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“The View from the Philly Pressbox” – Cardinals Series 6 Recap

In Philadelphia Phillies on April 26, 2013 at 9:15 am

Erik Kratz

In the sixth of our season long series, “The View from the Philly Pressbox” takes a look at the first 4 game series of the season against the St Louis Cardinals. The Phils were lined up with Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick to face Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook. Overall these are good matchups with what should’ve been a slight advantage to the Phillies. The Phils did hit the ball in the series but were still only able to manage a 2-2 split.

Hamels and Wainwright squared off in the opener and didn’t disappoint. Both aces pitched 7 innings allowing 3 runs each. Hamels allowed 5 hits, 2 walks with 8 k’s while Wainwright allowed 9 hits, 0 walks and 4k’s. The Phillies added 4 more hits off Cardinal relievers, for a total of 13 hits in the game but Mike Adams failed to hold the Cards in the 8th and picked up the lose, 4-3. For the Phils Ryan Howard had 3 hits while Chase Utley, Freddie Galvis and Eric Kratz added 2 each. Galvis started the game in left field and played pretty well. Yadier Molina had 3 hits and 2 RBI’s while Carlos Beltran added 2 hits including a home run to lead the Cards.

The Phils bounced back in Game 2 by scoring 5 runs in the 1st inning, 1 in the 2nd and 2 more in the 3rd to allow Halladay a nice cushion to cruise. Doc went 7 innings before the game was called due to rain. He allowed jus 2 hits, both solo homers to Beltran again and Matt Holliday. He walked 2 and struck out 6. It was not Docs most efficient outing throwing 59 strikes and 50 balls but either way he only gave up 2 hits and 2 runs. At the plate the 10 hit attack was led by catcher Humberto Quintero with 2 hits and 2 RBI’s, Jimmy Rollins, John Mayberry and Ben Revere all had 2 hits as well. Ryan Howard was given the night off and replaced at 1st base by Kevin Frandsen. This was a good bounce back win with Lee coming up in Game 3.

Game 3 looked like a game from last week. The Phils only managed 3 hits, 3 walks and struck out 10 more times off of Cardinal pitching while being shut out 5-0. Lee gave up a 4 spot in the 3rd and that’s all it took. Beltran homered for the 3rd straight game. No bats in this one!!

In Game 4 of the series the Phils got another nice outing from Kendrick. It’s safe to say he’s been the most consistent pitcher on the staff to date. When Kendrick left the game after 6 innings of 8 hit, 2 run baseball the score was 2-2. The Phils quickly fell behind in the top of the 7th when an Utley error led to the Cards lead off of Antonio Bastardo and Chad Durbin. The Phils bounced right back to tie it in the bottom of the 7th then added 4 more in the bottom of the 8th. The big blow came off the bat of Kratz, who blasted a 3 run homer off of reliever Mitchell Boggs giving the Phils a well deserved 7-3 victory. Kratz homer also allowed Mike Adams to pick up the win. Jonathan Papelbon pitched the 9th but was not credited with a save due to the 4 run lead. Kratz led the offense with 2 hits and 3 RBI’s, Rollins added 3 hits and Utley added 2. For the first time in the series Carlos Beltran did not hit a home run.

On the plus side for the series:
• The Phils banged out 40 hits in the 4 game series.
• Discounting the 3rd inning by Lee the Phils got 4 solid starts.
• The bullpen allowed 1 earned run in 8 innings. Unfortunately the 1 run was also a game loser.
• Jimmy Rollins was moved back to leadoff spot and responded with a 6-18 series raising his average to .257.
• Freddy Galvis started the first 3 games of the series in LF but could only manage a 2-13 series.
• Utley went 5-15 in the series raising his average to .294.
• Ryan Howard sat out 2 games but went 4-7 raising his average to .277.
• Michael Young continues to get on base. He went 4-14 with a hit in each game. Young is hitting .333.
• Ben Revere was moved down in the lineup and responded with a 4-13 series.
• The Phils only struck 27 times in 4 games. This is improvement!

More to work on:
• Phils pitching gave up 5 home runs while the Phils only hit 1.
• The Phils aren’t scoring runs early in games. They only got 1 win from a starter, Halladay. The starters are pitching pretty well but the games are being left to the bullpen.
• The Phils were 12-37 with runners in scoring position.

Next Up:
The Pittsburgh Pirates are up next at Citizens Bank Park for a 4 game series. Jonathon Petibone will make his big league debut in Game 1. The excitement will be building for the 22 year old. Hamels, Halladay and Lee will follow. The Phils need to win 3 out of 4 from the Pirates

Looking forward:
Update: we predicted a 2-2 split against the Cardinals and that’s what we got. Here’s how we stand for the season; we predicted 2 out of 3 from the Royals, instead losing 2 out of 3. We picked the Phils to win 2 of 3 from the Mets and they did. We picked 2 out of 3 against the Marlins and they did that. We picked 1-2 against the Reds and they went 0-3. The Phils are now 8-11 going in to the 4 game series against the Pirates.
We had predicted the Phils would be 10-9 so far so 8-11 isn’t looking very good. We added they would be 16-11 or 15-12 at the end of the month, obviously with 11 losses already there’s no room for more losses.

The Fightin’s play a total of 27 games in the month of April. This includes 3 at home against the Mets, 3 in Florida, 3 in Cincinnati, 4 back home against the Cardinals, 4 more at home against the Pirates, 3 at New York and the first game of a series against the Indians in Cleveland on the last day of the month. Here’s what we see from the Philly Pressbox, 16-11 or 15-12 at the end of the month. How did we get there? 1-2 Braves, 2-1 Royals, 2-1 Mets, 2-1 Marlins, 1-2 Reds, 2-2 Cardinals, 3-1 Pirates, 2-1 Mets, 1-0 Indians. Losing an extra game to the Cardinals or Pirates wouldn’t be unreasonable. Either way 15 or 16 win

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“The View from the Philly Pressbox” – Reds Series 5 Recap

In Philadelphia Phillies on April 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

Kyle Kenrick

In the fifth of our season long series, “The View from the Philly Pressbox” takes a look at the Cincinnati Reds series. The Reds came in to the series on a 5 game losing streak while the Phillies came out of the Marlins series with cold bats. The cold bats continued and the Phils were swept in Cincinnati, 4-2, 1-0 and 11-2.  

In the opener, Cliff Lee threw well for 7 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 runs, walked 1 and struck out 4. Lee allowed the 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th of a scoreless game and was pitch hit for in the top of the 8th by Chase Utley who responded with a game tying home run. Charlie Manuel went with Jeremy Horst in the 8th and that backfired as Horst allowed 3 hits, 2 runs and a walk while only retiring 1 batter. By the time Michael Adams finished up the Phils were behind 4-2 and the game was over. On the offensive side the Phils had no answers for Branson Arroyo and Aroldis Chapman who combined to allow just 5 hits to the Phils.

In Game 2 of the series Kyle Kendrick threw a gem for 7 innings, allowing 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks and 4 k’s and again the Phils couldn’t score any runs or get any hits. Homer Bailey matched Kendrick allowing just 2 hits through 8 innings of work. This time it was Phillippe Aumont that faltered in the bottom of the 9th, allowing 2 hits, a walk, an error by Ben Revere, and the Phils lost 1-0 in the suspended game that was finished quickly on Wednesday prior to the regularly scheduled game.

Game 3 started out bad for John Lannan and ended up worse. Lannan, who has pitched well, was rocked for 8 hits and 6 runs in just 1.2 innings of work. Following the game he was placed on the disabled list. Raul Valdez came on as the long reliever and things just got worse. The Phils were down 11-0 after 5 innings and went on to lose 11-2.

Again, we go back to the drawing board:

  • The Phils managed just 13 hits in the 3 game series.
  • No Phillie had more than 1 hit in any of the games.
  • Ben Revere was 0-12 in the leadoff spot. He’s now hitting .194.
  • Jimmy Rollins was 1-11. He’s hitting .232.
  • Ryan Howard was 1-11. He’s hitting .241
  • The catchers position was 0-9.
  • Jonathan Papelbon did not get on the field in the series.
  • The Phils scored just 4 runs in the series coming off the Marlins series where they scored just 6 runs. That’s 10 runs in 6 games.
  • The Phils struck out 24 more times in the 3 games series.

The bright spots of the Reds series:

  • Lee and Kendrick both had excellent starts. They allowing just 2 runs between them which should’ve gotten 2 wins.
  • Michael Young had a hit in each game, going 3-10. His team leading average is now .346.
  • Chase Utley was 2-6 in the series. Utley was rested in Game 2, being used as a pinch hitter, and replaced in the Game 3 blowout by Kevin Frandsen.
  • Freddy Galvis hit his first home run of the season.
  • Aumont has 1-2 record but his ERA is 0.00. Both of the runs he’s allowed have led to losses and both have been unearned.
  • Antonio Bastardo has pitched in 6 games, allowing 1 hit and 0 runs, ERA 0.00.

Next Up:

The St. Louis Cardinals back at Citizens Bank Park. The Phils are lined up to throw Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick. If the bats can come alive this could be an interesting series. If not, the Phils will fall deeper in to the hole.

Looking forward:

Update: No one expected the Phils to be swept in this series, or ever, with the starting rotation they have, but it happened. Our 1-2 prediction became 0-3. So here’s how we stand for the season; we predicted 2 out of 3 from the Royals, instead losing 2 out of 3. We picked the Phils to win 2 of 3 from the Mets and they did. We picked 2 out of 3 against the Marlins and they did that. The Phils are now 6-9 going in to another tough 4 game series against the Cardinals. We’re hoping for a split at worst.

We had predicted the Phils would be 8-7 so far so 6-9 isn’t looking very good.

The Fightin’s play a total of 27 games in the month of April. This includes 3 at home against the Mets, 3 in Florida, 3 in Cincinnati, 4 back home against the Cardinals, 4 more at home against the Pirates, 3 at New York and the first game of a series against the Indians in Cleveland on the last day of the month. Here’s what we see from the Philly Pressbox, 16-11 or 15-12 at the end of the month. How did we get there? 1-2 Braves, 2-1 Royals, 2-1 Mets, 2-1 Marlins, 1-2 Reds, 2-2 Cardinals, 3-1 Pirates, 2-1 Mets, 1-0 Indians. Losing an extra game to the Cardinals or Pirates wouldn’t be unreasonable. Either way 15 or 16 wins.

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“The View from the Philly Pressbox” – Mets Series 3 Recap

In Philadelphia Phillies on April 12, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Cliff Lee

In the third of our season long series “The View from the Philly Pressbox” takes a look at the New York Mets series. Quite frankly the Mets are awful. If it weren’t for John Buck hitting a home run in each of the three games the Mets would’ve shown nothing. If Roy Halladay would’ve been able to find the strike zone the Phils should’ve had a much needed sweep. In the end the Phils won 2 of 3 and move their record to 4-5, 4 games behind the red hot Atlanta Braves, 8-1.

 The bright spots of the Mets series:

  • You have to start with Cliff Lee. Two consecutive times Lee has had to be the stopper after miserable outings by Halladay and Cole Hamels. Each time Lee has done the job. Against the Mets he threw 8.2 innings, allowing 8 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned runs, 0 walks and 6 k’s. Lee lowered his ERA to 1.08. Lee has also not walked a batter in his 16.2 innings of work while Hamels and Halladay can’t find the strike zone. Lee also threw first pitch strikes to 27 of 34 hitters he faced.
  • The Phils again spotted Kyle Kendrick a huge lead, 4 runs in his first outing and 5 runs against the Mets. Although Kendrick struggled some he held on to get the win going 6 innings, allowing 8 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks and 6 k’s. Antonio Bastardo, Michael Adams and Jonathan Papelbon allowed 1 run in 3 innings of relief.
  • In spite of Halladays struggles in Game 1 of the series the bullpen of Chad Durbin, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdez combined for 5 innings of shutout relief, allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks.
  • Michael Young had a 5-11 series with his first HR as a Phillie. Young raised his average to a team high .375.
  • Chase Utley continues to swing the bat well. Utley was only 2-10 in the series but did hit a HR, drove in a couple runs and stole 2 bases. He’s presently hitting .333 with a team high 9 RBI’s.
  • Jimmy Rollins had 4 more hits in the series in 12 at bats, raising his average back up to .316.
  • The Phils scored 17 runs in the 3 game series, 5.6 runs per game.

 Areas to improve:

  • As mentioned earlier, Roy Halladay struggled immensely against the weak hitting Mets. Halladay threw 99 pitches just to get through 4 innings allowing 6 hits, 7 runs, 3 walks and a home run while striking out 3. A telling statistic to Halladays troubles were first pitch strikes, he threw just 11 to the 22 batters he faced. A second telling statistic was he was only able to get 10 swinging strikes, while the Mets fouled off 21 strikes. He had trouble getting the ball by the hitters.
  • The Phils were only able to collect 4 hits off Mets pitchers Matt Harvey and Josh Edgin in the 7-2 loss on Monday.
  • The Phils have struck out 79 times in 9 games, 8.8 per game. This ranks 4th in the NL.
  • Although Hamels didn’t pitch in the Mets series it’s imperative that he and Halladay get things turned around. They will both have an opportunity to pitch this weekend against the Marlins.
  • Ryan Howard went 3-11 against the Mets but is still hitting just .200 with 12 k’s in 9 games.
  • Ben Revere is struggling hs well. Revere is hitting just .211 with an OBP of just .268 from the leadoff spot.
  • Dom Browns average has dropped all the way to .242. He seems to be losing some of that Spring Training hot that he had. Brown has to hit to stay in the lineup.

 Next Up:

The Miami Marlins in Miami. The Phils will throw John Lannan, Hamels and Halladay. The Marlins are just 1-8 on the season. This would be a good weekend for a sweep and good pitching performances from all of the starters.

 Looking forward:

Update: We didn’t fair too well in our prediction of 2 out of 3 from the Royals, instead losing 2 out of 3. We picked the Phils to win 2 of 3 from the Mets and they did. Now they need to pick up a game by sweeping the Marlins especially with the Reds and Cardinals on the schedule next week. You have to beat the teams that you should beat.

 The Fightin’s play a total of 27 games in the month of April. This includes 3 at home against the Mets, 3 in Florida, 3 in Cincinnati, 4 back home against the Cardinals, 4 more at home against the Pirates, 3 at New York and the first game of a series against the Indians in Cleveland on the last day of the month. Here’s what we see from the Philly Pressbox, 16-11 or 15-12 at the end of the month. How did we get there? 1-2 Braves, 2-1 Royals, 2-1 Mets, 2-1 Marlins, 1-2 Reds, 2-2 Cardinals, 3-1 Pirates, 2-1 Mets, 1-0 Indians. Losing an extra game to the Cardinals or Pirates wouldn’t be unreasonable. Either way 15 or 16 wins.

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“The View from the Philly Pressbox” – Royals Series 2 Recap

In Philadelphia Phillies on April 8, 2013 at 9:46 am

Fransden Walkoff

In the second of our season long series “The View from the Philly Pressbox” takes a look at the Kansas City Royals series. The Phils blew 2 games that they had leads in and won the one game they trailed the entire game, finishing with 1-2 weekend.

Oh, where to start?

  • The Phils spotted Kyle Kendrick a 4 run lead in Game 1 of the series. Kendrick was cruising along with 4 shutout innings before running in to trouble in the 5th. He gave up 2 in the 5th but the Phils still held a 4-2 lead. Things fell apart in the 6th for Kendrick and Jeremy Horst. Horst couldn’t get outs in relief and before the inning was over the Phils trailed 5-4. Horst, Chad Durbin and Raul Valdes got beat up the rest of the way allowing a 4-0 Phils lead to turn in to a 13-4 Royals blowout in which they got 19 hits.
  • In spite of the 4-3 win in Game 2 of the series, the Phils managed just 3 hits.
  • The Phils spotted Cole Hamels a 4-run 1st inning lead only to watch him get bombed for 9 hits and 8 runs with 4 walks in just 5.2 innings of work. Hamels has had two miserable starts to open the season and now has an ERA of 10.97.
  • The bullpen has been awful! They have inherited 11 runners so far this season and 10 have scored.
  • 5 members of the pitching staff have ERA’s over 10, Hamels, Roy Halladay, Chad Durbin, Horst and Raul Valdes.
  • Ryan Howard continues his slow start. He was 3-12 in the series and 4-24 on the season, a .167 average.
  • Phils hitters have struck out 53 times in 6 games, an average of 8.8 strike outs per game.
  • Howard has struck out 8 times on the season, Jimmy Rollins 7 and Erik Kratz 7 after just 6 games.
  • The Phils are getting just .143 and .174 production out of the 7th and 8th spots in the lineup and one of those hits was from Kevin Frandsen as a pinch hitter. Add that to Howard at .167 in the 4th spot.

 In spite of the disappointing weekend there were a few positives.

  • John Lannan was outstanding in his first stat as a Phillie. Lannan went 7 innings allowing 5 hits, 3 runs, 0 walks and 5 K’s. Mike Adams pitched a 1 hit 8th and Antonio Bastardo a 1 walk 9th for the win. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
  • Kevin Frandsen came up big with his pitch 3-run walk off double for the win in Game 2.
  • Chase Utley continues to swing a hot bat. Utley was 4-12 in the series. His team leading batting average is now .391.
  • Michael Young had 4 hits in the series finale, going 6-12 on the weekend raising his average to .333.
  • Rollins is off to a good start. JRoll is hitting .308 from the 2nd spot in the order.
  • Rollins and Ben Revere each stole another base in the series, giving them each 3 for the season.

 Next Up:

The New York Mets come to Citizens Bank Park. The Phils will throw Halladay, Cliff Lee and Kendrick. The key game in this series will be Game 1 with Hallady. It’s time to see what Doc can do!

 Looking forward:

Update: We didn’t fair too well in our prediction of 2 out of 3 from the Royals, instead losing 2 out of 3. The Phils will need to pick up a game against either the Mets or Marlins this week. They can not afford to fall too far behind.

 The Fightin’s play a total of 27 games in the month of April. This includes 3 at home against the Mets, 3 in Florida, 3 in Cincinnati, 4 back home against the Cardinals, 4 more at home against the Pirates, 3 at New York and the first game of a series against the Indians in Cleveland on the last day of the month. Here’s what we see from the Philly Pressbox, 16-11 or 15-12 at the end of the month. How did we get there? 1-2 Braves, 2-1 Royals, 2-1 Mets, 2-1 Marlins, 1-2 Reds, 2-2 Cardinals, 3-1 Pirates, 2-1 Mets, 1-0 Indians. Losing an extra game to the Cardinals or Pirates wouldn’t be unreasonable. Either way 15 or 16 wins.

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Phillies Profile – Kyle Kendrick

In Philadelphia Phillies on March 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Over the next 28 days Philly Pressbox (https://phillypressbox.wordpress.com) (@phillypressbox) will be doing a review and analysis of each Phillies player, Manager Charlie Manuel and the coaching staff leading up to Opening Day 2012.  On Day 18 we preview, Kyle Kendrick.

Kyle Kendrick – Kendrick has had an interesting career in the Phillies organization since being drafted in the 7th round of the 2003 amateur draft out of Mt. Vernon, Washington, High School. Kendrick spent from 2003 – 2007 working his way through “A” and “AA” ball. He posted a minor league record of 26-44. He never pitched at the “AAA” level before being called to the big leagues on June 13, 2007. Kyle immediately joined the Phillies rotation, starting 20 games and compiling a 10-4 record with a 3.87 ERA in 121 innings at the age of 22. 2008 was not as kind to Kendrick. He remained in the starting rotation and added 11 wins in his 30 starts but suffered from inconsistency that led to his 5.49 ERA. He also posted 57 base on balls, 14 hit batters and 23 home runs allowed in 155.2 innings of work. As a result Kyle was not included on the 2008 post season roster that won the World Series. 2009 brought more struggles until Kyle was finally sent to “AAA” Lehigh Valley to work on his game. He pitched in only 9 major league games in 2009. 2010 brought improvement; Kyle was back in the starting rotation for the Phillies. He started in 31 of his 33 appearances, compiling an 11-10 record with a 4.73 ERA. His command was better and all indications were that he was on the right track. 2011 saw Kyle take an entirely different direction. He was moved to the bullpen and was very effective. He came on in relief in 19 of his 34 appearances. He posted an 8-6 record with a career best 3.22 ERA working primarily as a long reliever. Kendrick seems like he’s been around for a long time, however, he’s only 27 years old. His best days are ahead of him. The Phillies organization has been very patient and continues to develop him. This off season Kyle signed a 2 year – $7.5m contract.

Personal Analysis:

Kendrick came in to Spring Training in a three way competition with Vance Worley and Joe Blanton for the last two spots in the rotation. With one week left before breaking camp it appears that Worley and Blanton will get those spots. We won’t go so far as to stay Kendrick lost the job in Spring Training. To date he’s pitched in 3 games, 8.1 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs 0 walks and 9 k’s. A pretty impressive Spring thus far.

Call me crazy but I see Kendrick possibly developing in to the 8th inning set up man and ultimately a closer if he continues in the bullpen much the same as Ryan Madson did. One of the biggest challenges in that role is being able to pitch often and having the mindset to put the last game, good or bad, behind you. It takes time and is easier said than done. In the meantime, Kendrick is a luxury as a 6th starter, if needed. In today’s baseball you can never have enough quality arms. We look for Kendrick to have a solid year and continue to improve. Depending how his role evolves he may not win a lot of games but could eat up some innings and not give up a lot of runs.

Tomorrow we will preview Antonio Bastardo.

The series: Day 1, Charlie Manuel. Day 2, The Coaching Staff. Day 3, Roy Halladay. Day 4, Cliff Lee. Day 5, Cole Hamels. Day 6, Vance Worley. Day 7, Joe Blanton. Day 8, Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz. Day 9, Ryan Howard. Day 10, Chase Utley. Day 11, Jimmy Rollins. Day 12, Placido Polanco. Day 13, John Mayberry, Jr. Day 14, Shane Victorino. Day 15, Hunter Pence. Day 16, Brian Schneider. Day 17, Jim Thome

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The Phils, Hamels and Spring Training

In Philadelphia Phillies on January 18, 2012 at 10:29 am

I woke up this morning to the great news that Cole Hamels is back in the fold for another year. As I’m looking out the window watching the snow fall on this frigid January day the Hamels signing makes me think about getting started in sunny Clearwater Florida. I can see Doc Halladay working out at the Carpenter Complex as I’m typing. As far as Hamels $15 million is nothing to sneeze at but I’d sure like to see a long term deal, 3 -4 years, made to keep Hamels through his prime years. It seems hard to believe that Cole is just 28 years old since he’s been in the big leagues with the Phils since 2006. I think he was the most consistent of the starters last season, including Halliday. The offense just didn’t score runs for him. His 2011 stats of 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA and 0.99 WHIP (walks, hits per innings pitched) were career bests. He could have easily won 4 more games with a little more offense.

That brings us to the 2012 season. Is this a better team than the 2011 team? As it stands today I don’t think so. It’s safe to say that the offense hasn’t improved at all. We have lost Raul Ibanez, it was probably time to go, and plan to replace him on a full time basis with former part timer John Mayberry. Mayberry deserves a chance after having a nice 2011 as a reserve. He hit .273 with 15 HR’s and 49 RBI’s. The problem is that Mayberry has never had more than 8 RBI’s in a season before that and he’s 28 years old. To be safe there needs to be a backup plan. At this point the outfield reserves are Lance Nix and Dom Brown. I’m not comfortable there. Obviously there’s a lot expected from Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence in the other outfield spots. Pence will have his hands full early in the season with Ryan Howard on the disabled list. Pence will likely be asked to bat in the clean-up spot.

The infield hasn’t changed except that it got a year older and hopefully gets healthier. This is the year for Chase Utley. Utley is still a solid player but has fallen out of the elite group over the last couple years. Most of that has been blamed on health issues, which may be true; however it’s time to get back to the old Chase. Over the last 5 seasons his batting average has been .332, .292, .282, .275, and .259. His HR numbers have also declined over that period, 22, 33, 31, 16, and 11, and with that comes RBI reductions, 103, 104, 93, 65 and 44. Chase turns 32 years old this Spring. As stated earlier this is a critical year for both Chase and the Phillies success. Placido Polanco had an outstanding first half of the season. It was obvious he fought through injuries for a good part of the season. He was still selected to the All Star game and won the Gold Glove at 3rd base. Polly is 36 years old. He needs a healthy 2012. It’s good to have Jimmy Rollins back. I like JRoll but didn’t want to over pay him or sign him for too long. He’s been the leader of the line-up but has obviously tailed off since his MVP year of 2007. His average from 2007-2011 has been .296, .277, .250, .243 and .268 although his On Base Percentage has stayed pretty much level. Jimmy needs to get on base and be the guy that drives this offense. JRoll is now 33 years old. That brings us to Ryan Howard and his health. The Phils need a healthy Ryan Howard and they need him soon. Howard still strikes out way too much but there are only a few players that can say they’ve driven in over 100 runs 6 years in a row while hitting between 31 and 58 HR’s over those years. Howard is also 32 years old and won’t be able to keep producing these numbers forever. The infield bench doesn’t look much different. We’ve added future Hall of Famer and 1st class guy in Jim Thome and his 604 career home runs and Ty Wiggington as reserves. Thome is expected to be the left handed and Wiggington the right handed reserves/pinch hitters off the bench.  Wouldn’t it be great if Thome can be ready to start while Howard is injured and produce great numbers? The other infield reserves are Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez. They both are adequate reserves. One of these two likely won’t be around when camp breaks. Overall I don’t see any improvement in the infield.

The catchers are still Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider. Chooch had a nice season last year and has become a top notch catcher in the National League. He caught 132 games last year and turns 33 years old before Spring Training. Schneider does a nice job as a backup but it’s time to be getting someone ready to take over the catcher spot in the near future.

The starting pitching will still be strong with Halladay, Hamels, Cliff Lee, and 2 of the 3, Vance Worley, Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick. Whoever loses out on the 5th starter spot will move to the bullpen unless a trade is made. I like Worley and Blanton in those spots but Kendrick pitched well at the end of last season.

I’m having real problems with the bullpen. I’m okay with the signing of Jonathan Papelbon. In the last 6 seasons he’s recorded 35, 37, 41, 38, 37 and 31 saves. He’s a proven guy that can get it done. With that said I’d like to have seen Ryan Madson stay. Obviously something went wrong whether it was the Phillies, Madson or agent Scott Boras. Either way, Madson didn’t get the free agent deal he was expecting, 1 year – $8.5m with Cincinnati, and will not be back. It would’ve been nice to have Papelbon and Madson if it was possible. The rest of the bullpen looks like Antonio Bastardo as the lefty, Michael Stutes as the righty. Both of these guys had outstanding rookie years before running low in the gas tank toward the end of the season. That leaves just 2 spots left, assuming that either Valdez or Martinez is not with the club clearing out a spot, those choices are Jose Contrares, coming off an injury, David Herndon, Michael Schwimer, Joe Savery and Justin De Fratus. I don’t know about you but that bullpen doesn’t scare me. The key could be Savery, a former 1st round draft pick that seems to finally be coming in to his own as a left handed reliever. He needs time to prove he can pitch at the big league level.

It’s time to get started. I think I can hear bats and balls as I’m looking through the snow. It’s time to make another run to a World Championship!

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