Ron Costello

Sunday, August 26, 2018

It was a brilliant move: How to improve the lineup to stay in

Wilson Ramos was a great addition to the Phillies
contention in the NL East without disturbing the core of young players and appease the Faithful.

They came up with two veteran players before the end of the trade deadline in July and traded low-level minor league players for them: Asdrúbal Cabrera and Wilson Ramos. Wilson was iffy, but if the baseball Gods breathed approval, perhaps he'd get over his hamstring injury and return to the hitter and catcher he can be.
It almost worked.

Mr. Cabrera has struggled since joining the team, hitting just .211, with two home runs in 25 games. But he's starting to show life. Mr. Ramous started out making Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail geniuses — hitting .400 with five RBIs in five games. 

But the baseball Gods didn't cooperate and Mr. Ramous developed a sore wrist — the left, which holds the glove that catches 95-plus MPH fastballs. Hamstring and wrist, typical nagging injuries for a 31-year-old catcher.

But he's rebounded and he played well Sunday against Toronto. The Buffalo is a hell of a catcher.

The bottom line: The veterans, Cabrera and Ramos haven't been enough for a young team that goes in and out of slumps, plays poor defense, and has frequent bullpen meltdowns. Plus a centerfielder who makes more dumb mistakes that a little league outfielder, no offense to the little league.

But Mr. Cabrera and Mr. Ramos are solid players, and if the Phillies are smart, they'll hold on to them for next season. They are perfect for a young, struggling team.

So here's the good and the bad with the Phillies. First, the bad. A number of the young players are making their way through a first big league season: Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins, Jorge Alfaro, Scott Kingery, and Roman Quinn, and several young pitchers. They're tired. They have aching muscles, sore or tender arm muscles, and just weary. Not accustomed to the strain on their minds and bodies over 164 games and six months of baseball.

Frankly, I don't know how they do it.

The good news is they are young, in their twenties, and can suck it up. They're only three games back despite losing, with five weeks left. Cabrera and Ramos will get better.

Phillies need Carlos Santana to get hot.

They're coming home for six games with the Nationals and Cubs. In September they host the Cubs, Nationals, Miami, and Atlanta for 11 games, with the last three games of the season at home with Atlanta. 

The team plays better at home. They are 41-22 at home, compared to 28-38, away.

The Phillies need somebody to get hot. The likely candidates are Franco, Obdubel, Hoskins, Williams, and the veterans Cabrera and Ramos.

Even a hot Carlos Santana can carry the team. Listen, if Hector Neris can strike out the side, anything is possible.

Exciting baseball over the next five weeks and the Phillies are still in the thick of it.

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