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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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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