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Here We Go Again
2006-10-01 22:51
by Mike Carminati

It's the end of the season, and the Phils end up exactly where every Phillies fan knew they would end up at the start of the season, eliminated in the last weekend of the season with something in the vicinity of 86 wins (actually, 85).

Last year, they were eliminated minutes after winning their final game of the season down in DC, and I was there to witness. I couldn't travel down to Miami to watch the carnage this year, but again the Phils win (4-3 yesterday) only to find out later that they were eliminated. Last year, the Astros beat the Cubs as the Phils hit the showers. This year the Padres and Dodgers both won, thereby making a postseason in Philadelphia mathematically impossible.

And again there are equal parts promise and foreboding in the team's makeup. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley had fantastic seasons. Other youngsters like Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino showed a lot of promise. Jimmie Rollins had some great moments and some real low points, but remains a number six hitter in the leadoff spot. Pat Burrell's as enigmatic as always. As was Brett Myers who showed promise again for a time but was also embroiled in huge scandal that was a black eye for the entire franchise. They again seem to have a set staff for next year, but it's a staff rife with mediocrity. What do you do with John Lieber and Randy Wolf? Tom Gordon looked tired, old, and like a non-closer down the stretch—all of which is true but he has two years left on his contract. There are huge gaping holes at third and behind the plate.

And worst of all the Phils remaining in contention for so long because of a highly mediocre National League ensures that Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel keeps his job for next season. The Phils brass leaked rumors of his returning to work with the youngsters for 2007, but as the Phils resurfaced in the Wild card hunt and inconceivably, stories of Manuel being laughably considered for the NL Manager of the Year, they no longer needed to justify the fait accompli of his return.

So what's my prediction for 2007? More of the same: 86 wins, staying in the race for a time but no postseason appearance again.

Since 2001, the Phils have had three 86-win seasons, and have had just one season (2002) un which they were not within two wins of 86 (they had 80). Only a handful of teams have remaining that consistent over the course of six seasons, and only of them were successful (the 1947-57 Yankees):

FranchiseYrWL
Philadelphia Phillies20018676
Chicago Cubs19877685
New York Mets19708379
Boston Red Sox19698775
Houston Astros19698181
Boston Red Sox19688676
San Francisco Giants19688874
Atlanta Braves19628676
Atlanta Braves19598670
Cleveland Indians19509262
New York Yankees19499757
New York Yankees19479757
Oakland Athletics19375497
Oakland Athletics193653100
Pittsburgh Pirates19328668

Note that there are five 86-win teams on that list.

Finally, with the Phils getting eliminated this year with one game left to play and last year after they had played their full slate, I wondered if that was some sort of record. Had any other team been eliminated with no meaningless games over the course of two seasons? Actually, two have. Here are the teams that failed to reach the postseason two straight years with the most games remaining at the time they were eliminated for both seasons combined:

FranchiseTotGYr1WLPOSG1Yr2WLPOSG2
Boston Red Sox019779764301978996420
St. Louis Cardinals019738181201974867520
Philadelphia Phillies120058874202006857721
Boston Red Sox119489659201949965821
Washington Nationals119799565201980907221
San Francisco Giants219659567221966936820
Troy Haymakers218711315621872151050
Washington Olympics2187115154218722780
San Francisco Giants319649072411965956722
Chicago Cubs419368767231937936121
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim419848181231985907221
New York Mutuals418732924431874422321
Providence Grays418825232221883584032
Los Angeles Dodgers419508965211951976023
New York Mets419978874341998887420
San Francisco Giants420049171202005758734
San Francisco Giants420019072222002956622
Comments
2006-10-02 00:10:48
1.   Yu-Hsing Chen
sigh, I agree, it's sad that over the last few years the Phillies is simply always the "good enough to give you hope but never good enough to actually go anywhere"

If Rameriez is out there, sign him.. plz.. bring back Delluci if possible, trade Rowand for something (pitching would help)

What's the worest thing to happen to the Phillies in the last 15 year? going to the WS in 93? or the strike?

The 93 season seem to give the Philly office this false idea that they can just throw together a team at random and maybe something funky will happen :/

2006-10-02 08:49:29
2.   dianagramr
How about trading Howard to the Yanks for A-Rod (I kid I kid)

Howard really needs some protection in the lineup (no, not Jeff Conine).

2006-10-02 10:15:09
3.   rbj
And the Twins spend the shortest amount of time possible in first place - just the last day.
2006-10-02 13:26:09
4.   Mike Carminati
Actually, they had sole possession for one day, but were in first for three in total, I believe.
2006-10-02 15:43:13
5.   rbj
Ah, that's right. Still has to be the shortest amount of time spent in first for a division winner.

Didn't you write up something about that recently?

2006-10-02 19:08:35
6.   Mike Carminati
Yeah, it's here: http://mikesrants.baseballtoaster.com/archives/505876.html

The Twins don't have the least for a first place team. They are third. However, the two in front of them are the '81 Royals, who finished first in the second half of a strike interrupted season though they were fourth all around. The other was the 1871 Philly A's, who were in first for just three days.

2006-10-02 21:24:26
7.   das411
Yknow Mike, it's not often that I disagree with you but I think the Phils look a lot better going into this offseason than they did last year.

With the top end of the rotation solidified as Myers-Hamels-Lieber-Moyer/Wolf, they really only need one of Floyd/Mathieson/Brito/Gio/you name 'em to step up in spring training and win that 5th starter spot. As painful as watching Abe Nunez at 3B was, with the offense they will get out of the other 3 infield spots I am not worried about leaving a plus glove there.

As much as it sounds like Ed Wade talking, I really do think the biggest needs this team has are in the bullpen. Bring back White, give Matt Smith the Rhodes slot, leave Mad dog in the 7th-8th inning spot that he has been so good in, and find a couple more depth relievers for when Charlie burns out his top 3 guys again.

And do everything possible to keep the Sandovals and Robersons in the minor leagues until they are actually ready!

2006-10-02 21:57:10
8.   deadguy
At least it seems to be a vaguely good year to go hunting third basemen.
2006-10-03 02:49:13
9.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Well, it is possible for the team to not have sole possion for the entire season and win the division ;) they can end up tied with another team (either will win the wild card) and then win based on season face off records.

it's VERY unlikely though

2006-10-03 08:22:17
10.   Mike from Hoboken
The Phils are real close to being a championship team. All they need to put them over the top are a couple of great players, like a Bobby Abreu or a Scott Rolen. Oh, right.
2006-10-04 01:32:24
11.   Yu-Hsing Chen
10 not to meantion a Curt Schillin... oh wait ;)

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