St. Louis Cardinals against the National League: Philadelphia Phillies
Coming off of a MLB-worst 99-loss 2015 campaign, the Phillies again face an uphill battle in 2016, will face the St. Louis Cardinals seven times
This post kicks off a month-long series here at Redbird Rants that will break down each of the other 14 National League ball clubs in terms of what they lost, what they gained, what to expect from them in 2016, and the overall outlook of how they may impact the St. Louis Cardinals’ quest for a 12th World Series title.
It is my hope that this helps get us through the long month of February, and that it gives us a good Segway into Spring Training and back into baseball season. Beginning with the National League East, then tackling the West, and finally finishing with NL Central clubs, my goal is to break down each National League team the Cardinals will face in 2016 and to give a brief overview of what 2016 might look like for each club.
Without further ado, the Philadelphia Phillies.
2015 Record: 63-99
Notable Departures: SP Cliff Lee, SP Aaron Harang, OF Jeff Francoeur, RP Ken Giles
Notable Newcomers: RP Edward Mujica (minor league contract), SP Charlie Morton, RP David Hernandez, OF Peter Bourjos
Against St. Louis in 2016: 4 games May 2-5 @ STL, 3 games August 19-21 @PHI
The 2015 season had to test the patience of every baseball fan in the City of Brotherly Love. The Phillies finished with the worst record in baseball, and they still haven’t been able to rid themselves of the absolutely crippling Ryan Howard contract.
It was reported in May of 2015 that the Phillies would be willing to eat some $50 million, just to get Howard off of their books. If that doesn’t scream rebuilding, I don’t know what does.
The Phillies were at the bottom of baseball in virtually every statistical category in 2015. They finished second-to-last in runs allowed (809) and team ERA (4.69). They finished 27th in runs scored with 626 and their team batting average of .249 was 23rd in baseball. Their run differential of -183 was second-worst to only the Braves, who checked in at -187.
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You really can’t get much more rock-bottom than that. It is full on rebuilding time in Philadelphia. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that the Phillies were winning World Series titles and ruling the National League East. Clearly, times can change quickly in baseball, and there doesn’t appear to be any immediate relief in sight for the Philly fanatics.
The Phillies cleared the deck in terms of their Front Office, and they are said to be adopting new systems for a highly Sabermetric approach to roster development. Across the board, there are spots up for the taking both in the Philadelphia lineup and on their pitching staff.
With run prevention being an established model of success to follow, I would look for the Phillies to look to bolster their pitching first and foremost. The problem there, though, is that there is no established track record of any of their prospective starting pitching talent having any success at the Major League level.
Adam Morgan has had the most success, posting a 4.48 ERA over his first 15 MLB starts in 2015. After that, guys like Alec Asher, David Buchanan, and Severino Gonzales, who figure to be contenders for spots in their rotation, have all failed to post ERAs below 7.00 in games that they started at the Major League level.
There was some thought that the Phillies might show interest in the likes of Jason Heyward or Justin Upton for their outfield or guys like Mike Leake and Brett Anderson to give their rotation some legitimacy during 2015 free agency. All of those ideas came to pass, and the Phils seem destined to reside in the National League cellar once again in 2016.
Next: Cardinals Top 30 Prospects Series
My prediction is that the Cardinals win the season series by a count of 5-2, wining three of four in St. Louis and two of three in Philadelphia. I see the Phillies emptying out the Major League roster in the late-summer months and getting as many looks as possible at their players of tomorrow. 2016 will be a difficult but important year in terms of the future of the Phillies organization.