Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Phils Report: Michael Young keeps rolling-one base hit at a time

The Phils apparently won 7-2 tonight against the lowly Marlins bringing their record to an unremarkable 22-24.  So far the season has gone about how I expected it would.  At best this team is a few games over .500, and that's with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels turning it around which is far from a sure thing.  For the first time in a few years, I've changed the way I look at this team.  In a way, being a mediocre team lets you enjoy the smaller things, without sweating the standings or staying up to hope Tim Hudson gets lit up on a Braves west coast road trip.  Here are a couple thoughts on the season as it stands now:

1) The Michael Young experiment is still on track.  Last year he recorded -2.0 wins above replacement, the worst in the majors, and his contract with the Rangers was largely seen as dead money.  Even with a lousy third basemen free agency class, I was miffed by General Manager Ruben Amaro's decision to bring Young in.  Young is hitting .296 and his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is not immensely more fortunate than his past seasons.  He's brutal in the field, and probably still not worth the money, but it's nice to see someone on this team other than Chase Utley who can take a walk and isn't flirting with the Mendoza line.

2) The Ryan Howard contract is still awful.  Howard had one of the most foreseeable declines in the Major Leagues.  His OPS has dropped every year since his first full season except a brief uptick in 2009, long before Howard was given his 5 yr/125 million deal, and two years before his free agency.  I feel like in an alternative universe the team lets Howard go at his free agency in 2011, and makes due with a string of discounted, but productive veteran types like Lance Berkman and Adam LaRoche who provide more production than Howard has, and give the Phils some room in their budget to sign relievers and real starting outfielders instead of playing John Mayberry Jr., Lance Nyx, and Delmon Young for 1500 ABs a year.

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