30 Teams in 30 Days: Philadelphia Phillies Preview

Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies

Last Year: 93-69 (won)
Over/Under: 92.5 (-115)

Notable Gains

  • Phillippe Aumont
  • Danys Baez
  • Jose Contreras
  • Roy Halladay
  • Placido Polanco
  • Brian Schneider

Notable Losses

  • Eric Bruntlett
  • Travis d’Arnaud
  • Kyle Drabek
  • Pedro Feliz
  • Cliff Lee
  • Brett Myers
  • Matt Stairs

Three Things To Love

1) A Pair Of Aces: It will probably be forgotten by the time the season begins, but a lot of folks questioned the Roy Halladay deal when it happened. The argument is that it didn’t improve the team that much for what it cost. But, it definitely solidifies the Phillies rotation much farther in to the future. The Phillies did great by their franchise here. On top of that, Hamels had a very strange year. His rate stats stayed about the same, but his ERA went way up. Everything indicates he was a victim of some terrible luck last season. I expect a big bounceback season for Hamels and, paired with Halladay at the top of the rotation, should form a brutal 1-2 punch.

2) The Right Side Of The Field: Jayson Werth had a little coming out party last postseason. Whether that translates in to sustained success this year remains to be seen. It’s unfortunate for him that a 7-HR post-season came last year. Had it come this year, he’d probably be making $50M over the next four years. Obviously, rolled right in to this bullet point are Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. There isn’t too much I can write about these two guys that hasn’t already been written. As a Mets’ fan, I enjoyed Chipper Jones and David Wright complaining about the difficulty of hitting home runs in Citi field, only for Utley and Howard to knock balls out of right field to the point the Mets’ television announcers started calling the block of seats near the foul pole “Utley’s Corner.” That, my friends, is ownership.

3) Non-Traditional Power: The Phillies continue to fill their line-up with power hitters in non-traditional power positions. Having Utley at 2B, Jimmy Rollins (assuming a bounceback) at SS, and Shane Victorino in CF lets the team fill in good defensive players whose numbers might be looking at a decline in the coming years. Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez both had great seasons in 2009, but they’re getting to the age where things might be falling off a cliff relatively soon. With all the power throughout their line-up, it shouldn’t matter in the least.

Three Things To Hate

1) Oh, That Bullpen: Let’s not fool ourselves, folks. Brad Lidge is a crazy man. Albert Pujols knocked the sane out of him in 2005 and he hasn’t been right since. He was practically out of baseball until a perfect season in Philly resurrected his career. Last season, he reverted to crazy man. Who knows which Lidge the team will get this season. They could get 40/40 in saves, or 21/40 and demotion. It’s a roller coaster.

2) The Injury Bug: Last season Rollins, Werth, Utley, Victorino, and Howard missed less than 30 games. Combined. Each had 650 plate appearances or better. Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee made all their starts. It’s been like this for the Phillies for two full seasons. Injury luck like that just can’t last forever. It’s got to end sometime. This shouldn’t be construed as wishing injury on the roster, just to point out that the Phils have been extremely lucky the last few seasons.

3) Old dudes: Raul Ibanez fell apart down the stretch last season. Now he’s 40. As mentioned above, though, EVERYTHING broke right last season for the Phillies save for running in to the baseball’s most bloated team in October. Now, I still think this was a good signing – NL teams need to sign these DH type players to compete in Interleague and Postseason play – and I expect he’ll be OK, but it wasn’t that long ago that Ibanez was nearly out of the league for his inability to hit righties. Now he’s a year older.

Three Things That Should Be Fun To Watch

1) J.A. Happ: Phillies’ fans have defended trading Lee instead of Happ as a good move because Happ is a cost-controlled player for a few more years while Cliff Lee is just under contract one more season before kicking up to a $20M/year player. My question to this has remained the same: Having both Lee and Halladay under contract with Hamels and Blanton comes about as close to a post-season guarantee as a baseball team can get. Happ is that good a player that he’s worth not guaranteeing yourselves a trip to October? Really? Since he’s that good, I can’t wait to bear witness to his 33-0 season.

2) I have to admit to being a fan of Jayson Werth. After the Mets were out of it, I had a good time watching him tear up the postseason. If for no other reason than to constantly note his spitting resemblance to WWE’s Edge. Whenever he got a big hit, I found myself unable to not shout the opening lyrics to Edge’s theme music. This got me all range from confused looks to thumbs up. I look forward to another season of this.

3) As a fan of the NL East, I’m excited that I get to watch Halladay a few times this season. I’m even more excited that I’ll likely get at least one Halladay/Santana match-up at Citi Field. I’d rather he came to the Mets, but at least I’ll get to watch him play baseball now instead of the homerunderbyball he was playing through the beginning of his career.

Summary: The Phillies have the most talent in the division by far. I fully expect Cole Hamels to have a bounceback year. That said, it seems almost impossible to me that the Phillies can continue this streak of complete lack of injury to their entire roster. But, given pure talent, it’s hard to rate them anything other than first in the NL East.

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