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Friday, March 31, 2006

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89 wins and no playoffs. happy to be wrong, but i need to seize the less optimistic ground in this contest.

That's way less than 500 words.

i'll make it up with further comments in this thread, probably.

As a Lifetime Phillies Phan transplanted to New Orleans many years ago, now working in Houston due to Katrina, but returning to New Orleans after Easter, I have bought into a lot of NFL Saints preseason hype for years, only to be disappointed. I feel less optimistic right now about the Phillies than I normally due for a mediocre Saints team. Here’s why: Preseason games mean nothing. If the Phillies come out of the gate strong like they did in 1993, I’ll jump on the Magic Carpet. If they start bad like Phillies teams of recent years, it’ll just be heartbreak all summer as they try to get back to .500. If Floyd and Madson are the best two pitchers, why are they 4th and 5th in the rotation? The fifth guy never pitches as much and it appears that Gavin Floyd is the best pitcher right now. Lieber and Lidle don’t excite me. The bullpen has really dropped off from last year. Do we have a closer? Who knows? Will the old man ride a wheelchair from the bullpen and use a cane while on the mound? Offensively, we still have part of the black hole in the lineup. Before a season starts we always see our favorite team in its most favorable light. We always view the opposition in less than glowing terms. I think we’re wearing Phillies Pink eyeglasses when we look at this team. The Phillies broke my heart as a boy in 1964 and always let me down with those great teams under Danny Ozark that couldn’t win in the playoffs in the mid 70s. I see the Phillies as a team on the downslide in the beginning of the rebuilding process. I don’t see them in the playoffs let alone the World Series. I fully expect a third place division finish and I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they finish higher. However, saying that, in baseball anything can happen as attested by a humorous shirt I saw this week sporting an Apollo 13 theme. The shirt read, “Houston...We have a World Series.” I see a Red World Series, a rematch from 2004, with the Cardinals winning over the Red Sox.

Predicting the future is an ugly business, but for a book, I'll do it.

A nice jump start to the season and a great victory over the Mets in mid-May will set the tone, like in 1993. The pitching will be just enough. Overall, it will be 94 wins and a trip to the postseason. Braves will lose to the Cards and the Phils will beat the Dodgers in the first round. In a seven game nerve-wracker, similar to the 1980 NLCS, the Phils will end up on the losing end from a lack of firepower. After that, who cares.

Utley is going to have a monster year because of the protection in the lineup and get some votes for MVP.

Rollins reaches 47 games.

I think Rollins reaches 37 games, too hard with all the time off, but I do think he will have a much stronger overall year than his last.

I have no idea how to predict the season, but I do think they will be in the mix until the end.

when does this contest end? I have an essay due today and one due monday, but if I have time over the weekend I'll probably give it a go.

ESPN has not released its NL East staff predictions yet, but Fantasy writer Tristan Cockcroft has picked the Phillies to win the division, and good ol' Eric Karabell picked the Phillies as a Wild Card that'll lose in the first round to the Cardinals. CBS Sportsline picks the Phillies to finish 2nd, but lose the Wild Card to Houston (which in my opinion is ridiculous--I would definitely bet on the NL East to host the Wild Card)

I really have a good gut feeling that the Phils will surprise everyone.
This is why:

Last year the starting top 3 actually placed 4th overall with 43 wins. I think Lieber will do about the Same, while Myers will break out and win around 15 or 16 Lidle will continue with his consistant 12 or 13. Madson I believe will match his career record and win 15 and lose 7 and pitch an ERA in the mid 3's. Floyd and Wolf will take up the slack and win another 12 or so. This right here is right around 73 wins. The Bull pen is good for at least 20Right here is 93 wins.

I also believe Chase and Rollins defensively will continue to be in the top 1 or 2 combination in the league and offensively produce big numbers. Howard will smack around 41 homers and Burrell another 35.

Rowand will be a bit of a disappointment, but his attitude will make up for the rest.

Bell, knowing this is his last year will have something to prove and have a repeat of his 2nd year here, when he actually did really well hitting around 17 homers and batting around 290.

Lieby - Same thing. He really is underated and for catchers at one time was one of the best in production. I think he wants to finish out on a high note too.

Gillick alone will make a few more moves and believe me, I believe he knows what he's doing. That will give the phillies just a little extra boost to round off the rough edges

Our bench is a heck of lot better than the crap we had last year.

Perez I think is gone. I'd dump him and eat the money just to make room for Garrett or Coste or someone willing to contribute a heck of a lot more than the pies he throws. I like him, but it's time for change.

I really like Fassano. Don't know why, just do. I think think he's so nice that he'll mellow the club out in the right way and already the pitchers seem to like him.

Abreu will be consistent and Victorino will be a great sub when needed

The bullpen I think will actually be the biggest surprise. I look for Geary to make his mark and keep his ERA in the Low 3's to even high 2's.

Booker will stick around. The phils will find a way to keep him
Rhodes has another good year left

I think Gordon will be the disappointment

But I think we'll have others like Lopez, Booker and ? to fill the Gap

Cormier will have a last great season
Fultz - not sure - But I don't think he'll be as good as he was last year.

I really like Rodriguez. He'll do really good this year

I even think Santana will be pretty good with his ERA in the High 3's to low 4's
It used to be that wasn't that great, but now aday's that's actually pretty good.

With the talent we have in AAA and AA - someone else will appear and finally
Gillick will get someone that will make the difference. He's never had a team that didn't make the playoffs.

Why would he start now!

Have a good one!

Deadline is Monday.

essays? c'mon adam, prioritize!

How about kill two birds with one stone and write the essay about the 2006 Phillies?

The 2006 season begins with a pervasive feeling that the Phillies finally get it. One would perhaps have thought that they could or would have learned from the lack of real energy, cohesiveness, and overall intensity that muddled the final, expectation-laden years of the Bowa era, but last season's first half perhaps took the cake when it came to embodying this frustrating non-identity.

Just when it looked like things were going irrevocably down the toilet, however, the team suddenly exploded with a 12- homestand, and some key players began to get their first real chances to infuse the Phillies with a fresh, youthful spirit. This change was most markedly proffered by Chase Utley, but new life was also breathed in by the emergence of Ryan Howard. By the end of the year, even though their April and may doldrums ended up costing them dearly, this team felt, played, and looked different. You could tell they wanted it. They began finding ways to win, breaking out of ancient habits like failing miserably in the clutch. You could tell it hurt badly when they came up just short, and that the lesson had been learned.

No amount of free-agent windfalls were ever going to get this team over the top; it was a change in mindset, an attitude, an intensity that this team had lacked more than anything. We'll see soon enough, but I sense it's going to carry over from last September. And if it does, no amount of injuries can slow them. The lesson, I perceive, has finally been learned.

Individual predictions for 2006:

Jimmy Rollins: .278, 15 HR, 71 RBI, 85 walks, 49 SB. Hitting streak goes to 39. First Gold Glove.

Aaron Rowand: .264, 18 HR, 69 RBI.

Bobby Abreu: .315, 22 HR, 87 RBI, 21 SB. No Gold Glove.

Chase Utley: .289, 32 HR, 112 RBI, starting 2B for NL in AS game.

Pat Burrell: .267, 23 HR, 76 RBI, 2 trips to DL.

Ryan Howard: .285, 38 HR, 120 RBI.

Abraham Nunez: .271, 5 HR, 50 RBI.

Mike Lieberthal: .275, 21 HR, 65 RBI.

David Bell: .282, 6 HR, 37 RBI. Finishes with 200 fewer ABs than Nunez.

Alex Gonzalez: .234, 9 HR, 33 RBI.

Sal Fasano: .225, 9 HR, 19 RBI.

Shane Victorino: .257, 10 HR, 40 RBI.

Chris Coste: .310, 3 HR, 21 RBI.

Chris Roberson (filling in for Burrell): .280, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 11 SB.

Jon Lieber: 14-14, 4.43 ERA.

Brett Myers: 16-12, 3.48 ERA.

Cory Lidle: 5-8, 4.96 ERA, traded in July.

Ryan Madson: 10-2, 3.39 ERA, no relief appearances.

Gavin Floyd: 7-8, 4.53 ERA, demoted in June, recalled in August.

Ryan Franklin: 9-6, 4.68 ERA; 5-3, 4.15 as starter.

Randy Wolf: 6-6, 3.83 ERA.

Tom Gordon: 1-4, 2.76 ERA, 36 SV.

Arthur Rhodes: 7-2, 3.10 ERA.

Geoff Geary: 3-4, 3.51 ERA.

Julio Santana: 4-2, 4.03 ERA.

Aaron Fultz: 6-1, 3.24 ERA.

Rheal Cormier: 1-1, 8.53 ERA, released in mid-May.

Wishful thinking for the bullpen? Perhaps. I can't quite believe Floyd won't have another relapse at some point, meaning Franklin will flip-flop all year. But without checking what exactly all those wins and losses add up to, this has the makings for a season of:

90-72, 3 games behind Atlanta, NL wild-card winner, lose 3-1 in Division Series to Dodgers.


In past season's I have been overly optimistic about my beloved Phillies. This season, I'm going to go the realistic route. The Phillies are going to win 88 games and miss the playoffs. And here is why:

1. Rollins, Utley, Abreu, and Howard will hold their own and produce very well, which helps towards winning more.

2. Burrell is going to only play 125 games, which takes some wins away.

3. Roward improves the center field defense and becomes a reliable centerpiece in the outfield...producing at the plate: .270 15hr 95 runs and 60 rbi...this adds wins.

4. Bell sucks and Nunez and Gonzalez don't hack it at 3rd as backups, take wins away.

5. David Dellucci helps spell Abreu and Burrell keeping them fresher and hits some longballs too...adding wins.

6. Madson breaks down, Floyd flounders, and Franklin only pitches well in relief not when he returns to rotation...taking wins away.

7. Bullpen just isn't good. Gordon and Rhoades are fragile and the rest of the cast are mediocre...taking wins away.

Overall there are more question marks and drawbacks than the positives, leading to another season of wishful thinking.

91-71, first place, NL East

C: Mike Lieberthal- .263-12-63. Lieby never lived up to hopes- he has a weak arm and he can't call a game for his life, but he is at least an average catcher offensively. Very inerested in who his successor will be. Too bad this year's relatively underpriced C market wasn't next year.

1B: Ryan Howard- .267-49-122. Believe the hype.

2B: Chase Utley- .303-31-102 with 22 steals. Added bonus- his glove looks even better this spring. Expect to see a lot of the Phils' right side of the infield in coming all-star games. The Phils could be very good for a very long time building around these two.

3B: David Bell- .233-7-39. Chronic back pain sucks. Expect Gonzalez and Nunez to get a lot of starts, with Gonzalez the best option. Clearly the weak link in the lineup.

SS: Jimmy Rollins- .284-12-68 with 37 steals and 110 runs. As much as I'd love for J-Roll to break DiMaggio's record, color me skeptical. Can't knock the glove, though. I second the gold glove prediction.

RF: Bobby Abreu- .334-33-118 with 15 steals. Bobby's due to win a batting title sooner or later, and this could be the year. He was clearly hobbled by injuries in the second half of last year, yet didn't complain or asked to be taken out. His reward- occasional predictions of his premature decline. Outside of Bonds, the best strike zone discipline in the game. Bobby's still got it. Top 5 MVP finish.

CF: Aaron Rowand- .268-23-84 with 19 steals. I was more than satisfied with the Michaels-Lofton platoon last year, but all indications are that Rowand will quickly become a fan favorite. I wouldn't be surprised if he continues to press in April-May but wins fans over with his hustle in the field and some clutch hits down the stretch.

LF: Pat Burrell- .281-31-103. Let's face it, Pat isn't going to lead the NL in HR anytime soon (especially with RyHo in town). But he can't be considered a flop, either. A bit expensive at his current contract but a solid player and a much-needed RH power bat. Injury concerns are somewhat assuaged by addition of Dellucci, although that would leave the Phillies exposed to LH pitching.

Rotation:
Myers: 19-7, 3.42 ERA. Last year was a sampling of what he can do without Kerrigan messing with his confidence. Ballpark and Lieberthal's anemic pitch selection will inflate his ERA and leave him out of Cy Young contention, but he'll be taking the ball on opening day in 2007.

Lieber: 15-11, 4.01 ERA. One of Ed Wade's better recent moves, Lieber isn't a true #2 but he's a predictable, reliable starter who is certainly more than a mere innings-eater.

Lidle: 12-13, 5.03 ERA. A mere innings-eater, but at least he's a groundball pitcher.

Madson: 16-9, 3.59 ERA. Madson's my dark horse Phillie all-star, with something like a 10-3, 2.88 ERA at the break. I think he'll fade down the stretch (again), but will be considered the Phils' 2nd best starter by the end of the year.

Floyd: 6-7 4.86 ERA. The hardest prediction. Expect an up and down year from Floyd with a couple of superlative starts. I'd love to be more optimistic, but I never thought he was that good of a prospect. Prime candidate to be replaced by Wolf in July, although I'm not confident in Wolf upon return. If things don't work out there, a solid showing by Haigwood or Hamels could get Floyd replaced. Hopefully, I'm wrong and Gavin will make it the whole year with an ERA around 4. Worst case scenario- a double-digit ERA in April. I think these two scenarios have about an equal chance of occurring.

Bullpen:
Fultz- 4-2, 2.02 ERA. My favorite bullpen guy, Fultz will establish himself as one of the better situational lefties in the game.
Franklin- 4-9, 4.77 ERA. Will be a $2.7 million long reliever by June. He's no Ryan Madson.
Arthur Rhodes- 6-4, 3.13 ERA. Dellucci deal makes Michaels-for-Rhodes look acceptable in hindsight. The guy is ageless. If nothing else, the back end of our bullpen is full of veteran guile.
Flash Gordon- 3-4 3.58 ERA, 38 saves. He may not be the biggest injury list on the roster (that honor goes to David Bell), but he's up there, and losing him would be crippling. If healthy, I think he would be able to dominate the NL, but I wouldn't be surprised if his breaking ball is ineffective for long periods this summer. Torre rode him into the ground.

Conclusion:
The bullpen still needs work, but I think Gillick will realize this and make a move. The Phillies will cobble together a solid 1-2-3 of Myers, Madson and Lieber for the playoffs. Their playoff hopes will hinge in large part on how Madson is able to hold up to the rigors of pitching over 200 innings. But ya gotta believe!

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