Are the Phillies Done?

17 12 2008

Are the Phillies a finished product?  Only Amaro knows.

Are the Phillies a finished product? Only Amaro knows.

By Mike Gill

With 58 days until pitchers and catchers are due to report to Clearwater, the Phillies just might be a finished product.  The question is are the good enough ?

Lets explore:

Starting rotation :

  1. Cole Hamles
  2. Brett Myers
  3. Joe Blanton
  4. Jamie Moyer
  5. JA Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Carrasco or Chan Ho Park

PCPTake: The rotation isn’t much different from last season, with Cole Hamelscoming off a huge post-season, expectations should be sky-high for the team ace.  With Myers, he should feel more comfortable with his role as a starter then he was during the first-half of last season.  Joe Blanton was a steady performer after coming over from the American League and gives the Phils a nice innings eater in the middle of the rotation.  The Phils just brought back the 46-year old Jamie Moyer, who won 16 games last season and logged almost 200 innings.  The final spot is up-for-grabs with Happ the favorite in my opinion.  He pitched well in a few spot starts last year and should hold off Kendrick who fell apart in September, Carassaco will start the year at AAA and Park will be in the pen.

Bullpen :

  • Brad Lidge (Closer)
  • Ryan Madsen (Set-up)
  • JC Romero (L)
  • Chad Durbin
  • Scott Eyre (L)
  • Chan Ho Park
  • Clay Condrey (Long-man)

PCPTake:  Does it worry you as much as it worries me that this pen is basically the same as last year’s pen?  Relief pitchers are so unpredictable and rarely have back-to-back solid seasons (think Geoff Geary).  There are a ton of questions in the bullpen, an area that might have been the main reason the Phillies won the World Series, could be one of the reasons they don’t repeat.  

  1. Can Lidge duplicate his perfect season ? (Doubtful)
  2. Can Madsen regain his post season form and become the dominating eighth inning presence?
  3. Will Romero’s wildness become more of an issue this season?
  4. Will Durbin be able to duplicate his tremendous first-half and give the Phils another solid season out of the pen?
  5. Does Eyre have a full-season in him?  Keep in mind he was hurt a lot of last season with the Cubs and released.
  6. Will Park be happy pitching in the pen here in CBP after saying he came here because he had a shot to start?

To think all these answers are yes, I think you have to be kidding yourself.  Lidge was lights-out last season but to think he will remain perfect over another 162 is outrageous.  Madsen was one of the stars of the post season, but remember all the times Charlie summoned Madsen from the pen and you cringed?  I like Romero a lot, but he is another year older and is still wild.  He wasn’t as effective last season as he was in 2007, lets hope he can give Phillies fans a better 2009.  Durbin was a life-saver during the first-half of the 2008 season.  Without his work in the pen, early in the season, the Phillies might have been 10 games behind the Mets, he was a brilliant.  But he faltered down the stretch and you have to be concerned that if he was only good instead of great last season the Phils might not have made the playoffs.  Finally there is Park and Condrey who will take turns pitching two innings here-and-two innings there and fill the Condrey/Suanez role from a season ago.

Line-Up:

  1. SS – Jimmy Rollins
  2. CF – Shane Victorino
  3. 2B – Chase Utley
  4. 1B – Ryan Howard
  5. RF – Jayson Werth
  6. LF – Raul Ibanez
  7. 3B – Pedro Feliz
  8. C – Carols Ruiz

PCPTake:  I think the line-up is pretty solid with a few questions.  A year ago, J-Roll struggled and never really got on a MVP-esque Rollins streak.  If he can get closer to his 2007 season then the Phillies have added a much better player at the top-of-the-line-up.  Victorino will probably move up-and-down the line-up again this season.  At times he will hit in the two spot, in the five spot or even the six spot.  If he can stay consistent he should have an even better season in 2009.  Utley was plagued by a hip injury for most of the second half-of-the-season, but got off to a MVP-like start.  If he can give the Phils a full season of his first two 2008 months, then he could ge that MVP everyone thinks he can get.  The problem is, will he even start the season on time?  He thinks so.  Either way, Chase had a solid 2008, but can be more consistent in 2009 and that makes this line-up even better if he is.  Howard had a horrendous start to the 2008 season and really never got going up until September.  He still must cut down on his strikeouts, but he is still a force in the middle of the line-up.  We will see what the loss of Pat Burrell means to Howard, but I think he is ready to have a monster 2009.  Werth finally got to play full-time the final few months of the season and really responded.  He could be a 30 home run, 100 RBI guy is he stays healthy and if he can stay consistent against right-handed pitching.  He will need to be a strong presence behind Howard, but I think he is up for the challenge.  He, like Victorino could move up-and-down-the-line-up and might flip-flop with Ibanez a lot depending on the pitcher.  As for Ibanez, he has had a monster few seasons out in Seattle with is a huge ballpark.  Coming over to Citizens Bank Park should at least keep him in the ballpark in terms of where his numbers shake out.  He could be a 35 home run, 110 RBI guy if things shake out right and he could hit three in the line-up early if Utley is out and might hit in the five spot plenty of times as well.  Feliz was a little bit of a disappointment to me, I thought coming to CBP would make him a 30 home run, 90 RBI guy, but a few injuries might have derailed him, he is a fine guy in the seven spot though and had the clutch hit in the World Series.  Finally, Ruiz had a pretty good post season, but a horrible regular season, I figure he will be somewhere in between in 2009.

This is a strong line-up and you can make a good argument that it will be a better, more consistent line-up this season then it was last year.  Even though they won the World Series, the line-up was very inconsistent last season, if Rollins, Utley, Howard and Werth all have full seasons where they are hitting on all cylinders with Victorinio and Ibanez sprinkled in, this offense will be even better then they were in 2008.

Bench:

  • Greg Dobbs
  • Geoff Jenkins
  • Eric Bruntlett
  • Matt Stairs
  • Ronny Paulino 

PCPTake: Again, not a lot of different faces here, but Dobbs is one of the best in the game.  Jenkins is a veteran who was a little bit of a disappointment last year, but now that he knows his role he might be better suited this season.  Bruntlett might get forced into duty early at 2B if Utley isn’t ready to start the season, but remeber he held down the fort at SS while Rollins missed time with an ankle injury last year.  Stairs had one of the most memorable home runs in Phillies history and he will be on the bench for a full season and spell Werth in Right field against some tough right-handed pitching.  Paulino is a decent bat and calls a good game behind the plate and will probably get 1-2 games per week.

So what does this mean for guys like: Chris Coste, Kyle Kendrick, Adam Eaton, Lou Marson and Carlos Carrasco?  Coste could be dealt still and might even be part of a package that includes Kendrick.  Eaton will be either released or traded for a bag-of-balls.  Marson and Carrasco will begin the year as battery mates at AAA and will be in the Phillies opening day roster in 2010 and I figure both will see time at the MLB level this season.

Is this it though?  Is the roster done?  I see 25 men there that all have a role and very few pieces that will be moved.  The Phillies say they would stil like a right-handed bat off the bench with Dobbs, Stairs and Jenkins all being left-handed.  So do trade Jenkins for a veteran right-handed bat, or is there someone on the non-tendered list they like ?

Here are some potential non-tendered candidates:

  • Aaron Miles
  • Ty Wiggington
  • Jonny Gomes

All three are right-handed, Miles would be a guy who could fill-in at 2B while Utley is out.  Wiggington had a real nice year last season but would probably want to go somewhere where more playing time was guaranteed.  Gomes was bad in 2008, but might be worth a flier in 2009.

So there you go are the Phillies done?  Is this the team they will go to Clearwater with in 58 days?  Are you satisfied with this team and is it better then the Mets right now or does Ruben have to make more moves?

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