Hi folks! Yes, this blog is not defunct…. I have some time to work on a post, so let’s do this! I couldn’t let Opening Day go by without some predictions. Last year I picked the Phillies to lose 101 games. It was very clear they were headed in a very bad direction, and I was correct. They lost 99 games. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out, though. For a while they were on pace for somewhere around 113 losses with a historically runs-scored total. However, they did improve a little and were able to avoid 1oo losses. The good news is, they get the first pick in the draft, the most money for the international signings, first pick on waivers, and first pick of the Rule 5 draft. So, losing has its privileges you might say.
This year, the Phillies are trending upwards. While Las Vegas says they will win no more than 69 games, I will give them 6 more wins for 73. Their starting rotation has improved and they have some good prospects who can come up and pitch some games if needed. The lineup is a little better than last year, but they will still not have enough power. Their bullpen will probably be their weakest spot, but they certainly have a lot of guys trying for those spots. Usually, I go through the lineup and give predictions of stats, but this year since I am short on time, I think I will just give a few sentences on a couple of players.
Maikel Franco– This guy is headed for a nice season. While the spring stats were incredible, they should be taken with a grain of salt. However, he did very well last year too, before getting hurt. I like Franco to hit at least 30 HR and have an OPS of over .850. He’s still young, so I imagine he will have some significant valleys, but I think he is a player the Phillies can get excited about. He seems to have a pretty good head on his shoulders, too.
Odubel Herrera– He’s another guy that I think will improve this year. They guy hit .297 with an OBP of .344 last year and he had never played above AA. His second-half stats were significantly better, too, which says that the league was not catching up to him the second time through. I like Herrera to hover around .300 with a slightly improved OBP and show a little more pop. It’s going to be fun to watch him, too.
Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis– I don’t think these guys are long-term answers for the lineup. I think Hernandez has more of a shot to stick, especially with J.P Crawford behind Galvis in the minors. I think they both could be above-average utility guys, though. If anyone surprises me, I think it will be Hernandez.
Darin Ruff– It’s no secret we’ve long been a fan of Babe Ruf, and have lobbied for more playing time for Ruf. While it’s fair to say he did not quite seize the day when he was in the lineup, when he started, he played well. He had a great spring with an OPS near 1.000 and looks like he will platoon (finally!!) with Howard at first. The Yellow Seats still believes that if Ruf played every day he’d give you a .270 BA, .340 OBP with 30 HRs over a full season. But when you were not drafted high and have a guy in front of you making $25 million, it’s hard to crack the lineup. As for Howard, I would be shocked if there were any improvement from last year, unless it’s just because he’s hitting against righties. He’s the franchises best first baseman in history, but that time has passed.
Peter Bourjos- I don’t see him doing all that great this year and getting back to his 2011 form, but you never know. He will be fun to watch in the outfield, though.
Here are some thoughts on some of the starters:
Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton– These two guys have had some success in the past, but not lately. I don’t see them doing all that great, but it is possible. Of course, the best case scenario is they have great first halves and then are traded for prospects.
Aaron Nola– Nola pitched very well for a rookie, even if he was a much-heralded one. A 3.59 ERA with a 1.197 WHIP is a very nice rookie year. I’d like to see that WHIP come down a tiny bit as he is not an overpowering pitcher and needs to keep base runners to a minimum. I’m not sure how much Nola will improve in the ERA department, but I’d like to see it under 3.50. He probably won’t get many wins as the bullpen will probably be bad and the offense will most likely struggle to score.
Jerad Eickoff- Eickoff had an even better, but shorter rookie year with an ERA of 2.65 and a WHIP of 1.039. Eickoff was part of the Hamels deal. His success took me by surprise as his minor-league numbers weren’t great. His career minor league ERA was 4.14. Going from that to 2.65 in the Majors does suggest that kind of success won’t continue, but you never know. While I doubt he will have a sub-3.00 ERA over a full season, it doesn’t mean he won’t be a good major-league pitcher, if not great (and 2.65 would be great).
All in all, this will be a much more exciting year for the team. We have some promising young players already here, and some in the minors who we might see before the end of the year like Nick Williams and Jake Thompson, who destroyed the Eastern League after he came over from the Rangers organization in the Hamels deal. Take it away, Harry!