Inside Look: Philadelphia Phillies II

Philadelphia Phillies baseball capWith the Mets holding a fragile three-game lead over the second-place Phillies, this weekend’s four-games in Philadelphia is the most important series for both teams so far this year.

Chase Utley and Co. swept the Mets in four games at Shea in the last meeing between the two teams, but the Phillies’ squad has changed quite a bit since then, as their pitching staff has been decimated by injuries.

We’ve called on David Cohen of The Good Phight, who was kind enough to join us again and give us the backstory on all these new Philly Phaces.

1. Durbin, Happ, Kendrick. Who the heck are these guys, what are their main weapons, and what do you expect from them?

The Phillies have a pretty weak farm system, especially at the higher levels. JA Happ has the highest upside of these three, I believe, but he’s had injury and control problems this year. The team’s best prospects are lower in the system, so they couldn’t be called up. We’re just all hoping for the proverbial lightning in a bottle right now.

2. Speaking of who’s who, who is Greg Dobbs and why should we care?

Dobbs is another player Gillick acquired who used to play with one of Gillick’s old teams (this time the Mariners). He had promise, but never got much of a chance. He’s getting more now and is showing some great hitting ability against righties. Against lefties, on the other hand …

3. I hate to be so ignorant about the Phillies roster, but you can’t tell these guys without a scorecard. The Bourn Identity, please?

Bourn is a solid prospect. He was a 4th round draftpick in 2003 for the Phils, in one of the years they didn’t have any first- or second-round picks (so he was the Phils’ 2nd pick that year). He has speed, pretty good strikezone judgment, and is a great fielder. He’ll never hit for much power, but he could project to be a decent major league center fielder.

4. Ah, finally, someone we recognize — Jose Mesa. Just what in tarnation is he doing on the Philadelphia roster, and what is your personal opinion / analysis of his place on the team?

Pat Gillick was on crack the day he signed Mesa and his 12+ ERA. There’s no other explanation.

5. With the Mets faltering, the month of June was ripe for the Phillies to play catch-up. Unfortunately, the Phillies had to play American League teams too. How would you summarize their last 2-3 weeks?

Great hitting; inconsistent pitching. (But that’s been the summary of the past few years for the team.) That, and some really tough injuries to the starting rotation, with Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber both probably out for the year.

6. A repeat of a four-game sweep puts the Phillies in Phirst. What do you think are the chances, and what are the keys to such an occurrence?

It’s all about pitching for the Phils. They have the best offense in the NL. Their pitching is one of the NL’s worst. If they get good starting pitching, they win. If they don’t and have to rely on their offense winning a slugfest, they can certainly win, but not consistently.

7. Pat Burrell’s average is now nearing the Mendoza Line, yet he still hasn’t been shot. Is it time to hire a more efficient assassin (or is that Bourn?) ?

Hasn’t been shot? Well, it’s pretty much the baseball equivalent. The Phils have started him in 1 of the last 10 games. For a guy making $13M+ this year, that’s pretty much death.

8. Jayson Werth is finally back. Will he have any impact on this weekend?

None whatsoever. He was placed on the 15-day DL yesterday.

9. Any surprises / sleepers to watch out for this series ?

We’ve already talked about Dobbs. Against righties, watch out. Carlos Ruiz dominates at home (.952 OPS at home; .553 away), so watch him as well.

10. With Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, and Rowand, the Phillies may have the most dangerous and productive one-through-five in the NL. Can they carry the team? What is their collective vulnerability (if there is one) ?

If only some of those five could pitch, the team would be fine. Let’s be honest – their collective vulnerability is the pitching staff. They hit slightly worse against left handed pitching (55 point lower team OPS against lefties), but even so, the offense is not this team’s vulnerability. The pitching is.

Thanks again to David, and be sure to check out The Good Phight phor more inphormation on the Phillies.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.