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St. Louis Cardinals Preview

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, March 31, 2010 10:40 AM Comments: 2

St. Louis Cardinals (91-71, first place in NL Central)

Back when when we were at The Phrontiersman, Paul and I did a playoff projection pool with our friends and families (his Yankee-fan girlfriend predicted the outcome of every single series and won). I got in trouble when my predicted NL champion, the Cardinals, got swept in the first round. Since then, not much has changed. They’ve ditched Joel Pineiro and Mark DeRosa’s medical history, but the core remains.

I don’t know how a team with so few quality players can be any better than the 2009-10 Cardinals. They manage it because they’ve got two of the five best starting pitchers in the National League, two quality outfielders (including one, Colby Rasmus, who’s getting a lot of love for a breakout 2010 on the heels of his 16-homer rookie season), the best defensive catcher in baseball, and that dude Pujols.

Albert Pujols is mind-bendingly good, as I’m sure you know. He just turned 30 in January, and has already hit 366 major league home runs. His WAR of 8.5 last year was as good as Ichiro and Shane Victorino combined. He’s literally two all-stars in one. He’s third all-time in career OPS, up with Babe Ruth and Ted Williams and Barry Bonds. At one point late last summer (I don’t know if this held up until October), he was twice as likely to hit a homer with the bases loaded than he was to swing and miss at a pitch. He’s a truly transcendent player, and I don’t know that we’ll ever see the like of him again.

But after Pujols, there’s a huge drop-off to Matt Holliday, and from him, a huge drop in quality to Brendan Ryan, Rasmus, and Yadier Molina, and after that, who knows?

Essentially, the Cardinals won 90 games last year on the strength of Pujols, their top two starting pitchers, and tremendous good fortune. Ryan Franklin held up as a dominant closer for most of the year. Pineiro developed a bowling ball sinker. Zombie John Smoltz turned into a solid No. 4 starter.

Perhaps most ridiculously, Skip Schumaker acquitted himself quite well after converting to second base from the outfield. While infielders move to the outfield quite often with great success (Mickey Mantle, for instance, was originally a shortstop), the opposite almost never happens. But Schumaker, while he didn’t light the world on fire, continued to hit .300 and walk some while not killing the Cards at the keystone. That’s the kind of break the Cardinals always seem to get, and it’s what put them into a position to mount a serious challenge for the pennant.

2010 Season

The good news for Cardinals fans is that the rest of the NL Central is in such a state that they don’t need all the same breaks to get back into the playoffs. I’m going to contradict my esteemed colleague Pat Gallen here, but the NL Central, apart from St. Louis is like a Dane Cook TV special–just one terrible joke after another.

I can’t name more than four Pittsburgh Pirates without using Google. The Reds don’t have any proven star-quality players and are toiling under the leadership of the only manager in baseball whom I’d describe as an albatross–Dusty Baker. In Houston, Ed Wade is trying to win by reassembling the 2003 Phillies. Lou Piniella’s Flying Circus is just getting older and more dysfunctional. That leaves the Brewers, a team that could steal the division, but needs even more lucky breaks than the Cardinals to do so.

St. Louis would be the third-best team (at best) in four of the other five divisions in baseball, but due to fortunate geographical circumstances, they’re in a division where having two good starters and one monster position player is good enough to win 90 games.

Of course, once they win the division, Wainwright and Carpenter go from pitching 40 percent of the time to 2/3 of the time. I’m not saying that’s enough for me to pick them to win the pennant again, but they scare me.

Prediction: 90-72

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Chicago Cubs Preview

Posted by Paul Boye, Mon, March 29, 2010 09:00 AM Comments: 4

Chicago Cubs: (83-78, 2nd Place in the N.L. Central in 2009)

The Cubs are a tragic story. It’s difficult to type a sentence like that and not worry about coming off as derisive and condescending, but it’s truly difficult for me to view the Cubs over the past ten years as anything but one missed opportunity after another, fortified by more than their fair share of bad breaks.

How often do we hear about a team’s “window” of opportunity, wherein they’re perceived to have their best shot at contending for a title? Well, the window for the Cubs has all but passed them by. Promises of 2003 with sugarplums and Mark Prior and Kerry Wood dancing in Cubs fans’ heads are long gone. Derrek Lee did rebound to have a stellar year and post a .306/.393/.579 slash line with 35 homers and providing 5.3 wins above replacement, his highest total since his ridiculously good 2005 season (7.5). Aramis Ramirez played well in the time he was healthy, but played only half a season. Geovany Soto, the much-hyped catcher from 2008, had a major regression and never really provided anything of note.

In the outfield Kosuke Fukudome and, yes, Milton Bradley had nice seasons. Both OBPed .375-plus, but only hit 23 homers in a combined 1,076 plate appearances. That, plus Bradley’s rather public feelings of isolation and resentment, led to his being shipped out to Seattle for…Carlos Silva. A mind-boggling trade of a productive player that was, essentially, forced by the fanbase. It isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last time such a thing happens, but it left the Cubs off worse heading into 2010, whether they rid themselves of a distraction notwithstanding.

What the Cubs did get out of their staff was adequate, perhaps even a fair bit above average at points. The five most frequently used starters all posted ERA+ figures of 110 or better, and a few relievers put up some nice numbers. Sadly, whatever the pitching contributed, the offense counteracted with its poor play, and a defense that posted a -19.8 cumulative UZR. In other words, their run prevention did anything but prevent once a pitch was put in play.

2010 Season

Besting 100 years since their last title, the Cubs have teased baseball fans with the possibility of breaking their storied curse with season after season of renewed potential. Unfortunately, things aren’t exactly looking up as the Cubs enter their 102nd championshiplesss campaign.

The core is aging. The rotation is full of question marks from top to bottom. The bullpen will provide anything but a relief, especially since the loss of Angel Guzman to major shoulder surgery leaves the ‘pen with only Aaron Heilman and David Patton backing up Carlos Marmol with right arms.

Is Carlos Zambrano going to return to primo form, or will he continue to only talk a big game? Can Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster stave off the inevitable power of aging for another season? It’s not as if they’re old, but they’re beginning to reach a point where their stuff will begin to decline.

Marlon Byrd is a nice signing, but will likely not replace Bradley’s on-base skills, though he should remain on the field a bit more. And Alfonso Soriano, for all he’s being paid, looks as though he’s cooked and will continue to be an albatross in left field.

The bench isn’t much to speak of, either. Only Jeff Baker, acquired from Colorado, posted a decent line, and even that came with a .374 BABIP draped across his neck; he’s likely due to regress, as well.

The Cubs are a decent team. In the N.L. – and the Central to boot – they always have a shot at the division crown. But with the Cardinals looking solid and the Brewers featuring a far more potent offense, their window seems to close a bit more as the days go by. I speak pessimistically about their chances, but they will be far from a pushover in 2010. In fact, I like them to be a few games above .500, unspectacular though the season might be.

Prediction: 84-78

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Los Angeles Dodgers Preview

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sun, March 28, 2010 08:00 PM Comments: 19

Los Angeles Dodgers: (95-67, 1st place in NL West in 2009)

For the second consecutive year, the Phillies ended the Dodgers’ season by winning the National League pennant.  The series was highlighted by Jimmy Rollins’ walk-off against Jonathan Broxton, one of the league’s premier closers.  The Dodgers may not have advanced to the World Series, but they had strong combination of offense and pitching to build a very good team.

Manny Ramirez received a 50-game suspension, leading many to think that the Dodgers’ season would be in jeopardy.  However, players like Matt Kemp and Andre Eithier stepped up and led the Dodgers to the postseason.

Chad Billinsgley was not the ace he was in previous years, but the Dodgers still had one of the league’s top pitching staffs.  At just 21 years of age, Clayton Kershaw proved that he can be a dominant Major League pitcher.  In addition, the Dodgers had one of the best bullpens in all of baseball.

2010 Season

During the off-season, the Dodgers did not make any significant moves to improve their team.  After a 95-win season, did they really need to?

The Dodgers’ lineup will look exactly  the same.  Ramirez, Kemp, and Eithier make up a star-studded outfield, and will provide much of the offense.  The Dodgers are hoping catcher Russell Martin can rebound  from 2009, when he batted .250 with a .680 on-base plus slugging percentage.

At this time, the fifth spot in the rotation is undecided.  Kershaw and Billingsley will be the Dodger’s one-two punch.  If Hiroki Kuroda remains healthy for the 2010 campaign, the Dodgers could have one of the strongest rotations in baseball.

George Sherill, a former closer, will be the set-up man for Broxton.  While Sherill and Broxton are the biggest names in the ‘pen, relievers like Ramon Troncoso, Ronal Belisario, and James McDonald are ones to keep an eye on.

The Dodgers have the talent to reach the postseason once again, but can they avoid the heartbreak ending?

Prediction: 93-69

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San Diego Padres Preview

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sat, March 27, 2010 10:19 AM Comments: 7

San Diego Padres: (75-87, 4th Place in the NL West in 2009)

Look back to about mid-September 2007. The Phillies, mired in a 13-year playoff drought, were still trailing the defending division champion Mets, and 3,000 miles away, the San Diego Padres, coming off two straight division titles of their own, had a comfortable division lead over the Colorado Rockies and, if that didn’t work out, over the Brewers in the Wild Card. The Padres had two top-line starting pitchers, one of whom, Jake Peavy, was one of the top two or three in baseball. Their bullpen, led by all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, featured a young Heath Bell and a host of young, effective relievers. Life was good. Then you know what happened next. The Phillies overtook the Mets and kept going all the way to the top of the National League. The Padres, on the other hand, went into a tailspin, famously losing in the last weekend of the season to the Brewers, then to the Rockies in a 13-inning one-game playoff that must be the single least entertaining extra-inning playoff game in history.

They’ve never been the same. Milton Bradley and Khalil Greene went crazy and are now gone. Greg Maddux and David Wells have retired, and Brian Giles might as well have. Peavy’s gone, as is Kevin Kouzmanoff. From that those 2005-07 Padres teams, the only real contributors who are still around are Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell.

The Padres have lived a truly bizarre and (I’d speculate) cursed existence. Only two World Series appearances in their 41-season history, neither of which were even competitive. Worst uniforms in baseball. Gimmick ballpark. They parlayed some of the best years of Tony Gwynn, Kevin Brown, Rickey Henderson, and others into a long series of disappointments. The 2005 edition of the Padres holds the dubious distinction of the worst playoff team ever. They’re the only team to never have had a player thrown a no-hitter or hit for the cycle.

In 2009, Adrian Gonzalez was the only above-average position player, leading the team in batting average, home runs, walks, hits, runs, OBP, slugging percentage, RBI, and total bases. No one else had an OPS+ above 105. Tim Stauffer, with only 73 IP, posted a 104 ERA+. No other Padres starting pitcher put up even a league-average ERA. The Padres, in 2009, were a team that couldn’t hit or pitch. Bad as they were, it’s a miracle they weren’t worse.

2010 Season

The Padres are really the only team in the division without any reason to be optimistic. The Dodgers and Rockies can expect to contend for the pennant this season, and the D-Backs and Giants have enough exciting young players to give the fans hope to contend soon. The Padres? Well, they’ve got a great closer, Heath Bell, who might get traded. They’ve got one of the best first basemen in the game, Adrian Gonzalez, who might get traded, though I’m not quite sure why everyone’s assuming he’s going to get traded to the Red Sox.

Everth Cabrera’s a solid player, putting up a near-league-average OPS at shortstop in 2009, and at only age 22. Another young player, Kyle Blanks, is expected to put up huge power numbers if the Padres can ever find somewhere to hide him defensively. Scott Hairston hit for some power and, like his brother, can play multiple positions. The Padres als0 have a slew of low-minors prospects who might be worth something down the road, including a personal favorite of mine, a fire hydrant-shaped 20-year-old outfielder named Jaff Decker.

But this is a team that, in all likelihood, is set to bottom out in 2010 and remain irrelevant for the foreseeable future. Until then, the good folks in San Diego will just have to keep the faith.

Prediction: 63-99

Phillies Nation’s Season Previews Will Resume with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Colorado Rockies Preview

Posted by Paul Boye, Fri, March 26, 2010 11:00 AM Comments: 16

COLORADO ROCKIES: (92-70, SECOND PLACE, N.L. WEST [Wild Card] in 2009)

Our team preview series continues with the Colorado Rockies, a team profiled in the Total WAR Project a few weeks back. Stocked with young talent and an improving pitching staff, some see the Rockies as the favorite in the West, rather than second fiddle to the Dodgers. In 2009, the Rox finished three games behind L.A., but five games up in the Wild Card race, firmly entrenching themselves among the upper echelon of N.L. teams last season.

Troy Tulowitzki proved his 2008 was a fluke and re-established his position among the game’s elite shortstops, both offensively and defensively. Rookie Dexter Fowler and sophomore Carlos Gonzalez look to round out a young core that the Rockies may be able to contend with for years to come. It will certainly help the Rockies in the playoffs, knowing that the Phillies simply will not be able to retire Gonzalez if the Phils and Rox have a grudge match.

The less heralded portion of the roster is a solid, if unspectacular, pitching staff. Three returning starters – Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Hammel and Jorge de la Rosa – were each worth 3.7 wins or better, and relievers Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt enjoyed great successes of their own.

2010 SEASON

Colorado’s biggest question lies in its pitching staff’s depth. Jimenez looks to be a stud, but can Hammel and de la Rosa replicate their ’09 production? Can Manny Corpas, Jeff Francis, Taylor Buchholz and Franklin Morales provide enough quality innings and recover lost production?

Folk hero and star first baseman Todd Helton is aging and won’t be able to stave off decline forever. Can he and the rest of the offense rally around the trio of Tulo, Fowler and CarGo to provide a pennant-worthy offense?

Right now, this team is primed to be the team of the future in the West and, perhaps, the N.L. For this year, though, questions remain, too many questions to think that this team can be considered a pennant favorite. Make no mistake, though, plenty of players are primed for breakout, and the Rockies could pull off an upset and unseat the Dodgers to claim the West crown. They will be plenty good still this year, division title or not, and will likely make a return to the postseason.

Keep an eye on Seth Smith, Colorado’s version of our Ben Francisco. A solid bench bat and fourth outfielder that could start for many MLB teams.

PREDICTION: 93-69

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Total WAR Project VIII: New York Yankees

Posted by Michael Baumann, Thu, March 11, 2010 12:00 PM Comments: 15

The Total WAR Project is a series of posts that analyzes the closest competition facing the Phillies in 2010. The posts use Wins Above Replacement, a metric designed to use offensive and defensive production within a single stat.

So we’ve covered the six NL teams (Braves, the Mets, the Rockies, the Cardinals, the Dodgers, the Brewers), plus the Mariners. I honestly think that these Yankees are the team to be worried about. It goes against the pessimist in me, but short of Chase Utley and Roy Halladay engaging in and acting on a suicide pact over the All-Star break, I can’t see any way this team doesn’t get back to the Fall Classic.

They were the best team in baseball by a huge distance last year, and they got even better this offseason. They go legitimately 4-deep in the rotation, they have the best lineup in baseball, and they’re in the process of rotating older talent out of the lineup and inserting younger talent, but more on that later. In short, the best team in baseball continues to get better. More on this after the jump.

Continue reading Total WAR Project VIII: New York Yankees

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The Total WAR Project, Part VII: Seattle Mariners

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, March 10, 2010 12:00 PM Comments: 7

The Total WAR Project is a series of posts that analyzes the closest competition facing the Phillies in 2010. The posts use Wins Above Replacement, a metric designed to use offensive and defensive production within a single stat.

In today’s Total WAR Project, we visit the famous story of the jilted ex-boyfriend. You know the feeling when, as Gloria Gaynor famously sang, “you see me with somebody new,” and your heart immediately falls into your colon? Well, it’s not exactly like that, but there will always be a sense of “what-could-have-been” for Phillies fans with Cliff Lee. Yes, the Phils dumped him for a stud, but the grass is always greener, etc. Sort of like when I broke off my torrid romance with Holly Hunter to be with Kate, my Long-Suffering Girlfriend. I’m happy now, but every time I watch Broadcast News, there’s that little twinge of regret. But I digress.

We have identified, studied, and otherwise examined the six teams that are most likely to deny the Phillies the pennant, either by preventing them from winning the division or Wild Card or by knocking them out in the NL playoffs: the Braves, the Mets, the Rockies, the Cardinals, the Dodgers, and the Brewers.

And so we journey to the mystic American League West to take a look at the first of three teams that could give the Fightins the most trouble in the World Series: The Seattle Mariners.

Continue reading The Total WAR Project, Part VII: Seattle Mariners

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If I Were a Las Vegas Sportsbook

Posted by Michael Baumann, Tue, January 19, 2010 08:45 PM Comments: 13

Greetings. You probably don’t know who I am, so let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Michael Baumann, and I’m one of the two new bloggers who have decided to sell out and go mainstream. My buddy Paul and I will be providing you with analysis (most of it sabermetric, but don’t tune out just yet), whimsy, projections, speculation, and other odds and ends in the coming months. I hope you enjoy having us almost as much as I hope I don’t screw the pooch on this one. I’m just happy to be here and I hope I can help out the ballclub.

But on to business. It’s now late January, and that means that the Super Bowl is bearing down on us. For some, that means wings, commercials, and debate over which one of Andy Reid or Donovan McNabb (or both) is to blame for the Eagles not being there. Not me. For me, it means prop bets. Now, sports betting isn’t legal in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, and even if it were, I’m not really much of a gambler. I find point spreads and money lines sort of boring, but during Super Bowl Week, you can bet the over/under for the number of the player who scores the first touchdown, or the set list in Bruce Springsteen’s halftime show. I love these wagers.

So it got me thinking, since there is no baseball going on right now, and the Phillies appear to be putting the finishing touches on their team for next year, what prop bets would I offer on the Phillies for 2010 if I were a Las Vegas sportsbook?

Continue reading If I Were a Las Vegas Sportsbook

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The PN Interview: Jayson Stark (Part 2)

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, April 03, 2009 02:00 PM Comments: 3

Here is part two of our interview with Jayson Stark, senior baseball writer at ESPN.com, former Phillies beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and author of “Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies.” Go here for part one, if you haven’t read it yet. And now:

Last season the Phillies got a jump from Jayson Werth. Any players in 2009 who could supply surprising output?

Not to that level. But Eric Bruntlett has made amazing strides offensively. And with no other right-handed bat who can play the outfield, I bet he plays more out there than people think. He’s been doing that one-handed drill off a tee that turned around Jimmy Rollins’ stroke the year of the hitting streak. And you can see the results.

Also, Eric Bruntlett could steal 30 bases if he played semi-regularly. So that’s my out-of-the-blue pick.

Place Chase Utley in the context of other second basemen you’ve seen during your life. How does he rate?

I don’t know that there’s anyone quite like him. I always thought Roberto Alomar was the best second baseman I’d ever seen, but Chase is much grittier than Alomar was. Jeff Kent is going to be a Hall of Famer, but Chase is way better defensively, more complete offensively and a much better teammate and leader. So face it. If Chase Utley keeps this up, he’s a Hall of Fame second baseman one of these years.

You should hear people on other teams talk about this guy. He’s every player’s favorite player to watch. Even Hank Aaron picked him!

What three things must occur for the Phillies to return to the postseason in 2009?

1) Have to have a healthier pitching staff than the Mets.
2) Utley and Rollins – the two regulars who were hurting last year – need to stay healthy and return to 2007 levels.
3) As the only potential right-handed presence in the middle of the order, Jayson Werth needs to be a force, so they can break up all the lefthanded bats.

Of the minor transactions made by the Phillies in the offseason (everyone but Raul Ibanez and Chan Ho Park), who could make the biggest impact in 2009?

Boy, not much to choose from. It would have to be Mayberry, because Ronny Paulino is already gone and all those relievers they signed are just inventory.

Tell me about the new book, “Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies” — is it a collection of rumblings and stats, or is it a much more personal account?

It’s all of the above. Here’s how it came about:

As October rolled along, I couldn’t believe how many Philadelphians came up to me at the ballpark or emailed me just to thank me for telling the story of this team the way THEY saw it – not the way the rest of the world looks at Philadelphia. And it got me to thinking someone had to write a book for these people. My friends at Triumph Books agreed and were committed to releasing it by March.

So this is a book written for Philadelphians. Just so people understand, I’m not a Phillies fan, because I cover baseball for a living, so I’m not a fan of any team. But I AM a Philadelphian.

And because I am, I understand what that World Series and that season meant – and still means – to all those people. So I’ve tried my best to capture that. This book is meant to take you on a journey, from spring training to the parade floats, and allow you to relive the thrills, understand the transformation of the men who made it possible and describe how all the planets lined up just right to allow it to happen the way it did.

As I was covering the postseason, a lot of people urged me to put all my columns about this team in a book. But we did better than that. We took the pieces I’d already written and reshaped them and reworked them, then added thousands of words of new material. There are also a bunch of Useless Information tidbits on the postseason that only my demented mind could possibly have been responsible for.

This book has gotten amazing response so far. So I’m really looking forward to going around, signing copies for people all over the area and talking about an amazing season and a fun book to write.

A big thanks to Jayson, and again, check out “Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies” at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

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The PN Interview: Jayson Stark (Part 1)

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, April 03, 2009 01:00 PM Comments: 1

Jayson Stark is a hot commodity these days, and there’s good reason. The ESPN senior baseball writer knows his world champions, as he wrote about the Phillies as the Inquirer’s Phils beat writer. These days he’s at the Worldwide Leader, penning regular columns and blog entries, showing up on “Baseball Tonight” and providing us with the wacky rumblings, grumblings and useless information only he can provide. Stark truly is in a class all his own.

Luckily, he’s our kind of class. We talked with Stark about the 2009 Phillies, including potential injuries, the bullpen and Jimmy Rollins’ upcoming season, among many other topics. Stark is also the author of the 2008 Phils retrospective, “Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies.” We’ll get to that in part two. But order “Worth the Wait” at Barnes and Noble or Amazon. It’s certainly worth the read.

Here’s part one of our interview with Jayson:

I’ve read you’re not as keen on the Phillies in 2009 because of potential injuries. Who exactly might find DL time?

The biggest issue for any team that plays that extra month is the health of its pitching staff. Just seems like those pitchers never stay as healthy as they did the year before.

So I’d say Cole Hamels is probably the guy to keep your eye on, after a jump of nearly 80 innings last year – especially because he’s already gotten a shot in his elbow.

Which Phillie pitcher has the best chance of posting the most obscure (bad) line of the week?

Hmmmm. You never know. But how ’bout Clay Condrey? I’d vote him the pitcher most likely to be asked to Take One For The Team. And that’s usually what it takes.

Do you feel the troika of Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre and Chad Durbin can hold the fort as well as 2008, at least until JC Romero returns?

Can they? Absolutely. Is it likely? I’m not even sure the guys who run this team would say that. How many relievers in the whole sport stay consistent from year to year? Twelve? Maybe 20?

Madson and Durbin in particular had big “break-throughs.” You never know if the light bulb went on or it was just one of those years. I didn’t see anything this spring that would lead me to believe they’ll take huge steps back. But will you get the feeling the game’s over every time this team turns it over to the bullpen the way you did last October? I wouldn’t go that far.

Finish this sentence: Ryan Howard’s final batting average will be …

.268

Does Jimmy Rollins approach those 2007 numbers again, or will he continue his transformation into a more on-base-minded hitter?

He’s never going to be a base-on-balls machine. But you’re definitely seeing the transformation of this guy as a hitter. The quality of his at-bats in the WBC was unbelievable. What you’re seeing is a player with a clear picture now of what pitches he can handle. So he now takes pitches and works counts to get those pitches. I think he’ll have a huge year.

If (when) Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez or Shane Victorino sits out with a DL stint, John Mayberry Jr. is surely waiting for a platoon role. Is he a potential starter or just a hack-a-plenty athletic type?

He’s a guy with eye-popping tools, and he’d certainly be the guy they’d turn to. But I’m not convinced yet that he’s going to be an everyday player. As the spring wore on and he saw fewer fastballs, there was a lot more swinging and missing. I’d rather have him in my system than Greg Golson. But the jury’s still out.

Should the Phillies find themselves immersed in a playoff race come trade deadline time, which Phils are most likely to be leaving town?

Depends. How big are their needs going to be? Are they going to be desperate enough to trade one of those big prospects of theirs? I see no chance that Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald or Lou Marson would get dealt, or even Dominic Brown or Michael Taylor. But there’s a lot of interest in the catcher behind Marson, Travis D’Arnaud. So you’ll hear that name, I bet.

Most likely name on the big-league roster to get traded? Depending on how this staff shakes out and how Carrasco develops, how ’bout Brett Myers? He’s a free agent next winter, right?

Check back at 2 p.m. for part two of the Jayson Stark Interview, including who Stark thinks which Phillie could have a big year, why Chase Utley is Hank Aaron’s favorite player and why Jayson chose to write “Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies.”

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