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by user Timothy Moreland
Jon Lieber is not who you want to call your ace if you are looking to make the playoffs. As a #3 starter, he would be decent. Expect another 180-200 innings with an ERA in the low-4.00's. Myers is where I see potential for a true ace. He is still only 25 and cut his ERA by 2 runs by boosting his K rate. At worst, he will repeat his success from last year but odds are good he will continue toward deserving a top spot in any rotation. Lidle had some bad luck last year (.327 Batting Average on Balls in Play) so his ERA should drop a little, maybe back to the low-4.00's. Still, I would not want to count too much on Lidle's production. Occupying the #4 spot is one of the worst signings of the offseason. Franklin does nothing well; he doesn't strike people out, he walks a lot of batters, and he lets up a lot of HRs. A switch to Philly's park will assist his ERA in rising farther over the 5.00 mark. The #5 spot in the rotation contains quite a question mark. Madson has a career ERA of 3.25 in 166.0 innings (only 1 start). In 2003, he started 26 games in AAA with a 3.50 ERA. In the majors, he has not pitched more than 87 innings in a season, so chances are he is not ready for a 175+ inning year. If he is able to pull off the increased workload, while maintaining his skills, Madson could be the most valuable #5 starter in the majors. Unfortunately, that should not be counted on to happen this year. The bullpen took a hit in losing Billy Wagner but semi-effectively replace him with 38-year-old Tom Gordon. Gordon has gotten less and less dominant over the past few years so the future may not be so bright. The rest of the bullpen has little to get excited over. Rhodes(36 years old) and Cormier (39 years old) are at the end of the line. Aaron Fultz may be the only bright spot(2.24 ERA last year) but his history is shaky(5.22 and 5.04 in the 2003 and 2004).
SP Jon Lieber
<stats> Player=Jon Lieber Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP Brett Myers
<stats> Player=Brett Myers Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP Cory Lidle
<stats> Player=Cory Lidle Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Ryan Franklin Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
SP Ryan Madson
<stats> Player=Ryan Madson Type=Pitching Years=2004,2005 </stats>
The Phillies offense has numerous peaks but one big hole. Jimmy Rollins is one of the best leadoff hitters in the league with around a .750 OPS and 35-40 SBs. In Aaron Rowand, they have a guy who hit great in 2004(.310/.361/.544) but struggled last year(.270/.329/.407). Offensively, he should improve but his true level is closer to last year's production than 2004; however, he still possesses a top-of-the-line glove. Abreu is a stud. You can mark him down for a 20/20 season with a .400 OBP. In 2002, as a 25 year old, Burrell finally became the whole package offensively. Sadly, 2003 and 2004 were disappointments. 2005 again put on display the promise everyone saw in Burrell. The success of Phillies offense strongly rests on the shoulders of whichever Burrell shows up this year. Hopefully, it is the one that is capable of carrying the load. Utley broke through in a big way last year(.540 SLG) and at 27 can be expected to put up a few more years like the one last year. In the #6 hole, is one of my favorite young players; although, he is already 26 years old. Given 600 Plate Appearances this year, Howard will hit over 40 HRs. As I said in my NL Team of the Future, I think Howard has the potential to hit 60 HRs. Yes, he is that strong and that good. Plus, he doesn't walk, so he will be up there swinging. David Bell, yuck! Here is the hole I spoke of. He has no value to the Phillies at the plate. If it weren't pathetic enough that his OBP was .310, he only slugged .361. That is the definition of pathetic. Defensively, Bell is actually very good but it does not justify leaving his bat in for 500 or more at bats. Lieberthal is a good hitter for a catcher with little defensive ability. In terms of depth, this team has no bench. Shane Victorino is the only one who can contribute so Phillies fans should start crossing their fingers that none of the starters get hurt.
Projected Batting Order
<stats> Player=Jimmy Rollins Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
CF Aaron Rowand
<stats> Player=Aaron Rowand Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
RF Bobby Abreu
<stats> Player=Bobby Abreu Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
LF Pat Burrell
<stats> Player=Pat Burrell Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
2B Chase Utley
<stats> Player=Chase Utley Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
1B Ryan Howard
<stats> Player=Ryan Howard Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
3B David Bell
<stats> Player=David Bell Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
<stats> Player=Mike Lieberthal Type=Batting Years=2004,2005 </stats>
Projection: 83-79 3rd in the NL East...There are too many question marks and a lack of depth for the Phillies to go all the way. On the bright side, if Madson shows he is the real deal as a starter, the bullpen springs a few surprises, and the starters stay healthy, this team could win the division.
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Sun 03/12/06, 12:29 pm EST