Originally posted on The Recliner GM  |  Last updated 4/1/13
As I said, I will briefly come out of retirement when I feel the need to write something more than 140 characters (follow on Twitter here). And I’m always a sucker for previews. A new baseball season will always get my juices flowing, so here is my quick take on the Phillies 25-man roster and my predictions for the season. Catcher Carlos Ruiz – Ruiz is the only reason the Phillies didn’t finish well below .500 last year. He will miss the first 25 games due to suspension. Chances are, at age 33, last year was his career year and it’s not logical to think that he will trot out a .540 SLG% again in 2013. Combine that with him missing 15% of the games out of the gate, and his value should be a good amount lower than last year. 2012 bWAR: 4.4 2010-12 Avg: 3.6 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 3.0 First Base Ryan Howard - Howard hasn’t had a healthy season since 2010. However, he looks great in spring training and many are holding out hope that he can rebound. Casual fans tend to overvalue Howard by focusing on his ability to drive in runs and ignoring his horrendous fielding, baserunning and sub-par plate discipline. SABR folks undervalue him a bit by ignoring his clear increase in performance with runners on base (.977 career OPS w/ runners on vs. .851 w/ bases empty). I fall somewhere in-between but tend to skew towards the SABR crowd. Neither side would argue that his health isn’t a positive heading into 2013. 2012 bWAR: -1.2 2010-12 Avg: 0.3 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 1.5 Second Base Chase Utley - Far more important than Howard’s health is the health of Utley, who is playing in spring training games for the first time in years. A fully healthy Utley could mean huge things for the Phillies. Playing hurt, and in only 83 games last year, he STILL posted a 2.9 bWAR, 6th among NL 2B. At age 34, and likely playing for his last big contract, Utley’s year will be very interesting to watch. 2012 bWAR: 2.9 2010-12 Avg: 4.1 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 4.0 Third Base Michael Young - Let’s get one thing out of the way. Michael Young is going to be a bad, bad defensive 3B. Probably the worst in the league. He played over 200 innings there last season and the only player in baseball who was worse defensively at 3B was Greg Dobbs. He might make a play or two, but he’s going to be slow and not get to many balls someone like Polanco might have. So the key with him is – can his bat make up for it? Up until last season, the answer was ‘yes’ for the 10 years prior. The Phillies are obviously hoping for a rejuvenation and it’s not a horrible bet on 1 year deal. 2012 bWAR: -2.4 2010-12 Avg: 0.4 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5 Shortstop Jimmy Rollins - Consistency. Jimmy will be streaky, he will probably loaf on one pop fly and make a bunch of idiots go crazy, but at the end of the day we are still talking about a complete short-stop who is among the best in the league. 2012 bWAR: 2.3 2010-12 Avg: 2.2 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 2.0 Center Field Ben Revere - Love, love, love this kid. Almost all of his value (defense and baserunning) comes from his speed and at 24 (we have a 24-year old on our team?) this isn’t likely to leave him any time soon. He’s not going to hit for power AT ALL, but when he gets on base he’ll be a terror. If he can incorporate walks into his game a bit (check out this fascinating article by Corey Seidman on the topic) he could very well be the next Michael Bourn. 2012 bWAR: 2.4 2011-12 Avg: 1.6 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 2.5 Left Field Domonic Brown - I’m a big Brown fan – or at least, a big fan of giving him a regular job and a fair shot. He’s certainly been helping his case in the spring and locked down an outfield job. His defense still isn’t great and he’ll have to hit well to overcome it. Even though he didn’t have great numbers last year, he consistently had good ABs and still has the potential for a full offensive arsenal. That being said, projecting him as anything other that an average player is a leap for me based on his prior performance. 2012 bWAR: -1.0 2011-12 Avg: -0.6 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5 Right Field Delmon Young - I could go on and on about how much I hate this move. Delmon Young is bad baseball player with a bad attitude. Like Michael Young, he was among the worst players in baseball year. Unlike Michael Young, he has zero track before that indicates he could be a better baseball player this year.  He’s had one good year (and it wasn’t even THAT good, because his defense is SO bad), and could possibly take ABs away from Domonic Brown. Everyone says ‘what’s the risk?’ – but the risk is that he PLAYS. And the risk is that the Phillies, in their infinite wisdom, don’t think his RF defense is as bad as it’s going to be. Nate Schierholtz, who the Phillies released for no reason at all, would have been an infinitely better option. 2012 bWAR: -1.2 2010-12 Avg: -0.5 2013 bWAR (Proj.): -1.0 Starting Rotation Cole Hamels - Wonderfully consistent the last 3 years after adding a cutter to his arsenal. Average year: 213.1 IP, 2.97 ERA, 207 K, 1.10 WHIP. Thrilled to have him in the fold for the next 6 years. 2012 bWAR: 4.2 2011-12 Avg: 5.2 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 5.2 Cliff Lee - Easily, EASILY the dumbest narrative of 2012 Phillies season was the craze over Cliff Lee’s win total. Cliff Lee pitched 211 innings with a 3.16 ERA and a league leading 7.4 K/BB ratio. He had 6 wins due to bad luck and horrendous run support. Not that after single-handedly leading 2 teams to the World Series he suddenly lost his ‘edge.’ Joe Blanton had 10 wins. You can have him on your team, I’ll take Lee. 2012 bWAR: 4.2 2011-12 Avg: 5.8 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 4.7 Roy Halladay - While Lee and others got the headlines and blame, Halladay’s tranformation from 8.0 WAR, best pitcher in baseball, to 0 WAR injury risk was the main reason the Phillies season played out the way it did. In spring, he’s talked about changes he’s made to his regimen and the results have been mixed. At 36, how much can we really expect? It seems that his velocity is gone for good and he’ll have to rely on command and movement. He’s got the stuff to do it, but how hard a transition will it be? 2012 bWAR: 0.7 2011-12 Avg: 5.8 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 2.0 Kyle Kendrick - I’m going to lay off Kendrick this year. At least give him the benefit of the doubt for a bit. After a very painful 2008-2010, he’s been solid the last two seasons in a variety of roles. The most promising sign was last year’s jump in K/9 rate to a not-horrible 6.6. In his 25 starts last season, he had a 3.89 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. I think we’d all take that in a heartbeat from our 4th starter. 2012 bWAR: 1.3 2011-12 Avg: 1.0 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 1.0 John Lannan - I liked the Lannan pick-up as a 5th starter. I’d have preferred a Marcum or even taken a chance on a guy like Dan Haren, but we could have done worse than Lannan. 2012 bWAR: 0.5 2011-12 Avg: 0.8 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.0 Bench Erik Kratz -Kratz was a masher off the bench last year. His .504 SLG% was 2nd on the team. As a 33 year old career minor league, he’s not likely to ever challenge for the starting job, but perhaps he can provide us with another Chris Coste type story. 2012 bWAR: 1.4 2010-12 Avg: N/A 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5 Freddy Galvis - Galvis is an elite defender who can be placed anywhere in the infield. His bat has come along a bit too and if Charlie Manuel was smart, he’d make sure he’s starting at least once a week in place of Utley, Rollins or Young. 2012 bWAR: 0.6 2010-12 Avg: N/A 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5 Laynce Nix - Nix is theoretically not as bad as he looked last year. Provided he doesn’t EVER hit against lefties, he can be a decent bench piece. 2012 bWAR: 0.1 2010-12 Avg: 0.9 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.0 John Mayberry - Right now this is Inciarte until Delmon Young comes back. Not that it really matters. 2012 bWAR: 0.5 2011-12 Avg: 1.1 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5 Kevin Frandsen - Michael Young has the track record, but after Young’s 2012 season, I wouldn’t have minded if the Phillies just stuck Frandsen at 3rd for a stopgap year. At the very least, he’s probably a better defensive player there. Frandsen’s .338 BA last season was a bit lucky, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still hit in the .280 – .300 range. 2012 bWAR: 1.5 2011-12 Avg: N/A 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5 Bullpen Jonathan Papelbon - The bullpen was another area that crushed the Phillies in 2012, but it wasn’t because of Papelbon. His contract might be foolish (you can have a bad contract AND be a good player, by the way), but he pitched very well in 2012 with a 2.44 ERA and 11.8 K/9. 2012 bWAR: 1.6 2010-12 Avg: 1.1 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 1.5 Mike Adams - If healthy, a fantastic pick-up by the Phillies. The tall, lanky Adams has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past several years. This is a guy who had a 1.42 ERA over 177 innings prior to pitching hurt last season. His great spring was under-reported amid the many other story-lines. 2012 bWAR: 1.2 2010-12 Avg: 1.9 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 1.2 Antonio Bastardo - Talk about a confusing player. His 14.0 K/9 in 2012 was among the best ever. There have only been 13 other seasons in MLB history where a pitcher had 50+ IP and 14+ K/9. Average other stats for those years? 2.28 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 2.3 WAR. Bastardo’s 2012 numbers? 4.33 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, -0.2 WAR. If he can regain his consistency of 2011, he has the stuff to regain that form. 2012 bWAR: -0.2 2010-12 Avg: 0.5 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.8 Chad Durbin - Durbin is back with the Phillies after a solid season with Atlanta where he sported a 3.10 ERA in 61 IP. He doesn’t have the stuff to be a late inning guy and will probably fill the long relief role for the Phillies. He is the last pitcher on this list that is guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster. 2012 bWAR: 0.3 2011-12 Avg: 0.1 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.2 Phillipe Aumont - He has the stuff to be an elite reliever. When he is on, he is unhittable. When he is not, he can’t find the strike zone. Either way, he’s one of the few young players the Phillies have these days that make me stop what I’m doing to watch him play. 2012 bWAR: 0.2 2011-12 Avg: n/a 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5 Jeremy Horst - Very, very good last year (1.15 ERA), especially considering his arrival meant the departure of Wilson Valdez. Fantastic K/9 rate (11.5) gives me hope that he’s not a one-year wonder. 2012 bWAR: 0.9 2011-12 Avg: 0.5 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5 Raul Valdes - Beat out several candidates for the final bullpen spot and earned it. A 2.90 ERA and 0.74 WHIP last year and 22 K to 1 BB in spring training this year. Having 3 lefties in the bullpen should be a great asset. 2012 bWAR: 0.6 2011-12 Avg: 0.3 2013 bWAR (Proj.): 0.5 Summary You can add up all my projected WAR’s here and get an 85-87 win projection, which is about where Vegas has us (85.5). As always, there is some upside (Utley is capable of a huge year, Hamels could have a career year, Brown and/or Revere could be great) and downside (Halladay could be done, Ruiz could regress further that we think, Adams could be hurt), etc, etc… but it seems like the Phillies will at the very least be in the wild card race most of the year. One thing is clear. The offense and bullpen needs to be considerably better than last year because starters 3-5 all have question marks. Both have a chance to do so, however. The rest of the league Because I did it for my over/under bets, here is how I have the rest of the league ranked to start the year… Tigers, 98 wins Nationals, 96 Rays, 91 Angels, 91 Blue Jays, 89 Dodgers, 89 Reds, 88 Giants, 88 Braves, 86 Athletics, 86 Rangers, 85 Phillies, 85 Diamondbacks, 84 Cardinals, 84 Yankees, 84 Red Sox, 83 Royals, 82 Orioles, 79 Brewers, 79 Pirates, 78 Indians, 78 White Sox, 78 Cubs, 75 Rockies, 75 Padres, 74 Mariners, 74 Mets, 72 Twins, 67 Marlins, 65 Astros, 58 So at the moment, I have the Phils as the first team out of the playoffs in the NL… Well – we will see what happens. Today is always a great day. Happy Baseball Season!
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