The lost season is over. The Phillies’ incredibly disappointing 2012 campaign is in the books after Charlie Manuel’s squad was beaten yesterday by the NL East division champion Washington Nationals, 5-1.
So much went wrong this season — mostly in the first half — for a team that flushed $175 million down the toilet. We break it all down (the good and the bad) into five key issues for the boys in red.
1. Offense went bust
It was surprising the Phillies didn’t add some bats in the offseason (Josh Willingham, Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel were free agents) when the season debut of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley was unknown. Add a broken down Placido Polanco, at third, and John Mayberry Jr, with a resume that screams fifth outfielder, it’s no wonder the offense was so unproductive. When the Phillies were behind in the sixth inning or later in the first half of the season, the game was over.
2. Messy bullpen
With the exception of closer Jonathan Papelbon, the ’pen was a disaster during the first half of the season. Michael Stutes missed virtually the entire season with a shoulder injury. Chad Qualls failed.
Antonio ‘The Enigma’ Bastardo was nearly as bad this season as he was great in 2011. The Phillies blew a lead with two outs in the eighth seven times. Say no more.
3. Doc was mortal
At the start of spring training it was evident that something was wrong with ace right-hander Roy Halladay. He lost velocity. After six good weeks Doc needed to see a real doctor. Halladay sputtered and was diagnosed with a strained right lat. His last two starts weren’t encouraging. Halladay was ordinary at best this season and that was a huge problem since the Phillies were counting on their aces to pick up the slack.
4. All hail King Cole
Most of the drama this season revolved around whether Cole Hamels would re-sign with the Phillies, leave as a free agent after the season, or be dealt to a contender at the July 31 trading deadline. Not only did King Cole ink a $144 million deal, he proved that he is the hurler the team will lean on. It was one of the few positives in a lackluster year.
5. Future looks bright
Domonic Brown had a chance to start and the once untouchable prospect looks very much like a work in progress. September call-up Darin Ruf impressed with his raw power and potential, while relievers Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus have live arms that could make differences in the seventh inning in 2013.