MLB Power Ranking: End of June 2016

In the first Power Rankings of the season back at the end of April, a surprising Philadelphia Phillies ball club was sitting in the #9 position. 
The club would continue to perform well over the next couple of weeks, leading to speculation that perhaps this would be a miracle season.
That miracle has disappeared, and the Fightin’ Phils are nowhere to be found as the team plummets towards the bottom of the MLB standings for a second consecutive season.
How long will it be until we are discussing the Phillies again as a legitimate contender, which is what you would have to consider every single team that you will find in the current TBOH Power Rankings of the Top 10 teams in Major League Baseball?
As of this ranking, we are almost exactly at the halfway point of the 2016 regular season. Three months are in the books, and the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ are now upon us. It will all lead up to a dramatic final month of September, and the Divisional and Wildcard playoff races.
Another highlight is change. Half the teams from my Memorial Day Top 10 have dropped off the list, though most are still close and were considered. 
The five new teams will have to fight to remain on the list, because any slippage and someone will be driving into their spot by the next time we check back in two weeks.
If your favorite ball club did not make this current TBOH Power Ranking, well, they may yet have a chance. 
But they had best get going, because the clubs who are on here have found a way to play and win consistently enough for a long enough stretch of the season to demonstrate that they are for real.
On the morning of June 30th, there are six teams within three games in the AL Wildcard race, and four teams within four games in the NL Wildcard race. 
All of those clubs have to believe they at least have a fighting chance at the postseason if they can make the right moves and/or get hot.
The 10-6 spots are presented in a countdown capsule format

just below. Click through the slideshow using the links at the bottom of each entry to view the teams coming at the 5th through the top spots.

One final note before we begin the countdown. Voting ends today for the starters in the MLB All-Star Game, so stop by and vote before 11:59pm on Thursday night, June 30th.

Here are the teams in my 10-6 slots at the end of June 2016:


10. MIAMI MARLINS: the 41-37 Fish have rolled into 2nd place in the NL East, 5.5 back of the division lead but in charge of the 2nd NL Wildcard berth. They are also becoming more consistent winners, having gone 9-6 since the last time they were just a game over .500 more than two weeks ago. However, they were knocked down a peg by the Detroit Tigers, who swept them in a two game Interleague series just concluded. I still put the Marlins on the list, and not the Tigers. We’ll see if that was a mistake as we move forward. The outfield trio of Giancarlo StantonMarcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich, all 26 and under, is one of the most exciting young groups in the game today. 1st baseman Justin Bour and 2nd baseman Derek Dietrich are proving they are for real as well. Jose Fernandez is back firing bullets as one of the best starting pitchers in the game, and closer A.J. Ramos has been lights-out.
9. TORONTO BLUE JAYS: the Jays were 9th on the Memorial Day TBOH Power Ranking, and remain in that spot. At 43-37 they are in 2nd place in the AL East, tied with the Boston Red Sox, but I still love their offensive attack more than that of their division rivals to the east, though the injury to Jose Bautista hurts, both literally and figuratively. Edwin EncarnacionJosh Donaldson, and Michael Saunders are still a daunting trio. If Troy Tulowitzki can get himself untracked, and they find another starting pitcher, they may take off up this list over the summer.
8. HOUSTON ASTROS: the ‘Stros, who won the AL Wildcard Game a year ago and then pushed the defending world champions to the limit in last year’s ALDS have not put together the type of season that many envisioned for this young up-n-comer. They sit a full nine games out in the AL West race as of this morning. However, Houston has gotten its collective act together, pulling within a half-game of a Wildcard berth, and thus makes the TBOH list for the first time this season. Just over a month ago, on Monday, May 23rd, the Astros had an off-day, and boy did they ever need it. The club was 17-28, and their season appeared to be over before it even began. Since then, Houston has rattled off an impressive 25 wins over their last 34 games, and now holds a 42-37 mark.
7. KANSAS CITY ROYALS: the Royals are the defending World Series champions, the two-time defending American League Pennant winners, and are that team who came back to bump off Houston in last year’s ALDS. They also face the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in a weekend series beginning on Friday night. For nearly a month, from April 16th through May 10th, the champs struggled mightily. After starting the season a hot 8-2, they lost 15 of their next 22 games. However, the Royals straightened their crowns and have won 11 of 17 to move within a half-game of an AL Wildcard berth. They had lost All-Star outfielder Alex Gordon for a lengthy absence due to injury, and now just as he returns, they just lost All-Star outfielderLorenzo Cain to another injury.
6. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: the Giants were in the #5 spot on the Memorial Day ranking, and they continue to lead the NL West by a half-dozen games with a 49-31 record. However, they have stumbled to lose three straight and four of their last five, with the only victory in that stretch as that walkoff win over the Phillies last Sunday. The Phils, one of baseball’s worst teams for a month at that point, very nearly went into the Bay area and swept the hosts. Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cuetoremain one of the best 1-2 starting pitching punches in the game, and Buster Poseyand Brandon Belt lead a veteran lineup. This should just be a temporary stumble, barring any major injuries.
READ ORIGINAL article at That Ball’s Outta Here for full story.

Phillies Minor Leaguers Receive All-Star Honors

The Philadelphia Phillies minor league system is greatly improved, and a number of the players have received invitations to All-Star games for their individual performances.

With the Major League Baseball All-Star Game just a couple of weeks away now, there has been some speculation as to who might represent the Phillies in the Mid-Summer Classic.
The way that things are currently unfolding for the team, it would appear that the two players with the best chance to represent the Phillies are center fielder Odubel Herrera and closer Jeanmar Gomez.
Whatever happens regarding the All-Star situation at the big league level, the improvement in both talent and competitiveness at the Phillies’ minor league level is now being rewarded with All-Star recognition for those players and prospects as well.

Three members of the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs just received notice that they have been selected for the AAA All-Star Game, which will be played on Wednesday, July 13th at BB&T Bank Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina and will be televised on the MLB Network.
IronPigs closer Edward Mujica, who has 10 years of big league experience, has 19 Saves. Despite some poor peripheral numbers, he has been selected to the game, joining catcher Andrew Knapp and outfielder Cam Perkins.
Two members of the AA Reading Fightin’ Phils squad, starting pitcher Ricardo Pinto and outfielder Dylan Cozens, have been selected to participate in the prestigious MLB All-Star Futures Game, which will be played on Sunday, July 10th at San Diego’s Petco Park.
The Fightin’ Phils are also expected to have at least a few players selected for the Eastern League All-Star Game to be played in Portland, Maine on July 15th. Fan voting ended on Sunday, and results are expected to be announced soon.
A full nine members of the Phillies High-A Clearwater Threshers affiliate were named to the Northern squad for the Florida State League All-Star Game, which was already held on Monday, June 20th at St. Lucie, Florida.
That large group of Threshers was made up of pitchers Tom Eshelman, Elniery Garcia, and Alexis Rivero, catcher Chase Numata, 1st baseman Zach Green, 2nd baseman Scott Kingery, 3rd baseman Mitch Walding, and outfielders Cord Sandberg and Carlos Tocci.
Eshelman got the start for the North in the FSL All-Star contest, which the North went on to win by a 1-0 score in a pitching dominated game. In one inning, he allowed no runs or hits, striking out one and walking one.
I knew coming in here we were going to be pretty good arms-wise, but I didn’t think we’d be that good,” Eshelman said per MiLB.com contributor Erin Brown. “It was definitely fun to be a part of and humbling since this was my first All-Star bid.
Three members of the Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws were invited to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, which was played on Thursday, June 23rd in Asheville, North Carolina.
Pitcher Luke Leftwich was added to the roster just ahead of the game, joining outfielder Jose Pujols and 2nd baseman Josh Tobias. The trio helped the North to a 2-1 victory in the contest.

Interview: Larry Shenk

The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits” is the second book from the former head of the Phils’ public relations department, Larry ‘the Baron’ Shenk.

Following on the heels of 2014’s “If These Walls Could Talk“, which took Phillies and all baseball fans inside the club’s locker room and behind the scenes for many pivotal moments in team history, this new effort makes the perfect companion piece.
This past week, I did a full review of “The Fightin’ Phillies“, and now will be presenting an interview with the author. 
I was privileged to have the opportunity to ask Mr. Shenk questions on a number of topics related to the book and his long history with the team.
This latest in my series of Phillies related interviews, and the first of 2016, covers a number of topics that should be of interest to any fan of those Fightin’ Phils.

As usual, will present it in a simple “Q&A” format.

MV: Let me start by saying that it’s an honor to interview someone who I consider a Phillies legend. Can you provide a little personal background information for fans and readers?
LS: I was born in Myerstown, PA and graduated from that high school and then Millersville University, where I majored in Education. I have a wife, Julie; daughter, Debi Mosel; son, Andy Shenk, and two grandchildren, Audrey and Tyler Shenk. Looking for a summer job while interviewing for a teaching position, was offered a full-time job with the Lebanon Daily News as a general reporter and sports writer on Friday nights. Decided to take the position over teaching. Became a Phillies fan in the early 1950’s.
MV: When and under what circumstances did you first come to the attention of the Phillies organization, and to actually become employed with the club?
LS: While at the Lebanon Daily News, the job as publicity director at the Phillies opened. I applied but didn’t get it. That was 1961. After the 1962 season, it opened again and I was again rejected. Wanting to write more sports and less general reporting, finally landed a job at the Wilmington News-Journal in January 1963 covering high school sports in the state of Delaware. That fall, the Phillies job opened once again. I applied and was offered the job on my first interview. A little concerned that the position opened three straight years but felt if I turned it down, I may never have another chance.
By Saam
Byrum ‘By’ Saam, Phillies radio/TV broadcaster in the mid-20th century
MV: Any specific individuals within the organization who were especially influential on your early career with the club?
LS: Broadcaster By Saam, Philadelphia Inquirer baseball writer Allen Lewis and Al Cartwright, sports editor in Wilmington.
MV: What was the impetus to write this specific book? What can fans expect to find different from 2014’s “If These Walls Could Talk“?
LS: Wanted to write a book that included Phillies history, topics that hadn’t been written  before. For example, we’ve lived through many pennant winners, but who were the 1915 Phillies? They were the first pennant winners in franchise history. The final chapter, ‘Behind the Scenes’, was the most enjoyable. Wanted to give fans a perspective of what goes on behind the scenes. Fans have heard about extended spring training and the rehab program, but wanted to paint a picture of what goes on in those two phases of the organization.
MV: What is your view of social media?
LS: Had a Twitter account a few years ago but discontinued it after a couple of years when porno images began to appear. Have been writing the ‘Phillies Insider’ blog since 2006. All of a sudden in March, the blog appeared on a Twitter account. I had no idea how it happened. I write everything myself and again try to come up with something different. Social media is overwhelming. I don’t have Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and the rest.
MV: The book is a tremendous collection of stories relating to Phillies history. So with that in mind, and my own beginnings in following the team in 1971 when they moved into Veteran’s Stadium, will start with a couple of questions relating to those days.
MV: Any interesting stories that maybe have not come out previously, but that you could share about the very early days as the team was first moving from Connie Mack Stadium into The Vet? The move itself, player reactions to the new place, your first reactions at being inside the completed Veteran’s Stadium in those first days?
LS: Between the two books, the interesting stories have been used. Everything at Connie Mack was antiquated: clubhouse, offices, fan amenities (if there were any), parking. So, Veteran’s Stadium was very much welcomed. It took the players a little while to get used to playing on Astro Turf as opposed to grass.
MV: Your book includes some items regarding the ‘Dead Ball Era’ days, such as the early no-hitters, as well as the members of the Wall of Fame. I have always found early Phils history interesting, and for a couple of years now have been championing the cause of 1910’s first baseman Fred Luderus for the Phillies Wall of Fame. Any thoughts on his candidacy and future possibilities of it happening? If solely relying on fan votes, will be tough.
LS: Fred is among a small handful of players who could be in the Wall of Fame. We’ve had him on the ballot as recently as 2009 but never received many votes so we removed him. We had discussed, about five years ago, adding a deceased player every five years. But we opted not to change. I’m out of the mix now with the Wall of Fame, so I don’t know if there will be any changes going forward.
MV: At this point, I am going to toss out 4-5 “big-ticket” issues of interest to our TBOH readers, issues that have developed in the game during your tenure with the Phillies. Would love some general commentary, your opinion on each of these topics.
MV: The Phillie Phanatic
LS: Being a purist, I wasn’t sure a mascot in baseball would succeed. Boy was I wrong. The Phanatic is the best in all sports.
MV: The NL vs AL ‘DH’ Debate
LS: Don’t like the DH but don’t like MLB playing under two different rules. One note on the DH: Phillies minor league pitchers don’t get to bat if they are playing an American League affiliate. That hurts their development, as they will have to bat when they reach the Majors.
MV: The Strike of 1994
LS: All strikes were terrible. Fortunately, the Phillies never laid off any front office employees, as compared to other clubs. Trying to play a Major League Baseball game with replacement players was one of the least intelligent decisions ever made in the game.
MV: The Steroid Era
LS: Steroids were a problem in all sports and society.
MV: Citizens Bank Park (the move, earliest impressions)
LS: During the planning stages of CBP we toured other new parks, including those being built. Couldn’t quite imagine what CBP would look like as a finished product. Had to wear construction boots and hard hats while CBP was being built. We claimed that the Center City skyline  could be seen from CBP. Sitting in the press box for the first game, I just couldn’t believe  a ballpark as beautiful as CBP existed in Philadelphia. I was so happy for the fans and front office staff. And there it was, the Center City skyline.

MV: The Current Phillies Rebuild
LS: We are on the right track, although lately the results have been poor. It is a process that will take time. Players get to the Majors, feel they belong, then question that they belong. Eventually succeed, know they belong, and then need to learn how to win at the Major League level. We experienced that process in 1950, 1980, and 2008.
MV: What does the future hold for Larry Shenk? Any thoughts of riding off into the sunset, or just going to plug away as long as the team will have you?
LS: I believe I am in the sunset (laughs). Bonnie Clark succeeded me in 2007. Then took over as VP of Alumni, and last fall officially and technically retired. Fortunate that I’m still active with the blog, Twitter, and alumni web page. Don’t play golf, climb mountains, can’t swim, and don’t collect Legos. My hobby is writing about my Phillies. Do believe I’ve written my last book, however.
Larry may indeed have written his last book. But even if that is so, the two that he has already produced are must-owns for any true Phillies fan.
An informative and engaging piece of Phillies history, “The Fightin’ Phillies” is worth your money, your time, and a place on your bookshelf or in your personal device library. Pick up a copy at the link at the top of this story.

Book Review: "The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball"

The next in my book reviews feature specifically deals with the Philadelphia Phillies and the 133-year history of the ball club.

No one alive today is more qualified to dig through that history and present it to the fans than the man who has been around to see more of it first-hand than anyone else, the former head of the Phillies’ public relations team, Larry ‘the Baron’ Shenk.

In his second book on the team, “The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits“, Shenk delivers by presenting story after story that will hold the interest of any true Phils fan.

Shenk has been a Phillies fan since his youth in the early 1950’s, when Baseball Hall of Famers Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts were leading the club in the post-Whiz Kids years.

Shenk first applied for a public relations job with the team in the same year that I was born, 1961, and eventually landed that position a couple of years later. We’ll explore more of his background in a separate interview piece coming soon.

The Fightin’ Phillies” is broken down into eight sections, with a foreword written by Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen in which the former player briefly covers his own career in the game
, including the Phillies 1993 NL Champions.

The first section, “Historic Performances”, covers everything from the very first Phillies game in history on May 1st, 1883, a 4-3 loss to the Providence Grays at Recreation Park, on through Cole Hamels‘ final Phillies start, the lefty’s no-hitter last season against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

In between there are stops along the way at ‘Grover Cleveland’ Pete Alexander‘s 16 shutouts in the 1916 season, Jim Konstanty‘s 1950 NL MVP campaign, Jim Bunning‘s 1964 Father’s Day perfect game, Pete Rose breaking Stan Musial‘s NL career hits record in 1981, Jim Thome‘s 400th career homer in Citizens Bank Park’s first season of 2004.

He blends in historic performances from all of the Phillies greats that you would expect in this chapter. The big games of Mike SchmidtRyan Howard, and Chase Utley. The fantastic pitching performances of Steve CarltonCurt SchillingTommy GreeneTerry Mulholland, and Roy Halladay.

Think you know everything about the Phillies? Okay, do you know who Roger McKee was, or what he did in a Phillies uniform on the final day of the 1943 season that is so historic? I had never heard of McKee before reading this book. After reading it, you’ll know as well.

In “1915 Phillies“, the book’s second section, Shenk leads you on a tour of that historic season in which the Phillies won their first-ever National League pennant and advanced to the World Series while introducing us to the entire roster.

A roster of only 23 players and a rookie manager etched their place in Phillies history by winning the franchise’s first National League pennant in 1915. The league’s most dominant pitcher and leading power hitter anchored the champions who started the season with an eight-game undefeated streak, a club record that still exists.” ~ Shenk

The book’s third section covers “Wall of Fame Legends” in which he briefly bios each of the 37 individuals enshrined out on Ashburn Alley, including Dick Allen.

Dick was a gifted athlete and quick and strong with great base-running instincts. While swinging a 42-ounce bat, he hit some of the longest homers in Connie Mack Stadium history.

The fourth section, “Phillies Potpourri”, contains brief write-ups on each of the players who have won the Cy Young Award, NL MVP, and NL Rookie of the Year while with the team. He introduces here the nine pairs of brothers who have played for the club, including Baseball Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty and his brother Tom Delahanty.

In that fourth section, Shenk, the Phillies’ official historian, treats us to his own “50th Anniversary Team”, selecting his favorites from the 1883-1933 years, not including any Hall of Famers or Wall of Famers. Included among them is right-handed pitcher Charlie Ferguson, who was kept from becoming one of baseball’s all-time greats only by the fickle finger of fate.

“Unbreakable Records” is the book’s fifth section where he lists such feats as Lefty O’Doul‘s 254 hits in 1929, Chuck Klein‘s NL record 158 runs scored and 170 RBI with the 1930 Phillies, Roberts’ 28 straight complete games over the 1952-53 seasons, Carlton’s 15-game win streak in 1972, and Howard’s 58 home runs in 2006, and many more feats, both good and bad.

The sixth section is “Spring Training Homes“, where Shenk takes fans back in time through the nine different states that have hosted the Phillies while the club was preparing for an upcoming season, beginning with Washington, North Carolina in 1902 on through Clearwater, Florida, which has hosted spring training since 1947.

In 1943, due to World War II travel restrictions, the club trained at Hershey, Pennsylvania under a rookie manager, Baseball Hall of Famer Bucky Harris.

Before the first workout, Harris laid out his rules: midnight curfew under penalty of $25, no horseplay, every hitter must sprint to first during batting practice, pitchers must shag fly balls, and no card playing for large stakes.”

In the book’s seventh section “Philadelphia Homes”, the author takes us through the five ballparks that have hosted the Phillies in the city, beginning with Recreation Park at Columbia Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets. It had dimensions of 300 feet to LF, 331 feet to CF, and 247 feet to RF. The final game there was held on October 9th, 1886, and the ballpark was demolished in 1890.

Last summer in my full-time profession, I had the opportunity to work for two weeks out in the area around this historic Phillies location, and searched at various times for the historic marker that I believed had to be in place to mark the location. There is none. Amazing.

The final section of this book just might be the best. “Behind the Scenes” takes fans, well, behind the scenes of the Phillies operation and ballpark. It gives us a description of the specific jobs that keep the show running, as well as some introductions to individuals who fill those positions.

Ever wonder how the club decides who will throw out a ceremonial first pitch or sing the National Anthem? Curious as to how Greg Luzinski operates his “Bull’s BBQ” joint? Who does all of the gorgeous Citizens Bank Park landscaping, sets up the team’s travel arrangements, feeds the team on game days, cleans the uniforms? It’s all here.

The Fightin’ Phillies” is the perfect book for any Phillies fan. At 294 pages, you can read it all in one sitting, or perhaps enjoy it even more and find it easy to follow if you just want to take a few pages at a time at your leisure. It is certainly a must for your home bookshelf or the reading files on your favorite device.

The Phillies Current Losing is Not a "Streak"

You are going to hear about the Phillies current seven game losing streak in news and sports broadcasts, and read about it on the internet.
You are also going to hear about how the Phils have now lost 11 of their last 12 games. 
But as bad as these two losing periods would be, the reality is that this is no losing streak.
No, what the Phillies are experiencing right now is a major, overdue course correction in their season that has taken them back to where the active roster talent level says they truly belong.
This was never going to be a contending team, despite the fact that a 4-3 win on Saturday, May 14th against the Cincinnati Reds lifted them seven games over the .500 mark at 24-17.
On that afternoon, for a brief few hours, the Phillies actually found themselves tied with the Washington Nationals for first place in the National League East Division.
The Phillies had not reached these heights since the start of June in 2012. Not the winning record and the place in the standings. For those you would have to reach back to the end of the 2011 regular season.
But the last time that Phillies fans could legitimately be excused for being fooled into thinking that their team was a real contender would have probably been on Friday, June 1st in that 2012 season.
Kyle Kendrick beat Mark Buehrle with the help of a Hunter Pence home run. Pence was joined by Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz with three-hit nights as the Phils downed the Fish by a 6-4 score.

On that night at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies were returning home to open a seven game homestand. They had just won five of seven on a tough road trip through Saint Louis and at the division rival New York Mets.

It was the streaking Phillies’ 7th win in 9 games, and raised them to a season-high three games over the .500 mark. They were in last place in the division, but were now just 2.5 games behind the leaders.
Fans not only saw the winning streak and the return towards the top of the division race, but were also comforted by the fact that their team had won the previous five consecutive NL East crowns.
That roster had a pitching rotation that was still fronted by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels. At that point, Jimmy Rollins was still a vital 33-year old who was in the midst of a 23-homer, 30-steal season.
Unfortunately, that was as close as that Phillies team would come. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were battling injuries, Halladay would end up with his own physical issues, and the team began to sink.
That Friday night win over Miami to reach their high-water mark would prove the only one in the homestand. They would lose the next six straight to the Marlins and Dodgers, and they were effectively out of it.
At the trade deadline, having sunk to 16.5 games out, they dealt away both Pence and Victorino, and the transformation of the once-mighty roster had begun.
In many ways, that transformation is still going on today, four years later. The two final pieces to that roster remain on the team today in Howard and Ruiz, though both are clearly in their final weeks of the mostly glorious Phillies portion of their careers.

The Phillies have used many of those players to bring in pieces of what they hope will be their next contending team. Pence brought back Tommy Joseph, and then there were the pieces brought back in the trades of Rollins, Hamels, and former closer Ken Giles.

But that next contending team is not here yet. The players who are manning the starting lineup positions at this time are clearly a majority of placeholder types, guys who will be no more than bench players, if that, for a contending team.
Shortstop Freddy Galvis, 2nd baseman Cesar Hernandez, catcher Cameron Rupp, and the corner outfielders, guys like Cody Asche, Peter Bourjos, and David Lough are included in that “placeholder” or backup group.
Their lack of real offensive talent while receiving major plate appearance totals is the primary reason that the Phillies cannot generate sustained offense.
The Phillies are last in Major League Baseball in runs scored, hits, doubles, and both batting average and on-base percentage. The team is 29th in both OPS, total bases, and slugging percentage, and is just 27th in home runs.
Where the Phillies offensive attack is concerned, there is no “there” there. It is non-existent. In fact, I should stop using the word “attack” when describing them. 
However, their lineup can certainly be described as “offensive”, at least to fans forced to watch by their love of the game and the team.
In general, teams across MLB are averaging just over four runs scored per game. That is an average, as in what they score MOST games. 
The Phillies have played 71 games after today’s 3-1 loss to Arizona. They have reached four runs just 26 times, or in fewer than 37% of their games.

So the Phillies cannot produce enough runs in roughly 2/3 of their games to even have a chance. They have scored two runs or fewer in 30 games, or more than 42% of the matchups. 

Quite simply, this team as currently constructed simply cannot compete.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the lengthy track records dating back through their Major League time and into their minor league experience to make any reasonable evaluator claim with any authenticity that these players can suddenly “turn it around” – there is nothing to turn around. They are what they are.
So what is a fan to do? The answer is simple. Forget about that hot five-week stretch, and get realistic. Remember what this season was supposed to be all about when it all began.
Most prognosticators picked this Phillies team to once again challenge for the bottom of the MLB overall standings. That is proving true, as there are now just five teams who still have a worse record than the Phils’ 30-41 mark.
What we wanted to see as this season unfolded was the eventual emergence of a few of the top prospects from the minor leagues, and to see those prospects succeeding while they were still down on the farm.
We also hoped for a chance to say goodbye to Howard and Ruiz, two genuine heroes from a world championship team, perhaps with their riding off into the sunset of one final shot at another crown with trades to contending teams.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we wanted to see the young players who were already here establish themselves as foundational for that future contention. Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, and perhaps even Jerad Eickhoff.
That has proven a mixed bag. Herrera has largely been fabulous. ‘El Torito’ is hitting .302 with a .400 on-base percentage, is tied for third on the team with seven home runs, and leads the club with both 36 runs scored and nine stolen bases. He has been the good part of the mixed bag.
Franco has been the bad part. He has shown power, leading the team with 11 longballs and 33 RBI. But he is struggling mightily to put together consistent at-bats, and has just a .236/.281/.409 slash line. Those numbers are simply unacceptable for a player of his talent level.
The two pitchers have been up and down, but are clearly the two most consistent starting pitchers on the team.
Nola is 5-6 with a 3.51 ERA, and has allowed 77 hits in 84.2 innings with a 93/19 K:BB ratio. Eickhoff is 4-9 with a 3.49 ERA, having yielded 83 hits over 85 innings with a 73/20 K:BB ratio.
What do we have in arms like Vincent Velasquez and Hector Neris? These are pitchers who clearly can be dominant, but who also have gone through long bouts with inconsistency. The jury is still out for me, but I do like the talent, and very often, genuine talent will prove out in the long haul.
On the mound, Adam Morgan has clearly shown that he is not a big league starting pitcher. I don’t believe that he is even a viable 5th starter, certainly not on a contending team.
And after all, that is what we are looking for at this point, no? We are done with mediocre players who are helping the Phillies tread water until the top prospects come and begin building towards winning.
What we Phillies fans are looking for is the arrival of those players: J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Roman Quinn and others in the lineup, Jake Thompson and others in the rotation.
When these players arrive in bulk, then we will have something of interest to watch. Until then, enjoy Phillies baseball because you like the game. But lower your expectations, and don’t allow anyone to sell you a bill of goods.
This is not a simple losing streak. It is a major course correction towards the bottom of the MLB standings for the 2016 Phillies. 
They are not likely to continue losing at quite this poor a pace, but lose more than win, they will. Until that roster changes in bulk.