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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Season Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

2008 Record: 92-70  .568

Run differential: +119 (2nd)

2008 payroll: $98,269,880

Last year’s Phillie team was not unlike the previous year’s or even 2006.  The core was made up of Utley, Rollins, and Howard as well as a solid pitching staff and good defense.  Why was 2008 the year the Phillies were able to bring home the championship?  There’s no real answer to this question except that maybe they were due.  Though he wasn’t infallible (getting nothing for Bobby Abreu, signing Adam Eaton), Pat Gillick deserves a lot of credit for plugging and tweaking his team to get the pieces he felt they needed.   Maybe more credit should go to former GM Ed Wade who drafted the big 3 and later as GM of the Astros traded Brad Lidge to Philadelphia for a bag of peanuts.  Also, Charlie Manuel was probably the best manager in baseball last season.  Manuel knew which relievers he could use in certain situations, was not afraid to pinch hit with his backup catcher, and only attempted stolen bases with the guys that should attempt them.  No matter how you look it at it, this all goes to show that if you build for a championship and stick with it, you can bring home the hardware.

So what to expect from 2009?  New GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is not off to a good start.  His first move was to not offer Pat Burrell arbitration.  Raul Ibanez, who was offered arbitration by Seattle, signed to take Burrell’s place at a way over market rate with a 3 year $30 million contract, costing the team their first round draft pick.  Later Burrell signed at market rate with Tampa to be their DH.  Since Burrell was not offered arbitration the team gets no compensation for losing him and is now susceptible to left-handed pitching in the heart of the order.  Also, Amaro failed to get a quality backup infielder in case Utley is to miss any serious time from off-season hip surgery.  That isn’t to say any of these moves will prevent the Phillies from repeating but in a tight division every little move matters.

Likely opening day roster:

Pos. Name Salary How Acquired
C Carlos Ruiz $.425 M Drafted 2nd rd 2005
C Ronny Paulino $.424 M Acquired in trade w/ Pit 12/08
1b Ryan Howard $15 M Drafted 5th rd 2001. Signed extension 2/09
2b Chase Utley $11 M Drafted #15 overall 2000.  Signed extension 1/07
3b Pedro Feliz $5 M Signed as FA 1/28/08
SS Jimmy Rollins $7.5 M Drafted 2nd rd 1996. Signed extension 6/05
LF Raul Ibanez $6.5 M Signed as FA 12/16/08
CF Shane Victorino $3.13 M Selected in 2003 Rule V draft
RF Jayson Werth $2 M Signed as FA 12/06
Inf Eric Bruntlett $.6 M Acquired in trade w/ Hou 11/07.
UT Greg Dobbs $1.15 M Claimed off waivers 1/07
Of Geoff Jenkins $6.75 M Signed as FA 12/07
Of Matt Stairs $1 M Acquired in trade w/ Tor 8/28/08
SP Cole Hamels $4.35 M Drafted #17 overall 2002. Signed extension 1/09
SP Brett Myers $12 M Drafted #12 overall 1999.
SP Jamie Moyer $6.5 M Acquired in trade w/ Sea 8/06. Resigned 12/08
SP Joe Blanton $5.48 M Acquired in trade w/ Oak 7/17/08
SP J.A. Happ $.39 M Drafted 3rd rd 2004
Cl Brad Lidge $11.5 M Acquired in trade w/ Hou 11/07.  Signed extension 7/08
SU Ryan Madson $2 M Drafted 9th rd 1998
RP Scott Eyre $2 M Acquired in trade w/ Cubs 8/08. Resigned 11/08
RP Chad Durbin $1.64 M Signed as FA 12/07
RP Chan Ho Park $2.5 M Signed as FA 12/15/08
RP Clay Condrey $.65 M Acquired in trade w/ StL 12/4/08
RP Adam Eaton $8.5 M Signed as a FA 11/06

Say hello to: Raul Ibañez, Ronny Paulino

Wave goodbye: So Taguchi, Pat Burrell, RJ Swindle, Jason Jaramillo, Greg Golson

Rookies: Jason Donald, Carlos Carrasco, J.A. Happ

Non-Roster Invitees to Watch: Jason Donald, Marcus Giles, Pablo Ozuna, Gary Majewski

Potential breakout: Ryan Madson

Welcome to Earth:  Shane Victorino, everyone in the bullpen not named Madson

Likely to rebound: Geoff Jenkins.  There aren’t a lot of candidates here

Strengths: The heart of this order is the best in the NL.  Utley and Rollins are both GG material up the middle.

Weaknesses: The bench is really not that good.  There are a lot of injury risks on the roster.

Payroll obligations to former players: none

Optimal batting lineup (position, name, bats, Avg/OBP/Slg, HR, SB, EqA):

RF Werth R .273/.363/.498  24, 20  .301

LF Ibañez L .293/.358/.479  23, 2  .293

2B Utley L .292/.380/.535  33, 14  .311

SS Rollins R  .277/.349/.437  11, 47  .285

1B Howard L .251/.339/.543  48, 1  .292

CF Victorino B  .293/.352/.447  14, 36  .282

3B Feliz R .249/.302/.402  14, 0  .247

C  Ruiz R .219/.320/.300  4, 1  .224

Prediction: 2nd place and the NL wildcard. 

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