Thursday, March 02, 2006

Rethinking the 2005 campaign...

I think the healing time has been sufficient to look back at the 2005 season in a rational manner, avoiding the defeatism which sometimes accompanies talking about the Phils in general.

The very best of 2005:

1) the 12-1 homestand. The best blog entry about this belonged to Jason Weitzel:

There's no formula to predict that a team that totally stunk for a month and a
half would drop a 12-win megaton bomb squarely on the head of Howard Eskin.
Historically, it was their best home stay in 123 years, before the invention of
baseball

I think everyone remembers how exciting a time that was. Anything seemed possible. It all came together that stretch, pitching, hitting, fielding, everything that makes baseball great.

2) The emergence of Ryan Howard as a true power player. Today, many in the bloggosphere (including yours truly) are excited about the upper potential that Howard may show this year. Let's remember that as late as last July, the Phils were considering shipping Howard for a middling starting pitcher. Could you imagine such a trade today? What happens if Howard really takes off like he might? Keeping Howard is certainly the best move Ed Wade made.

Certainly after Thome went down, Howard stepped up, tearing away the ROTY trophy from Jeff Francoeur, the mid season shoo-in for the award. And he deserved it, too!

3) JRoll's hitting streak. While those who had stopped paying attention didn't notice, and those who were paying attention were more interested in the pennant chase, Jimmy Rollins put together a nifty 36 game hitting streak. More important to the statheads, he got on base at a .442 clip. In short, for a magical month and a half, Jimmy was the leadoff hitter we always wanted him to be, providing the spark the offense lacked for most of the season. It was exciting to see him come up to plate. The fact that it was all in the middle of a pennant chase made it even more fun.

4) Finishing one game out of the playoffs, and two games out of first place. The Phillies had by most measures a very successful season on the field.

The very worst of 2005

1) Finishing one game out of the playoffs, and two games out of first place. When you're that close, recriminations last all off season long. What if we had beaten Houston just ONE STINKING TIME????? What if we hadn't blown that game by giving up one in the eighth and one in the ninth in Philly on July 3rd? What if? What if? What if?

2) Trading away Placido Polanco for Ugueth Urbina. If we can look at the Howard non-trade as a good move, we can look at this one trade as probably the single biggest contributor of the Phillies falling short in 2005. Although his ERA for 2005 ended up being 3.62, Oogy blew a 6 saves for the Phils, including the game mentioned on July 3rd. Take away those 6 blown saves and replace them with 3 and the Phils win the NL East.

The other half of the trade sent the eventual ML batting champ away, when he was perfectly capable of playing third. After the trade, Polanco accumulated an additional 30 VORP for Detroit. Bell contributed a negative 3 VORP. Urbina contributed 7.3 VORP.

Do the math. That trade cost the Phillies 26.7 VORP after it was made, or approximately 2 1/2 wins over the remainder of the season.

3) Losing Thome and Wolf to the DL. - Again, one wonders if Thome had been healthy (and productive), if Wolf, who had his best game just before he went down, had been healthy, what if? what if? what if?

___________________________________________________________

It's so very hard to come so close only to fall short. I'll always remember the 2005 season. The coulda' woulda' shoulda' season. The What If? season.

1 Comments:

At 2:34 AM, Blogger Oisín/Wizlah said...

Coulda-shoulda-woulda as it may have felt, the most important thing for me last season was on the final day, we had a shot. That's the most fun I've had being a Phillies fan since '93.

I just hope they carry over the confidence and determination into this year.

 

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