The 2012 Philadelphia Phillies have been defined by injuries, inconsistency, and unmet expectations. At times, they have looked more like the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and less like the team that won 5 straight NL East crowns. Though as of today the Phillies sit 12 games out of a Wild Card and look closer to making tee times then to making a St. Louis Cardinals-like run into the postseason, there have been some positives to take from the past few weeks of post trade deadline baseball.
1. The return of Roy Halladay……As Roy Halladay. After a way below average injury plagued, velocity lost, first half for Roy Halladay, he has returned as the pitcher who the Phillies NEED to have moving forward. His last 3 starts he has looked dominant again, working the strike zone, and rediscovering his Cy Young level performance. 21 Innings pitched, 4 ER, with a K/BB ratio of 20/2. His velocity is back in the range it needs to be, and most importantly he seems to have movement and command of ALL of his pitches. If the Phillies can move forward with a healthy Roy Halladay going into 2013 along with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, they can certainly expect anything but another sub par repeat performance from their pitching staff.
2. Domonic Brown refined and Improved. When Dom Brown arrived on the big league scene with the Phillies in 2010, he was considered not only the Phillies best prospect, but as one of the most talented prospects in all of baseball. Many coined him as, “The next Darryl Strawberry or Ellis Burks,” but somewhere between a team with world series expectations, a missed fly ball, and a raw baseball player not ready to immediately produce on winning club Dom Brown fell out of favor by 2011. His poor outfield play along with signs of focus issues led many by the end of the 2011 season to wonder of Brown would ever find his way back to Philadelphia again. A half a season later, a more polished and focused Brown came up to the Phillies with the chance to play everyday and he hasn’t done anything but impress. His swing which at times last season looked longer than a line at Walmart on Black Friday is much improved. Along with that, his approach and ability to have a productive at bat is something that has been a breath of fresh air to the Phillies, especially in light of the the usual Victorino, Rollins, Pence at bats we have grown accustomed to. Brown has also showed a huge improvement in the Outfield, and his further development of routes combined with a excellent arm project him to be at least a solid Major League Outfielder. To project Dom Brown as anything or comparable to anyone for the future is difficult based on his history, but he has at the least proved to the Phillies to this point that he can be a stable, cheap under control piece of their Outfield for years to come.
3. The future “Bench Marks” of 2013…..Erik Kratz & Kevin Frandsen?
Yes, Kevin Frandsen and Erik Kratz are proving themselves as quite valuable to the Phillies not just for this season, but even for next. The challenge for Ruben Amaro JR is finding cheap, solid, pieces that can fill out the bench and bullpen for 2013, and Frandsen & Kratz fit that bill. Kratz has always been a guy seen by most clubs as a Triple A to 4A catcher with a good rapport with pitchers and an occasional power supply offensively, but he has shown the ability this season for the Phillies to be a nice backup catcher who can spell Carlos Ruiz a break in 2013. He also has enough power to warrant at bats off the bench in certain pinch hit situations. Frandsen on the other hand has played in 12 straight games at 3B for the Phillies, and has displayed solid defensive play and a way above .300 average from the 2 hole, 7 spot, and 8 spot in the lineup. Personally, I don’t think Frandsen is someone the Phillies could look to as their 3B solution for 2013, but as an option as a versatile bench player? Sure. He could be a good situational pinch hitter who can bunt/ move runners over while also spelling a day off for Utley, or next years 3rd baseman. The value of having cheap guys such as Kratz and Frandsen in 2013 could be the financial difference between the Phillies having the extra cash for the bullpen piece they have missed duringthis season.