Up next, are the Philadelphia Phillies.
Philadelphia Phillies 2012 Recap
Final Record: 81-81
Pythagorean Record: 81-81
WAR Leaders (Offensive, Pitching): Carlos Ruiz (5.5), Cliff Lee (4.9)
The Philadelphia Phillies finished in 3rd place of the National League East, 17 games out.
Philadelphia Phillies 2013 Preview
Key Additions: Mike Adams, Michael Young, Ben Revere
Key Departures: Vance Worley, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco
Key Injuries (missing opening day): Carlos Ruiz (Suspension)
Expected Opening Day Lineup:
Ben Revere, CF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Chase Utley, 2B
Ryan Howard, 1B
Michael Young, 3B
Dominic Brown, LF
John Mayberry, RF
Erik Kratz, C
Expected Rotation: Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan
Expected Bullpen: Tyler Cloud, Phillipe Aumont, Joe Savery, Jeremy Horst, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams, Johnathan Papelbon
The Phillies started their offseason early last in August by dealing away Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton. Their offseason didn’t just end there though, as they picked up some players over the winter. Let’s start with the trade of Vance Worley for Ben Revere. After trading Victorino, the Phillies needed a CF for the future to roam the outfield. They got Revere, a speedster (and in turn, a Juan Pierre clone) and his 4 more years of team control. Losing Worley will definitely hurt their depth in the rotation, and the cause might’ve been his decreasing velocity by the year. That’s a chart showing you how it has slipped since his rookie year. They also acquired Michael Young from the Texas Rangers for two prospects. Young will fill the 3B void that was left by Placido Polanco. Mike Adams was an underrated addition to a bullpen that was strong at the end, but lacked help in middle relief. In Texas, Adams had his lowest K/9 in his career at 7.74 since his rookie year, but a little bit of regression in (78.1% LOB and 7.8% HR/FB) will make him an important set up man to Papelbon.
So it took a while, but finally age caught up to the Phillies’ offensive players. Jimmy Rollins had his power come back last year, but Utley and Howard had their worst seasons ever. They all won’t be getting any younger this year, especially with Michael Young. Young had his worst year in Texas, with his lowest power output in any year since his rookie season. The Phillies will expect Young’s power to return in order to be a presence in the middle of that lineup. No matter what Young gives them, Howard will have to be the one to bring this lineup back to glory. Missing half of the year with his torn achilles from the 2011 playoffs, Howard struggled to a .219/.295/.423, with a .173/.226/.378 line vs lefties. While most people expected Howard would not be returning to the 40+ homers, not many people expected his drop-off to be so sudden. Losing Carlos Ruiz for the first 50 games for his suspension will be tough, and it will be up to younger guys like Dominic Brown (hasn’t it felt like he’s been up and down for 5-6 years now) and Revere to provide a spark to a very old lineup.
The one thing the Phillies still have is their solid 1-3 punch of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. The first two should probably swap by the time the year is over. Hamels, with another 200+ IP season and his 3.30 FIP received a 6 year, $144M deal to stay with the Phillies. Halladay struggled with an injury mid-season and a decreasing velocity to put up his worst season since when he was breaking in with the Blue Jays. The warning signs: Highest BB/9 since 2004 (2.07), highest HR/9 (1.04) and lowest GB% ever (44.7%). Whether or not last season was an outlier will be important to the Phillies’ chances of regaining of a playoff spot. While the Phillies’ starting rotation didn’t perform well, it was nothing compared to how bad the bullpen was. The Phillies finished with a 3.94 ERA, 21st in the baseball. The problems stemmed with the middle relief. However, the signing of Mike Adams should help push Bastardo into a 7th inning role, where he won’t be asked to get as many right-handed bats out.
Fantasy Players to Target: Chase Utley, Roy Halladay
Fantasy Players to Let Go: Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard
What to Expect:
When projecting the Phillies, it’s very important that you try to differentiate between having a down year and just being old. However, it’s a difficult task to determine that. Placido Polanco gave the Phillies nothing at third base in terms of power, so the upgrade to Michael Young should be helpful. Ryan Howard had all the signs of an aging slugger last year, walking at a career-low rate and striking out at a career-high rate. Roy Halladay, being the pitcher he has been, deserves to prove that last year was just an aberration. With so many guys having down years last year, the Phillies will have a couple of more bright moments during this season. Those moments won’t be enough though. A division with the Braves and Nationals means games with teams that are a bit better and younger than them. We didn’t even talk about injuries. More injuries are expected with the team being so old, and that will lead them to use their not so good depth on the bench. They should easily finish in 3rd in the NL East again, but will fall short of making the playoffs.
Vegas O/U Win Total: ?
My Projection: 83-79