Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2013 Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies
(2012: 81-81, 3rd Place NL East)
(2013: FC Prediction: 3rd place NL East)

The Phillies are similar to the Yankees in terms of the fact that their stars are aging, and some of them are often injured.  As it has been the past couple of years, the Phillies go as their three aces go.  Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee are all top of the rotation level starters, and despite Lee and Halladay not being their best in 2012, they should all be fine in 2013.

The Phillies lineup is once again led by Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley.  Injuries have been a problem for these three lately, but all of them still definitely have something left in the tank.

Jonathan Papelbon has recently come out and said that he hasn't seen much leadership in the Phillies clubhouse.  This is a very interesting statement given the veteran presence in there.  This shouldn't be a problem at all, and maybe Papelbon just isn't used to way that things are done in Philly.

Now let's take a look at this veteran ballclub:

As mentioned earlier, this staff lives and dies by the performances of Halladay, Lee, and Hamels.  Beyond those three, the Phils have Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan.  Lannan replaces the departed Vance Worley and if these two can put up decent numbers at the back end of the rotation, the Phillies have a good chance to be successful this year.

Jonathan Papelbon leads the bullpen, both in vocality as well as talent.  He should enjoy another quality season as a big league closer.  The Phillies are deep behind Papelbon, with guys like Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams, and Michael Stutes.  Adams is an elite setup man, while Bastardo is an effective lefty and Stutes is a quality swing man.  

In the prospect pipeline, the Phillies two quality prospects.  Lefty Jesse Biddle has three plus pitches and has the ability to become a very quality starter in the big leagues.  Ethan Martin is also a quality prospect.  He has a power fastball and a nasty slider, and should be able to translate that into a decent career.  Neither will probably contribute much in 2013, but both could be ready for full time duty by 2014.

The Phils have a very veteran infield, but an infield with some very distinguished players.  Ryan Howard is the first baseman, with Chase Utley at second, Jimmy Rollins at short, and newly acquired Michael Young at third base.  All should enjoy success, but will they be able to keep up the kind of production that they have throughout their careers?  Young already began to regress last year and the others have all shown signs of slowing down. One guy who probably won't slow down is catcher Carlos Ruiz.  Ruiz is a flat out stud who can smack the ball all over the field.

In the outfield, the Phillies look drastically different from the outfield that started in 2012.  Former top prospect Domonic Brown looks to prove that he can produce at the big league level.  Center Fielder Ben Revere came at a steep price, costing the Phillies pitchers Trevor May and Vance Worley, but Revere plays great defense and can hit for average and steal plenty of bases.  Right field will be manned by former Tiger Delmon Young.  Young is a liability on defense, but he proved in last years playoffs that he can still hit.

Prospect wise, the Phillies have catcher Tommy Joseph.  Joseph has an absolute cannon behind the plate, and his awesome power, but his contact rate will need to improve in order for him to make it to the big leagues, especially with Chooch Ruiz blocking him at the Major League level.

Joe Mather and Michael Martinez are both quality bench players that could make this team, but the guy I look at here is Aaron Cook.  The Phils aren't deep in the rotation behind their three headed monster, so if Cook has a nice Spring, he might be able to crack the rotation over a guy like John Lannan.

The Phillies are a quality team with a very strong veteran presence and some star players, but the NL East is very top heavy.  The Nationals and Braves were both awesome last year, and both look just as strong, if not stronger this year.  The Phillies have a great chance to improve upon their win total of last year, but I just don't see them having the fire power to compete with the top dogs in this division, even with all of the star players that they have.  They are much better than the Mets or Marlins, but they're not on the same level as the Braves or Nats.

The nod here has to go to Jimmy Rollins, simply because he is the most energetic and entertaining player of the bunch.  Follow him @JimmyRollins11