Regular Season Record: 89-73
First in the NL East.
Eliminated in the NLDS to the Rockies in three games.
Home Runs: Ryan Howard 47
Average: Chase Utley .332
RBI: Ryan Howard 136
Runs: Jimmy Rollins 139
Steals: Jimmy Rollins 41
Wins: Cole Hamels 15
ERA: Cole Hamels 3.39
Strikeouts: Cole Hamels 177
Saves: Brett Myers 21
Highlight of the season: Winning the NL East on the very last day of the season and passing the stumbling New York Mets to advance into the playoffs. They dominated the New Yorkers the six weeks of the season.
Low point of the season: Getting swept in three games by the Colorado Rockies, who outpitched, outslugged and outplayed the Phillies both at home and on the road. The battering at home was particularly rough.
Best move of the season: Picking up Tadahito Iguchi from the White Sox just two days after Chase Utley broke his right hand on July 26th. Iguchi was not quite brilliant, but he was as good as you could have hoped – hitting .304, with 3 home runs, 12 RBIs, 22 runs scored and 6 stolen bases in 138 plate appearances. Many of those hits were key hits – and the brought the Phillies an extra game or two which made the difference in allowing them to win the division.
Worst move of the season: This one is a tossup between the signing of Adam Eaton 10-10 with a 6.29 ERA and 1.63 WHIP, or the acquisition of Freddy Garcia 1-5 5.90 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. Neither signing helped this team very much this season although Eaton’s 10 wins do count in his favor. Garcia cost the team $10 for that single win and probably won’t be back with the Phils in 2008.
Key Player: Jimmy Rollins. This one was a tough call but Chase Utley lost more than a month with a broken hand and Ryan Howard hit just .268 to go with his 47 home runs. Rollins led the Phils in Runs scored (139), steals (41), Hits (212), and total bases (.380). He was a legitimate Most Valuable Player candidate and was the key man in setting up the Phillies offense the whole year. His .296-30-94 with 38 doubles and 20 triples didn’t hurt either.
Up and Coming Player: Cole Hamels: Hamels is already the staff ace but at 23 he still has a ton of growing up to do. In just his second year in the bigs he racked up 15 wins (to go with the 9 from his rookie season), 177 Ks, and posted a 3.39 ERA. He was dominant in most of his starts and provided the only bit of stability in the entire rotation.
While Hamels is already Philadelphia’s ace he has the ability to develop into a truly elite pitcher. His stuff is nasty and he’s not afraid to throw anything in a tight situation. Getting beaten by the Rockies in game one of the NLDS will be a growing experience for him, but it could dent his confidence a bit. Still the odds are he’ll be nothing but better in 2008.
What went right: The Phillies had the most potent offense of any team in the National League and second in the Majors behind only the New York Yankees. That offense carried them from game to game and overcame a significant weakness in pitching. The team was second overall in Home Runs – lead by Ryan Howard who put another 47 balls in the seats.
But it wasn’t just Howard and the long ball which propelled the Phillies. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell and Shane Victorino all contributed every step of the way.
There was some pitching too, but the highlights were the two youngsters who the Phillies will build their staff around – closer Brett Myers who managed 27 saves in 51 appearances and Cole Hamels who was written about above. Other promising arms include the young Ryan Madson and Kyle Kendricks.
What went wrong: The Phillies never managed to really build a starting staff which could be relied on. Philadelphia had one of the worst team ERAs in the Majors. Their 4.73 ERA ranked better than only than the Pirates, Reds and Marlins. The majority of that blame fell on their starters – outside of Cole Hamels and Kyle Hendrick the rest of the starters, Jamie Moyer (5.01 ERA), Adam Eaton (6.29 ERA), Freddy Garcia (5.90 ERA), and Kyle Lohse (4.72 ERA) were pretty much dreadful.
And in truth many of the relievers were pretty awful too.
Offseason Preview: The Phillies have a very strong offensive core, and now they need to find a way to address the pitching issues. The Free Agent market isn’t likely to offer large rewards although several decent pitchers, including Curt Schilling are available. The question is if ownership is willing to let the Phillies spend some money on pitching to chase those players who’ll command big dollars and multi year contracts – especially since pretty much all of the pitchers available are risky investments.
It’s likely that the Phils, and most other teams will focus on relief pitching instead of gambling big on questionable starters. But the Phillies playoff appearance and shedding Freddy Garcia’s $10 million contract will open the door for a gamble or two.
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