Don’t Lose Hope Yet..

Note from the writer: I thought I posted this on March 30th, but unfortunately it did not post and now the Phillies sit at 14-14 and many of my projections have proven valid, including the bullpen.

Sure, 2013 was an ugly year for the Phillies, but this team still has a chance to make the playoffs.  The 2014 season is filled with “what ifs”, but really if you take this position by position the Phillies actually don’t seem as bad as originally thought. Take a look at all of the information gathered together and presented before judging the Phillies on what the doubters think.

Catcher:

Carlos Ruiz

Last season did not do the 35 year old any good as he was suspended, injured, and played bad.  Before assuming he is headed down the drain, consider the following stats.  Ruiz batted .255 in 2009 and hit 9 home runs with 43 RBIs, while in 2013 he hit .268 with 5 homers and 37 runs batted in.  In the following season (2010), Cooch was able to hit .302 and had 8 HRs and 53 RBIs.  Since 2009 he has played 110+  games three times and when he has done that he has had about a .303 average, 10 home runs, and 54 RBIs.  Not spectacular numbers, but I would definitely enjoy those numbers.

What if he isn’t capable of playing?

Backup: Will Nieves

He is NOT Chris Coste or Eric Kratz, but he can be effective and should be able to get his chances to produce.  Last season, he hit .297 in almost 200 at-bats in a career year.  He won’t be a game changer, but he will be a good back-up.

What else do we have: Lou Marson,Cameron Rupp.

First Baseman: Ryan Howard

Same story, different season.  Ryan stays healthy he should hit 30 homers and get 100 RBIs and return to form.  When he plays over 140 games he will hit 30 home runs and last year with only one functional leg, he hit 11 home runs.  He will never hit for average again, but with him in the lineup everyone else will be better.

What if he isn’t capable of playing?

Backup: Darin Ruf

The idea of a platoon or just plain having Ruf takeover is possible if Howard fails to produce, but for now Ruf adds a nice compliment off the bench for Ryne Sandberg’s use.

Second Baseman: Chase Utley

Utley will produce .280 average and close to 20 home runs.  With this production that would put him back among the best second baseman in the game.  In seasons that Utley has been healthy in spring training and Ryan Howard plays 100 games (which is the ideal situation) Utley hits over .285 and about 25 home runs.  That’s even better than what I want from him this year.

What if he isn’t capable of playing?

Backup: Freddy Galvis

Galvis hasn’t been what everyone thought he could be, but he’s still 25 and can grow to a respectable batter.  He impresses with his gloves, but it is absolutely necessary for him to either gain power (without steroids) or become a better hitter for average.

Third Baseman: Cody Asche

This guy excites me the most of any player since Dominic Brown came up.  Asche showed some real skills with his glove.  If he can hit more consistently, then he could develop into a true star.  Look for him to be somehow apart of the future even when Makiel Franco comes up.

What if Cody isn’t able to produce?

Backup: Freddy Galvis

It is impossible to dislike Freddy, but hitting coaches aren’t thrilled with him.  Freddy has a great glove and once was a hyped prospect.  If he could hit consistently, the Phillies would have sent Jimmy Rollins away a long time ago and handed this guy the starting SS job.

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins

J-Roll has quickly declined and he could be on the outs with Sandberg and Bowa roaming the dugout with him.  Bowa and Rollins weren’t exactly friendly when Bowa was the manager before the Charlie Manuel era.  Look for a bounce back 1st half of the year for Rollins or else trade rumors will swirl and problems will ensue.

What Jimmy is benched or somehow traded?

Back-Up: Freddy Galvis

Look above.

Left Field: Dominic Brown

In May 2013, Brown hit over .300 with 12 home runs and had 25 RBIs.  Through the rest of the season he hit close to .250 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs. Who is Dominic Brown?   If May 2013 was the real Dominic Brown then he would hit 72 home runs and have 150 RBIs.  That would be absolutely insane and the Phillies would be almost guaranteed a playoff spot.  Unfortunately, I think he will bee more of a 16-21 home run guy with 65-82 RBIs a season.  Those numbers are good, but not nearly as exciting as the other numbers.

What if Dominic isn’t good enough?

Back-Up: John Mayberry Jr.

JMJ is Freddy Galvis in an outfielder form.  He’s a good fielder, but one game he can excite you by going 2-4 with a home run and double and then the next night can strike 3 times and placed on the bench.  Mayberry also is ineffective against right-handed pitching which really hurts his value.

Center Field: Ben Revere

I have two problems with Ben: Power and Defense.  His only chance for a home run are an inside the park.  The way he hits doesn’t allow for much or any power.  Defensively, Revere has made some exceptional plays, but I think his routes are odd and that may finally catch up with him this year.

What if Ben can’t go?

Back-Up: Tony Gwynn Jr.

He is a wildcard, don’t count on him to produce big.  Quite honestly I hope he can produce because the Phillies don’t have much firepower on the bench and he’s going to need to carry the bulk of the  load from the left handed side.

Right Field: Marlon Byrd

Bringing in Byrd and AJ Burnett made the Phillies older, but more skilled.  Marlon Byrd is probably the ultimate difference maker this season.   If he can’t produce then Ryan Howard won’t get anything to hit and Chase Utley will be incapable of receiving the protection he needs.  Byrd will hit close to .260 and have 15-20 home runs and 60-75 RBIs because he still has a little bit left in the tank.

What if Byrd is too old?

John Mayberry Jr. and Tony Gwynn Jr. would take most of the time and there is a potential for the Caesar Hernandez experiment or Darin Ruf experiment in right field could take shape (when Ruf is healthy).

Starting Rotation:

This rotation should be one of the best in the league.  Cole Hamels (once healthy) will get around 12-14 wins and Cliff Lee and AJ Burnett always find wins so they could get from 15-18.  Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will most likely get paid for no major league pitching and Kyle Kendrick and Jonathan Pettibone will most likely pitch themselves out of the rotation.  Roberto Hernandez is a mystery and will most likely take Kendrick’s job as the most consistently mediocre pitcher out there.

Bullpen:

Lose hope on the bullpen, they are not good.  Do not get excited if they have a couple of quality innings (or even games) because it will not last.

 

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