Who Are These Guys? Meet Your 2013 Philadelphia Phillies

Who Are These Guys? Meet Your 2013 Philadelphia Phillies

With an estimated $159 million in payroll, the
Phillies have the third-most expensive ball club in Major League Baseball this
year. They also have 15 players who weren’t on the Opening Day roster in 2012,
whether it was because they were on the disabled list, in the minors, or
playing for another team at the time. In this primer we draw the curtain on the
25 players who made the club in ‘13, check in on some stats from spring
training, and even take a peek at who might be next in line.

Starting pitchers (5)

Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan, Cliff
Lee

Trending up? Think
Hamels is ready for to make the first Opening Day start of his big league
career? King Cole enjoyed his best spring ever, allowing two earned runs over
19 innings while opposing batters hit for a .172 average in Grapefruit League
action. He’s never been more comfortable, the contract situation taken care of,
his standing as the franchise ace cemented. What’s more, at 29 years of age it
appears Hamels’ best days are still ahead of him.

Trending down? Maybe
Halladay will be just fine, but you can probably forget about ever seeing the Doc
of old again. His decline began right on time last year, while this spring
brought with it more questions than answers. The Phils will be fine as long as
Roy is healthy and his stuff effective enough to keep them close in a majority of
his starts. However, despite Kyle Kendrick’s steady improvement, they might be
in trouble if KK winds up being the staff’s true number three.

Up their sleeve:
Tyler Cloyd got the call late last season, although he isn’t generally considered
one of the organization’s top prospects. Right-handers Jonathan Pettibone and
Ethan Martin – ranked four and six in the Phillies’ system according to
Baseball America – are also on the 40-man roster. Whichever one of the three is
performing the best could find themselves in the show in the event of an
injury, or possibly even if the back end of the rotation were to struggle.

Outlook: Doc is
the key. Unless Kendrick can continue to build on his strong finish to 2012 (7-3,
2.43 over final 10 starts), the starting pitching is only as sound as Halladay
is.

Relievers (7)

Mike Adams,
Phillippe Aumont, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin, Jeremy Horst, Jonathan Papelbon Raul Valdes

All set(up): Last season the Phillies lost 12
games in which they took a lead into the eighth inning. Had they won even
two-thirds of those, the Fightins would have been in the playoffs. Well, that
shouldn’t be a problem anymore. Setup man extraordinaire Mike Adams was signed
in the offseason to plug that leak, and he looks poised to deliver. Adams
allowed only four hits and one run in nine innings of work this spring, so it
should be safe to say fewer games will be slipping away.

Cliff finally produces: When Aumont got the call this past
August, he became the first prospect from the Cliff Lee trade to Seattle to reach
the show. So far the hard-throwing righty is panning out nicely, entering his first
full season in the bigs coming off one of the best springs in Philly’s bullpen.
Of their seven relievers, only Adams had better than Aumont’s 3.24 ERA, who
also struck out seven over 8.1 frames. If anything should happen to Adams or
Papelbon, this 24 year old might have the stuff to fill their roles.

Outlook: There’s a good chance the bullpen
transforms from weakness into strength. They can’t be any worse than 2012, that’s
for sure.

Catchers (2)

Erik Kratz,
Humberto Quintero

Help is on the way: Kratz and Quintero only have to hold
down the fort for about a month or so until Carlos Ruiz can return from his
25-game suspension. Think about it as a short stint on the disabled list. Kratz
looked more than capable of filling in for Chooch when he was hurting last summer,
so the Fightins should be fine until May. Question is which Ruiz returns: the
power-hitting catcher from 2012, or the meek bat with no extra base hits in 26
at bats this Spring?

Outlook: Chooch will be fine. Kratz is
adequate until then.

Infielders (6)

Kevin
Frandsen, Freddy Galvis, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Michael Young

Healthy as a horse: It was probably nothing short of
delusional to take playoff expectations for the Phillies into 2012 when they
were without the two biggest horses in their lineup for half the season. Both Utley
and Howard returned for spring training looking healthy and rejuvenated, combining
to appear in 52 Grapefruit games and bashing 12 home runs. Howard also posted a
.322 average. Make no mistake, their presence is a game changer.

Stopgap at third: There was a surprising amount of
backlash to the Michael Young acquisition, but even if the 36 year old puts up
2012 numbers, he’s an upgrade over what the Phils had at third base. The
seven-time All Star hasn’t looked too bad protecting Howard, driving in 16 RBI
this spring. Defense might be the biggest concern, but Young made some nice
plays over at the hot corner as well. Either way it’s likely just a one-year
rental, and a damn good one if he can hit .300 again.

Outlook: The core may be getting up there in
age, but these guys are All Stars and MVPs. There should be enough pop left in
this group to make a run.

Outfielders (5)

Domonic
Brown, Ender Inciarte, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Ben Revere

Springing into action: Would the real Dom Brown please stand
up? Once considered one of the top prospects in baseball, there were plenty of folks
who were ready to give up on the 25 year old even though he’s had the
equivalent of a season’s worth of at bats in the Majors. Dom has been on a tear
this spring though, leading the Phillies in hits and runs while also tying for
the clubhouse lead in homers and RBI. He solidified his spot, but will success follow
him into the regular season?

Ben Revere’s ride: Will Jimmy Rollins finally get
overtaken for the leadoff spot? If anybody is going to do it, this is the guy.
Revere may not hit home runs ever (seriously, ever), he showed what he brings
to the table this spring, getting on base then wreaking havoc. He was second to
Brown in hits with 29, posted a .368 OBP, plus stole 10 bags. If J-Roll is
hitting number two all season as he will on Opening Day, there’s a good chance he could be driving Revere home with
some frequency.

The season is Young: It remains to be seen how much help
Delmon Young will provide this year. He starts the season on the disabled list
after undergoing microfracture surgery on his ankle over the winter, and will
have to find his groove without the benefit of a full spring training. As
unpopular as the 2012 ALCS MVP is, Young is a right-handed bat with the
potential to hit 20 bombs, which can definitely be an asset. The only question is
whose roster spot will he take once he is ready?

Ruf time of it: There were high hopes for Darin Ruf
to make the roster this year, but he didn’t have the impact the team was
hoping. Ruf hit .246 with just two home runs this spring, and perhaps more to
his detriment was some spotty play out in left field to put it kindly.
Clearwater this time of year can be a tough place to learn the position. Either
way, he just wasn’t ready. That said, we probably haven’t heard the last of “Babe”
Ruf in 2013.

Outlook: There’s a lot riding on Brown to
finally live up to his billing this year. If he’s up to the task, this group of
outfielders can make the leap from ordinary to mighty.

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Best of NFL: Redskins notch 1st win vs. Giants; Cowboys rout Bears

Best of NFL: Redskins notch 1st win vs. Giants; Cowboys rout Bears

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Dustin Hopkins kicked a 37-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter for his fifth of the game and the Washington Redskins avoid a near-disastrous 0-3 start with a 29-27 win over the penalty- and error-prone New York Giants on Sunday.

Kirk Cousins threw touchdown passes of 44 yards to DeSean Jackson and 55 to Jamison Crowder as the banged-up Redskins (1-2) handed new coach Ben McAdoo his first loss with the Giants (2-1).

Su'a Cravens ended the Giants' final drive with an interception in New York territory. It was Eli Manning's second pick of the quarter, with the other coming in the end zone by Quinton Dunbar after New York got to the Redskins 15 on a big play by Odell Beckham Jr.

This was a wild NFC East matchup that see-sawed the entire second half after Washington rallied from a 21-9 deficit (see full recap).

Prescott, Cowboys rout Bears on SNF
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without injured quarterback Tony Romo over three seasons before the rookie fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott's first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he's up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia rookie Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals in NFL history.

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox (see full recap).

Vikings stop Newton, snap Panthers' home win streak
CHARLOTTE, N.C.  -- The Minnesota Vikings keep finding ways to overcome injuries --and keep finding ways to win football games.

Sam Bradford threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, Marcus Sherels returned a punt for a score and the Vikings snapped the Carolina Panthers' 14-game home winning streak 22-10 on Sunday.

The Vikings put the clamps on Cam Newton, intercepting the league's reigning MVP three times and getting eight sacks, one of those resulting in a safety by Danielle Hunter. The eight sacks were the second-most ever against Newton.

"We have a great team -- the best team I have been a part of," said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who had three sacks. "We come from every area on the field and we get sacks."

Said Newton: "They were dictating to us after they got the momentum."

The Vikings improved 3-0 despite losing running back Adrian Peterson and offensive tackle Matt Kalil to injuries last week. They lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason (see full recap).

Bills bounce back with win over Cardinals
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.  -- LeSean McCoy scored twice and safety Aaron Williams returned a botched field-goal snap 53 yards for a touchdown in leading the Buffalo Bills to a 33-18 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor also scored on a 20-yard run at a time the Rex Ryan-coached Bills spent the past week taking the brunt of criticism after opening the season 0-2.

The win also came on the heels of Ryan firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman and replacing him with running backs coach Anthony Lynn.

McCoy scored on 24- and 5-yard runs, and finished with 110 yards rushing after combining for just 117 in his first two games. Taylor had 76 yards rushing, including a 49-yarder, the longest by a quarterback in team history (see full recap).

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Doug Pederson: For the Eagles, 'this was a good benchmark'

Doug Pederson: For the Eagles, 'this was a good benchmark'

On his way to the locker room following his team's stunning 34-3 victory over the Steelers, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson reacted, well, like you probably did.

Pederson had to be surprised by what had just transpired. After all, this wasn't the Browns or the Bears. This was the Steelers, who entered the game with the second-best odds behind New England, per Bovada, of winning the Super Bowl (the Patriots were first). 

And the Eagles didn't just beat them. They clobbered them.

But minutes later, when Pederson met the media for his postgame press conference, he tried his best to act like it was no big thing.

“I told the team way back in OTAs that it just takes a little bit of belief," Pederson said. "Belief in themselves. Trust the process. Believe in the coaches and the coaches believe in one another. That’s what they did tonight. 

"Am I surprised? A little. But at the same time, I know that locker room, I know those guys and I know what they are building. By no means have we accomplished anything yet. The season is still extremely young. But what they did tonight just proves that they are coming together as a football team.”

Yeah, yeah. Sorry, Doug. It's OK to be surprised. Scratch that. Make that stunned. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. But now? Forget that. 

At least for the next two weeks. The Eagles are on their bye week and don't play again until Oct. 9 at Detroit. 

“It is still a young season, only three games. This was a good benchmark," Pederson said. "That’s a good football team, the Steelers are a great football team. They are going to be there at the end, they always are. Coach (Mike) Tomlin always has those guys ready to play. 

"But for our guys, it is just a little glimpse of that belief that I have been saying since the spring and summer. If they just do their jobs, I just feel that good things can happen. We just protect each other in that dressing room in there and keep coming to work everyday.”

Pederson is the only head coach in team history to win each of his first three games. It's only the ninth time the Eagles have started 3-0.

And of course, a big reason they've done so is their prodigy quarterback Carson Wentz, who became only the second rookie in team history to record a 300-yard passing game (Nick Foles is the other).

More impressively, Wentz now has attempted 102 straight passes without an interception, the longest streak ever begin an NFL career (per ESPN). Dallas'  Dak Prescott is at 99 after the Cowboys beat up the Bears.

But don't ask Pederson to admit he's amazed by Wentz or the fact he had the presence of mind to make plays like the riveting 73-yard TD pass to Darren Sproles (much more on that here).

“You know, you just put on his college film. Just watch him," Pederson said. "We exhausted his college tape and those were the plays that he made at North Dakota State. That play tonight was just a tremendous play by both he and Darren Sproles. Those are the types of things that we know he can do. He just keeps gaining confidence every single week.”

As does the defense, which kept one of the league's most potent offenses out of the end zone

"They just weren’t going to be denied," Pederson said. "They just weren’t going to bow their necks. They weren’t going to let them in the endzone. It just came down to our will versus theirs and I was just so happy with the way the guys played. Just a great team effort.”