As of June 26th the Phillies have ten players on the Disabled List: Four on the 60-Day and Six on the 15-Day. These players include their starting first baseman, their backup first baseman, their starting second baseman, their backup second baseman, their backup catcher, their ace, and four bullpen arms. It can be argued that no other team in 2012 has been ravaged by injuries as much as the Phillies have. Combine the injuries with lackluster seasons from many of their healthy players, and you have the recepie for a 36-40 start, and a eight game defecit in the division standings (four in the wild card).
Can the return of these players turn the season around, or will they not be enough to halt the freefall?
RHP Jose Contreras- Torn UCL- Out for Season- $2.5 Million
Jose Contreras signed a 2 year, $5 million deal with the Phillies following his strong 2010 campaign (123 ERA+). He started off well enough in 2011, but injury ended his season prematurely. Contreras finally worked his way back in 2012 but after just 17 Appearences (13.2 Innings), Contreras tore his UCL and will require Tommy John Surgery. His season is over. His career is in jeopardy. In a cruel twist of fate, Contreras lasted just as long in 2012 (17 App, 13.2 IP) as he did in 2011 (17 App, 14 IP). So, what does Contreras’s injury mean to the 2012 Phillies?
The Phillies will be down one right-handed bullpen arm for the rest of the season, and a good one at that. Aside from burning a $2.5 million hole in the Phillies pocket, all Contreras can do is cheer from the sidelines and recover from his injury. Hopefully his career does not end here.
RHP Justin De Fratus- Strained Right Elbow- By the All-Star Break- $480,000
Justin De Fratus is currently ranked as the seventh best prospect in the Phillies system. He made his big league debut for the Phils last September, allowing one earned run in four innings across five appearences. He struck out three and walked three. In the minors in 2011, between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley, De Fratus went 6-3 with a 2.99 ERA in 75.1 Innings. He struck out 99 and walked 25. De Fratus looked primed to claim a spot in the Phillies bullpen before Spring Training, but an elbow injury struck during early practices before he could even play in a game. He’s been on the DL since. So, what does the De Fratus injury mean to the 2012 Phillies?
The Phillies had to go without one of their best relievers through the first three months of the season. Imagine if the Phillies had De Fratus to turn to instead of Chad Qualls. The Phillies would be much better off. De Fratus threw from 120 feet as recently as June 13th, but he doesn’t appear to have a timetable as of yet. Or at least a timetable that has been publically disclosed. The Phillies website claims he could be back by the end of June, but early July seems more reasonable considering the total lack of information about his progress.
RHP David Herndon- “Right Elbow Inflammation”- Out for Season- $495,000
The Phillies 2010 Rule 5 pick had a solid year out of the bullpen in 2o11 finishing 1-4 with a 3.32 ERA in 57 innings of work. Herndon struck out 39, walked 24, and recorded a WHIP of 1.368. Compared to his rookie year, Herndon had a fantastic season. His walk rate soared but the rate of hits off him plummeted. Herndon pitched seven and two-thirds innings in 2012 and they were lackluster. This could be explained by the fact Herndon was placed on the Disabled List on April 30th with Right Elbow Inflammation. So, what does Herndon’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?
Once again, the Phillies will be short a right-handed reliever for the rest of the season. Todd Zolecki reported June 19th that Herndon was heading for Tommy John Surgery, which means he’ll be out of action until Late 2013 at the earliest. The 26-year old Florida native may not have been the best pitcher in the Phillies bullpen but without him the Phillies will be forced to turn to younger pitchers like Michael Schwimer and BJ Rosenberg. However, by the time Herndon returns in Late 2013 or at the start of the 2014 season, top prospects Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont should be ready for the show.
RHP Michael Stutes- “Right Shoulder Inflammation”- Out for Season- $485,000
Michael Stutes came out of nowhere to have a superb rookie year for the Phillies in 2011 and perhaps saved the bullpen after multiple relievers went down due to injury. He recorded six wins and two losses and an ERA of 3.63. In 62 innings pitched he struck out 58 and walked 28. His WHIP was 1.242. In a similar fashion as David Herndon, Michael Stutes barely pitched in 2012, and when he did he wasn’t good. In five and two-thirds innings he had an ERA of 6.35 and a WHIP of 1.941. And again, like Herndon, this can be attributed to injury. Stutes hit the Disabled List on April 25th due to inflammation in his pitching shoulder. He admitted to pitching through the pain in Spring Training. So, what does Stutes’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?
Once again, the Phillies will be short a right-handed reliever for a long period of time. Stutes underwent exploratory shoulder surgery today, June 26th. What type of surgery Stutes needs and why has not been publically disclosed, so determining a time frame for his return is difficult. I would think that at this point the Phillies are better off playing it safe and shutting Stutes down for the rest of the year. I find it odd though that it took this long for the Phillies to properly diagnose the injuries afflicting Herndon and Stutes.
LF/1B Laynce Nix- Strained Left Calf- TBD- $1.25 Million
The Phillies signed Outfielder Laynce Nix to a two year, $2.5 million deal over the offseason in a curious move. Not only could the Phillies have probably netted Nix on a one year deal, but he is notorious for not being able to hit left-handed pitchers. Over his career, Nix bats .255/.298/.454 with 64 Home Runs against Right-handers. Against left-handers? .185/.238/.280 with 2 Home Runs. But dispite this notority, Nix was perhaps one of the Phillies best hitters when he went down with a calf injury. In 22 Games for the Phillies across 51 Plate Appearences, Nix went .326/.392/.587 with 2 Home Runs, 11 RBI, 6 Doubles and 5 Walks. To be fair, out of the 51 Plate Appearences Nix had in 2012 only one of them was against a left-handed pitcher. Nix hit a RBI Double. Nix was only used against right-handed pitchers and the move paid dividends. So, what does Nix’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?
The Phillies are down a potent left-handed batter off the bench, but the resergence of Jim Thome should make the blow less severe. Nix suffered a setback last week and there is still no timetable for his return. There has been little to no information on his condition. Until more is known, don’t expect Nix back anytime soon.
SS/2B Freddy Galvis- Pars Fracture in Spine- Late August/Early September- $480,000
Freddy Galvis was initially expected to be the shortstop of the future for the Phillies, a tidbit that was often mentioned during the period Jimmy Rollins spent as a Free Agent. Then Jimmy returned to the Phillies on a three year, $33 million deal with an easily attainable option for a fourth. Galvis was blocked. When Spring Training came around it appeared that Chase Utley would begin a second consecutive season on the Disabled List. The Phillies decided to ask Galvis, one of the best defensive prospects around to make the move to Second. A few months later and, had an injury and steroids not derailed his season, Galvis probably would have won a Gold Glove, in his rookie year, at a position that was not his natural one. Galvis turned quite a few heads in 2012. We knew beforehand that Galvis was a great defensive infielder, but it is very safe to say he blew even the most optimistic fan’s expectations. He was a magician in the field. And he wasn’t a black hole at the plate to boot. When he hit the DL he was among the Phillies leaders in extra base hits. In 58 games and 200 Plate Appearences, Galvis hit .226/.254/.363 with 15 doubles, a triple, 3 Home Runs and 24 RBI. He scored 14 runs and walked 7 times to boot. Galvis was a pleasent surprise and refreshing to watch. And then it all came crashing down. Galvis suffered a Pars Fracture in his Back during an At Bat in a game. The injury should knock him out until Mid August at the earliest. And then he was banned 50 games for violating MLB’s Drug Policy. He will serve his suspension on the DL so he will not miss playing time due to the drug issue. But he will forever be linked with PEDs. So, what does Galvis’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?
The Phillies lose one of their best defensive stars for most of the season though his offensive is replacable. Mike Fontenot has risen to the occasion after the Phillies picked him up from the Giants earlier this season. He is nowhere close to being as defensively talented as Galvis (though he did make a stunning play against the Pirates on the 25th) but he brings much more to the table offensively. Fontenot is batting .345/.397/.414 in 29 Games. Since Chase Utley returns on June 27th the Phillies would have been forced to make a hard decision anyway. Instead, the decision was essentially made for them. It will be interesting to see what role Freddy will play upon his return. Or maybe the Phillies will play it safe and shut him down for the rest of the season instead.
C Brian Schneider- High Ankle Sprain- Late July/Early August- $800,000
Brian Schneider returned for his third season with his hometown Phillies when he signed a one year, $800K deal over the offseason. Schneider was horrible offensively in 2011 (.176/.246/.256, 2HR in 41 Games) but had proved to be a good personality in the clubhouse and a mentor for young Phillies starter Vance Worley. Luckily for Schneider and the Phillies, he has proven far more capable with the bat in 2012 than 2011. In 26 Games and 76 Plate Appearences, Schneider has batted .232/.293/.362 with 2 Home Runs, 5 RBI and 3 Doubles. Those stats are nothing to write home about, sure, but compared to 2011? Yes please. Schneider had been proven to be a capable defender and a good option to give Carlos Ruiz a needed day off. Unfortunately Schneider suffered a High Ankle Sprain during a home plate collision against the Pirates on the 25th. Schneider was placed on the 15-Day Disabled List and should return to action in 3-5 weeks. So, what does Brian Schneider’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?
To be blunt, not much. This is not a knock against Schneider by any means, but compared to the other injuries the Phillies have suffered a 4 week Ankle Sprain is short. Of course, the fact that Carlos Ruiz is putting together a fantastic (MVP?) season helps soften the blow immensely. Erik Kratz will have a chance to show what he can do at the big league level, and hopefully some of his AAA success can follow him. Schneider will return around the trade deadline and help the Phillies down the stretch. Much quicker and more straightforward than Nix’s Calf Mysteries and Herndon’s Tommy John Surgery.
RHP Roy Halladay- Strained Latissimus Dorsi- All-Star Break- $20 Million
Whenever a team loses their ace they are suffering a blow. Whenever that ace is a future hall-of-famer that is a big blow. When that hall-of-famer is Roy Halladay, it is a devastating blow. Roy Halladay is still one of the best in the game, but even during Spring Training something seemed off. His velocity was not where it normally was and Halladay cited his age, which is quite a valid concern. He then got off to a good start but deteriorate torwards very un-Halladay-like performances. In 11 Starts, Halladay is 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA across 72 and a third innings. Doc has struck out 56, walked 14, pitched zero complete games, and had a K/BB ratio of 4, his lowest since 2007. His 3.98 ERA would be his highest since 2004. His 7.0 K/9? Lowest since 2007. Most concerning is his ERA+ of 99. He has been slightly below the league average. His 99 ERA+ would be, with the exception of his so-historically-bad-he-was-demoted-to-Single-A 2000 Season, the lowest of his career. As it turned out, Halladay had strained his right latissimus dorsi. An injury would certainly explain why Halladay has been so off. So, what does his injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?
The Phillies lost Roy Halladay. No more needs to be said. Halladay has been progressing nicely and should return after the conclusion of the All-Star break. This team is in desperate need of good pitching, ironically enough. Having a healthy Roy Halladay would propel the Phillies back into the race.
1B Ryan Howard- Torn Achilles- All-Star Break- $20 Million
Perhaps it is because he has made the final out two years in a row, but Phillies fans appear to have soured a bit on Ryan Howard. Howard’s batting average has plummeted over the years as did his walk rate. His strikeout rate soared. But his Home Run rate would always stay the same. Before his injuries stole Howard of a full season in 2011 you could usually take it to the bank that Howard would hit 45 Home Runs and knock in 140. In 2011 Ryan Howard went .253/.346/.488 with 33 HR, 116 RBI and 75 Walks in 152 Games. Howard’s .253 AVG was his lowest since 2008, the .346 OBP his lowest since 2008, and his .488 SLG the lowest of his career. An off-year for Howard to be sure. And then he tore his Achilles in his foot on the final out in the NLDS and here we stand. What does Howard’s injury mean for the 2012 Phillies?
The Phillies are missing their cleanup hitter. Pretty straight-forward. The Phillies have been relying on a platoon at first base which has mainly consisted of Ty Wigginton, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, and Hector Luna. That platoon, over the first 76 games, has batted .265/.324/.425 with 11 Home Runs, 41 RBI, and 13 Doubles. Pretty good all things considered. Howard is perhaps the most mysterious in the way that nobody really knows what he’s going to do when he returns. An Achilles tear is a severe injury and there’s no telling how he’ll play when he returns. Will he be the slugger of old, or will a new Ryan Howard show up come the All-Star Break? Only time will tell.
2B Chase Utley- Cartilage Damage in Left Knee- June 27th- $15 Million
During his prime years Chase Utley looked like he could finish his career as one of the best Second Baseman to ever play the game. He routinely batter near or above the .300 mark, hit 30 Home Runs and knocked in 100 runners. Three times he finished in the Top 8 in MVP voting and twice more in the Top 14. Defensively he was very good as well. His fake-out play during the 2008 World Series has gone down in Phillies lore. So has his record-tying 5 Home Runs in the 2009 Fall Classic. He was one of the most complete players in the game. Unfortunately, he’s been playing injured since 2010. In 2010 it was his finger injury that derailed him. In 2011 it was his Right Knee. In 2012, his left. His average plummeted to .259 in 2011, his lowest since his rookie year. He only hit 11 Home Runs last year and though that can partially be accounted for only playing in 103 Games, his .425 Slugging Percentage was his lowest since his rookie year in 2003. His knee injury has kept him out of action since Spring Training. What has Utley’s injury meant for the 2012 Phillies?
Not only have they been missing their starting all-star second baseman, but they’ve been missing their leader and the intense passion of which he plays the game. Just the mere return of Utley last year woke the Phillies’ offense up last year, though he did not contribute much to its production. The mere presence of Utley would kick the Phillies into high gear. Now imagine if he adds production to that. Utley says his knees feel the best they have in years which is a fantastic sign. In his final rehab game June 26th with AAA Lehigh Valley Utley was great. He was 2-5 with 2 Strikeouts, a hard lineout, a base hit and a long home run. He also made some great defensive plays. The Phillies have not gotten much offensively out of their second baseman this year. It has mostly been Freddy Galvis though after he went down Michael Martinez took over. After Martinez went .136/.191/.205 in 15 Games the job now belongs to Mike Fontenot who appears to be playing his rear off for a roster spot. He’s been batting near .350. Overall, second baseman have gone .246/.271/.381 with 5 Home Runs and 37 RBI. Utley will be sure to improve on those figures.
But Utley’s return also signifies the return of the guard. Utley will be the first huge absense to return to the Phillies. Utley’s return means that Halladay and Howard are not far behind. The Phillies are gearing up for a second half run. As of June 26th they are 8 behind in the division race. But with the new playoff system there are two wild cards. So the Phillies are only 4 and a half behind the Braves for the Second Wild Card. That is by no means an insurmontable number. The Phillies have overcome defecits twice that size in two and a half weeks. The Phillies are by no means out of it, and perhaps may be in the best position they’ve been in a while. Their players are coming back and they’ll be making a run, and come playoff time they should have all the momentum, something they’ve lacked and the Giants and Cardinals had. This summer should be fun to watch.
Total Money- $61,490,000