|2010 Season Preview: Philadelphia Phillies||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on March 31, 2010
2009 Regular Season Record: 93-69
Feeling that Brotherly Love:
3B - Placido Polanco (Free Agent from Tigers)
1B/OF - Ross Gload (Free Agent from Marlins)
IF - Juan Castro (Free Agent from Dodgers)
OF - DeWayne Wise* (Free Agent from White Sox)
RHP - Danys Baez (Free Agent from Orioles)
RHP - David Herndon (Rule V draft pick from Angels)
RHP - Jose Contreras (Free Agent from Rockies)
RHP - Roy Halladay (Trade from Blue Jays)
Crossing the Delaware:
*Signed minor league contract.Strengths:Â Offense, A True Ace, Defense
There wasn't an awful lot to complain about in Philadelphia last season.Â The offense, despite a slow start by Jimmy Rollins, fired on pretty much all cylinders and the Phillies scored more runs than any other team in the National League.Â The defense cruised through the season making just 76 errors, and only one team in the Majors had fewer than that (73 by the Pirates).Â Both of those things look to be very much the same in 2010.
The signing of Placido Polanco to replace Pedro Feliz at third should provide some offensive dividends and possibly make the Phillies offense even mightier as the season goes along.Â That's because Polanco is a natural tablesetter, while for Shane Victorino it was a bit of a stretch.Â While their numbers are comparable, Polanco tends to strike out less, and Victorino is much more suited to providing protection to the latter part of the lineup.
On the pitching front, the good news for Phillies fans is that the pitching should be better, probably much better this season.Â The main reason is that new ace Roy Halladay has been a workhorse and remains one of the most consistent pitchers in the game.Â He'll eat up the National League with no DH and lineups filled with defensive players his numbers everywhere should just swell.Â That will take a lot of pressure off Cole Hamels, who'll just have to be good, not great, to do his part in terms of pitching.Â Â This doesn't mean that pitching isn't a concern, but it's a lot less of one with Halladay aboard.
Weaknesses: Pitching, Age.
For the 2009 Phillies the weakest link was the pitching, especially their established starting pitching.Â Ace Cole Hamels failed to pitch like one, putting up a 4.32 ERA, Brett Myers, when he wasn't injured, wasn't any better (4.84).Â Veteran Jamie Moyer came close to having an ERA of 5 (4.94).Â Luckily the Phillies had unknowns like J.A. Happ 12-4, 2.93, and veteran Joe Blanton 12-8, 4.05 to hold down the opposition until the Phillies managed to land Lee to help carry them into the playoffs.
Joe Blanton will continue to be a model of consistency, eating innings and throwing a brilliant game now and again, but J.A. Happ was a statistical fluke. Expecting him to be that good again isn't realistic, but how good he can be at this stage of his career isn't a sure thing.Â He'll definitely have some ups and downs.Â The last spot in the Phillies rotation is totally up for grabs and while all of the contenders are proven, it's hard to know if Kyle Kendrick can really handle the job, or if Jose Contreras or Jamie Moyer really has a lot in the tank.
The scariest man in baseball last season was probably Brad Lidge, especially if you were a Phillies fan.Â While Lidge did manage to save 31 games last year, he posted an ERA of 7.21 with 11 blown saves and opposing hitters hit .301 against him.Â Lidge's problems may have been injury related and he's had two surgeries since and is supposedly healthy.Â That means that once again he'll come into the season as the Phillies closer, and he'll be a cause for concern -- but probably not as much as he was last year.
In the offseason the Phillies added some insurance, bringing former closer Danys Baez aboard.Â While Baez, probably wouldn't be the first choice for backup closer (that would probably be Ryan Madson), he'll add some depth to the staff and could step into that role or the setup role if Lidge bombs once again.Â That depth might mean that Lidge is on a much shorter leash this summer.
Age, that universal problem, could cause some problems for the Phillies in 2010 as well.Â While no one critical aside from Raul Ibanez (37) is really old in terms of baseball years, the Phillies have a lot key players who are on the wrong side of 30 and could be bigger injury risks -- that includes Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley (both 31), Placido Polanco (34), Roy Halladay (32), Jamie Moyer (47), Jose Contreras (38) Brad Lidge (33) and both catchers Carlos Ruiz (31) and Brian Schneider (33).
One question that need answering: