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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Comments

This is a good place to post your predicted wins/losses as well. Tom G. emailed this morning after reading the preview and guessed I had them pegged for 83-85 wins. I have them higher than that. The point I didn't emphasize enough in THT s the quality of the starting pitching. The difference this season is they have enough depth in the rotation to avoid a June swoon, which is what killed them in 2006. So, 88 wins, knocking on the playoff door.

Jason, great writing and loaded with lots of red meat for us Beerleaguers. Definitely required reading. To me (like Bill Clinton) this is the season of hope (instead of hype). There is no hype because we know the OF and bullpen are in disarray. We hope that Utley, Rollins and Howard can come close to last year's stellar numbers. We hope that Myers and Hamels meet their potentials and shine. We hope Freddy Garcia and Eaton aren't bust acquisitions. We hope some guys suprise us in the bullpen like Geary did last year. We hope Werth is okay. We hope the catcher position can get hits. We hope the outfield settles into a group we can rely on. We hope Cholly makes the right in-game strategy moves. We hope, we hope.

I'm not really a gambling man, but if I were, I would not bet any money at this time on the Phillies winning the World Series, unless I got great odds, then I'd only bet $5.

Todd Walker released by Padres today. Anyone think that he could fit anywhere on the Phillies bench. I think he can only play infield, and not great infield at that, but he can definetely hit. I just wish the guy could play OF and we might have a cheap solution to some of the bench problems. I know that is extreme wishful thinking, bordering on fantasy, but hey, we need whatever we can get. Maybe Todd Walker can be a closer as well. Hmmmm?

Jason - good recap. Very thorough and it sums it all up to anyone who isn't as in tune with the team as the regulars on this site.

I would love to be overly optimistic about this coming season, especially after a team with just over 80 wins won the WS. Unfortunately, Spring Training has only exacerbated my concerns about the bullpen and the bench (two very important areas in the NL). Short of another surprise a la Chris Coste last year or a big move by Gillick, the Phils have some Swiss cheese size holes to fill in this roster.

On the other hand, I am going to go out on a limb and climb on the Pat Burrell Bandwagon (assuming it hasn't been sold for parts, yet). Did he have a bad year last year - absolutely. Has he crapped the bed all Spring - you bet. I really have 0 reason whatsoever to say it, but I just feel like he's going to surprise some people, Manual included. Put me down for 84 wins (subject to change if improvements in 'pen, bench and defense are made) and a .278, 36 HR, 120 RBI season for Pat the Bat!!!

unintentionally hilarious sportswriting this morning:

"The list is impressive and one Matt Smith will have memorized in no time. Barry Bonds, Carlos Delgado, Brian McCann and Shawn Green. They are some of the more notable lefthanded hitters in the National League..."

SHAWN GREEN? .257/.325/.442 for the Mets last year Shawn Green is one of the more notable lefties in the NL?

Well done article. Like every other NL team, the holes are exposed for all the world to see. Loved what was said about Chad Cordero, too, but I am afraid that contest is going to get real expensive.

ae: Green stated early in spring training that he found a hitch in his swing that doomed his mechanics last season. A 45-HR, 125-RBI return to form is sure to follow (wink, wink).

vor, don't even joke - the way Willie Randolph's secret voodoo spells worked on Jose Valentin and Endy Chavez, I'm not ruling anything out.

Going back to what RSB was talking about in the previous thread with Rowand, I know where he's coming from. Believe me. The fact remains that aside from "the catch," Rowand hasn't done anything for me and looks like another odd, unproductive fit in the lineup. My concern is that an outfield of part-time Burrell, Victorino, Bourn and some combination of Werth and Garcia would present a serious burden on the offense. Rowand's 12-18 homers, high K, low OB may seem easy to replace, but Bourn, while an exciting player, is good for between 0-3 homers. But would I trade Rowand if it meant bullpen help? Absolutely.

I'm forecasting either 83-85 wins or 87-89 for the Phils this year, what does that depend on? Ryan Madsen. I think he is the key between just making and just missing the playoffs. With the Garcia's injury issues and Hamels propensity for missing time, it will take a solid deal to move Lieber. The Phils know that a good rotation can even out a bad pen, the same as a good pen evens out a mediocre rotation. Madsen will have to step up and deliver in ways he has shown he has the ability to (although inconsistently). I can remember 2 games I went to last year where Madsen was the most memorable part. In Mid-April against the Nats he started and gave up 9 runs in 1 and 1/3! It was horrible, he might as well been throwing underhand. In late June I saw him start against the Orioles in Camden Yards, he went 8 and 2/3 and pitched an absolute gem. No runs, few hits and a bunch of Ks. Besides Myers against the Mets and Pedro it was one of the best pitched games I saw last year. The kid has it in him but whether he can bring it out means playoffs or not.

i agree with you J. the phils have holes for sure in their bullpen and their lineup, and Freddy Garcia looks as if he might be bit by the injury bug. however, i think the rotation is deeper and i also expect burrel to have a better season this year. one thing i'm concerned about is after castro and brito were sent down is there any lefties in the bullpen besides matt smith?

I'm going to be crazy and predict 90-92 wins. Why? I'm still not sure, but that's what I want from this team and I figure one of these years they'll actually come through.

Based on nothing but unbridled optimisim: 92 wins.

Bourn for Cordero. Would anyone do it?

PS-Manny Acta, not Frank Robinson is Manager of the Nats.

I would do Bourn for Cordero in a second. problem is, Jim Bowden would laugh Gillick off the phone.

Bowden will not trade Cordero unless he is getting an excellent prospect in return (Bourn is nowhere close to an excellent prospect). that is true today, and it will be true at the deadline no matter how many Ls the Nats have.

I know he was asking for a lot from Boston, so Bourn alone won't do it. However, I don't think Jim Bowden should laugh anyone off the phone. He's got a team full of top prospects from the year 2000.

I'd put Bourn in the "solid prospect" category, "excellent" may go too far.

I'd be reluctant to trade what little young position talent the Phillies have, even for Cordero.

Bedrosian's Beard: having watched the "Chief" come in more than a few times at RFK, I'd make the trade if it only cost us Bourn. Cordero inspires confidence in a key element: the fans. Everytime he enters even the most causual of fan expects that the Nats will win, and I suspect that if you asked the players, they'd say the same thing. While I like Bourn's speed, I tend to think that the Chief would bring back the feeling that we had when "Enter Sandman" (or whatever the name of the Metallica song was) would blast out of the speakers at the Cit and [Name Redacted] would come out.

But then again, maybe I'm wrong...

Carson you are crazy, but I hope you are right so I can enjoy the next seven months.

I agree Phila in... I'm in DC too and love Cordero. As noted, Nats won't give him away, but I'd consider whatever to get him, with J's point being the one major concern.

I see Bed's Beard is crazy, too! 92 wins! LOL!

Last year I predicted 85-86 wins and was dead on, so lets hope I'm right again.

the problem with dealing with Bowden is his apparent reluctance to trade unless he's getting a great deal. he gave up very little to get Soriano (especially in retrospect), and refused to trade him even when it was obvious to everyone that the Nats wouldn't be able to afford him in 2007. when he was willing to make a deadline deal, he stole Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez for Gary Majewski, Royce Clayton, and minor leaguers.

and at the deadline, when you can bet everyone will want an All Star closer (including probably the deep pocketed Red Sox), I don't see any reason why Bowden would have to settle for whatever we could come up with. don't get me wrong, I'd love to see Gillick come up with something, but - especially given our lack of developed position prospects, as Jason points out - I don't really give us any chance at all.

I think its time to send Rowand back to the sox. They have four releievers vying for one spot in the pen right now. In a few days ,they will have a few bullpen pieces to trade....lets ship rowand for a reliever and brian anderson and call it a day. Please Please not Rob Mackowiak. I know he's "versatile" but i'd rather have a young guy then an older guy.

The sox are the only team that would be willing to give us a decent return on rowand, simply because of the fact the fans will forgive kenny williams for the garcia trade if he gets back rowand.

the only way i'd trade rowand to the sox for one of their relievers is if they gave brian anderson too. apparently they've completely given up on him (90 k's in 365 will do that), but he's is just 25. i'm no clout, but he was a good enough prospect to hand the starting job over to last year.

i'm not ready to make a prediction yet, but i'll say 88 wins and not like it. the mets are worse, but i don't know if they're 9 games worse. the phil's will be in the wc race but a division race would be so much nicer.

Maybe we can trade Roward back to the ChiSox for Gio Gonzalez? I'd even take Gavin Floyd back. 3 years from now - Gio will be a 20 game winner.

you guys have to think about this - the Sox can easily sign Rowand next year. there's no reason for them to go nuts trying to get him for one season.

My prediction is going to be on the low-side. I think the Phillies struggle to stay at around the .500 mark. There are a lot of holes on this team. One happens to be between the ears of Ryan Madson. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but he has never been the same since he was moved into the rotation. It seems to have messed with him. I hope that he returns to form knowing that he will be in the bullpen. I agree that he is a key piece of the puzzle.

So, I am looking at 79 - 81 wins with lots of excuses from management on why we don't make the playoffs again. One of my favorites, "We would have been a few wins better if (insert player name here) hadn't gone on the DL".

Aaron Rowand needs to go back to the White Sox while he has some value. They want him and we have. Make the deal PG.

I have the Phils pegged for 90 wins. Myers and Hamels at the top of the rotation gives the Phils a fierce 1-2. Either Garcia, Lieber, or Eaton will come through to give them 3 high quality starters. And although the offense may be below last year, it is still one of the league's best. It likely will come down to the bullpen not blowing leads, which can demoralize a team. They are still an arm or two short in the pen, but I am expecting some trades and/or help from the farm (Bisenius)prior to July to address this.

I agree with the 90 wins prediction. I like the addition of Helms in balancing production in the lineup (hopefully no black hole) and really hope Jimmy and Victorino can spark things at the top. I just got back from spring training and saw the best and worst of the phillies offense. Two days with no scoring and then a ten run outburst. I was hoping for some more manufacturing this year with Victorino hitting second and small ball Lopes at first, but its looking like another year of waiting for the long ball.

As far as the pen goes, I'm not so worried about Madson. I don't think he'll be exposed as a reliever as he was as a starter, he looked pretty good down in florida. Its no surprise to this site, but Smith looked horrible. Its one thing to see the numbers and another thing to sit through it in Sarasota.

Looking back over this it doesn't seem to add up to 90 wins, but I think the Phils are due to get some breaks. The gods still owe us for the crimes of last september in DC.

As I really think about the bullpen conundrum, a couple of questions come up that will define this season. I'd love to hear some insight. Obviously, with the 'pen shortcomings, the SP staff will be tasked to go deep into games often (something they did NOT do in 2006).

-How confident is everyone that this admittedly improved staff is capable of getting into/through the 7th on a consistent basis, considering the make-up of the staff (age, prone to injury, etc.)?

-How much of the Phils less than stellar Spring Training can be attributed to the starters NOT pitching more innings (correctly so, as ST should be to find plugs for the holes)? How much of the ST lack of success is related to the offense?

There are a slew of reasons to assume that this team will regress, I won't bore everyone by going back aver them again.

On the other hand, I love our rotation. I think Myers and Hamels could very well win 35 between them. Garcia will be beter then league average, and Moyer seems like a guy with enough savy to counter act his age. Eaton is a question, but find me a rotation without a ? at the 5th spot.

The boys are all back and healthy and I see no reason for them to regress (Utley, J-Roll and Howard), and if you don't realize that Helms is an upgrade at 3rd, your need some remedial baseball ed.

I think Vic will continue to turn into the kind of dirty uniform player that Philly fans will always get behind.

Besides, it is still March and in case you weren't aware we are currenly tied for first place in all of MLB. I am a ST optimist for sure.

90

ae - that's a good point. but i don't think a reliever who wasn't going to make the team anyway and a prospect that have given up on is asking too much.

i've been in a sad - "why don't we have ANY position players in the minors" state for a few days now.

it didn't help that la sent looney down. the guy would bat fifth for us and start in right field, and he can't make the wc teams roster.

Prediction: 90 wins.

I think the rotation has been improved, but last year's nice finish papered over a lot of holes. Mainly, the lack of OBP on this team is a bit of a concern, especially in the OF if Burrell remains nicked up and Garcia/Werth see more time.

Also, neither Ruiz nor Barajas will come to be anywhere near as good as Coste was in the second half.

The bullpen is a big question mark, but I think if Cholly handles Gordon well and gives Geary and Madson the important innings over Alfonseca (I think he won't make Geary the set-up guy until Alfonseca clows at least two games), it will be average.

Some other random predictions for the upcomming season:

1) RSB will call at some point for Garcia to play instead of Burrell.

2) Some newcommer will suggest that the Phillies call up career minor leaguers like Brennan King and Brian Mazone...and clout will rip them.

3) Coste will have the highest OPS of all the catchers.

4) Vic will demonstrate the he is the Phillies CF of the future and close to an all-star.

5) The Phillies will not make the playoffs if Manuel is still the manager at the end of the season.

if Loney's hitting fifth for the Phils (unlikely on its own), does that mean we traded Ryan Howard for him? which also explains why he's not starting for LA - Nomar's at first.

ah, I see you said start in RF - he's really not an outfielder unless they were going to convert him this season, I thought.

As I said from earlier thread, "90" is my mantra for this season but unfortunately I am not a true believer.

Best case scenario: 92-93 wins and an NL East title
Worst case scenario: 77-78 wins and alot of jammed phone lines at WIP

See another interesting yet ultimately disappointing season - 84 wins and no playoffs yet again.

While the names have changed, the Phils keep rolling along with the same old sound.

Obviously this has been covered, and i have to defer to the team execs who see these guys up close everyday, but I still wonder why exactly they thought Coste/Ruiz couldn't do as well or better then Barajas.

I hope to be suprised by Barajas, he certainly appears to be better then Pratt and Fu man chu, but it almost seems like a move from "Baseball for Idiots" if you have two catchers with less then a year of MLB experience, you must sign a vet. While totally ignoring the fact the the team was at it's best with those two guys in the game last season.

Prediction: Coste goes to Texas. Maybe we'll get Marlon Byrd, Matt Kata, or Desi Relaford back.

Prediction: 93 wins

For a few reasons...

- I want to one-up Carson
- It is more of a destiny type number. 1993...93 wins. Maybe some connection??
- I have only 6 days left for outlandish optimism before the season starts
- I have the strongest feeling (call it false-hope) that Gillick will make a deal before opening day.

I believe this makes me the highest prediction. Do I win anything?

...Maybe a dunce cap?

87-90 wins - based on starting pitching and I think Rowand returns to form soon and hits better (remember he's still getting comfortable on that leg, and been scalding the ball lately). As a result, that'll be better production from the bottom of the order. With the exception of Chris Coste's miraculous season in 2006, production was awful from "the black hole" (need I remind the faithful of all the wasted at-bats from Bell, Nunez, Lieberthal, Fasano and attrocious hitting from the SPs) last year, so even just a little improvement in that department makes this offense SCARY good. And I'm hopeful the extra bunting practice pays off for the pitchers, but I've been hopeful of that for years now.

I'm still amazed at posters who think Victorino is an All Star caliber player. There is nothing, I mean nothing, in either his stats or skills set to suggest that. Unless he miraculously acquires better strike zone judgment, what you see is what you get: A scrappy, dirty-uni player who fields well, runs well and, if he plays everyday, will hit .250-.280 with 10 HRs, a bad K/BB ratio and too few SBs. In other words, a good 4th outfielder.

tim: We already have Brian Anderson. His name is Aaron Rowand. They are essentially the same player, although Rowand will give you more slightly more power and a higher average.

To me, the season belongs to Jimmy Rollins. If he continues to play as he has in ST, showing tremendous K/BB ratio and pitch-selectivity, he can single-handedly carry the team. His skills are that good. If that happens and there are no catastrophic injuries, I can see 90 wins. IF, on the other hand, Jimmy gives us what he did last year: A very good year, but low on OB and weak K/BB ratio, then I foresee 82-84 wins because of unproven setup man, no closer backup if Gordon is hurt, poor bench and my growing suspicion that Garcia is developing arm trouble.

clout - but haven't the sox abandoned anderson as an everyday player? if they have then i think the swap would be fine. a younger, cheaper, 'same player' and a reliever for one that probably won't resign here anyway - that sounds good to me.

"There is nothing, I mean nothing, in either his stats or skills set to suggest that."

How about a 911 OPS at AAA at age 24?

How about a 959 OPS at AA at age 23?

Or that he is a plus defender at a crucial defensive position?

What, exactly, would have to count for "someting" in your book?

And why in the world would you predict him to hit between .250-280? He hit .287 in almost a full year and he is only 26.

Get out of your default rip mode and go look at some stats.

87 wins - 2 games off the WC.

Hope I am wrong.

Starting from the top:

JRoll continues to show much improved patience at the plate, increases his OBP by 25 points and scores a league-leading 140 runs.

Shane Victorino leads the league in triples and infields hits, plays stellar defense, develops into a base-stealing threat and, along with JRoll, wreaks havoc at the top of the order.

Chase Utley has a typical Chase Utley season.

Ryan Howard gets his groove back, surprises everyone with more-than-capable 1B defense, and contends for another MVP award.

Pat Burrell has another Burrell-like 25-HR/85-RBI season and confounds everyone by leading the team with RISP.

Wes Helms flirts with .300, drives in 90 runs while hovering near the league-leaders in doubles, and displays surprising range and agility at the hot corner.

Aaron Rowand is a disappointment at the plate but, in a moment of reckless abandon on a fly ball hit into the gap, collides with Karim Garcia, causing a season-ending ACL tear to the RF.

Rod Barajas becomes a model of efficiency with his game-calling prowess. The settling effect on the pitching staff results in lower pitch counts, more innings by the starters, and keeps the bullpen from becoming fully exposed.

Adam Eaton drives Beerleaguer commentator nuts by following 7-inning, 3-hit gems with 4-inning 5-ER stinkers. In the process, he leads all pitchers with Beerleaguer-related posts, becomes known as the anti-Corey Lidle, but remains healthy while tossing enough gems to finish the season as a 15-game winner.

Hamels stays injury free and teams with Brett Myers to become one of the top two tandems in the NL.

Gordon is treated with kid gloves from the start and saves 40 games while holding his shoulder together with spit and duct tape.

Ryan Madson is given a defined bullpen role and reverts to his ’04 form.

Bisenius and/or Segovia and/or Happ become mid-season or emergency call-ups and defy the odds by making meaningful contributions to the pitching staff.

And, with lady luck on their side, the regular position players get through the season relatively unscathed by injuries.

The result? In a things-are-not-quite-as-bad-as-they-seem, Red Kool-Aid chugging moment, GM-Carson nails it on the head in consecutive years with 92 wins and is thereafter known as Swami-Carson. But in the ultimate irony, his favorite skipper wins Manager of the Year!

Kdon, I’m with you. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, because A. I never said he would be an All-Star (although I don’t count it out down the line) and B. because I have been down this road with clout before, he has his opinion, and it won’t start to change until the games count if it ever does.

But there is one interesting thing he has added to the formula this time that I will comment on: “Unless he miraculously acquires better strike zone judgment”.

The guy has not been around that long. The old saying is: “you can’t teach speed.” I have never heard it said that you can’t teach strike zone awareness, as a matter of fact that is one area you would expect will increase quickly for a guy playing everyday for the first time. I don’t think it will take a miracle.

To be clear, I don't actually think Vic will ever be an all-star, at least not as long as Beltran and Jones are around. I do think he has the capability to be a top 5 CF in the NL, however.

Just doing a quick glance around the league, other than Jones and Beltran, the only clearly better CF are Edmonds (old), Hall (defense?), and Soriano if he stays there.

No question that Vic everyday in CF could be one of the 5 best.


95 wins and I'm dead serious. The bullpen can be mediocre until around mid June when pieces will be better available for less than they will cost now. Bisenius will be up by July and our bullpen will be above average. Offense is never a problem and will be better this year as I see Rollins being extremely effective this year, 200+ hits, 135 runs, 50 SB, and an average finally over .300. I really think J-Roll has the chance to be an MVP candidate this year. I know you guys are going to rip me for saying this, but Rollins will carry this team from start to finish. Don't know why it is just a strong feeling I have this year. To use an Ed Wade quote, "Jimmy is a red-light player." The spotlight is going to be on him big this year and I feel he will come through big time and all of you guys will be surprised, big time!

Weitzel - Small suggestion. Take all of the posters/predicted wins and store it away.

At the end of the season, the poster who nails the number of wins/get closest to without going over the actual number get a small piece of Beerleaguer memorabilia?

Kdon: You make this too easy. Victorino's lifetime minor league #s: .282/.343/.417. He was NOT an everyday player last year. Let's see him hit .287 playing everyday.

As for the AA stats, I'm surprised you'd be so dishonest as to imply that was a full season. It was a HALF season. The other half, in AAA, he hit .235/.278/.335. He did have a great year at Scranton in 2005, but guess what, age 24 is NOT young for AAA and he was repeating the level! Actually it was his third shot in AAA.

Look, I hope Vic and Sanches and Condrey and all the guys you think are great have tremendous seasons. I hope Vic hits .330 with 25 HRs and proves me wrong and you right. But the odds are against it based on their track records and skill sets.

Clout, here is a fun comparison for you

Age 26 season

Player A: .287/.346/.414. 24BB, 51K, 760 OPS

Player B: .290/.338/.431, 47BB, 71K, 769 OPS

A is Vic, B is J-Roll. Give Vic some time before you dismiss his ability.

Also, the notion that J Roll alone could swing the Phillies record 6-8 wins is aburd.

8 wins, for example, is about the difference between the '06 versions of Ryan Howard and Jeff Conine. Not even J Roll is that streaky.

OK, I guess we can argue about whether 400 ABs counts as a full season.

His AA season wasn't full, but it was still a substantial sample size, 293 ABs. He did struggle after the promotion in 200 ABs, but in his recent years, that is the time that looks like the outlier.

I wasn't trying to suggest it was a full season, but it was a significant enough time to judge his ability.

Also, I understand why you would want to look at his career #s in the minors, but he is obviously a very different player than he was at 18. It's not like the guy is Chris Coste or something having a fluke year at 33.

There is nothing surprising about a player who begins to develop power around 22 or 23.

Look, at age 21 in AA, VIc had 20 XBH in 481 ABs.

At age 24, he has 59 XBH in 494 ABs.

Something obviouly clicked during this time and you cannot pretend that the age 21 season is as relevant as his age 24 year.

I wouldn't call it dishonest to look at those early numbers, but you might want to give more weight to his more recent performance.

We'll see. As long as we are giving predictions, I'll put Vic in for .295/.350/.450.

86 wins or so. Not enough for the wildcard.

The bottom line for me is that only one of the three biggest holes from last year's team (third base) has been filled. Consensus at the end of the season was that the team also needed to protect Howard better than Burrell could, and that the pitching needed to be solidfied. Neither has happened.

86-88 wins and hopefully the wildcard. Here's an ambiguous prediction: some of the guys will underachieve and some will overachieve this season. I think they'll helped by the NL overall being the weaker league which doesn't leave a whole lot of teams that look better than them on paper.

91 Wins (The Over/Under is 89)
Utley is the MVP
Eaton 13W 4.64 ERA 185 IP

About a month ago on my blog, believe it or not, I said Charlie Manuel would win Manager of the Year this year and get nice extension. That's the price of victory, and I'm okay with that, if it translates into 92 wins and a playoff appearance. Although I can't stand Charles Fuqua Manuel.

Clout is no doubt the Simon Cowell of Beerleaguer Idol. Love him or hate him, you always look forward to hearing what he has to say.

Rollins, Utley, and Howard all can carry the team themselves when hot.

However with all the Gillick bashing from failed signings & transactions he might only have Wes Helms to save him.

88 wins. Another great Utley year and we find out that Clout is really Bobby Abreu. Finally we are in the playoffs.

87 wins. leiber is traded for mediocre relief, rollins figures out that a walk is as good as a hit, howard hits less HRs, burrell continues to disappoint, rowand is traded during the season, one of the pitchers (probably eaton) is a bust. bullpin serviceable, but not as terrible as it seems. unless the team leads the division at the break, charlie is gone.

Ususally in a situation like this - guesseing the number of wins - I'm the first guy to stick his neck out with a 'guestimate'. However, I find this team very, very difficult to gauge.

If things fall totally apart or they catch lightining in a bottle like 1993 (two standard deviations from the mean in either direction), this team could be horridly painful of orgasmically (Carson) joyfull to watch.

But, at this point, I find even guessing to be extremely difficult. They are simply too many things up in the air, and too many things that require a measure of faith.

Let me give some examples:

Madson looks to be returning to form, but we can't be sure. Will he revert to the lights out 2004 Mad Dog, the mediocre 2005 Hound, or the Mutt that showed up last year? He has a new pitch (slider) that seems to be working, so he could potentially be as good as '04, or maybe even better. He could also lose his confidence and be as bad as last year.

Flash: Healthy all year and 40 saves, or a trip or two to the DL?

Pat Burrell: Do I really need to go through this analysis?

Ryan Howard: Will he get out of this funk, or will he never get out of it and barely hit over 35 HRs this year?

JRoll: Is this the new Jimmy we've been seeing this Spring, the guy with the .400+ OBP? Or does he revert to pre-2006 form?

The rotation: Healthy all year?

The list goes on.

I estimate the mean to be about 86 wins and falling just short of the post season again. I esitmate the stardard deviation to be about 5. What that means to all you non-statheads is that in a worst case scenario ( multiple injuries, slumps) this team as currently put together could win as little as 76 games (2 SDs from the mean). Best case in the other direction (all goes right) is 96 games.

Why not just go for the magic number: 86 wins, again. No playoffs.

Everyone always thinks Rollins is going to have a big year, based on what he did in the previous second half. If he continues to be moderately selective at the plate, he *will* hit .300, but I don't see him carrying the team.

I have to go (again?!) with clout about Victorino. I think fans are starting to overrate the guy. He's great, love the energy, love the defense, but the guy literally gives half his at-bats away. A bit too erratic for my taste, and I agree that he is still best suited as a 4th OF.

Utley is a machine, though he could stand to be less streaky this time around. Almost inevitably, Howard is going to have some problems in 2007. He isn't going to get pitched to, he's going to get overanxious, he's going to swing from his heels, he's going to bite at least one more reporter's head off before the year is out. I see his RBI total being way down.

Helms has looked great this spring, but I don't know that he's really a .300 hitter. He might actually be a decent fifth-place hitter behind Howard, though, one of the more encouraging revelations the spring has held.

Burrell is a living nightmare for both the Phillies and their fans. Those predicting a 120 RBI season are just not seeing that the guy is just a poor hitter. Good pitchers will continue to get him out at will. The guy's an idiot for not wanting to be traded. If he puts up 29 homers & 95 RBI again, I'll be elated. I'm rapidly losing enthusiasm for Rowand. I defended him even as recently as a month ago, but I'm now seeing that his presence on this team, other than the clubhouse camaraderie, is pretty pointless. He will make countless soft outs, but he will get his share of big hits for this team.

Barajas/Ruiz: I don't know what to expect from this combo. I think they'll be at least average both offensively and defensively.

Karim Garcia is a waste of time. I have a feeling Werth will come on stronger as the season goes on. Chris Coste, nice to know ya buddy, too bad the Phillies can't see the value of an intelligent catcher who hits .330 with power and in the clutch. Dobbs, well, it'd be nice to think he could stay hot, but I think it'll be a lot harder to maintain sharpness on the bench six nights a week. Nunez - I'm kind of glad he's around, like his glove at third, but damn, couldn't Tomas Perez have done his job just as well?

The wild-card is Bourn. If he can get in a groove in AAA and then carry it to the big club in case of some change in the Phils' OF plans (which would be fine with me!), he could make an enormous impact on the team's fortunes. I maintain that he would be more beneficial to the lineup *right now* than Rowand. I don't mean to rag on Rowand too much, but he does not complement the lineup well at all. Bourn would.

Myers needs to have a big year; if he doesn't win at least 15, forget it boys. Hamels is going to give up a ton of taters but he'll keep the team in the game almost every time out. Ditto for Moyer. Those two guys are also capable of winning 15. I don't have high hopes for Garcia. I see him being a .500 pitcher for this team. And Eaton is going to make us all pine for the good ol' days of Cory Lidle. In short - as asked by someone asked way up on this thread - it's a better than average staff, but nowhere near good enough to entirely compensate for the other flaws on this team.

Tom Gordon is an injury waiting to happen. You hold your breath every time he takes the mound. Pat Gillick had five months to come up with a backup plan and he coughed up a contract to Alfonseca. There's nothing left to say about just how absurdly insufficient Gillick's performance has been in "addressing" this situation. The Phillies didn't need Freddy Garcia (or should I say Adam Eaton). They needed a solid arm for the bullpen. Everyone wants to laud Gillick for getting Garcia for next to nothing. Not me. That *isn't what the Phillies needed*. Look at this team and its weaknesses from the day the season ended, and ask what was done to improve them. Uh, Wes Helms. Great!

Okay, anyway. Hopefully Geary can be an iron man/miracle worker a second straight year. I agree with the assertion that Madson can be a huge difference-maker to this team. He's showed signs this spring of getting it back on track. A lot obviously hinges on Matt Smith, as well. Likely it will be an up-and-down season for him. Alfonseca - I frankly don't even want to think about it, but he's probably going to start out pitching the eighth innings.

Cold April, hot May, even June/July, hot August, cold September, 3 games out of the WC. Goodbye, Charlie. Fans begin to focus more on Gillick, who will thus have one more season to get this team off the treadmill, or else become the next GM to be...eighty-sixed.

Did I miss anything?

In a ex-Phils reunion, San Diego 24, Texas 7. No, these are not football scores. Kevin Millwood, 10 earned runs. Eric Gagne, 4 ERs in an inning of relief. Matt Kata made his appearance, as did Squeezie Astacio.

Acording to ESPN the Phils are interested in Francisco Rosario RP for the Blue Jays. Does PG talk to any teams besides Toronto, Texas, and Chi WS?

An aside: Manuel has Rowand hitting second tonight. Victorino hit seventh yesterday. Hmm.

Victorino damn well better be in the #1 or 2 hole in the lineup. Mr. No-Shoulders has to prove he can actually hit before batting 2nd.

Ordinarily, I would like swapping Rowand and Vic, because you break up all the slow right-handerd hitters, but this is odd timing, given that Vic has had such a hot spring hitting in front of Utley and Howard.

We all know the guy will chase, but he'd see a hell of a lot more fastballs at #2 rather than #7. Of course, you could say the same for Rowand. They are similar hitters in a lot of ways. There really is no ideal way to structure this lineup, unfortunately.

We've had this problem forever: J-Roll and two big lefty bats and a bunch of average to above average slow right handed hitting players. That's why Cat, Huff, Igawa, Blalock, or Nixon would have been nice for this lineup.

Pat "Dave Kingman" Burrell with an HR tonight and lifts average to .191.

Interesting I looked up Kingman's career stats and surprising very similar to Pat the Bat than I would had imagined.

Burrell has a higher average for the most part but more strikeouts which is pretty sad (usually averaging a least one per game each year or more).

KINGman KONG had a couple nice years but another roller coaster career BUT someone said "chicks" dig the long ball (obviously not Yogi on that one).

JB: The Kingman-Burrell comparison is a good one for strikeouts and HRs. Each of them struck out in 25% of their plate appearances and their SLG is about the same. But the comparison ends there. Kingman's career OPS was .780, Burrell's is .841 largely because Kingman never took a walk. His K/BB ratio was hideous, while Burrell's is pretty good for a power hitter.

I just was glancing at the Phils live box score for tonight's game and to this point Howard is 0 for 4 with 3 more Ks. I know he started off cold last year, but he needs to turn it on if the Phils are going to get off to a good start in '07. BTW, the Phils are up 5-2 in the 8th over the Reds. Jamie Moyer turned in another good performance and Burrell is 2 for 4 with a bomb tonight.

comparing Kingman and Burrell betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what's important in baseball. Alfonso Soriano wasn't better than Carlos Beltran last year, even though Soriano hit more HR and a higher average.

RSB, what do you mean when you say Victorino "literally gives half his at-bats away"? because last time I checked, everyone who's not Barry Bonds 2001-2004 gives well over half their at-bats away. Vic has one of the lowest strikeout rates on the team, so it's not like he's not making contact.

and more importantly, how can you look at Bourn and see this team's savior but look at Victorino and see a 4th OF? Bourn has shown virtually nil XBH ability, and would have to draw a ton of walks to be even an average OF. stolen bases are probably the single most overrated dimension of an offense. sure, it's good to have SBs, especially if you have a high success rate, but ultimately it's an extremely high risk/low reward strategy. I'm just mystified how a guy who's 1 for 8 on his MLB career (and 1 for 3 on the basepaths, by the way) could be our savior while a guy who just last year (!) put up a .287/.346/.414 - not great, but nothing to sneeze at - is a spare part.

I knew there was a reason I liked you clout, Burrell's ability to draw a walk is constantly overlooked.

However, King Kong did have a lifetime OPS+ of 115, while Pat is currently at 117, and he has yet to go through his decline phase.

However, since OPS overvalues slugging at the expense of OBP, Pat still has the edge so far, but not by much.

Couldn't agee more ae. Just to flesh out your argument more, Bourn puts up a 796 OPS at AAA at age 23, while Vic puts up 911 at age 24.

Bourn has the advatage of being a bit more disciplined, but Vic's power give him a clear edge. It will be interesting to see what the Phils do assuming Rowand is gone. Niether Vic nor Bourn hit enough to justify a corner OF spot, especially in a park like Citizens.

"Chris Coste, nice to know ya buddy, too bad the Phillies can't see the value of an intelligent catcher who hits .330 with power and in the clutch."

Classic.

ae, what I mean is that Victorino gets himself out far more than is probably necessary. He just whales away up there and hits pop fouls, jam shots and humpback liners because he's not up there looking to do anything but just swing at just about everything. If were to hone his eye, wait for pitches in a certain hitting zone, and show he's following some kind of game plan, he would be a much better hitter. Contact is not everything. He'd probably be better off if he missed a few of the awful pitches he swings at and nubs somewhere, and got deeper in his ABs.

Another positive game tonight. Gordon is definitely coming around, and Geary was sharp as well. Meanwhile, the Phils reminded everyone why Rheal Cormier was no great loss. And Moyer looks more primed than anyone to have a good season.

I'm going with 85-77.

This team will struggle to play .500 ball. The good news is that Cholly is down to his last 100 games or so.

Jimmy, Utley, Helms, Myers, Madson and Bourn look like they might turn in solid years. Beyond that, not much.

Offensively, 6-9 will be a black hole, much like last year. Burrell is done, Rowand is average at his best, the catchers might hit .240, and all of them are slow slow. Aside from Hamels and Moyer, the pitchers can't even bunt. Vic and Howard will fall off markedly. The bench is still useless. Run production will be around league average.

On the mound, the book says Hamels will have a poor year as a consequence of all the innings pitched last year compared to the previous years. The division will figure out Moyers as the year goes by. Eaton &/or Garcia will spend most of the year on the disabled list. Guys from AAA or AA will be starting games before too long. No one expects to see many innings from Gordon. Who closes all the other games?

Laast, but not least, the defense will be one of the worst in the league.

Gillick will keep trying to move Rowand, Lieber, Burrell (when they're not on the DL), but he'll still not find anyone willing to give up a serviceable player in return. He'll be forced to "trade" Lieber for some tweener just to get the salary off the book, and Lieber will play well enough to make a postseason start for his new team.

yeah RSB, I guess I don't really disagree. but at the same time, Vic has 174 games of pretty solid MLB production under his belt (discounting his 2003 cup of coffee), and Bourn hasn't even shown he can hit consistently in AAA, let alone the big leagues.

Maybe now is the time to trade Victorino...to the Nats for Cordero?

"Ha ha ha."

-Jim Bowden

AE - The topic really was not what was fundamentally important in baseball in the Kingman/Burrell comparison.

Simply a case of HR's and KO's which is what they are more commonly recognized from their respective careers.

Also the emotion of their ABs is really the reason I even thought I Kingman.

I think you have a little Clout-envy.

AE - Also, curious as to what your thoughts on who had the better year last year - JD Drew or Burrell.

I'll go with 85 wins as the high point on the bell curve, but of course that prediction -- like all the others here -- presumes no changes in the next week, or month.

I've been out of the country with no internet access for eight days, so it's been fun to catch up with developments by reading the last several days of Beerleaguer.

Am I missing something, or are we now down to four healthy and/or effective starters? Lieber's oblique strain doesn't sound good -- those can take a while to heal. Let's hope he doesn't reinjure it picking up too many donuts.

On the Victorino debate, I think the two sides are talking past each other. I believe the Vic-as-4th-outfielder camp feels that way because he is a small guy, and the fear is he'll wear down playing six games every week. Hence the argument isn't that his stats aren't good enough for an everyday job, but that his performance is optimized in a more limited role. The problem with this idea is Manuel, who has shown a tendency to ride the starters until they keel over while letting the bench rot away. Wait, did I say 85? Ah well, a vacation always makes me optimistic.

'the emotion of their ABs'...?!

One more check-swing on that belt-high fastball, Pat - this time with feeling.

Looks like Karim Garcia and Dobbs are bench locks with Coste going on DL or to Ottawa.

Freddy Garcia may start April 7th but still hit the DL until then, retroactive from when he was injured, leaving room to Segovia or Bourn.

Lieber to DL most likely with no time-table for return...great.

I've never liked estimating a team's potential by the OPS of its' players. The OPS is important in judging the talent, but, when it comes to winning, it's a different game all together. Pete Rose was a big reason that we went to the series in '83. I hear alot of people compare Utley to Sandburg, which is unfair, when I think Pete Rose is a much better comparison. He plays his ass off and will run over a catcher if his life depended upon it. Utley and Rollins, together can carry this time to an 85 win season, with the current pitching staff. So, I don't think as much attention should be placed on a 4th outfielder type such as Victorino. I see the potential there of being a great fielder who gets on base and plays hard, but 7 home runs and 50 rbi's are not going impact us to such a point, where it makes that much of a difference. Now, Helms should have a breakout season, considering the last time he played a full season, he hit 23 home runs. But, I do think that Burrell, is in fact going to be the biggest factor. Howard has slumped throughout the spring, so we may need to heavily rely on burrell if that continues. Burrell has the power potential, keyword being potential for 40+ home runs. He could just never get his head straight. If burrell can hit 40 and Utley, Rollins, Helms all play their game; I think garcia will win 14, Hamels 18, myers 16, moyer 13, and eaton will pitch well until getting injured, lieber will not pitch well either at that point and someone like happ will get called up.
If the bullpen holds and all those other main factors work out, then 88 wins in a tight divison will finally be enough to get us a playoff spot.

I didn't state a win number and I laughed at Carson's 92, so I should put something on the record. I'll go with MG's number of 84. Logic says it should be either higher due to talent, or lower due to injuries, bad OF and pen, and bad management. 84 wins means they struggle all season around .500 breaking our hearts. The only thing preventing the Phillies from a losing record is that there are worse teams in the league that the Phillies have to play and those teams will lose to the Phillies enough to keep our boys around .500. If I get time, I'll try to elaborate on my thinking.

good to know I'm being laughed at, at least I'm good for something.

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