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Phillies Nation Roundtable: 2014 Predictions

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sun, March 30, 2014 08:59 PM Comments: 32

A few of us agree that Utley will have a pretty good year. After that, we’re all over the place with where the Phillies will finish.

It’s that time of year again – less than 24 hours from the first pitch of Phillies baseball, the staff at Phillies Nation has put together their Phillies’ predictions for the upcoming season. They range from the optimistic (Kenny) to the downright awful (me). In order from most positive to negative, here are our predictions for the 2014 season.

Kenny Ayres: The Phillies will struggle for the first month and a half, but a combination of improved health and leadership from Howard, Utley and Rollins on offense will spark the team to an 88 win season.

Pat Gallen: Too many things have to go right for the Phillies to grab a spot in the postseason. I’m with many others who don’t believe the Phillies can legitimately contend. But I do think they can hang around enough to win 80 games, finishing third in the division, missing out on the wildcard by 7 games.  I see the Nats running away with the division winning 94 games.

Jay Floyd: The Phillies will struggle to crack 80 wins this season.  The reputations and past performances of legendary Phillies names that got them to five consecutive MLB playoff tournaments will not be enough to carry this offensively-strapped team into a postseason.  Prediction: 78-84.

Eric Seidman: The Phillies will play better than most expect them to, for a while, enough to not trade away Cliff Lee and others, but an injury in the second half will lead them to lose a lot down the stretch. They’ll finish 76-86, even thought they hovered over .500 for most of the year.

Pat Egan: The Phillies lineup won’t perform nearly as poorly as most are expecting. Healthy seasons from Utley, Howard, and a full season of Revere will keep the offensive numbers respectable, but an improved Marlins team, along with a bounce-back year from the Nationals, will see the Phillies win 74 games & finish 4th in the division.

Don McGettigan: I think this season has the potential to be a complete disaster. The Phillies will be dominated in their own division, fight for 4th place, and finish with a record of 70-92. Cliff Lee gets dealt, Ryan Howard hurts something again, and Ruben Amaro Jr is fired by the end of the season.

Ian Riccaboni: The Phillies will get off to a slow start. Even though the team will be healthy for a majority of the year, they will never compete. Chase Utley will have his last great season, Jimmy Rollins will return to 2012 form, and the young bullpen will become a strength but it won’t be enough to overcome deficits everywhere else. The Phillies will win 64 games and be sent to the basement when the Mets win 68 and the Marlins surprise with 76 wins. The Nats run away with the division while the Braves, hamstrung by injuries, finish a very distance second.

 

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Rockies Interested in Ruiz, MLBTR Predictions

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, November 04, 2013 08:31 AM Comments: 0

A couple of quick notes with only 16 hours remaining before Spring Training commences:

Troy Renck of the Denver Post is reporting that the Colorado Rockies “are pursuing” former Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, “mainly for his defense”. Renck acknowledges the presence of Wilin Rosario (.295/.315/.486, 21 HR in 2013) and sees the Rockies’ interest in Ruiz as a sign that Rosario may be moved to first base or right field. MLB Trade Rumors ranks Ruiz the 29th best free agent, with them predicting he will wind up with the Phillies on a two-year, $15 million deal. Tim Dierkes of MLBTR says that lists the Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, White Sox, and Rangers as teams that would also be interested in Chooch if he was not re-signed by the Phillies.

Dierkes also listed a number of others players that they believe the Phillies will have interest in. Dierkes predicts the Phillies will sign Nelson Cruz, Ricky Nolasco, Ruiz, and Edward Mujica with the Phillies having some interest in Brian McCann, Masahiro Tanaka, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marlon Byrd, Joaquin Benoit, Scott Feldman, Josh Johnson, Tim Hudson, Fernando Rodney, A.J. Pierzynski, Jason Vargas, Joe Smith, and Chris Young.

At Phillies Nation, we have taken a look at how Cruz, Garza, Salty, Byrd, Feldman, and Young may or may not fit with the Phils in our Free Agent Pass or Play series and you can be sure the series will continue. Be sure to check back at 10 AM for our look at how Chooch may or may not fit with the 2014 Phillies.

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Projecting the 2014 Starting Rotation

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Fri, August 23, 2013 03:00 PM Comments: 18

http://l.yimg.com/iu/api/res/1.2/HF5iifnX9ej7tQKcmEeO1Q--/YXBwaWQ9eXZpZGVvO2NoPTg2MDtjcj0xO2N3PTY1NztkeD0yO2R5PTE7Zmk9dWxjcm9wO2g9ODU7cT0xMDA7dz02NQ--/http://l.yimg.com/j/assets/i/us/sp/v/mlb/players_l/20130405/8053.1.jpgKyle Kendrick had the Rockies on their heels last night through the first five innings, allowing just one earned by locating his fastball and getting hitters to make weak contact on his cutter. The wheels came off for Kendrick in the sixth: he allowed three runs without getting an out. A three-run shot by Wilin Rosario was the knockout blow.

Last night’s performance by Kendrick was a microcosm of his season: flashes of him taking the next step followed by moments of hard regression. Kendrick, by any measure, is having a career year: likely to reach a career high in innings pitched, Kendrick has career lows in BB/9 IP, HR/9 IP, HR/FB, FIP, and xFIP for full seasons, has already reached a career-high 1.6 fWAR, and is averaging almost a half strikeout more per nine innings pitched versus his career average. Entering June, Kendrick appeared to be a fringe All-Star candidate. Exiting July, a non-tender candidate. After last night? Who knows.

Kendrick’s performance is especially important when making decisions related to 2014. Kendrick is arbitration eligible after 2013, making $4.5 million this year and likely due for a raise in 2014. Kendrick is joined by John Lannan, who is also arbitration eligible after this season and is currently making $2.5 million, and Roy Halladay as pitchers the Phillies relied on to be in the starting rotation for 2013 who have a large series of question marks surrounding them.

Continue reading Projecting the 2014 Starting Rotation

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Cliff Lee: 2013 Cy Young Candidate?

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, June 19, 2013 07:00 AM Comments: 0

Lee wants to win but may be smiling just like this if he picks up NL Cy Young hardware in 2013.

Cliff Lee picked up his ninth win of the year last night, holding the Nationals to a pair of solo homers, striking out nine, and walking none. Lee baffled Nats hitters all night and did so while pitching with a blister on his hand. Lee’s ERA decreased to 2.53 and his xFIP fell to 3.15. Lee’s excellence has put him in firmly in the 2013 NL Cy Young Race. Traditional stats indicate Lee is among the best pitchers in the National League – Lee is ranked ninth in the NL in ERA, sixth in the NL in Ks, and tied for second in the (meaningless) wins category. The advanced stats hold up well, too: Lee ranks third in BB/9 IP, 18th in K/9 IP, second in K/BB, third in FIP, and seventh in xFIP.

Right now, Adam Wainwright (10-3, 2.37 ERA) and Matt Harvey (6-1, 2.15 ERA) are far and away in the top tier of contenders for the Cy Young and lead Lee in most of the standard and advanced categories. In Lee’s class are Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.28 ERA) and Jordan Zimmerann (9-3, 2.44 ERA) – but Lee has more strikeouts, less walks per 9 IP, and has done so as being the workhorse of the NL, currently tied with Wainwright for most innings pitched.

Your thoughts? Is this Cliff Lee’s year to win the Cy Young?

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Phillies’ Bench Too Weak to Keep Ender Inciarte

Posted by Eric Seidman, Mon, April 01, 2013 07:00 AM Comments: 17

The Phillies finalized their 25-man roster over the weekend, opting to use Humberto Quintero as backup backstop over Steven LeRud and going with Phillippe Aumont instead of Michael Stutes to round out the bullpen. The questionable decision was giving the final spot to Rule 5 selection Ender Inciarte, a 22-year-old prospect who hasn’t yet played above High-A. It’s not necessarily a bad decision but an interesting one given the current mechanics of the Phillies’ lineup and bench.

Inciarte looks like a decent baserunner and a solid defensive outfielder but the Phillies’ bench is quite weak and the team has a reduced need for the skill he provides.

He made the 25-man roster. Will he stay there?

The starting outfield has defensive maven Ben Revere covering the most ground, the defensively sound John Mayberry or the solid Laynce Nix — who has a career +6 UZR/150 — in one corner, and Domonic Brown in the other. Brown has looked more comfortable this spring and, while he won’t win any fielding awards, he could prove a decent gloveman with consistent playing time.

Outfield defense will take a hit when Delmon Young returns and presumably takes that NixBerry spot, but then John Jr. or even Nix would become available to defensively replace him in crucial late-game situations.

It seems unlikely that Charlie Manuel will replace Brown with Inciarte, at least early in the season when the goal is to give Brown every chance to nail down that starting role. It seems even less likely that he would choose Ender over Mayberry as a corner outfield replacement given the disparity in their offensive games should the game get extended.

When Young returns the Phillies will have to remove someone from the major-league roster. Mayberry is out of options, Inciarte can’t be sent down or else he is returned to the Diamondbacks, and Nix has a guaranteed major league salary and one of the only potent bats off the bench.

The questions I keep asking when trying to make sense of this decision are: When will Inciarte even play?, Is he worth potentially wasting a roster spot for the entire season in the hope that he blossoms into a worthwhile major-leaguer 2-3 years from now?, and Are there legitimate freely available alternatives, including in the Phils’ farm system, to retaining him?

Continue reading Phillies’ Bench Too Weak to Keep Ender Inciarte

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2013 Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Catchers

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, February 04, 2013 01:15 PM Comments: 4

http://solofanaticos.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/humberto-quintero-ap-photo.jpgCatching depth is needed in Spring Training to accommodate the proportionally large pitching depth that travels to Clearwater. The Phillies currently have three catchers on their 40-man roster, Erik Kratz, Carlos Ruiz, and Sebastian Valle, but with Chooch out, Valle will compete with the three non-rostered invitees for an early season cameo as the Phils back-up catcher. Of all of the non-roster invitees, this is the group that is all but guaranteed to produce a Phillie in 2013.

The Front Runner

Humberto Quintero

Quintero is primarily the front runner for the early season back-up catching role due to the amount of experience he has in the big leagues. Quintero has almost no bat (career .234/.267/.323) and despite the fact that he was on the 2004 Padres with Jake Peavy in his prime and the 2005 Astros with Roy Oswalt in his prime and Roger Clemens putting up a league-leading 1.87 ERA, Quintero didn’t catch those guys. He often served as Wandy Rodriguez‘s personal catcher much in the same way Brian Schneider was accidentally-on-purpose Vance Worley‘s personal catcher throughout 2011.

Continue reading 2013 Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Catchers

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2013 Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Outfielders

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Sun, February 03, 2013 02:02 PM Comments: 5

Mitchell has a shot, albeit a very small one, to make the Phillies out of camp in 2013. Photo: MLB.com

Unlike 2012, the Phillies enter Spring Training in 2013 with a surplus of depth in the outfield. Yet, what 2012 lacked in depth, it made up for it with talent at the top, including the now-departed Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino. The Phillies enter Spring Training with nine outfielders on their 40-man roster and two non-roster invitees competing for five spots. When the dust settles, the outfield run-off won’t be quite as exciting as last year’s battle between Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik, which was very clearly for the 25th roster spot, but of the two names invited, one may have a chance help the Phillies out.

Jermaine Mitchell

We talked briefly about Mitchell when his December signing went under the radar. Mitchell, now 28, was ranked eighth by Baseball America among A’s prospects headed into 2012, one ahead of former Phillies prospect Michael Taylor. He earned the superlatives of Fastest Baserunner and Best Defensive Outfielder but could not impress enough in his first extended shot in Triple-A Sacramento (.252/.345/.386) to earn a stint with the A’s in 2012. A bit old for the prospect side,  Mitchell latched on with the Phillies after the A’s let him go.

Continue reading 2013 Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Outfielders

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Baseball Prospectus Offers Unique Phillies Top 10

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Fri, January 11, 2013 03:59 PM Comments: 26

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-O3xbB6vTlBU/TyQwPQPZYvI/AAAAAAAAD2c/UMFJR14gPfc/s1600/MaikelFranco.bmp

Franco's placement at two by BP is a little surprising but well deserved. Photo by: Jay Floyd

Baseball Prospectus released their Top 10 Phillies prospects list today. Like Baseball America and Minor League Ball before them, which we covered here and here, BP named lefty Jesse Biddle the Phillies Top Prospect for 2013. BP says Biddle is a legitimate Top 100 prospect in baseball. After Biddle, however, there are quite a few surprises.

Strong Placing for Franco

Maikel Franco, eighth on BA’s list and ninth on Minor LB’s list, ranks in at an aggressive second on BP’s list. Franco enters his age 20 season coming off of a .280/.336/.439 year with 14 HRs for Lakewood and projects to start the year in Clearwater. A hot start could have Franco manning the hot corner for Reading. Franco’s positioning is surprising considering he is five places above the presumed 2014 starter at third base, Cody Asche.

You’ll Not’ve Seen Nothing Like the Mighty Quinn

Pardon my Bob Dylan/Manfred Mann reference, but Roman Quinn is developing quite the reputation. Quinn ranks fourth by BP after second and third place finishes in the other projections.

Morgan and Martin Ranked High Again

Adam Morgan continues to gain attention after his age 22 season that saw surprising success in Reading. Morgan will compete for the IronPigs’ rotation and probably is not that far away from reaching the Phillies. BP liked him just about as much as the other prospectors, placing him at #3 compared to #2 and #5 finishes on the other lists. His possible future rotation-mate Ethan Martin comes in sixth on BP’s list, compared to third and eighth place finishes on the other lists.

Continue reading Baseball Prospectus Offers Unique Phillies Top 10

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Phillies and Olney’s Top 10s: Are You Worried?

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Fri, January 04, 2013 05:02 PM Comments: 33

http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/2010/writers/joe_sheehan/10/14/playoff.pitchers/roy-halladay-ap2.jpg

Olney sees Halladay as the linchpin of the Phillies rotation. Photo: AP

Buster Olney of ESPN has produced a pretty fun series of articles this week. Day by day, Olney has posted on his Insider blog Top 10 lists for infield, outfield, rotation, line-ups, and Top 10 overall teams. Olney’s rankings are comprehensive but can be confusing; for instance, the teams with the two highest ranked line-ups, the Angels and Brewers, are not in the overall Top 10, and the Rangers, who have the top infield and fourth best line-up according to Olney, meet the same fate. Eight of the Top 10 overall were playoff teams in 2012, with the exceptions being the number six Dodgers and number eight Blue Jays.

The Phillies appear on only one of the lists; Olney ranks them as having the fourth best rotation in baseball, behind the Tigers, Nationals, and Dodgers, in that order. I would personally drop the Dodgers out of the list and bump up the ninth and tenth teams, Oakland and San Francisco, above the Phillies. Olney seemingly considered putting them higher: “But Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels still might be the best trio of starters in the majors, and each is fully capable of winning the Cy Young Award. The Phillies led the majors in starting pitcher innings and strikeouts last season despite a miserable year that seemed to fall apart early.” Olney sites Halladay as the linchpin of the group, stating the club’s, yet alone the rotation’s, success depends on him.

Continue reading Phillies and Olney’s Top 10s: Are You Worried?

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Prospect Aaron Altherr Interview

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, April 15, 2011 09:01 AM Comments: 0

After splitting his second season of professional baseball with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the Williamsport Crosscutters, outfielder Aaron Altherr is already turning heads and moving up the Phillies prospect rankings at a fast pace. A 9th round selection in the 2009 draft, the 20-year-old Altherr is known to be a contact hitter and an outfielder with terrific range.

The right-handed hitting Altherr debuted with the Gulf Coast League Phillies after signing his first professional contract in 2009 and batted .214 with 1 HR, 11 RBI and 6 steals in 28 games. In 1 less game played in the GCL this past season, Altherr showed improvement and posted a .304 batting average with 1 HR, 15 RBI and 10 steals. He was promoted to Williamsport on July 22nd.

With the short-season Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League, Altherr continued a strong season with a .287 average, 7 doubles, 3 triples, 10 RBI and 2 steals in 28 games.

Now playing with the Class A level Lakewood BlueClaws in the South Atlantic League this season, Altherr has big aspirations to continue his progression and to help the club make a run for a third consecutive league title.

I spoke with Altherr this week about his goals for this year, his draft experience, his playing style and much more. Use the media player below to listen to the full interview.

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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league insider. To check out more from Jay, visit his site, PhoulBallz.com.

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