Before we get started, a note about the picture. Embrace 1985. Not only is Ferris wearing what appears to be a leopard print cardigan and gray suit pants, but we all watched this and didn’t even blink an eye. And, this was the coolest teenager in all of Illinois putting that outfit together. Leopard print, it’s timeless. Anyway, on to the Phillies.
The Phillies haven’t been getting a ton of love in the prediction columns. At least not commensurate with the feeling we all had the day after they signed Cliff Lee. Things have changed, and that swifty Heyman over at SI didn’t even have them in the playoffs. I think Jayson Stark picked them to make the World Series, but he used Dancing With The Stars to frame his column and I went brain-dead while power-skimming it. Way to know your audience, Jayson! Anyway, tomorrow I’m going to randomly assign my award predictions and the like (hey, I nailed the NL Cy Young last year), but today we’ll just focus on the hometown boys. A crooked walk through 2011…
Most Recent News:
- Phils Cut Castillo. This surprises me a bit, because Castillo was doing exactly what Castillo does, and they still cut him. What were they expecting, gap to gap power? I have no use for Castillo. The team doesn’t need a slap-hitter.
- Brad Lidge is down until May. I don’t want to minimize Brad Lidge, but I think his health will have almost no bearing on this Phillies season. The replacement(s) will be just as good as a healthy Lidge would have been at this point in his career.
- Jamie Moyer is going to be on Baseball Tonight. Expect him to complain three weeks in to a group of media that he isn’t getting the air-time that he was promised by ESPN.
The 2011 Season:
Don’t Bury the Lede: The Phillies will win 94 games. They will make the playoffs.
Offensive MVP: Ryan Howard. A lot is being made of the fact that Howard has no protection in the order. This is an overblown concept in my opinion. If Howard is disciplined and some guys get on in front of him, he’ll have plenty of chances to hit. I think Ryan will push it past 40 HRs again.
Offensive Disappointment: Placido Polanco. I’m a little concerned about Polly. Between the elbow and the cold spring, I’m afraid we may have seen the best of Polanco. He knows how to hit and should grind it out, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him dropped to 7th in the order by the end of the year.
Best Starting Pitcher: Roy Halladay. Until something changes, Halladay is far and away the best pitcher on this staff. No disrespect to the other guys, but he’s another ½ level above the other guys. It’s actually the ace and three very good pitchers in my opinion.
Ace Most Likely to Struggle: Cole Hamels. A month ago I might have picked Hamels to win the Cy Young, and I still think he could have a very good year. The real answer to this question is that I think all the aces will be just fine. But, Hamels has had an up and down spring and he sounds a little confused. He thinks too much, talks himself into things he shouldn’t be worried about. I want to see a couple regular season starts from Oswalt as well.
Contreras will Save How Many Games: 30. I have no real reason to believe that Lidge will be ready to close by May. This could last all year. I think Contreras can handle the job. I don’t know if they will use him as frequently as a true closer, but I think he’ll be the guy and I think he’ll do well. By the way, giving the ball to Contreras here is a big hit to the Ryan Madson 2012 closer campaign. We could see the last of Madson in 2011.
Jimmy Rollins Will: Earn a 3-year, 20 million dollar deal from someone. Will it be the Phillies? I’m not sure. Rollins will never return to the form that won him the NL MVP award, but as spring training has wound to a close he’s shown me enough that I think he’ll bounce back reasonably well from last year. Something in the .270, 15 homer, 30 steal ballpark. And, he can still play solid defense.
Chase Utley: I don’t see any reason to project on Utley. I can say, that I think regardless of how things are progressing, Utley will drag himself out there in May or maybe June and try to give it a go. When that happens, we’ll know what his season will hold.
Raul Ibanez: Will Make the Phillies contemplate a one-year offer after the season. I think Ibanez’s solid spring is a sign of a solid year to come. He’ll be spelled occasionally against lefties, but I think he’ll get a good 140 starts and I think he’ll be in the 60 extra base hit range.
Domonic Brown: Will play the majority of the season at AAA. This is what is best for Brown and I hope the Phillies are in a position to allow this to happen. If all goes well, they can reintroduce Brown as a late-season call-up and try to start the Brown era again in 2012.
Minor Leaguer Knocking on the Door: Mike Stutes. Last year in this post I mentioned Scott Mathieson. I thought he could pop-up in the Phillies bullpen by the end of the year. Well, Mathieson is still there as a candidate, but he’s probably been eclipsed by Stutes who has far less baggage. The fans already like this guy, and they’ll love him if he can come up to Philly and produce. Nothing like a young, live arm for the bullpen. I’d tell Herndon to take a walk and try Stutes from the opening gun.
Random Stat Lines:
- Cliff Lee: 16-9, 3.00 ERA. Lee’s handful of bad starts will keep him from Cy Young contention.
- Shane Victorino: .295, 12 HRs, 40 2Bs, 100 runs. I think Shane is going to have a good year. Little less swinging for the fences will serve him well.
- Ben Francisco: .270, 24 HRs, 90 Rbis. Taste that, Werth. The panic over missing Werth is overblown. Francisco can do a decent job, and remember Werth was one of the worst hitters in all of baseball with runners in scoring position last year.
Hope that covers enough for everyone. Two days away (barring Nor’easter interference) from everything getting underway. It’s felt like a long spring. Can’t wait for them to start counting.
Quiz of the Day: Sitcom by Scene. Category: Turn off the Idiot Box. My Score: 24/25.
Nice easy one today after yesterday. I almost did Top 200 Phillies by games played in the Veterans Stadium Era. That’s hours of fun. But, I thought about you guys, and gave you a break.