The Big Piece Cometh

Screen Shot 2012-07-06 at 8.54.39 AMPhoto: Getty

After last night’s horrifying loss to the Mets, Ruben Amaro announced it was likely Ryan Howard would return tonight.

Who versus? Who are we doing it versus?

The Braves.

Will Howard’s return be enough to save the Phillies’ season? Probably not. But The Big Piece did play well during his rehab assignment. He went 2-for-3 last night with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and 10-for-20 with a home run and 10 RBIs in seven games with Single-A Lakewood. 

While that’s hardly an adequate sample size, clearly Howard can swing the bat and even at, say, 80% is undoubtedly better than the nonsense that has taken his place this season. His return is probably too little, too late, however. The Phillies are currently 37-47– 13 games out in the NL East. What’s worse, they are 8.5 games back of the Wild Card with six teams ahead of them for the newly-added second Wild Card spot. 

The Phillies finished the first half of play 10 games under .500 (where they still stand after 84 games). If they were able to reverse that performance in the second half, playing 10 games over .500, they would, obviously, finish 82-82 81-81. That still wouldn’t be good enough to make the playoffs. Based on the past few seasons, the Phils would need a minimum of 88 wins to have a shot at the second Wild Card spot, meaning they would need to go 52-28 in the second half, or, 51-27 the rest of the way.

For me, the only way that’s even a remote possibility is if Roy Halladay returns soon and is able to be the pitcher we expect him to be. And, for the love of God (this is more a plea than a statement), if the Phils could assemble the top of their rotation with some combination of Halladay, Lee and Hamels. They are three of the best pitchers in the league, and I never understood why Charlie started the year off with them out of order, simply so Hamels could start the home opener. Obviously, the rotation has nothing to do with the outcome of individual games, but there’s something about a team coming into town knowing they have to face those three guys on consecutive days. It’s a cumulative, mental, intangible edge – whatever you want to call it – that works in the Phillies’ favor. SABR nerds may scoff at that notion, but normal human beings (like yourself) can probably understand the draining effect it has on opposing teams. And right now, the Phillies need every advantage they can get.

Having Ryan Howard as their cleanup hitter is a big one. But are they rushing him back?

The All-Star break begins in three days. It’s puzzling that the Phils would bring Howard back now instead of allowing him an extra five days of rest and relaxed rehab starts. Maybe Amaro wants to see how much The Big Piece can contribute, so he can get a better feel for the Phillies’ chances, but given the way the team has mis-managed the shit out of injuries over the past few seasons, you would think they’d err on the side of caution and wait until after the break to bring Howard back. 

Anyway, they’re not, and it sounds like Howard will be in the lineup tonight. We’ll see if it matters.

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28 Responses

  1. Wow, rotation order? Talk about splitting hairs.
    If you’re going to call out Manuel, maybe he should be called out for using Papelbon needlessly in the previous game. The Phils had a 7-run lead. Manuel doesn’t know how to use his best reliever in the most important spots. There is probably more credence to the idea that Papelbon was “tired”.
    Then again, when you don’t get the result you want, every decision looks bad. The fact that the Phils have been decimated by injuries, the made horrible signings in the off-season, and make terrible in-game decisions have all worked together to form this disaster. That’s failure on the field, in the dugout, and in the front office. The absurdity of splitting hairs at this point should be readily apparent.

  2. Hard to have a winning team when you have so much money tied up into a handful of players…. Howard, Lee, Papelbon, halladay, Chase, hunter, cole, rollins, we have more then most teams TOTAL payroll tied up to these 8 players, 124 million per baseball reference…..and dont get me wrong i LOVE most of these guys, but the problem starts at the top, Ruben needs to go. He is the mike vick of GMs, always good for that highlight reel blockbuster move, but can do the little things necessary to win!

  3. and that should be ****cant do the little things necessary to win*****

  4. season is over…..time to move on
    in fact last night will go down as the evening that the NL east torch was passed from the phillies to the nationals
    nats score two in the bottom of the ninth to win and the phils gave up two in the bottom of the ninth to lose
    best era of phils baseball and they got their title (even if it should have been two) but its all over…
    time to rebuild and the sooner everyone realizes this the better off we will all be

  5. Blanton and Worley still have to start 2 out of 5 games, so what does it matter if the big 3 are out of order?
    Season is def over, but lets not blow things out of proportion. The NL is weak. If the Phils bring back Hamels, Lee, Doc, Pap, 100% Howard, Pence, Rollins, Utley, and Cooch they are still very much a contender next year.

  6. “Who versus? Who are we doing it versus?” seriously?? Lol feels like you’ve been trying way to hard to be funny lately.

  7. I hope for his health they aren’t bringing him up to early and he re-injures his leg and is out for good.
    I think last nights lose hurt the worst. How many weeks do they have before the gas is thrown and the match is lit?

  8. I guess when Halladay comes back, HE will be the one to save the season.
    It’s over ladies and gentleman. The dark days of CBP are upon us.

  9. Oh well that’s my mistake then. I don’t watch always sunny. Wasn’t trying to troll just like your posts with more content and information.

  10. the doomsdayers above sayign the era is over, dark days of CBP are completely, pathetic losers. get a brain and stop being northeast philly extremist fans. the phillies will not sell, they are a high payroll team. those teams never sell, no matter how bad the season is. when the yanks and bosox dont make the playofs, do they sell? no, they dont. becuase the game is differnet for the haves and have nots in baseball. the haves develop farm hands and ship them off for studs, then add on via free agency with their mighty payrolls. the have nots in baseball, develop talent, keep them until their deals are up and ship them for prospects and the cycle starts again
    the phillies season is likely lost because of a dearth of injuries, bad managing and bad luck. even with hamels likely gone next year, they will still be a top 5 team in the nl as long as everyone is relatively healthy.
    god you northeast fans are the worst. go back to the 200 level at teh wells fargo and keep calling for fights and for the flyres to “SHOOT ITTT” during power plays….fucking losers

  11. the bottom 9 was the epitome of the Phillies 2012 –
    The Mets did everything the Phillies haven’t been able to do all FUCKING season
    1) work counts
    2) move runners
    3) scrap
    4) turn losses into wins
    Papelbon faced 7 hitters – he got 2 outs and 1 was a sac bunt – who kow how long that inning would have lasted
    He couldn’t throw a FUCKING strike to a .222 hitter with 33 pro games under his belt
    and Juan Samual needs to be killed – not fired – killed – the left fielder had the ball in his glove and was charging from a shallow position and Fontenot had not reached third – and he sent him to the gallows – and that took the bat out of jimmy’s hands
    injuries – BULLSHIT – this asshole team and coaches have just lost game after FUCKING game with just bad baseball – shit execution – an inability to get prodcutive outs – can’t move runners – fisrt-pitch pop-ups
    they FUCKING suck
    and PENCE – nice effort on that bloop by Wright – it was CATCH IT OR LOSE – and you FUCKING – shirt armed it
    FOR WHO ? FOR WHAT ?

  12. Regarding the move to put Ryan in the lineup tonight, mere days before the All-Star break which would afford him more time to rest, Angelo Cataldi spent practically his entire show giving his reason for this decision—-PANIC! If the Phils won last night, Ryan stays put until after the break. The season is thisclose to being lost anyway, why rush Howard back now? Other than a kneejerk reaction to last night’s debacle, I can’t think of any other reason, plausible or not.

  13. Juan Samuel is the root of all their problems. He sends runners when he shouldn’t he holds runners when he should send them. He usually fucks up by holding them – after all how often do you really see the Phils out at the plate? He was great as a player but that means shit as far as being a coach. Get his stupid ass out of there and get a decent base coach and things will right themselves. And as far as base coaches go they let Davey Lopes go because he wanted a hundred grand a year. A hundred grand? They spend that on bobble heads alone. Fucking cheap boobs. Know what matters – people who can make on-the-field decisions.

  14. Oh, yeah! As for Pence, I’d say the city’s love affair with Mr. “Let’s Go Eat” is dead like Andy Grifith. He’s been a butcher in the field (as evidenced by what happened last night) and has next to no discipline at the plate. His first at-bat against R.A. Dickey who was clearly scuffling was proof of that, instead of working a walk like J-Roll had done, Pence swings at the very first pitch and is out. Damned aggravating! Right now, if the Phils go into fire sale mode, I won’t shed any tears if Pence is among the first players out the door.

  15. TNR – How has being one of the “haves” worked out for them recently? (since 2009)
    If you recall, the MAJOR pieces of the 2008 WFCs were all homegrown/brought up thru the Phillies minor league system, not BOUGHT later in their careers. (Howard, Utley, Werth, Victorino, Ruiz, Burrell, and of course Hamels)
    That team in ’08 did not have the #2 payroll in baseball like they do now. The phillies of the early/mid 2000’s were “HAVE NOTS”, and year by year they just got a little bit better with the YOUNG CORE.
    I think what people are overreacting about is the aging roster, poor play and obviously being in the basement of the NL East.
    Division championships and WFC’s don’t happen overnight, and the next few years of how they REBUILD will determine their success later this decade.
    If you want to call the Phillies “the Yankees of the NL”, that’s fine and all, but if you recall the past decade (esp. the mid 2000’s) wasnt that great for the Bronx bombers, and I see something similar happening to the Philles in the coming years.

  16. the Yanks went from 2001 to 2008 without winning a WS.

  17. the biggest problem the Phils need to address are our pussy fans.
    shut up, fill the seats and watch some baseball. when you make watching sports all about winning, you’re bound to be a loser

  18. Look at this team. They are a mess. Do they get a pass if they go out & get the right people & win the division next year, sure. But fact is they are NOT making the playoffs this year… they have a huge problem with NOT resigning Hamels… and quite a few holes to fill, see: 3B, CF, LF, and prolly 2B. And, as pointed out above, they have a shit ton of money tied up in a handful of players & a bullpen (minus Papelbon) that needs a total overhaul. Good luck trying to sort that out Rube.

  19. lol… wow… Yankees were in the playoffs all those years. That’s not failure in baseball when winning a championship is dependent on the crapshoot that is baseball playoffs.

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