Phillies: Expert says don’t push panic button

Prior to the season, Metro spent some time with former Phillies closer Mitch Williams to ask about the 2012 season. The MLB analyst forecasted a sunny, 100-plus win season with the Phillies going deep into the playoffs.

Well, halfway through June, the Phillies are in last place and have huge flaws. So it was time to bring back Williams to ask a few questions about the remainder of the season.

Is all hope lost for the Phillies and the 2012 season?

No. There is always hope, especially for the Phillies. Remember the Phillies were seven games out with less than 17 to play in 2007 and they came back. There is a lot more baseball than that left in this season. They need to find a way to win until the reinforcements come in.

That being said, this team just hasn’t looked very good.

I agree. Actually, it could be worse for the Phillies. I’m shocked that they’re only 10 games back [in the loss column] considering how badly they’ve played. There are reasons why they have played so poorly and why they can pick it up.

Some have said that Ryan Howard is overpaid and could easily be replaced. Thoughts?

The people that have said that don’t know baseball. You take Ryan Howard out of that lineup and it’s completely different. People complain about his strikeouts, but I don’t care about that. I think batting average is the most overrated stat in baseball. I look at run production. Howard has averaged over 130 runs batted in during his career. You don’t replace that. Pitchers pitch differently when he’s out of the lineup. They’re not going to let Hunter Pence beat them.

Why did Charlie Manuel pull the plug on John Mayberry Jr. so soon?

I don’t know. I love Charlie to death, but how do you not play Mayberry everyday at first base? He hit 15 homers and drove in 49 runs in a platoon last year. That’s the kind of numbers Jayson Werth put up when he gained Charlie’s confidence. But it’s tough for Mayberry. If he doesn’t go 2-for-4, he’s out of the lineup. Confidence is a big thing and Mayberry doesn’t have it. Charlie doesn’t have confidence in him.

This is the toughest hand Charlie has been dealt since arriving in Philly.

I agree. It’s a horrible hand he has. This is a difficult situation for Charlie.

The starters have to feel the heat since this team can’t score, especially late in the game, when the relief specialists come in.

It’s true. If Cliff Lee gives up a run, he might think that’s it for him. Game over. He hasn’t won a game yet.

What should the Phillies do about Cole Hamels?

There is zero chance that Cole Hamels will wear a Phillies uniform next year. The Phillies simply can’t afford it. There’s no way that Dave Montgomery or Ruben Amaro will offer Hamels $140 million. I would trade him in July to get something back for him. I would go to a team like the Angels and try to trade Cole for Mark Trumbo and Jerome Williams. Trumbo has thump and can hit behind Howard and see fastballs and that would help turn the Phillies lineup into something formidable. Trumbo could hit 40 homers in that ballpark and you would have him under control for five years, which is huge in baseball these days. If you don’t trade Cole, he ends up a Dodger. Magic Johnson knows the best way to become a monster in the Los Angeles market is to win. He won as a Laker and so he knows. They’ll go after Hamels so the Phillies should trade him.

Can they still make the playoffs if they trade Hamels?

If they pick up someone like Trumbo, yes. If they keep Hamels, yes, they could still win the division. Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay should all be back by the All-Star break. The team is different with those guys. If things break right, the Phillies could win the division and go deep in the playoffs. It can still happen.

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