We play two games in the City of Brotherly Love, or the place that beat to death that hitchhiking robot, which ever slogan you would prefer.
The Phillies are having a pretty terrible season, sitting last in the NL East (and all of the MLB) with a 46 and 72 record. I sent Liz Roscher, of The Good Phight, some questions about the Phillies and she was nice enough to answer them for me.
Might as well jump in with something I should have asked you when we traded for him, but could you give us a quick scouting report on Ben Revere? What do you think of his defense?
I loved Ben Revere while he was in Philadelphia, which makes it weird to say that I don't miss him or notice he's gone. That's more a reflection of this team being entirely unmemorable (or memorable for sucking so much) than of Ben himself, because Ben Revere is a delightful human being. He makes a ton of contact, rarely strikes out, and tries hard to steal bases (with varying levels of success). He has zero power. If you'd asked me this a year ago, I probably would have said he has negative power. But Revere's two career home runs mean I can't say that he's a sucking vortex of power. He technically has some, but it shows up only slightly more frequently than Haley's Comet. As for his defense, it's an adventure. He's quick in the outfield, but he'll try for balls he has no business trying for. Expect a lot of needless dives and flips. And in center, his arm is atrocious. It was a little better when he was in right or left, but everything he throws has no oomph behind it.
While we are doing scouting reports, can we have a scouting report on the starting pitchers the Jays are likely to see?
Tonight, the Jays will face the cream of the Phillies young pitching crop, Aaron Nola. Nola, the Phils 2014 first round draft pick, was called up at the end of July and has held his own since. He hasn't been mind blowing, but he's young and continuing to improve. The best thing about this Phillies team being so awful is that no one is clamoring for Nola to shape up. He can take everything at his own pace. On Wednesday, the Phillies send Adam Morgan to the mound, another young pitcher. He's definitely not on the same level as Nola, but at least he's completely healthy (he suffered from a torn rotator cuff a few years ago).
With Jonathan Papelbon gone, who is your closer now? How confident are you in the pitchers in the back of the bullpen?
With Jonathan Papelbon gone, you could see me doing a giant, leaping, stomping happy dance from space. Goodbye, you bulldog shaking, kilt wearing, jig dancing, junk grabbing douche. But that also means that the Phillies closer is Ken Giles, who has a fastball that reaches triple digits and an intense demeanor that rivals any closer you've ever seen. He's slid into the closer role with zero issues, even with a rocky start to the year that included diminished velocity. He emerged as the closer of the future just last year after rising quickly (and unexpectedly) in the minors. He's why I was so happy (and eager) to let Papelbon go. There's no reason to have Papelbon on your team if you have Ken Giles.
Do you think Chase Utley will be traded? How is he playing now? What's his defense like?
Chase Utley probably won't be traded. The rumor is that Utley, who has 10-and-5 rights and a full no-trade clause, won't approve any deals. Which is, honestly, not just wonderful, but a huge relief. It's already hard enough watching Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels play somewhere else. Watching Utley play for someone else would be torture. Plus, it's really, really nice that he wants to stay. He's not an idiot -- he knows what this team is -- but that doesn't seem to matter to him. He's stated his preference to stay, and that's enough for me.
As for his defense, it's better now that he's healthy (just like his offense). But it's obvious to those who watch as many Phillies games as I do that Utley's lost a few steps from his peak. He's just not as fast or slick as he once was, which happens to every player (not to mention every human) as they age. He's still good, especially since the alternative is Cesar Hernandez. Hernandez, who has been filling in for Utley, is a utility guy who happened to get hot at the right time. He's not good anywhere else but at second, so calling him a utility guy is being generous. Calling him your starting second basement is... bad, so I'm expecting Utley to officially start outplaying Hernandez any day now, and for Hernandez to find himself on the bench more often. At least that's what I hope will happen. Hernandez isn't part of the future of this club in any meaningful way, so I'd rather see the best second baseman in franchise history play out the rest of his career actually playing, especially since the games mean next to nothing.
What September call ups are you expecting the Phillies to make?
I'm not expecting the Phillies to make any significant call-ups this September. The only meaningful player that could see time in the majors is pitcher Jesse Biddle. Biddle was drafted in 2010 and has had a rough, injury laden road thus far. Whooping cough, concussions from a hailstorm, and a "mental break" are just a few examples. That's why I'd love to see him get a call-up. He's a local Philadelphia kid who's had a couple of really tough years. But his numbers this year in AA and AAA have been less than inspiring. I don't want him to become that prospect who never sees the majors, so even if he's up for just a brief cup of coffee, it'll be worth it in this lost year of Phillies baseball.
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