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Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Congratulations, Jason, on your appearance at HBT and on the very fine piece.

Great piece Jason. Perhaps the best point made which I haven't seen discussed elsewhere is Manuel's achievement last year. We have forgotten the string of things which went wrong, but ultimately the team stayed in contention despite the problems. That we never spun dangerously out of control at any point must in large part be down to Manuel.

Way to go, Jayson. Sharp analysis, good points all around.

A fine analysis. Left unsaid is whether you think any team in the division projects as being any better than 91 wins, or whether iit'll be a first-place or wild-card finish. I personally have to go with the Braves, but as I've said, New York will quickly be exposed yest again as pretenders. I do think the wild card will come from the NL Central. It should be a fun year, though. I worry about that bullpen, too, but everything else is looking good. I can't bring myself to believe it'll be a playoff season, but it definitely *could* happen...

Well done, Jason! Finally - a prediction that actually talks about Ryan Madson! I'm amazed how the national writers talk about the question marks at pitching AND expect the worst from three double-digit winners in '05 and Madson, who had to go to the pen with the promise of joining the rotation.

Can I ask something of the viewing, well-informed audience? How many wins is Madson going to get as a starter this year?

Madson's record will be 10-2. Good run support, a lot of no-decisions and blown leads.

My guess is that it will take closer to 95 wins to claim the NL East. This is based on the Nats and Marlins handing out more Ws to their opponents this year and their divisonal betters being the main beneficiaries. I see the Mets, Phils and Braves as approximately equal with the division going to the team best able to pile it on against the weaker opposition at the bottom of the division.

But 91 may be good enough for a WC.

disagree on the pitching, AS IT IS. We don't have any idea of Madson will hold up, if the team can score enough to keep franklin off the hook and lidle is NOT a solid No. 3 (I patently disagree with you there - Lidle vs. Petitte/Backe?). what we do seem to have this year, as opposed to last year, are options. that could end of being the difference.

Excellent article Jason, and sums up my thoughts on this years team exactly. The national sportswriters feel required to put the Mets near the top because they made the biggest offseason splash, and the Braves near the top because they always win the division, without recognizing the fact that the Phillies could easily be a 90 win team.

I would take Lidle over Backe, definitely. But the Astros aren't a good team to compare with, as the Phillies have a bunch of solid guys throughout whereas the Astros have two aces and then Backe, Rodriguez, and Buchholz.

Franklin isn't just a disaster at CBP, but everywhere! He had a horrible ERA WHILE TAKING STEROIDS! He cheated and still sucked.

Overall, excellent piece.

Hey, great piece.

Depth and options is exactly it. You point out Hamels, Floyd, and Wolf as an alternative to Ryan Franklin, but it's also possible as an alternative to the other Ryan -- if Madson doesn't work out as a starter, he goes back to kicking butt from the bullpen and hopefully one of those other three will be available to start.

I like the Stargell comparison for Ryan Howard. Maybe he can hit a homer straight out of CBP, now that there's no 600 level.

Good insight. Right now the Phils have put together a really good team. The only question is 3rd base. Bell is hurt, however Nunez, Gonzalez, and yes Coste are waiting in the wings - no drop off in production there. Coming out of spring they are better off than the Mets and Braves who have a few problems of their own to straighten out. Expect the Phils to start strong while the other teams need to do some catchup.

Great insight

I agree that the Phils may have just enough this year to make a playoff appearance. Howard will be key, and if he keeps up his hot hitting, he could be considered a top 3-5 offensive first baseman by the end of the season.

If they play like they are capable of, and stay healthy, the Phils should top the Mets in the NL East.

Very nice article, Jason. I agree the Phillies have the talent and the energy this season to take the division.
I might differ slightly in who the key players might be, hwr. It's all relative, of course. If you asked me what 5 players will most determine the Phillies' finish in 2006, my five would be:

1)Ryan Howard - If he steps up like it looks like he will, he can carry a team for stretches at a time.

2)Brett Myers - If he can become a true #1, it makes life easier for everyone on the pitching staff. If he falters, the season could go with him.

3)Aaron Rowand - If this guy plays up to his potential, he adds a ton to the offense, defense and in the clubhouse. His impact will not be defined by his stats alone. He will make Abreu and Burrell better in the OF, and coming right from a WS champion, he will make a difference in team attitude.

4)Ryan Madson - If he settles in as a regular starter, he could make the difference in the Phillies' winning 95 games instead of 85. If there's one guy on the team who I am really rooting for to have a 'breakout' year, it's Madson. He paid his dues and I hope he blossoms in the rotation.

5)Ryan Franklin - What??? I think of it this way: Nobody expects anything from this guy. I'm guessing most people feel he will eat some innings and if he starts all year, might end up 7-13 with a great offense behind him. Or they just want him to keep a seat warm for Floyd or Tejeda. That might very well be true. But what happens to the Phillies if he pitches effectively? What if he came in at 12-9, or better? He alone could provide the 5 extra wins that Gillick talked about during the offseason.(I am not predicting he will, just saying that he could be one of the keys for a successful 2006).

(Rollins, Abreu, Utley, Burrell, Lieber, Lidle and Gordon are obvious important pieces, but their contributions are much more predictable in my opinion, so I am not looking at them as keys to the season).

I like the idea of some 'hungry' guys on the bench this season, assuming Coste stays. He and Victorino will leave it all on the field. If Bell is platooned (and healthy) he will also contribute. This will be a lot better than the Perez, Tucker, Offerman, Chavez, etc.. bench of last year in my opinion.

Finally, I had earlier mentioned in a different post that having Gillick rather than Wade during the season itself will make a difference. The chances that the Phillies can address a need at the trade deadline or before are much better with Gillick. Depending on how some of the pitchers perform, Gillick might also be dealing from more strength than Wade did in past seasons when talking trade with other teams.

Let the games begin.

George S, What gives us any indication that at age 33, Ryan Franklin can win 12 games or better ? Has he improved his velocity or learned a new pitch ? The best you can say about him despite his 5 + ERA, he pitches 200 innings and doesn't walk many batters. If the Phils finish this year is being determined by Ryan Franklin, the Phils are in serious trouble. Best scenario is he doesn't hurt the Phils too badly in his starts before Floyd or Tejeda take his spot in the rotation.

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