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The Initial Prediction: They’re Extremely Good, Right?

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, April 03, 2009 10:18 AM | Comments: 28
Posts, Season Preview

It’s funny what a trophy will do to you.

Last season at this time, I couldn’t decipher whether the Philadelphia Phillies were a 95-win or 85-win team. I bought the fervor about the Braves. I thought the Mets would rebound nicely. I didn’t want to put the Phillies in third place, but I wrestled with it, and I decided upon that fate.

So I was wrong.

The Phillies proved to be better. Chase Utley and Pat Burrell proved to carry the team in April and May. Pitching ran with the ball all season, almost never handing in a letdown anywhere near those seen in 2007. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard stepped up in August and September, with the big man carrying the club into another postseason berth and a second-straight division crown. Ninety-two wins. Pretty impressive.

Since the Phillies won that 92nd game on a murky Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, they morphed into an elite franchise, disposing of MIlwaukee, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay en route to winning its second world championship. And since then they’ve illustrated they’re approximately the same team that left us in 2008. Exit Pat Burrell, enter Raul Ibanez. Exit Adam Eaton, enter Chan Ho Park. Exit Geoff Jenkins, enter Miguel Cairo. Exit Rudy Seanez, enter … well … the point is, 21 players have returned. This team is pretty close to the one that won it all.

There are changing variables, of course. Utley and Rollins are back, but they were injured through most of 2008. Werth and Victorino are back, but they played very well during crucial stretches. Hamels is back, but his output in 2008 resembled a modern-day Wilbur Wood. Things won’t be the same as 2008. They can’t. But the sum can be the same.

Let’s start from the bottom. Since 2003, the Phils have been an over-.500 team each season, joining only the Yankees and Red Sox in that club. With its current nucleus and depth, the Phils should continue that streak.

It used to be that the Phils were measured by 86 wins – that’s the magic number the Phils ended up finishing with three times in the past eight seasons. The 2007 team – with a beleaguered bullpen and spotty rotation – finished with 89 wins. On paper, this 2009 team has a much better bullpen with mostly defined roles (though that’ll be tested with JC Romero out the first 50 games) and a rotation that, at least, knows its job (get into the sixth if at all possible). Add the potent offensive core and it’s likely the Phillies are better than 89 wins.

Of course we have to factor in the Mets, Marlins, Braves and Nationals. The Mets improved their bullpen with Francisco Rodriguez and JJ Putz, but ignored their starting rotation and outfield holes. For now I call it a wash – the best they can do is 89 wins. The Marlins are scary, and their core players are all in line for breakout seasons. But they added nothing of value to help the foundation. They might be able to improve on last season’s 84 wins, but it’ll take some herculean efforts from some unsung heroes. The Braves should be improved with their rotation, though their bullpen and offense are relatively static. They’ll be better than a 72-win team. The Nationals actually made the most additions of any NL East team, but they won’t shock the world. They’ll just be tougher to beat.

That all said, the Phils can still beat the Nationals. They should still beat the Braves. And they should overcome a Marlins charge. The Mets? It’ll be another fight toward the finish, but ultimately, the Phillies have more players in the absolute primes of their careers and more depth throughout the organization, let alone experience and confidence. They should win more than 90 games. They could win a couple more.

Right?

That’s my initial prediction: They’re better than 86, better than 89, better than what their division foes should present. Are they the best team in the National League? To start, that’s something we can debate with Chicago fans. But to write it simply, the Phillies are in great position to defend their crown. Great position.

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About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1947 articles on Phillies Nation.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Mark B

    Tim, I agree. I’m predicting the Phillies will go 93-69 and the Mets go 90-72. You mentioned the starting rotation – it’s really a case of Eaton and Kendrick out, Blanton and Park in. To me, that means we start the season with a better rotation, maybe a lot better, than we started the 2008 season with.

     
  • Posts: 0 Justin

    Anywhere over 90 wins should get them in the playoffs.

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Just because this is the most recent post… i’ll say it here:

    I kinda think that the RBIs will be balanced out on this team.. I don’t see Howard with 150 or anything crazy.. but a solid 125 or so.. Hopefully, Utley, Werth, and Ibanez are all 90+….

    I think they’ll be moving all around the lineup, with Utley sitting, Ibanez would hit 3rd… Werth might bat 2nd sometimes, or 4th between Utley-Werth-Ibanez if Howard gets a day off..

    I think this lineup is so much more balanced, and consistent than in years past, that we probably won’t see an MVP from this team.. but we should have a better offense all-around than in years past

     
  • Posts: 0 Woodman

    Good summary of the NL East. Looks like you are right on the mark. PHILLIES are “the team to beat”. Can’t see the Muts or Braves knocking them off.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan B.

    NL East
    1. Phillies 94-68 (NL East Champions)
    2. Mets 91-72 (NL Wild Card)
    3. Marlins 86-76
    4. Braves 82-80
    5. Nationals 74-88

    NL Central
    1. Cubs (97-65) (NL Central Champions)
    2. Cardinals (90-73)
    3. Reds (83-79)
    4. Brewers (81-81)
    5. Astros (73-89)
    6. Pirates (67-95)

    NL West
    1. Dodgers (87-75) (NL West Champions)
    2. Diamondbacks(86-76)
    3. Giants (84-78)
    4. Rockies (80-82)
    5. Padres ( 76-86)

    Mets and Cardinals play extra game at Citi Field to decide wild card winner and mets win.

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I’ll just go with what J-Roll said… 112 wins total… so 101 in the regular season. Go Phils! 2 days till Opening Night! I can’t stop talking about it…

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan B.

    AL East
    1. Red Sox (93-69) AL East Champions
    2. Yankees (90-72) AL Wild Card
    3. Rays (88-74)
    4. Blue Jays (84-78)
    5. Orioles (77-85)

    AL Central
    1. Twins (86-76) AL Central Champions
    2. Tigers (85-77)
    3. Indians (83-79)
    4. Royals (82-80)
    5. White Sox (79-83)

    AL West
    1. Athletics (85-77) AL West Champions
    2. Angels (83-79)
    3. Rangers (78-84)
    4. Mariners (74-88)

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    My predictions for the NL East
    1. Phillies
    2. Marlins
    3. Mets
    4. Braves
    5. Nationals

    Watch out for the Marlins… they win it all every 6 years haha… Seriously, their bullpen will blow some games, but their starting rotation and their offense is solid. And the Mets in 3rd.. well I do respect their team and some of its players.. they are a great rival and generally a winning team… but the more I learn about their 2009 team, the more I see them not staying at the top of the division.. Don has said this often in other posts and I agree, it’s mostly an aging lineup and their starting rotation (2 thru 5) doesn’t strike me as reliable.. (of course, I have my doubts about the Phils rotation, too)… if that’s how it plays out, their much-improved bullpen won’t have too many games to hold/save.

    And the Braves rotation will have that team sticking around till late in the season.

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Hey, I predicted Villanova making it to the Final Four…

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan B.

    AL ROY: David Price
    AL MVP: Grady Sizemore
    AL Cy Young: Roy Halladay
    AL Comeback Player: Eric Chavez/Fausta Carmona
    AL Manager of Year: KC Manager Trey Hillman
    AL Rolaids Relief Man of Year Award: Joe Nathan
    AL Home Run Leader: Grady Sizemore
    AL RBI Leader: Grady Sizemore
    AL Batting Avg.: Kevin Youkillis
    AL Biggest Flop Year: Vladdimir Guerrero
    AL Surprise/Breakthrough Team: Athletics and Royals
    AL Downgrade Team: Angels/Rays will fall back to Earth
    AL First Manager Fired: Ozzie Guillen CWS

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    I think youll see another 90+ win team that will win the division and position themserlves well to get back through the postseason. Theyll probably need another arm of some sort and another bat of some sort by the deadline but everyteam needs an arm and a bat at some point during the year. As long as they stay healthy, I like the offense a lot more with Ibanez and Werth (good contact hitters) figuring prominently all season. I even think against tough LH pitching (the kind Howard struggles against) you could flip flop werth and Howard and bat Werth cleanup against LH starters that have given Howard fits in the past.

    What I agree with Don about is, this is the most flexible lineup theyve had in ages. These guys are almost all interchangeable 1-6. You can move them all around, and every single guy can hit well in 2 or 3 different slots in the order.

     
  • Posts: 0 Albert

    Ryan, wouldn’t it be great if the Mets had to play an extra game and they lost…again?

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan B.

    NL ROY: Cameron Maybin
    NL MVP: David Wright
    NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum
    NL Comeback Player: Yovani Gallardo
    NL Manager of Year: Bruce Bochy SF/Charlie Manuel PHI
    NL Rolaids Relief Man of Year: Brad Lidge
    NL Home Run Leader: Ryan Howard
    NL RBI Leader: Ryan Howard/Albert Pujols
    NL Batting Avg.: David Wright
    NL Biggest Flop Year: Manny Ramirez
    NL Surprise/Breakthrough team: Giants and Marlins
    NL Downgrade Team: Brewers
    NL First Manager Fired: John Russell Pit

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan B.

    Yeh Albert. I agree. But not from a phillies bias view, the mets are better and their bullpen is really good now.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan B.

    ALDS

    AL Central Champions Twins vs AL Wild Card Winner Yankees
    Yankees win series 3-1

    AL East Champions Red Sox vs AL West Champions Athletics
    Red Sox win series 3-2 in a tough one

    ALCS

    AL East Champions Red Sox vs AL Wild Card Winner Yankees
    Red Sox win series 4-2

    Red Sox represent AL in World Series

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan B.

    NLDS

    NL East Champions Phillies vs NL West Champions Dodgers
    Phillies win series 3-1

    NL Central Champions Cubs vs NL Wild Card Winner Mets
    Cubs win series 3-2

    NLCS
    NL Central Champions Cubs vs NL East Champion Phillies
    Phillies win series 4-1
    NLCS MVP: Jimmy Rollins

    Phillies represent NL in World Series

    Forgot to mention ALCS MVP: Kevin Youkillis

    Phillies represent

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan B.

    Phillies have home field advantage because NL wins All star game in st.louis

    World Series- NL Champion Phillies vs NL Champion Red Sox

    Game 1: Phillies win
    Game 2: Red Sox win
    Game 3: Red Sox win
    Game 4: Phillies win
    Game 5: Phillies win in extras
    Game 6: Phillies win

    Phillies repeat as World Series Winners
    WS MVP: Raul Ibanez

    These are my predictions for upcoming season not from a phillies biased view because then i would have phillies go 162-0 and 11-0 in playoffs. Lead every category win all the awards and all of that stuff.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan B.

    my mistake AL Champions Red Sox not NL Champions Red Sox

     
  • Posts: 0 Marty

    Yo, Ryan B- great predictions, according to my Math both leagues would end up at 134 games above .500. Try again genius.

     
  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    This year I dont think the Phils will leave too many men on base like they did in past. I think batting averages will climb, especially Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard – I think 1 thru 6 is an amazing juggernaut – that this offense will overcome any signs of weakness from the pitching – there is no way to expect a repeat performance of the bullpen, what an amazing year they had.
    But the offensive production was down overall. Is Jayson Werth really a .260 hitter? What of Chase? Should we believe hitting less than .300 is where he will wind up hitting? Nah – Phils on top this year, big offensive year.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    Soo you’re saying there’s a chance.

    Look, fellas. We have the best lineup in the NL… possibly all of MLB. There are few other teams that have five to six legitimate MVP candidates… Howard, Utley, Lidge, Ibanez, Rollins all received votes within the past two years and Hamels is certainly capable. Does anyone realize that Raul Ibanez was 5th in the AL in RBI’s last season? We have the best depth of any pitching staff in the NL which is crucial. What happens when Maine/Pelfrey goes down? Who do the Mets turn to? The same can be said about almost every other team. We have three pitchers that can come up and be legitimate starters. Our bullpen, when healthy, is among the best in MLB. Our defense is arguably the best there is in baseball… it doesnt’ get any better up the middle, Ruiz is a solid backstop, Feliz is a stud at 3B (defensively), and when you have a gold glove centerfielder, it makes everything easier in the outfield. There is a reason that J-Roll predicted 112 wins and why 21 players are returning… this team is special.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    DRINK THE KOOL AID!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 ryan

    i think the marlins are going to be a real threat this year. we won’t be able to beat up on them and assume to take 12 wins from them this year. i realized how many good players they had when i was doing my fantasy draft yesterday.

     
  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    I say 87 wins for the Phils as they battle Arizona for the Wild Card. Since Vegas has their over/under at 87.5, I’m not exactly going out on a limb here.

     
  • Posts: 0 ryan

    the 2009 phillies begin april as a better team than the 2008 team brought up from clearwater. i have no doubt about that. however, october is a long long ways away

     
  • Posts: 0 Gavin

    I get nervous picking win totals, but I will say this.

    The Phils will not beat up on the Bravos like they did last year. That means those wins are going to have to come from somewhere.

    That somewhere is the AL. The Phils sucked terribly last year during interleague, and they are going to have to do a whole lot better to reach 95 wins. If they they play well in interleague then I see them as a team that can make the playoffs again.

     
  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    did they have 1 win last year vs the AL? That was pityful!
    I am seeing 2 of the Boston games and maybe 2 of the Orioles this year, nice they are on the weekends.. They just froze up last year, we looked like little girls out there = (

     
  • Posts: 0 Tyler

    Gavin, i completely agree & actually have been meaning to say it but never really found the rite post… i dont think j roll will be rite with his predictions… i just cant see a team with 101 regular season wins… however it isnt outrageous… also, tim missed this, blanton is a clear upgrade over kendrick… our lineup is sick: 1 victorino 2 utley/rollins 3 rollins/utley 4 howard 5 werth/ibanez 6 ibanez/werth 7 feliz 8 ruiz 9 SP the person on the left of the / is who will b there vs a right handed left handed pitcher on the rite is vs a righty… thats pretty solid

    As far as the rotation goes: Hamels will be fine this yr, maybe a stint on the 15-day DL myers will be fine in a contract yr, blanton should be our #3 and will excel greatly as our #4, moyer will be replaced by happ by mid-June but will be a second pitching coach, and park will either be amazing for half or a whole yr… if half carrasco will replace him. Lidge will blow a save or two this year though i think. Just my predictions and based off of them, the phils are in a great spot to repeat

     
 
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