Season Preview: Philadelphia Phillies
Projected MLB Rank: 3rd — NL Rank: 2nd — NL East Rank: 1st — Record: (95-67)
National League East Champions
The hometown team. Coming off an unbelievable World Series run and one of the most memorable Octobers of my lifetime, I truly believe, as a baseball fan, this team has the chance to do something special.
It starts with their leader and leadoff man, Jimmy Rollins. Having down numbers and an injury last year didn’t help his cause to repeat as MVP but it doesn’t matter because he is the rock on this team. He holds us together at short and gives us every chance to drive him home. Then there’s the fire behind this team, Shane Victorino. He is a winner. He hit .293 last season and stole 36 bases. His play in the outfield is unreal and I once heard a scout say that he gets the best jump on the ball that he’s ever seen when it comes off the bat.
Then comes the middle of the order. Coming off hip surgery, Chase Utley could lead many to believe during the spring that he didn’t have any type of problem with his hip and didn’t have surgery. That’s how quickly he’s rebounded from the surgery. With the injury last season, he hit .292 with 33 homeruns and 104 RBIs. Imagine what he will be able to do healthy. After Utley is the big man. Ryan Howard may whiff a bunch, but the production he puts up cancels it out. He hit 48 homeruns and drove in 146 runs to lead the league last season. In my opinion, he was MVP. There’s a blog about it in my archives if you want to hear my argument.
There’s no longer Pat Burrell, sadly enough. He lead the parade though, how fitting. But Raul Ibanez is an upgrade. He hit .293 last season while driving home 110 runs. Jayson Werth may get a chance to bat fifth in this order to break up all the lefthanded bats. He had a great season last year batting .273 with 24 homeruns while slugging .498. Pedro Feliz, also coming off of surgery, should get back to 20-homer form this season as he should hopefully stay healthy and Carlos Ruiz showed flashes of skill at the plate during the postseason so I’m hoping he doesn’t bat .219 again this year.
The rotation starts with Cole Hamels. NLCS MVP. World Series MVP. He’s got a hot wife. I know you’ve all seen him everywhere this offseason, especially when he had his “injury.” He’s a drama queen, but a drama queen that can pitch better than the rest of them. Expect more than 14 wins this year for Young King Cole because hopefully he doesn’t keep both offenses silent everytime he toes the rubber again.
Brett Myers is a roller coaster. I want nothing more than for this guy to have a great year. But you never know. Last year he was sent down to AAA to rediscover himself after a dreadful start. Then he came back and threw the heck out of the ball. He ended up somewhat salvaging his ERA and record when he came back up to the big leagues. I want the dominating Brett this year. Righthander Joe Blanton came over from the A’s last season and saved his season as well. He started the year as the A’s ace last season, so he’s certainly got the potential (and we saw it in the playoffs).
The ageless wonder. Jamie Moyer. The Souderton product had a career year in 2008 posting a 3.71 ERA and lead the team in wins with 16. Let’s see if he can do it again, I believe in him. Chan Ho Park won the fifth starters spot with an amazing spring. His fastball is up in the midnineties now and he’s striking out hitters at a good rate. If he can keep up what he’s doing in the regular season, he’s one of the best fifth starters in the league.
Then there’s the bullpen. Ryan Madson is a legitimate setup man. He turned his game to the next level last season, even reaching the high nineties with his fastball. Lefty Scott Eyre will certainly get a lot of work in while JC Romero is out under suspension. Eyre did an awesome job coming out of the bullpen after he came over in the trade from the Cubs. They also traded for Jack Taschner, but I’m also hoping JA Happ makes the bullpen as well. The question for me is whether Chad Durbin can recreate his 2.87 ERA and Clay Condrey his 3.26 ERA.
Then there’s Brad Lidge. Lights Out.