The fine folks here at Heading For The Exits were gracious enough to host my team-by-team baseball previews. Look for a new one every day from March 1st through March 30th. Last but not least, it’s the NL East. For shits and giggles, let’s briefly check in with a team who decided that relevance was so passé.
You guys remember when the Phillies had the rotation of the century? Here, it went something like this:
How’d that work out for them, you might ask? Pretty sweet in 2011: 100+ wins and a return to the NLCS after losing to the Yankees in the World Series the year before. And then? The San Francisco Giants, the team of destiny, continued a months long hot streak and knocked them out with panache before flattening the Rangers in the World Series.
The Phillies nursed their wounds and kept the core of their rotation for another shot. Roy Oswalt was punted as his performance was the least inspiring of the 4 “good” pitchers (sorry Blanton). Vance Whorley stepped up and performed… just okay. Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee were their dominant old selves, but Roy Halladay had a season long brain shart. Best (worst?) of all, Joe Blanton had the long-awaited face plant that got him the boot. All told, the Phillies gave up 151 more runs the next year, 29% more than the previous year. With the offense slipping, there was just no way for them to compete with only 2/5 of a reliable rotation. .500 was the result, and, honestly, they can’t expect too much more this year.
How’d The Offseason Go?
In the “blockbuster” trade of the offseason, they sent Vance Whorley and Trevor May to the Twins for designated little kid Ben Revere. He’ll take over in center in one of the actually mutually beneficial trades of the offseason. They also traded serviceable reliever Josh Lindblom and prospect Lisalverto Bonilla to the Rangers for Michael
Old Young (is funny joke). Young will do his best to fill in the barely mobile hole that Placido Polanco left behind at third, and his best won’t be good enough.
Delmon Young comes in, or as Twins bloggers called him, ‘elmon Young (give it a minute). He’s currently broken, but he’s slated to underwhelm in left field soon enough. Mike Adams signs on to back up Jonathan Papelbon, and he’s actually a great addition to a fairly underwhelming bullpen. They signed and released Yuniesky Betancourt, a move roughly akin to going fly fishing and catching a soggy newspaper. They did the same with Aaron Cook, a move roughly akin to going fly fishing and catching the same soggy newspaper.
Notable departures? Jose Contreras, Juan Pierre (lol), Placido Polanco, and Ty Wigginton. And they won’t be missed.
The Phillies Will Make The Playoffs If
Someone other than Ryan Howard hits a goddamn home run once in awhile.
The Phillies Will Miss the Playoffs If
It turns out that having good, young players is a winning strategy for the Braves and Nationals.
How The Season Will Go
How’s The Farm?
Eh, not great. Tommy Joseph is here as an eventual replacement for Chooch, but he doesn’t have much plate presence or speed to back up his decent defensive skills. The only real offensive players worth a damn in this system are a few years away from playing. Roman Quinn is probably the top prospect in terms of future performance. He’s the usual blazing fast, plus defender that you get from a young shortstop, but he’s developing nicely as a switch hitter and could swing a plus bat by the time he makes it to the bigs. Cody Asche could be a long-term solution at 3rd base rather than the current practice of one and done elderly stop-gaps. He certainly has the batting eye, speed, and the fielding talent for it. There are a few middling outfield prospects as well, but none of them figure to take the job from Ben Revere or Dominic Brown while they’re in town.
Pitching is looking a little better. Once their current pool of aces and not-so-aces start declining, a few youngsters should be rounding into form and making plays for the rotation. Jesse Biddle is one of those well-rounded pitchers: no dynamite weapons, but he does everything well enough to hold his own for 6+ innings. His fastball, curveball, and changeup could all develop into plus pitches. Ethan Martin, on the other hand, does one thing well, and that’s throw heat. He’s tossing in the mid-to-high 90s, backing up a brutal fastball with a decent curveball and cutter. He’s working out the kinks on his changeup and honing his control, but he could definitely get an extended look as soon as next year. If anyone’s going to kick Kyle Kendrick back to the bullpen this year, it’d be Jonathan Pettibone. He’s a lanky fastball-changeup guy with great control and an aversion to mistakes. His grounder-heavy profile should play well in the home run paradise that is the Phillies’ ballpark.
Your Brief Fantasy Preview
Yeesh. Every player except Jimmy Rollins comes with a disclaimer. Michael Young is on a serious slide from his heyday when idiot Rangers bloggers would vote him MVP. He’s got great position eligibility, but he’s been barely a replacement level at each spot. Chase Utley is being held together by chewing gum and scotch tape. Ryan Howard is entering the Mark Reynolds drunken swing phase of his career. Delmon Young is broken. Carlos Ruiz displayed phenomenal focus last year, but that’s what scarfing down Adderall will get ya (also a 25 game suspension to start the year). Ben Revere can name all 600-odd Pokemon but can’t hit a ball past the shortstop. Eh… draft any of them if you absolutely have to, but you’re going to need a shower after.
Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are no-brainers for pitchers. Pay for them proudly, then set them and forget them. What about old man Roy Halladay? Truth be told, his peripherals really, REALLY worry me. I don’t think he’s going to be the same old Roy. I’m so not sold on him that I wouldn’t draft him in the first 10 rounds. Perpetual man-child Kyle Kendrick will probably spend all season in the rotation rather than bouncing in and out. He could pitch brilliantly or make you want to tear your (his) hair out. My money’s on the latter this year. He’s overdue for a shit-show. Rounding out the rotation is John Lannan. Just don’t.
For relief pitching? Papelbon is about as sure a bet for closer there is not named Kimbrel or Rivera. I would grab him and his setup guy, Mike Adams, as well if you have room. Both will help you with your ratios very nicely, and if Papelbon goes down, you’ve got a nice, safe handcuff.
Projected Finish in the NL East?
3rd. They’re straddling the line between “eh” and *shrug*.
Oddly Apropos Futurama Quote
“And you made me feel like a jerk for trusting you. Just like when my friend Richie swore he wasn’t taking drugs, and then he sold me my mom’s VCR, and then, later, I found out he was taking drugs. You make me ashamed to be your friend.”
Body By Bacardi has been making bad sports jokes on Twitter since 2010 and on Deadspin since 2011. If you’re not tired of reading things he’s written, you can follow him on Twitter at @wineaccguy.