Friday, March 28, 2014

Ready for 2014? Well, it's almost "do-or-die time"!

The Phillies have finished their work in Florida and are set to take on the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park today (7:05 PM) and tomorrow (1:05 PM). I encourage you to go since there are many promotions/ give-a-ways and you can preview the ballpark’s revamped menu, primarily seen at Harry the K’s. At these games, the Phillies will audition two pitchers for the role of “April’s 5th Starter” (to commence on the 13th) and will be #6 on the depth chart when Hamels returns between April 20 & May 10, probably in April. Before I project the roster, let’s start with the end of Spring Training.

The Phillies did poorly overall in the Spring counting wins & losses, but Spring stats need to be taken with a grain of salt, especially for the veterans. There was improvement at the end of camp – 2-10-2 in 1st 14 games, 7-7-1 in last 15 – but the over-30-YO infielders, key pieces in 2014, showed little signs of improvement. What will be more telling is what happens in the first two weeks, and thanks to injuries, it’d be wise to wait until the end of the month before hitting the panic button. My thinking, however, is that the Phillies are not contenders in 2014 and will need to start unloading contracts in July, but let’s not unload too many players. I don’t want to see the Phillies join the Sixers in mediocrity.

Before I dive into the roster, there is one key component to 2014 that is different than 2013: coaching. We have a new manager in Sandberg who took Charlie Manuel’s guys and won half of their last 40 games played in 2013; now, he’s in control and doing a lot in the clubhouse and on the field (“Fundamentals!”). And he has two coaches new to the Phillies org. (John Mizerock (assist. hitting) & Bob McClure (pitching)). He also has a new tool to keep officiating in check – expanded instant replay. These factors are probably worth 3-6 “wins above replacement” (WAR - a replacement-level team wins 45-50 games) if evaluated like players. And with that said, it is time to preview the 2014 roster & an abbreviated depth chart.

Starting Line-Up (and age) – in fielding order (2-9): C Carlos Ruiz (34), 1B Ryan Howard (33), 2B Chase Utley (34), SS Jimmy Rollins (34), 3B Cody Asche (23), LF Dom Brown (25), CF Ben Revere (25), RF Marlon Byrd (35) - Avg. Age: 30.4

Starting Rotation: LHP Cliff Lee (34), RHP A.J. Burnett (37), LHP Cole Hamels (30) – DL, RHP Kyle Kendrick (28), RHP Roberto Hernandez (32) - Avg. Age: 32.2

Other Starters: Jeff Manship (invitee), Dave Buchannan (invitee), Jon Pettibone (DL), Ethan Martin (Long-Man – on DL), Miguel Gonzalez (60-Day DL), B.J. Rosenberg (Long-Man – on 40-Man), Jesse Biddle (Top Prospect), Adam Morgan (Prospect – Minor League DL)

Bullpen: RHP J. Papelbon (32, CL), LHP Antonio Bastardo (27), RHP Justin De Fratus (25), LHP Jake Deikman (26), RHP Brad Lincoln (28) - Avg. Age: 28.6 (incl. Adams)

Other Bullpen: RHP Mike Adams (34, DL), RHP Ken Giles (100-mph Prospect), RHP Phillipe Aumont, LHP Jeremy Horst, RHP Luis Garcia

Bench: C Wil Nieves (35); IF Cesar Hernandez (23); OF-1B John Mayberry, Jr. (29); OF Tony Gwynn Jr. (30) - Avg. Age: 26.5 (incl. DL & Franco)

Other Bench: IF Freddy Galvis (23, DL), LF-1B Darin Ruf (26, DL), IF Maikel Franco (20, Top Prospect); Catching Depth: Rupp, Joseph, Valle

Disabled List:
  • Cole Hamels (offseason shoulder tendinitis, late April)
  • Jon Pettibone (shoulder, mid-late April)
  • Ethan Martin (shoulder)
  • Miguel Gonzalez (shoulder, 60-Day)
  • Adam Morgan (shoulder surgery, minor league 60-Day DL)
  • Mike Adams (recovery from July shoulder surgery, mid-April)
  • Freddy Galvis (recovery from MRSA, late April)
  • Darin Ruf (oblique, mid-late April)

When Hamels, Adams, Ruf, and Galvis return, the whole team will see a boost. Hamels is our No. 1 starter; Adams was signed to be our RHP set-up man; Ruf provides the power off the bench; and Galvis provides the defense. Furthermore, Ruf can relieve Howard at 1B, and Galvis can relieve Rollins at SS later on in the season… something necessary but a task Manuel was unable/ unwilling to do.

Projected Payroll (season): $189MM – right up against the luxury tax threshold. So, it’s either stand pat (contenders) or sell (non-conteders) at the trade deadline.

My Projected W-L Record: slightly below .500 at ASG; near 81-81 (±7 wins)

Enjoy the season and go Phillies (hopefully)!

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