Wednesday 28 March 2012

2012 Previews: Philadelphia Phillies

The Boss

The Majors
It appears as though the Phillies dynasty years are drawing to a close, especially now that Chase Utley isn't Chase Utley anymore, and the 5-year, $125MM Ryan Howard contract is only beginning.  There are still plenty of useful pieces in this lineup, but this is one of the oldest teams in the history of baseball, and we're getting in to the back halves of some contracts.  Without Howard and Utley in the lineup, there is absolutely no left-handed pop in this order.  Shane Victorino is due for a regression, and Jimmy Rollins has lost any power that he once had.  To rub that in, Domonic Brown was sent back to AAA the other day, in favor of either Scott Podsednik, or Juan Pierre.  In place of Utley and Howard, we're going to see Freddy Galvis and a lot of Ty Wigginton or Jim Thome, neither of whom are sure to put their gloves on the correct hand. Hunter Pence is the best of a bad situation.

The pitching staff is obviously still pretty fucking retarded, but nobody is immune to aging.  Halladay, Lee and Hamels make up the best 1-2-3 in baseball, and Vance Worley is a pretty good #4 option.  Beyond those four, Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo lead a pretty decent little bullpen.  Overall, this club shouldn't allow very many runs, even in their little bandbox of a park.  The obvious caveat is that they're not going to score any either, which is a tough break in a quickly improving division.

The Minors
Having been in contention for several years now, it should be of little surprise that the Phillies farm system is very weak, having traded a bunch of pieces away in the last several years to get Halladay, Lee, Pence, and so on.  With an again major league club, and a pretty empty minor league system, there may be the need of a rebuild sooner rather than later.  They got a couple of picks after losing Jayson Werth last offseason, and probably should have let Jimmy Rollins walk as well this offseason for the same purpose, but win-now mode, I suppose.  That's not to say that they didn't have a great run, because they've won the NL East like 80 years in a row or something, and with their financial flexibility and pitching staff, they're never really all that far out of it.

The Verdict
They're still going to contend, based solely on their pitching staff, but I don't think they're going to win the division, and I think they're doomed for 2013 onward, without a big prospect rebuild.  They should win the Wild Card (one of them) thanks to pitching alone, assuming their big three can stay healthy.

Projection: 90-72, 2nd in the NL East

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