeda
- When Robinson Tejeda was called up as a spot starter, no one, not even manager Charlie Manuel, thought that Tejeda would be as effective as he's been. His 1-1 record is deceptive. He hasn't given up more than 2 earned runs and 4 hits in any start. Most importantly, he's pitched out of jams. Tejeda does walk a lot of batters, but he always keeps his cool and sees his way out of the sticky situation, be it by double plays or strikeouts. Tejeda should be a mainstay in the rotation, now with Wolf gone until at least late-July of 2006, and with Vicente Padilla giving Charlie Manuel every reason to give his spot in the rotation to someone else.
Ugueth Urbina
- As the main guy in the deal that sent Placido Polanco to the Detroit Tigers, a lot was expected of Urbina. We watched him dominate in Montreal; we watched him dominate in Florida; we watched him dominate in Detroit. Why are we watching him flounder with the Phillies? Since joining the Phillies, he's given up 9 runs (5 HR) in 8.1 innings pitched. With Tim Worrell out, Urbina's niche became setting up for closer Billy Wagner, but he's done nothing short of giving Wagner extended periods of rest (by taking away save situations). Ugueth Urbina is a quality guy that many other teams would love to have, so the Phillies should look into shopping him around if they can't work up a hot streak after the All-Star break.
Jon Lieber
- Understandably, we expected big things of the guy we called the "Ace". He's been nothing short of a joker since the middle of May. Since a May 12 Cincinatti start netted him just a loss and an inflated ERA (by giving up 6 runs in 5.1 innings), he's been 3-7, and his ERA reached a season high 5.18. Aside from a loss in Seattle in which he pitched 8 innings, Lieber has not pitched into the seventh inning since May 7, leading to an overworked bullpen. Lieber, traditionally, does not walk many batters, nor does he give up a lot of homeruns. He has proved both statements false lately, by giving up a combined 15 HR and 18 walks in May and June, in 68.2 innings (about 2 HR and 4 walks per 9 innings). With Wolf injured and Padilla unable to succeed, Lieber is integral to the Phillies' success. To emphasize how integral he is, he is Integral
Jim Thome
- Another injury to add to the list, the slugger just hasn't found his niche at the plate, and it could be a while before he does again. His lack of production hurt the Phillies tremendously. Not only could he not knock in the runs, he couldn't get on base and score any runs, either. If Thome had produced like he normally does, the Phillies would have at least 7 or 8 more wins than they currently do. The Phillies should think about unloading Thome's contract somehow - he's too much of a burden. He's sucking up $13 million this year whether or not he ever steps foot on the field for the rest of the season. For $13 million, you can get yourself a better first baseman... and a half. If the Phillies can't get players, cash, and/or draft picks for Thome, they ought to think about just cutting him.
Vicente Padilla
- If you look up "Vicente Padilla" in a thesaurus, words that come up are unreliable, head case, volatile, and uncontrollable. Padilla has been nothing short of an embarassment to a Phillies franchise that lays claim to the losingest record in all of professional sports history. He has pitched into the sixth inning just once (May 15 against the Cincinatti Reds) and has walked 25 batters in 34.1 innings (about 6.5 walks per 9 innings; his strikeout to walk ratio is barely 1:1). I don't know why Charlie Manuel keeps him in the rotation, and why he isn't a) in the Minor Leagues; b) cut; or c) traded. If I were Ed Wade, I'd try and get something, anything in exchange for Padilla. He, like teammate Brett Myers used to be, is a headcase. Myers was able to put his ego aside and listen to pitching coach Rich Dubee; Padilla hasn't been able to do that. He's unwilling to change, or to even try something new in his mechanics. Padilla is what is known as "a pitching coach's worst nightmare". He will make a start against the Pirates on July 6 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Mark Redman. I assume that if Padilla flops once again, it will be his last start for the rest of the season, and perhaps in a Phillies uniform. I know I'm not the only one of the Philly faithful that would be happy to see Padilla pack his bags and get on the next plane out of town. Heck, I'll pack his bags if it speeds up the process. "The Nicaraguan Nightmare" probably needs a change of scenery, and a pitching coach he has to respect (Orel Hershiser comes to mind) before he can ever succeed in the Majors again.
David Bell
- For someone who has played all season injury-free, Bell is putting up worse numbers than Jim Thome (.207, 7, 30). Bell has 1/4 of his team's errors (10 of 40), and does not bring anything more to the table than the once-a-month homerun. Like Thome, Bell is aging, and is becoming a liability, especially at the price of $4.7 million. The Phillies should try to get something in exchange for Bell, or just to cut him altogether. The Phillies really missed an opportunity when they could've made Polanco their everyday third baseman; he's faster than Bell, swings a better stick than Bell, and fields exponentially better than Bell. Unfortunately, Ed Wade felt that Bell was the better player to have for a playoff run, but now that the Phillies hopes of making the playoffs are growing dimmer as the All-Star break grows nearer, it might be time to dump these old veterans and restock the organization with some youth. Call up Ryan Howard and Gavin Floyd, move Ryan Madson to the rotation, trade Billy Wagner and Ugueth Urbina for prospects or young arms, get rid of Bell, Thome, Kenny Lofton, and Mike Lieberthal either by trading or releasing.

2005 Regular Season

Date Opponent
Mon. 7/4
Philadelphia Phillies @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Tues. 7/5
Philadelphia Phillies @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Wed. 7/6
Philadelphia Phillies @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Thurs. 7/7
Philadelphia Phillies @ Pittsburgh Pirates