Over the past few days I’ve gotten to talk to Ethan Seidel, a staff writer at the Phillies blog That Ball’s Out of Here about the Phillies, who will be the Rays’ opponents over the weekend. Here’s what we talked about.
Robbie Knopf: 2012 has been a disaster for the Phillies as they sit in last place in the NL East. We know that the Phillies have been bombarded by injuries. What are the major factors in the Phillies’ debacle thus far this season? How much of their struggles if any was just from the fact that they are an old team with declining players?
Ethan Seidel: A lot of the Phillies problems are easy to see. They are missing key players to injury (Halladay, Utley, Howard), and many of their Vets have been having a down year (Rollins, Victorino, Polanco). Personally, i think the biggest cause for the teams last place standing is their casual demeanor entering the season. Without Utley and Howard the team brought the “stay afloat” attitude with them from Florida. Staying afloat can only get you so far, especially with a resurgent division. Utley may be back in a week or so, and Howard not far behind, but rest of the clubhouse will have to take more responsibility if they are going to crawl out of the cellar.
RK: What do you make of Cliff Lee‘s 0-3 record thus far in 2012? He hasn’t exactly been at his best, but a 3.48 ERA and a 3.26 FIP is still not too shabby. How does he still not have a win?
ES: It’s mind boggling that Cliff Lee is still winless. You’re right that he hasn’t been unhittable, but it’s not like the guy has lost that much from a year ago. Afterall, he pitched a 10 inning game this year (and lost) so some things can’t be put completely on his shoulders. Many fans in Philadelphia have come to believe this is Karma turning on him for taking less money when he signed with the Phillies. I don’t know if there is some great Capitalist Buddha out there wishing Lee ill on the mound, but at some point his luck has to turn.
RK: Cole Hamels has been the one Phillies starter with a winning record, currently holding a 10-3 record to go along with a 3.25 ERA and a 3.23 FIP. We have heard that extension talks have not progressed as of yet between the Phils and Hamels. What do you think the Phillies will do with Hamels with one year left on his current contract?
ES: This is the big question on every Phillies fan’s mind. My personal views on Hamel’s contract situation have degraded progressively since the start of the season. The offseason was the best chance to take care of business, but the Phillies brass decided to gamble and drag out negotiations. Different reports have the length and money being the core of the debate, but Hamels is driving up the price with each passing start. The Phillies don’t have a long history of locking up players during the season, so I expect Hamels to finish the year without a contract. The way Hamels has pitched Ruben Amaro Jr. will have to swallow his pride and pony up, because someone is going to offer Cole an offer he can’t refuse on the open market.
RK: What are your thoughts on the Freddy Galvis situation? How shocked were you when he tested positive for PEDs?
ES: I just as shocked as most fans were when the news broke. Galvis has been one of the few bright spots on the team this year (prior to his back injury) and the news of cheating came completely out of left field. Whatever the root cause, intentional or not, Galvis has taken full responsibility for breaking the rules taking the classy route. He seems like a good kid, and should use this as a learning experience, but i wouldn’t put him in the category of “juicer” just yet.
RK: What has gotten into Carlos Ruiz? He has been arguably the majors best all-around catcher in the big leagues this season. Any chance he can sustain anything remotely near the 1.003 OPS and 170 OPS+ he has now?
ES: Everyone has been waiting for Chooch to come back down to earth, or at least his career averages, but it still hasn’t happened. Ruiz has been the team MVP so far this year, and its almost incomprehensible to think where the team would be without him. He has always been a stellar backstop, calling games and blocking everything thrown at him, but his hitting has gone to ridiculous levels this season. It’s a shame Ruiz most likely won’t get voted in as the starter for the all-star game, despite a heavy push from the team. He isn’t quite yet the national name that Brian McCann and Yadier Molina are, but he has been by far the best all-around catcher in the NL this year.
Everyone at RCG would like to thank Ethan, and I also answered some questions for Ethan as part of this post here.