Thursday, March 10, 2005


2005 Season Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

The Philles firing of Larry Bowa will probably only add a win or two on to their total, but that is usually what they need at the end anyways. I have an issue picking the places of the five teams in the NL East, because with a few lucky bounces here and there four of them are capable of securing a playoff spot.

Terry Adams, RP: Adams did nothing but make me worried in his time with the Red Sox in 04', so I am not too keen on this signing.

Jon Lieber, SP: I think the Phillies got a great deal on Lieber, considering the contracts of guys like Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Kris Benson, and Eric Milton. Mostly because Lieber is better than all of them, and cheaper too. Well he has the same contract as Wright. Lieber pounds the strike zone very well, and rarely walks anyone. A great addition to a pitching staff sorely needing some kind of positive consistency.

Placido Polanco, Util: A funny thing happened when the Phillies offered Polanco arbitration; he accepted it. He wasn't supposed to. The Phillies did it because they thought a bunch of teams would offer contracts to Polanco and they could receive compensatory draft picks for him. Well no one offered him a contract and Polanco felt like playing, so he's with Philly now, and starting while David Bell rehabs from a back injury. He could get traded when Bell comes back, or be used at the deadline to enhance a deal.

This doesn't seem like much for moves, but replacing the injured and often ineffective Millwood with the likes of Jon Lieber is a step in the right direction for a team that only needs a few little steps. If Maneul really can keep the team going in September, the Phillies might be able to sneak a wild card out of this year.

1) Kenny Lofton
2) Jimmy Rollins
3) Bobby Abreu
4) Jim Thome
5) Pat Burrell
6) Mike Lieberthal
7) David Bell
8) Chase Utley

Rollins was almost completely unnoticed last season, even though he rebounded from a poor sophomore slump. Abreu and Thome were in the top tier of talent as always, and Burrell rebounded from a disastrous 2003 with an O.K. 2004. Chase Utley takes over at second full time rather than Polanco, and Marlon Byrd hopes to rebound from a terrible 2004. Byrd's peripherals actually weren't bad last year; his Isolated Power and walk rate were in line with his 03' campaign, but his average dropped. He could play the same and hit for higher average and everyone will be astounded with his miraculous recovery. Byrd's main problem now is that Kenny Lofton is in the lineup, and is expected to play. A real good lineup, but not as good as Florida's. Better than the Braves though (unless Marte comes up and hits immediately.) It would be a better lineup if Byrd rights his ship and plays.

1) Jon Lieber
2) Randy Wolf
3) Vicente Padilla
4) Cory Lidle
5) Gavin Floyd

Two improvements: One is Lieber over Millwood, and second is anyone over Brett Myers. Gavin Floyd has the potential to be a really good pitcher in the majors, so getting him work out of the 5th spot rather than wasting chances on Brett Myers is a good move. Cory Lidle and Eric Milton are the same person in my mind, except Lidle is cheaper, so there isn't much of a change there. But as for Floyd and Lieber, it could be enough to make this pitching staff just good enough, considering the Braves and Marlins question marks.

The success of the bullpen rests entirely in the hands of Billy Wagner and his health. One of the most dominant closers in baseball when healthy, he can tie this whole bullpen together if he's around. Rheal Cormier and Tim Worrell, along with new addition Terry Adams will try to keep the Phillies late leads for Wagner. If the path to Wagner remains clear then the Phillies have no issues with their pen.

Overall this team is capable of taking first place with a few lucky breaks. A complete rebound from Burrell would change everything, but I'm pretty sure that isn't going to happen. You never know though. I just really feel like they will finish in third (possibly second) and Philadelphia will be disapointed yet again. I don't think it will be because they choked or caved in or whatever has occured the past few years, I just think the Marlins might have passed them in terms of depth all around. Except for the bullpen that is (Oh Todd Jones and your slim chance of closing being much too big for my taste).

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