We’re only a few short hours away from the start of your Philadelphia Phillies 2013 season. Much has been said since the end of the Phils’ 2012 run about the age of the infield, the lack of consistent talent in the outfield, and the uncertainty of one particular ace. After the jump, our own Adam Brodsky and Jim Adair do their best to predict what will happen this year, fully realizing that it’s likely they’re both wrong. It’s a long season, but we’re ready. Meet us down below to see what Adam and Jim have to say about the make-or-break year to be for Dom Brown, Roy Halladay’s worrisome lack of velocity, and where our Fightins will land in the standings.
Adam: This is the make or break position cluster for the Phils. If Ben Revere provides the speed and youth (24) to eventually replace Jimmy Rollins in the lead-off spot, and learns the difference between steak and cake, he could roam centerfield for a generation, and even the corner spots are looking optimistic. You can choose to look at spring training as an accurate predictor or you can dismiss it as meaningless warm-up. Should you choose the former, you gots to like what you see from Dominic Brown. Like Lucy and the football every year we’re told that this time, they’ve moved his hands, fixed his swing, and just you watch. This year, that might be true and though it’s doubtful his regular season OPS will match his spring number (1.076), like prom night, if he can keep it up, he should have a good ride this season. And if he does, that certainly takes the pressure from the shoulders of John Mayberry and Laynce Nix who will platoon in right. Then, if Darin Ruf tears up AAA like he did AA maybe a mid-season trip to the show will be in order.
Jim: There’s no getting around the fact that this year’s Phils outfield is lacking the name recognition of many platoons in the majors. But what they lack in household namibility, they make up for in desperation. Much has been said this spring about the performance of Dom Brown and 2013 being his make-or-break year. Less acknowledged is the similar “last chance” status that should be held up to John Mayberry Jr. Mayberry is a few years older than Brown, and while he never had the prospect-hype that Dom did, he’s had many more chances to make his impact in the bigs. So while everyone is staring at Dom Brown’s stat-line and (hopefully) strong start, we should all hope for a similar breakout year from Mayberry. Will we get it? I say no. Dom’ll end up looking like a pro ballplayer after a full year on the roster, but not star caliber. Mayberry, while splitting time with Laynce Nix, Delmon Young, and eventually Darin Ruf, will likely turn in numbers are disappointing as last year’s (.245/14/46). And in center, the youth, speed, and likability of Ben Revere will put him in the position to be a bonafide lead-off threat, if Charlie lets him play that role.
Adam: Ugh, pass the Maalox. This Centrum Silver infield. Howard (33), Utley (34), Rollins (34), Young (36), I think I saw these guys open for Jimi Hendrix once. Ryan looks both lumpy and limpy, and everyone I talk to feels confident that he’ll still drive in 100 runs, strike out 200 times and send 35 over the fence if he can play 130 games or more. That’s a big if for the big piece. Either way, maybe he’ll play well enough that the Yankees will take a shine to his giant contract. It’s hard to imagine Chase playing more than a hundred games. The guy just doesn’t seem to be built for the slog of the National League. It seems likely that he will spend a couple stints on the DL and even more on the bench as a rationing measure. I love him but feel pretty sure, despite his skills, his contributions this year will be minimized by his glass carcass. Jimmy is (almost) ageless, but that’s not the same as true immortality. He will play fine, but he will play a year older than he was last year when he was probably a year too old to be relied upon for lead-off speed. Still, I’m glad he’s around, even if Ruben’s smarter move might have been to deal him. Oh, and that last guy at the hot corner. Sure, whatever, he’s serviceable and he’s an upgrade from Placido Polanco the human bobble head. He’s a place holder and the Rangers are picking up much of his tab so, yeah, he’s fine ’til the Phils negotiate that billion dollar contract with Comcast and can go shopping, or pay to clone Mike Schmidt, (this time without the shitty personality.) And you know, Freddie and Fransden are about as good as you can hope to have on the bench. Provided Galvis doesn’t break in half again, they’ll both see some action and fill in the holes nicely.
Oh, and the most important guy on the field Chooch … er … Erik Kratz. Actually that 1, 2 punch, (or for April that 2 punch) seems pretty darn solid. Provided Carlos can focus without his Adderal. May will be here soon enough and Ruiz’ 25 games will be served and he can squat with the best of em.
Jim: This should tell you something: The two infielders I am the least worried about are Erik Kratz and Kevin Frandsen. Both were called out of obscurity last year and played better than anyone expected, and they’ll continue to do that this year. And as for the Golden Guys? Like Adam, I doubt Utley, Howard, and even J-Roll will stay off of the DL this year. Utley’s looking better, but one wrong turn or twist on that knee and we can call it a season. Howard is currently the only base runner in the bigs slower than Albert Pujols, and even if he ever gets to 100%, he’ll have to hit it out of the park or to the wall in every AB to be effective. When Chooch returns, we’ll all be relieved, but I doubt he will follow up last year’s career-year with another. He’ll still be an All-Star caliber player — especially on defense — but he won’t be as threatening at that plate. And I’ll just be happy if Michael Young stays on the roster for the whole season. Man, I just bummed myself out.
Adam: The past few off seasons have had moments to high five over the hot stove. There was “Aww, I’ll miss Cliff Lee but HOLY FUCKBALLS, HARRY LEROY HALLIDAY is in pinstripes!” There was Merry Cliffmas, and the Four Aces (and Fat Joe). This year there is Cole Hamels‘ Mustache (right). Kyle Kendrick has emerged yet again from the pen is now the 4th starter and two of the three ahead of him are no spring chickens and had some shaky starts this spring. If you want to put faith in spring outings, you get to feel good about Dom Brown, but that means you have to be fidgeting over the grapefruits tossed up by Doc and Cliff. If you wanna chalk that up to the meaningless of spring, then your nails are quick-bitten over Dom.
Jim: Less make-or-break and more “the time is now” is Cole Hamels. Everyone with that curly white P embroidered on their red hat is pulling for (and hoping for, and praying for) a Cy Young year out of Cole. I think he’ll be there, and if he doesn’t take the trophy home he’ll be top 5 in votes, but all the worry lies with Roy Halladay. Cliff’ll turn last year into a “don’t mind that year” one on the back of his Topps card, but this year may be Doc’s “and that was the year it all went downhill.” I still think he’ll end up with a better record than 2012 Cliff Lee (because, my god), but we’ll see a high ERA and a real need for run support for a guy who didn’t need it before. Kendrick will be Kendrick, and John Lannan will do what you need a 5th starter to do, he’ll get some wins, blow some games, and roll the rotation back around to your ace.
Adam: Who the fuck knows. I mean, Last year’s pen was hit or miss, but y’know, if these guys were more consistent, they’d prolly be starting pitchers. Though the Phils bullpen blew 19 saves last year, only 4 of those were Papelbon’s. Holds were a problem and a problem compounded much of the season by the lack of power from the missing bats of Utley and Howard. With those two guys presumably offering up some more runs in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings, perhaps fewer foreheads will be palmed in disgust. But the biggest key to the pen is up the big butt of Antonio Bastardo, If he can regain that consistency and re-earn his “Magnificente” nickname, it will make everyone’s job easier. Durbin’s getting old but That french guy is young, so maybe it’s a wash.
Jim: Like Adam, I am clueless here. Phillies fans know that when the hitting is on, the bullpen is off, and when the pen is on, our batters couldn’t hit a basketball with a tennis racket. Papelbon will be reliable and shaky at the same time, getting to him will be an issue all year long, and the pen will blow what seems like game after game after game. But seeing how the team ended up last year, even as the pen blew around a dozen games before the All-Star break, if we can keep that number in single digits, we’ll be in pretty good shape.
Adam: Uncle Rube’s been a bit tight with the coin of late. time was, if the Phillies wanted BJ Upton, like Veruca Salt‘s dad, Rubin would go get BJ Upton. But Michael Young is not BJ Upton. If the Phils are in this thing at the trade deadline, I’m not so confident that they have the cash to buy some more toys. Charlie though, is Charlie. Slow, steady, and incomprehensible. I have no fear that his hat will be as dented on October 1st as it is on April 1st and the baseball mind beneath will whirr with the same consistency. Just don’t ask him to explain it … or if you do, ask him to do it in Japanese.
Jim: Look, he’s no Ed Wade, and for everyone who remembers Ed Wade I would like to formally thank Ruben Amaro Jr. for not being Ed Wade. But maybe the magic has worn off. Maybe all those great moves and high dollar deals were a sign of the momentum times, and maybe that’s all in the past. Charlie is on his last managerial legs in red pinstripes (and maybe in any jersey), but if he turns in a good year in 2013, 2014 can be his swan song, his final shot to regain the glory that seemed so easy to acquire in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Ryne Sandberg waits in the wings, and if the powers that be decide that he will take over in 2014, I’m on board. I’d just like to know ahead of time so I can give Uncle Cholly a proper send-off. He deserves it.
Adam: Look even with Howard and Utley hoping to play more than half a season each, everyone is a year older, and not many positions are a year better. I think the infield and the starters are gonna have a rough year. This team is in decline as the Braves and Nationals are on the rise. Where a few years ago, they couldn’t even spell their name right, DC is now the cream of the division and I hope I’m wrong, but I think they’ll win it, and 95 games along the way. I think the Phillies are a little worse than they were in 2012 when they went .500 (81-81) This year I predict (75-87) and a third place finish, though I really hope I’m wrong.
Jim: Even as I reread my weak analyses above, I’m still fairly confident in being a little more optimistic than Adam. I do think the Phillies are a little better than last year, and the tale of two teams (pre and post All-Star break) from last year shows some of that. Are they gonna win the division? No. As much as it pains me to say this (and oh it pains) the NL East is The Nationals’ to lose. There’ll be a late season playoff push, and once again they’ll come up short, but the division in general will be better (except for those jokes at the bottom). Following the Nats almost certain lashing of the NL East, the Braves will hit 90-92 wins, while the Phils land 3rd at 85-77. Like Adam, I hope I’m wrong, but I’ll be satisfied if I’m right.
Most Valuble Player
Adam: I think Dom Brown, Ben Revere, and Cole Hamels will duke it out for the top honors and in the end, Cole will have the best season of any Phillie in town. People will credit the ‘stache and I will struggle to forgive him for the dog/backpack issue all those years ago.
Jim: Cole Hamels. Period. And if he’s not, I think half of the city will be shocked. Someone predicts 20 wins for Hollywood every year, but this year has to be the year it happens. Right? RIGHT?
Least Valuble Player
Adam: I think it will be one of the corners, Even though Ryan’s spring numbers look good, his body does not. Like I said, he’s Lumpy and Limpy, and I think he, along with Chase, will end up on the DL for a piece, and his numbers will fall apace. But I think the bigger risk over at the other corner where the 36 year old Michael Young will attempt to be an everyday player at a position he hasn’t played every day since 2010. I think Kevin Fransden will start quite a few games there, and Pete Orr may even get a few cups of coffee this season. So my LVP will be Michael Young.
Jim: It’s a toss up. Considering Delmon Young avoids LVP status just by not gaining 40 lbs, I’m going to go with his outfield-mate, John Mayberry Jr. He’ll spend a solid chunk of the season getting acqainted with the Mendoza line. He’ll get hot, and it’ll be fun. But he’ll get cold more often and for longer stretches. And next year, we’ll still try to fill a hole in right field.
So there it is, our cautiously optimistic but hopefully realistic look at the 2013 Phillies season. The long ride kicks off tonight in Atlanta at 7:10PM, and our Phils open up Citizens Bank Park on Friday. We’ll see you at the ballpark.