The best player on the Phillies is no longer Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, or Ryan Howard. It is slugging outfielder Domonic Brown who was almost given up on by Philadelphia. Brown was rushed in 2010 as a 22-year-old, and part-time roles in 2011-2012 didn't give much indication that he would be sitting with 20 home runs on June 27, in 2013.
Brown holds one of great efforts of my lifetime. Twelve home runs in May, in 109 at-bats. Zero walks. I just love the crap out of that. Even better, in his first game in June, he walked. In his second game in June he walked. In fact he now has eleven walks in the month of June.
But enough about Brown; let's talk about the Phillies. They are basically a .500 team in 2013. In April they were three games under .500 but since then, have played exactly .500 ball 26 wins, 26 loses. Overall they are looking at 38 wins, 41 losses. Going forward I see a team about 10 games below .500.
They just concluded a three game set with the Padres where they managed to win two out of three but the last win was costly as it took them 13 innings to complete the win. This is not a good nor bad team. They still have Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. But they don't have Doc Halladay. The killer rotation is not so killer anymore. The Dodgers are going to see one great starter (Lee), one surprising starter (Kyle Kendrick) and two guys who probably don't have much of a future (Jonathan Pettibone / John Lannan).
The lineup these days still has Howard, Utely, Rollins and Carlos Ruiz, but not much else looks familiar.
This infield is either old or decrepit. All were one-time brilliant players, all are shadows of what they were.
Ryan Howard can still hit the occasional home run - he has 10 on the year - but he's a far cry from the man who hit 252 home runs between 2006-2011.
Chase Utley can still hit. When he plays. Utley always seems to be hurt these day, but he is available this weekend. He is also a far cry from the one time MVP candidate of the 2005-2009 era.
Jimmy Rollins still holds down shortstop. The power seems to be dropping fast. The stolen bases are dropping fast.
Michael Young via Texas is the third baseman. He can still hit a single. I'm very curious to see in person how he handles third base.
Ruiz had a career season last year. Also got suspended for PED's. He's back, but now he's the crappy Ruiz he was before 2008. He's so bad he's not even worth the Dodger vitriol anymore.
Left Field is Brown.
Center field is Twin refugee Ben Revere. Revere continues the long MLB legacy of speedy center fielders who can't hit, but can cover ground defensively, while steal bases at a decent clip.
Right field was supposed to be Delmon Young but young John Mayberry has grabbed a good portion of the at-bats. I believe they have a platoon going between them. One player is adequate (Mayberry), one player is not.
You couldn't line this series up any better for the Dodgers:
- The Phillies are in the middle of a long West Coast road trip
- They just played a 13-inning game
- The Dodgers miss Cole Hamels
- The Dodgers are healthy
- The Dodgers are hot
- Brown is last month's news, Puig is this month's news
There simply is no excuse for the Dodgers to not win at least three games during this four game series. That may seem like crazy bravado for a last place team, but one team is headed up, one team is headed down. One team is getting healthy, one team is simply aging.