What do the Phillies Need from Utley, Howard, and Halladay to Be Successful in 2013?

What do the Phillies Need from Utley, Howard, and Halladay to Be Successful in 2013?

There are a lot of “ifs” for the Phillies heading into this
season, perhaps none bigger than “if” Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Roy
Halladay are healthy and return to form. As long as the heart of the lineup and
ace of the staff can rebound, these aging Fightins should still pose a threat
even in a crowded National League East.

But those are three players, none of them younger than 33,
coming off of serious injuries and/or declining numbers. It might be
unreasonable to bet on any one of them replicating their award-winning and
All-Star seasons, let alone all of them. I think everybody understands that.

The good news is they might not have to.

Looking back on last year, there are some obvious, bare
minimum benchmarks for each of them. Utley needs to be available for more than
half of a season for starters, the 83 games he played in 2012 the lowest since
his first cup of coffee in the big leagues. Howard needs to get on base more
than his career-worst .295, and Halladay can’t allow an earned run average of

The real question is: what does each of them need to as
individuals to be considered successful in 2013? Because while it might be
unreasonable to expect them to revert to an All Star, MVP, or Cy Young, I’m not so
sure any of them has to attain quite that level of performance, either.


I’m not sure how much Utley’s numbers really need to improve
as much as he needs to be on the field more. For the first season in awhile, a lot of his stats were actually better than the year prior. Despite appearing
in 20 fewer games than ’11, Utley had just as many home runs (11) and one more
RBI (45). His OBP was also .21 points higher, up to .365 which is closer to what
he’s been throughout most of his career. Chase is probably past the days where he’s
going to post an OPS in the .900s, but with a full spring training and a year
of reasonably good health, a return to 2010 production (.832) is not out of the
question – it was .793 in '12.

That – good health – is the key though. Utley hasn’t played above
115 games in a season since ’09. Production is generally not the issue here, it’s
whether or not he is well enough to put his cleats on most days. If Utley can play
between 130-140 games this season, the Phillies should be better off no matter
what. Early indications are he's going to be able to do just that.


Yes, this past season was abysmal by any standards, not just Ryan
Howard’s, but what did everybody expect? He was still learning how to run again
when he came back from his torn Achilles tendon, and didn’t have much of a
spring training or rehab stretch to get the timing on that big swing of his

Then again, when you’re talking about the Big Piece, just his presence
alone is meaningful. In the 66 games Howard started for the Phillies last year,
the Phillies showed slightly improved run production, going from 4.14 per game
to 4.35 per game. The difference is not quite as marginal as it might seem, as
that’s a difference of 21 runs over the course of a season, which would’ve been
enough to bump up one spot to seventh in the NL in scoring – ahead of the
Atlanta Braves. The Phillies also had a 39-27 record with Howard in the lineup,
the .591 winning percentage a few points better than what they posted over the
second half (.587). Think had he been swinging the bat reasonably well.

So even stinky Howard is better than no Howard. With his
Achilles healed, there’s no reason to believe his numbers can’t bounce back to ’10-’11 territory – we’re talking 30-35 homers, 110+ RBI, with OBP and slugging percentages
hanging around .350 and .500 respectively. That might not mean living up to his
enormous contract, but it’s enough to help the Phils win a lot of baseball games, that's for sure.


Doc is the guy we might have to be worried about the most.
He’ll turn 36 this season, making rapid decline increasingly likely, and the stats
in 2012 are already some of his worst in over a decade. The velocity on his
fastball dipped, and perhaps as a result he was trying harder to pitch around
batters rather than running through them. After leading the league in
strikeouts-to-walks ratio for four consecutive years, that number (.367) fell below
his career average, maybe the most telling number of any.

Of course, we can now confirm that Halladay was hurt all
along. He recently admitted to having a lower back issue which he says altered
his mechanics, and there was a lengthy trip on the disabled list for an arm problem
later on.

Doc is the kind of guy you can never count out because of
his intensity though, so by no means am I predicting he can’t return to ace
status in the twilight of his career. Many great pitchers remained among the most effective in the game into their late 30s. I’m also not sure they need him to be
exactly the same pitcher who won a Cy Young with the Phillies in 2010, and
finished as the runner-up in ’11. Cole Hamels is at the top of his game, and
despite the inconvenient lack of run support, Cliff Lee still had a fine ’12 –
plus Kyle Kendrick has become reliable at the back end of the staff.

Not even really going out on a limb, but a healthy Roy
Halladay can easily do a full point better on last year's 4.49 ERA at least, and if
the Phillies are inclined to watch his innings, a quality bullpen should be
there to pick him up this season. Assuming Doc has everything sorted out with regards to his health, no
reason he shouldn’t win 16+ games again this year – and that’s if he’s not
chasing a third Cy Young award toward the end of the season.

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Speedy WR Bryce Treggs getting reps with Eagles' starters, could debut soon

Speedy WR Bryce Treggs getting reps with Eagles' starters, could debut soon

Speedy Eagles receiver Bryce Treggs, who hasn’t yet been active for a game, could be soon.

Treggs said after practice Thursday he got more reps with the first-team offense this week than he has all year.

“Way more,” Treggs said. “I feel like they’re comfortable with me now, where they don’t have to tell me what to do. I know the plays and I know where to be.”

Does that mean Treggs will make his NFL debut against the Vikings Sunday? Not necessarily. But it does mean he’s at least on the Eagles’ radar.

Treggs began his rookie preseason with Chip Kelly and the 49ers but didn’t play during the preseason because of a preexisting knee injury.

When the 49ers released him as part of final cuts, the Eagles claimed him. He was cleared medically last month and has been gradually learning the Eagles’ offense since. He’s been on the 53-man roster all year but inactive for all five games.

Treggs has 4.31 speed and ranked eighth in NCAA Division I last year with 21.2 yards per catch as a senior at Cal.

Treggs potentially could give the Eagles something they’ve lacked all year: a deep threat.

The Eagles have connected on just eight pass plays of 25 yards or more this year, and only five NFL teams have fewer.

Jordan Matthews has four of those, and running back Darren Sproles has two, which leaves just two for the rest of the Eagles’ other wideouts — one for Nelson Agholor, one for Dorial Green-Beckham and none for Josh Huff.

The Eagles have been using Green-Beckham more and more each week — he played a season-high 42 snaps in the loss to the Redskins Sunday.

Agholor has been a disappointment, with just 16 catches for 181 yards this year, no catches over 35 yards and no catches of 20 yards since opening day. In 18 NFL games, the former first-round pick has never had 65 yards in a game.

Treggs said he feels comfortable with both outside spots and the slot and has gotten practice reps at all three spots this week.

Eagles Injury Update: Bennie Logan (groin) misses second straight practice

Eagles Injury Update: Bennie Logan (groin) misses second straight practice

Every injured Eagles player returned on Thursday except for one.

Defensive tackle Bennie Logan (left groin strain) missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday and it doesn't seem likely he'll be able to play on Sunday against the Vikings.

If Logan can't play on Sunday, backup Beau Allen will get the start.

"Bennie was playing well [against Washington]," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said on Thursday. "He was one of the few guys in this game that was playing well. You know, it will be more reps for guys like Beau [DT Beau Allen], and maybe even a little bit more for a guy like Fletch [DT Fletcher Cox]. We'd like to rotate those guys as much [as we can], but sometimes you're not able to. And then a guy like Destiny [DT Destiny Vaeao], who has been a part-time player and made a couple plays, but also he's given up a couple. He needs to be more consistent. We've also used some defensive ends inside the rush on third down. That helps alleviate a little bit."

While Logan was still out, several other key Eagles returned to practice after missing Wednesday: Jason Kelce (foot), Ron Brooks (calf) and Marcus Smith (groin). Brooks was the only limited participant in Thursday's practice.

Kelce missed Wednesday's practice because he got a cortisone shot on Monday.

Furthermore, several Eagles who were limited on Wednesday -- Jordan Matthews (knee), Allen Barbre (ankle), Mychal Kendricks (ribs) -- were full participants on Thursday.