22-36 (5th place, NL Central)
30-30 (2nd place, NL East)
|Game 1||Wily Peralta (4-6, 5.94)||vs.||Tyler Cloyd (1-2, 4.76)|
|vs. Phillies||(1-0, 2.57)||vs.||(0-1, 2.57)|
|vs. Phillies||(0-0, 0.00)||vs. Brewers||(1-0, 3.52)|
||vs. Brewers||(0-0, ---)
|vs. Phillies||(0-0, ---)
||vs. Brewers||(0-0, ---)
BCB: The Phillies won on Wednesday and come to Milwaukee right at .500 through 60 games. How does this compare to what you expected coming in?
TGP: Honestly, this is what I really wanted. My worry was that they'd be revoltingly terrible. And there have been some moments where they lived up to that. But a .500 record is something to build on. A .500 record isn't tragic, regardless of how many tries it took them to get there. (It took them a lot of times. A lot.) Of course, it could be better. They've missed some chances, coughed up some leads, played some shockingly stupid baseball. But even through that, they've managed to keep treading water. I'm happy they're at .500 -- truly! Not just because it could be so very much worse!
TGP: The future looks like this:
If you ignore grandpa Kratz and drunken uncle Humberto, what you see are a lot of fresh young faces. Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Domonic Brown, Kyle Kendrick, Michael Stutes, Ben Revere -- all of them are talented and under 30. With the exception of Kendrick, all of them are 25 or younger. The Phillies have some issues in their farm system -- trading everyone to the Astros may not have been the best long term strategy -- but the good news is that not everyone in the Phillies system is crotchety and/or untalented. Domonic Brown is the kind of player you can build a team around, and it's nice that everyone else is finally realizing that's true. And not everyone has been traded to the Astros. Shipping bug-eyed Hunter Pence to the Giants netted Tommy Joseph, the catcher of the future. Roman Quinn is lightning fast. And hometown boy Jesse Biddle gets me genuinely excited about what the future holds.
BCB: Despite being one of those elder statesmen mentioned above, Cliff Lee is one of the NL's best pitchers again this season. Is there reason to believe he'll stay this effective into his mid-to-late 30's?
TGP: I feel like pitchers who are smart, who can adapt to the changes in their bodies as they age, those are the ones that can really stretch themselves out and continue to be effective as they leave their "prime". Cliff Lee, King of the Strikeouts, is still a rather recent development if you look at his career as a whole. Between the beginning of his major league career (2002) and 2008 (the year before he was traded to the Phillies), his K/9 was 6.7 and his K/BB was 2.49. From 2009 to now? His K/9 is 8.2 and his K/BB is 6.15. That's drastic. And you can see it in 2009 itself, too. His K/9 and K/BB jumped dramatically when he left Cleveland for Philadelphia. A pitcher's ability to change the way he pitches is so valuable, and if Cliff Lee did it once, I feel like he could do it again if he needed to. I've always thought that Cliff Lee would be one of those guys who is still effective at 38-39-40, reinventing himself as the situation requires.
BCB: Entering the season there were rumors that Charlie Manuel might be on the hot seat. Is a .500 season enough for him to keep his job as manager?
TGP: Charlie Manuel is not in danger of losing his job midseason. He's the most successful manager they've had in decades, and he presided over a mind-blowingly successful stretch of baseball (the last 18 months notwithstanding). He's in the last year of his contract, and the Phillies didn't renew it this offseason. If they wanted to fire him, going from 102 wins in 2011 to 81 in 2012 was reason enough. There isn't anything happening this season that the front office didn't expect after last year's results. I think they may be ready to move on once the season is over -- Ryne Sandberg is waiting in the wings, after all -- but a managerial change now wouldn't do any good. Hell, Larry Bowa was a lot worse than Charlie Manuel and even he wasn't fired midseason. They canned him with two games left in the 2004 season.
BCB: How do you define success for this team the rest of the way?
TGP: The pessimist in me believes that success for the Phillies the rest of the way would be not sucking. If they could finish the season with a .500 record, I'd like to think I'd be ok with that. They stuck Delmon Young in right field, for God's sake. But I'm not sure that's actually success. My expectation for them coming into the season was a .500 record, but I feel like they're capable of more. I want them to have a winning record. I want them to make a serious run for the Wild Card. Whether they get there is immaterial. I want them to defy my expectations. For me, that would be success.
Thanks to Liz for taking the time, and check out The Good Phight for more on the Phillies!