By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
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Last year was the 1st losing campaign for the Fightins in over a decade. It was a mediocre season to be sure, and followed the 3rd straight year of regression.
Since Ryan Howard went down in a heap of pain during the 2011 playoffs, it has ravaged through the fans perception of the club.
2013 wasn’t going to end nicely, however the aging veteran Chase Utley gave the brass and fanbase a nice exiting thought by inking a 2 YR deal.
Ryan Howard has not recovered to his former status, and now makes $25 MIL year.
Losing Darin Ruf 1B/OF for 4 – 6 weeks with a strained oblique will hurt this team more than anyone will give credit towards.
Domonic Brown is the best value of the team, coming off of an ALL – Star campaign, where he hit 27 HRs, but is he the guy who hit 23 HRs before the game at Citi Field, or is he the 4 HRs man he hit post ALL – Star?
I think he will see a small regression in 2014, although he should hit near 25 HRs in a full season’s worth of AB. He must also work on his walk rate.
This baseball team still hits like they are on a 24 second clock in basketball.
Jimmy Rollins led the team with 59 walks, and he was still only able to muster a .318 OBP.
Chase Utley led the squad with a .348 OBP.
On some positives, Ben Revere is back to reclaim his leadoff position.
The 2013 campaign looked bleak for the 1st years Philly player – with a .200 BA, but then he followed up with BA’s of .312-.354-.388 in subsequent months until his season ending injury in July.
Revere should help the OF defense, and hit .295/.335/.350 – with 40 + SB for the year. The team dropped off the map severely once he left the team.
Darin Ruf was fully capable of breaking out this year, and I still think he could bomb 25 – 30 HRs even if he comes back in early May.
Marlon Byrd had a career renaissance in 2013, with 24 HRs and 88 RBI, but I am projecting a slight progression in 2014.
I would think he can hit in the high teens for HRs, possibly add 60+ RBI, but should carry a decent .275 – .285 BA.
He is 36, and I hate the team becoming older when you already have Rollins, Utley and Howard already in the lineup.
Having Carlos Ruiz back behind the plate for a full year has to be an upgrade from the entire 2013 Catching production.
“Chooch’ is 35 Years old, and should hit to near his 3 slash for his career at .274/.358/.412.
The veteran from Panama should also aid the Pitching Staff ERA’s being around for the full season in 2014.
The club will have Wil Nieves back him up.
Chase Utley, now 35, played his most games in 2013 (131) since his heyday back in 2009.
The longtime Phillies 2B plunked 49 baseball for Extra Base Hits in his 476 AB. If he can remain healthy, he is still an above average player for his position.
I am not sure of his AB, but he should go .280/.345/.460 in 2014.
The team losing Freddy Galvis to a staff infection hurts the early season depth chart for the club.
Young Cesar Hernandez may be pressed into action faster than he is ready for it.
Cody Asche will be manning the hot corner, and his backup Infielder was Kevin Frandsen, before he was granted Free Agency – and signed with the Nationals.
Before we go any further, I am also surprised the franchise didn’t give Bobby Abreu more of a shot, considering he held a .404 OBP during Spring Training.
The brass gave the 40 Year Old his walking papers yesterday. Why not hold onto him as a PH/OF type person for a few weeks until Ruf came back?
John Mayberry Jr. will be the 4th OF and main PH versus LHP. He will also back Ryan Howard at 1B.
In 420 Career AB versus LHP, he has 25 HRs, 63 RBI and a .847 OPS. Against RHP, the second generation Mayberry, has a .668 OPS, 21 HRs and 85 RBI in 710 AB.
This guy could be trade bait one Darin Ruf returns.
Ryan Howard’s health is the #1 wildcard for the team this year.
This guy has to be closer to his Career 3 Slash of .271/.361/.545 for this team to contend.
The power is still there, with him clocking 25 HRs and adding 99 RBI in his 546 AB since the gruesome 2011 broken ankle.
Howard has struggled with his Walk Rate, while his Strikeouts have been as high as ever.
With a full season worth of work, I think the 34 Year Old could hit 25 – 30 HRs, and drive in north of 90 RBI.
An acceptable 3 slash could be .260/.330/.470 to go along with that.
If Howard has problems at the plate, and in particular against Lefties, Ryne Sandberg must rotate in with Ruf or Mayberry Jr.
Jimmy Rollins is a hard case to figure out.
He has stated he would welcome a trade later in the year, but he would prefer to be the ALL – Time Phillies hits leader before he exits.
I am not sure how long the 2007 NL MVP plays for the franchise, but he has a 3 Slash for his career of .269/.327/.426. These numbers sound about right.
Ruben Amaro JR. would be wise to deal him before the deadline.
Rollins, 35, only needs 434 Plate Appearances from nailing down his 2015 Vesting Option for a contract of $11 MIL.
The SS must not be on the Disabled List to end the year either. Teams like New York or Detroit may be possible suitors for his services late in the campaign.
Cody Asche will take over the hot corner in 2014. The 23 Year old had a nice showing in 2013, bashing 5 HRs and adding 22 RBI in just 162 AB.
The key is to extrapolate that success over the course of a full season.
This 3B is a lot like the rest of the team, he strikes out a lot. Still if he could hit .250/.325/.400 – with 20 HRs and 80 RBI, you would take that in heartbeat – even if fans 150+ times this year.
The lineup should score some runs -with the power the infield may possess if healthy, and the nice BA the OF may carry with Byrd and Revere.
Brown, Asche and Ruf all taking it to the next level on offense could really go along way to help out.
The team will probably live and die as long as Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels can pitch to their capabilities.
With Hamels on the shelf early, Lee will be under even more pressure early.
The 35 Year Old LHP has been a top 5 pitcher over the last 6 years, and will be able to raise his stock value via a trade if he can throw well in 2014 for the 1st half.
The Phillies always have a punchers chance in the National League if Lee can pitch like his usual self.
He is 44 – 29 (.603) with a microscopic 2.86 ERA in his 4 years with Philadelphia.
The salary at $25 MIL for both 2014 and 2015 is a lot, but if he performs well, he is worth the money.
Lee needs to throw 200 IP in 2015, or have 400 IP between 2014 and 2015 for a $27.5 MIL Vesting Option to kick in.
Considering the dollar amounts being floated out for ace pitchers in Free Agency, a good team should be vying for his services near the trade deadline.
I predicted the Phillies to trade a bunch of players, and have a rough record wise season. So Lee to a contender would seem a great prospect.
Texas, Boston and the Los Angeles Angels might be teams that need another playoff assassin like this man.
I project Lee to have another top 10 CY young finish, and wield an ERA hovering around 3.
This deal may be a boom or a bust. 1 Year, with a $16 MIL pricetag was worth it.
I worry about Burnett not throwing well in his home park, just like he ended with New York at Yankee Stadium.
The 37 Year old had a great stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, working over 400 IP in the last 2 years, and fashioning a great SO/BB rate at 9.8 Per 9 IP K’s/3.2 walks per 9 IP.
Burnett led the NL starters for Strikeouts per 9. I am predicting a 12 – 12 record, and a 4.50 ERA in 2014.
Kyle Kendrick is in the 3rd position in the rotation. He has a career record of 64 – 55, with a 4.38 ERA, and is a great back end Starter.
Roberto Hernandez (don’t call me Fausto Carmona) should not be in the Major Leagues.
This website called the Rays insertion of him into their staff as a main reason they didn’t win the AL East last year.
If you take out the 33 Year Old RHP great 2007 year, when he went 19 – 8. with a 3.06 ERA, he is 40 – 74, with an ERA over 5 for the rest of his career.
What exactly screams he will perform well in 2014?
Only the fact he faces the Marlins and Mets offenses 38 times this year, may salvage his year.
Sandberg should start him against these teams the majority of his games starts.
The 5th slot is a scary proposition for the club.
They wanted to use their International Pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzlaez, but he hasn’t had a full Spring, has been hurt, and will probably start in the Minors
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was the main Free Agent signing, that will be in the Phils clubhouse past this year.
Perhaps the guy will come via trade, Free Agent Signing or waiver claim in the next few weeks.
The Bullpen will be anchored by Jonathan Papelbon. But if things go south for the club, or he acts up, look for a trade to be maneuvered by Amaro Jr.
Mike Adams is still on sick bay, and only appeared in 28 games during last season.
The team navigated a trade with the Jays for Brad Lincoln, who will join a bevy of other RHP in the relief core.
The Phils will hope Lincoln can improve on his 3.98 ERA in Canada last year.
B.J. Rosenburg, Justin De Fratus and Jeff Manship may round out the late inning guys, although Manship may be the swing man for the starting staff.
With the #5 starter not isolated, and Hernandez lined up, couple with Burnett’s odd bad game, the Relievers may be called upon a great deal in 2014.
When it is all said and done, this could be a long and brutal season, with veterans being traded…or fighting with Sandberg, and injuries could pile up.
I think at best this team could win 81 games, but are more likely to win between 74 – 77 contests.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
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