NL East Position-By-Position Rankings: Part 1

February 27, 2010 by Avery Maehrer  
Filed under Fan News

In this two part series, I will rank the top players in the National League East. The rankings were made through the analysis of statistics such as batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and on base plus slugging percentage. Several other factors were also taken into consideration such as age, injury, and defensive ability. There are some situations where the players are so closely ranked, it is nearly impossible to decide between. But there are others, like Ryan Howard and Daniel Murphy, where the gap is fairly obvious. In part one, I will examine NL East first basemen, second basemen, shortstops, third basemen, and catchers. Part two will consist of left field, center field, right field, starting rotation, and bullpen. Enjoy!

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Jayson Werth: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

February 26, 2010 by Bob Warja  
Filed under Fan News

So what is Jayson Werth...worth? While his beard may have you asking 'what is Jayson Werth?', the purpose of this article is not to try and get inside Jayson's head (or beard); rather, it's to examine how much the Phillies right fielder would be worth on the open market and what is the most likely outcome.

I admit this analysis may be somewhat premature, as a second consecutive season similar to 2009 would certainly do wonders to enhance the man's value. Prior to his fine 2009 season, Werth wasn't exactly the model of consistency, nor the picture of health.

Still, Werth is eligible for free agency following this season, so we'll examine the question with the assumption that he will enjoy another solid season, at the plate and in the field, in 2010.

Signing him to an extension right now might make the most financial sense, with Werth hopefully being willing to trade a few extra dollars and years on the open market for the additional security and protection against poor performance and injury.

Not to mention the ability to play in a place that he seemingly loves. All the risk would fall on the shoulders of the Phillies.

Recognizing that, at least in theory, they should be able to get a discount by signing him now.

But does Jayson and his agent want to negotiate at this time, and are Ruben Amaro and the Phillies ready to engage in talks?

It doesn't seem that it is likely. While both have said all the right things, i.e., how they would love to keep this marriage intact, a divorce may be inevitable.

For one thing, they would have to clear payroll space. And while Bill Baer make a strong case for trading Ryan Howard in "Why A Ryan Howard Trade Makes Sense" on Crashburn Alley.com , that seems unlikely to happen. 

For argument sake, let's use Baer's projections of what it would cost to re-sign Jayson Werth. "A three-year, $50 million deal that is backloaded, paying him $13 million in ‘11 and $18.5 million each in ‘12 and ‘13." is what Baer suggests. 

The Phils have already indicated that their payroll won't be able to accommodate that kind of growth, given the money that will be owed to players like Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, and Howard going forward. 

And, if they wait until Werth is a free agent, his value will only go up exponentially, assumign good health and a productive 2010 season.

He is most often compared with Jason Bay, who signed a four year, $69 million dollar contract (including a $3 million dollar buyout) with the Mets this winter. His 2014 option is easily guaranteed, taking the total value of the deal to $83 million.

While Bay had a longer track record, Werth is the much better defensive player at a time when teams are placing a greater emphasis on defense.   

Speaking of track record, another reason an extension may not happen is Werth's lack of a long-term track record, relatively speaking. 

Prior to 2008, Werth had never appeared in more than 102 games. That's why man feel the Phillies will wait to see if he has another season like 2009 before deciding his worth.

But that may be too late.  

Werth has a 2010 WAR projection of 4.7, according to CHONE.  Baseball Prospectus rates Werth at a 42.8 VORP. And he is an above average defensive outfielder who runs the bases well for a big man.

Along with Carl Crawford, Werth would be one of the top two outfielders on the market after the season.  

He turns 31 in May, so a long-term deal (four or five years), which he would command as a free agent, shouldn't be a concern for most teams that could afford one, like the Yankees.

Still another reason the Phils may not re-sign Werth is that their Minor League system has a potential star in waiting in outfielder Domonic Brown.

However, that could be a risky proposition for a team that will still have the window of WS opportunity open to it in 2011. For while Brown projects to be a real nice prospect, it’s no sure thing he’ll be ready for the start of 2011.

Further, it is very unlikely that he will immediately start producing at Werth’s level, plus his outfield defense is currently suspect.

So, if you can't sign him to an extension now, do the Phillies trade him and avoid receiving only draft picks if you let him walk? Well, no, since the championship window doesn't usually remain open for too long, the Phillies must take advantage and go for it all.

And "going for it all" doesn't equal trading Werth at this time. In the very unlikely event the Phils fall out of the race, then maybe. But not now.

So where does that leave this discussion? The most likely scenario appears to be that they enjoy the fruits of Werth's labor one more season then watch him wave goodbye. That is, unless they are willing to increase the payroll.

Given that they weren't willing to do so for one more year of Cliff Lee, it is unlikely they will do so for Werth. Barring a trade of a big money player, Phillies phans should enjoy Werth while they have him and go for the gold in 2010.

I bet Dominic Brown won't ever have a beard like this, however.

 

 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Key To Signing Werth: Trade Ibañez, Not Howard

February 25, 2010 by Avery Maehrer  
Filed under Fan News

 

At the age of 37, Raul Ibañez put up some of the best numbers of his career, hitting .272, with 34 home runs, and 93 RBI.  

 

At the age of 30, Jayson Werth put up some of the best numbers of his career, hitting .268, with 36 home runs, and 99 RBI.

 

Ibañez is signed for two more years, Werth is signed for one.  

 

This leads me to my solution to the lack of payroll to sign Jayson Werth.  At seasons' end, the Phils would be wise to trade Ibañez to clear up payroll then sign Werth to a long term deal.  

 

If they don't believe they could win a bidding war with other teams in the offseason, the solution would be to sign Werth to an extension mid season, then trade Ibañez at seasons' end, clearing up $11.5 million in salary.

 

In addition to the $11.5 million being freed up, another $8 million will be cleared when Jamie Moyer's contract is up.

 

Most likely, with other players getting sizable raises in 2011, another trade would be necessary. Space could be cleared through several players, possibly with a Brad Lidge trade if his woes continue this year (which would clear another $11.5 million).

 

In these scenarios, the Phillies get to keep all three dominant outfielders for another year, then keep the younger Werth who has much more upside for years to come.  By 2011, there will be numerous young players who could fit in nicely at one of the corners, the most obvious being Dominick Brown and John Mayberry, Jr.

 

Over at CrashBurn Alley, an article was posted recently with a similar solution to the Werth problem, only first baseman Ryan Howard was the target of the trade.  

 

While I see the upside, I still have several problems with the theoretical trade of Howard.  

 

For starters, Howard has been an RBI machine these past few years.  He is the main power hitter of the team, and he is one of the most clutch hitters in the postseason.  In the course of three years, he has become one of the two or three most feared sluggers in the game.

 

With a career average of .279, an on base percentage of .376, a slugging percentage of .586, and an average of 143 RBI per year (since 2006), Howard has had a greater impact than any other batter in the Phils' lineup.

 

Everyone saw what happened when Howard went cold in the 2009 World Series.  The offense shut down.  Not even Chase Utley's barrage of home runs could lift the Phils' over the Yankees without Howard's help.

 

Trading Howard would give the Phils some decent prospects, and maybe some impact players already in the pros.  But, Howard is only 30 years old, and in my opinion, two years of Howard is worth not receiving players who may or may not have a chance to be as influential as Howard can be in a short amount of time.

 

While Reuben Amaro, Jr. has to keep the future of the organization in check, he cannot make trades that could deplete the team's chances of winning in the immediate future.  The time to win is now.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Yong Kim, Courtesy of Philly.com

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The Most Unsuccessful Franchises in MLB History

February 25, 2010 by Michael Donato  
Filed under Fan News

There are eight teams remaining in Major League Baseball that began playing in the National League during the 19th century: The Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals.

Even though I’m not a basketball fan, I find myself rooting for the New Jersey Nets.

They’re on pace to break the record for worst NBA season this year, surpassing the 1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers.

I want to keep the city of Philadelphia associated with failure.

Prior to the Philadelphia Phillies winning the World Series in 2008, the city had gone 25 years without a championship in any major sport. The Phillies are the only professional sports team to have lost 10,000 games: an unprecedented level of failure.

This got me thinking about the other older teams that have been around as long as the Phillies.

How are those teams doing?

The Braves will be the next team to lose 10,000 games.

They have a record of 9,854-9,883. That’s good for a .499 winning percentage, which is pretty decent. They actually have a shot at reaching 10,000 wins first. They need to win 96 games this season to get above .500 for their history.

The Giants were the first team to 10,000 wins, and the Dodgers, Cubs and Cardinals have joined them.

The Pirates and the Reds both have winning records. The Reds have 9,824 wins to 9,548 losses. The Pirates, even after being a joke for the last two decades, have a record of 9,753-9,579.

The Philadelphia Phillies are in another class altogether.

They hold a record of 9,038-10,167. That’s good for a .471 winning percentage, which is 26th among active franchises. Only the Padres, Rangers and expansion Rays have a worse winning percentage. If the Phillies went 96-66 every season it would take them 38 years to get over the historical .500 mark.

The Mets aren’t exactly in great shape either, although they’ve won as many championships as the Phillies in roughly a third of the time. They only have a .479 winning percentage and a 3,655-3,981 record. They have a losing record in all three stadiums they’ve played in, but hopefully they can fix that this year.

 

Read and comment on this post at The Real Dirty Mets Blog

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies Transition at Third: From Pete Happy To Mr. Peanut Head

February 23, 2010 by Andrew O'Brien  
Filed under Fan News

This article originally appeared on PhillyFanComplex.com .

My earliest memories of Phillies baseball were of muggy, rain-delayed July games at Veterans Stadium, with the season already a lost cause, and where the few thousand (drunk) fans in attendance huddled in the dark concrete concourses of the Vet.

Waiting out rain delays was a part of the bad-baseball experience in those days, the period between the 1993 World Series loss and the latter years of the Larry Bowa era, when draft picks finally started to develop into competent players.

In those dark days, Scott Rolen manned the concrete turf at third base, making diving stop after diving stop and punctuating the play with a bullet to first for the out. He was basically all the Phillies had of any worth, and the one person who gave Harry Kalas anything positive to call.

So when the Phillies traded the always-disgruntled Rolen to the St. Louis Cardinals for Placido Polanco, Mike Timlin, and Bud Smith on July 29, 2002, it was the auctioning of a major piece for what appeared to be an underwhelming return. Much like in the infamous Curt Schilling deal, appearances proved to be accurate in this case. Polanco turned out to be the only piece of any worth in the deal, but he was far from equal value to Rolen in his prime.

The trade marked the beginning of Polanco's first stint with the Phillies. He moved to second base in 2003—the team signed David Bell to "play" third base—and started there primarily for the next two seasons. In June 2005, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers. Five years later, he is back with the Phillies, after signing a three-year, $18 million contract with the Philadelphia to replace Pedro Feliz.

The numbers show us Polanco is a better fit in the Phillies' lineup than the free-swinging Feliz. There is little to complain about with a team fresh off back-to-back NL pennants, but we persevere to find a way. Strikeouts and inconsistent bats are the main problem for the Phils' offense, and the reliance on the long ball leads to frustrating slumps.

Polanco will fit perfectly in the two-hole for the Phils. Jimmy Rollins has never, and will never be, best suited for the leadoff role, but he does so many things well that it is hard to complain about his shortcomings.

Shane Victorino, primarily slotted behind Rollins in the lineup the last two seasons, is too much like Rollins to get maximum productivity out of the core of the order. He too will benefit from Polanco batting second, as dropping to seventh in the lineup will present plenty of opportunities to drive in Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez.

In 2009, Polanco had superior numbers to Feliz in the categories he's expected to help boost.

Compared to Feliz, he had a higher average (.285-.266) and on-base percentage (.331-.308), more hits (176-154), more total bases (245-224), and, perhaps most importantly, fewer strikeouts (46-68). Equaling those numbers alone will be a boon to the Phils' offense, but one would expect Polanco to improve upon them batting in front of Utley and Howard.

The only argument that could be made for Polanco as a downgrade from Feliz is defensively. There is no doubting Feliz's impact in the field, as he had great range with a cannon for an arm, but his play did slip last year, with 15 errors. Though it was at second base, Polanco was nearly perfect in 2009—only one more error (two) than Gold Glove (one) last season—and he should be more than adequate in the field.

Polanco has not played third base regularly since he was last with the Phillies, and a part of the reason he was traded to the Tigers was his desire to play second. The Phillies obviously had Utley ready to play everyday, and swung Polanco to Detroit for machete connoisseur Ugueth Urbina (currently serving a 14-year sentence in a Venezuelan prison as a result of his affinity for threatening farmhands with the aforementioned machetes).

Beyond Polanco, there is no indication of where the Phillies will turn at third base, but that is of little concern this season and the next. Polanco was brought in to help this team now, and the next third baseman for the franchise will likely be a part of a youth movement away from the core of Rollins, Utley, and Howard, and to Dominic Brown and Co.

In 2010, we look forward to Polanco's large noggin crossing the plate more than 100 times.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies’ Jayson Werth: What’s Behind All That Hair?

February 23, 2010 by scott eisenlohr  
Filed under Fan News

With all apologies, I am not Flattish Poe, or do not want to dis her man, but will offer some suggestions to what is behind Jayson Werth's beard.

Werth, who is in the last year of his contract and may seek $16 million a year to parade around right field, came into spring training Monday sporting a big beard.

I can speculate a few reasons why the beard appeared, the repercussions of said facial hair, and how this might end for the talented right fielder.

What do expect from a multi-talented player who hit 36 home runs, drove in 99 RBI and stole 20 bases last season?

So that being said, I offer you several reasons why Jayson Werth grew a beard:

1) Athletes are superstitious by nature. If experiencing a hitting streak, athletes have been rumored to wear the same socks or underwear until the streak ended. If Werth does not shave until he signs a new deal, he could become the third-string catcher, with the elongated beard acting as a chest protector.

Remember Wrigley Field last year when Shane Victorino put his hands up in the air after the ball disappeared in the center field ivy? If a player does not play the ball and surrenders his right to field the ball in the Wrigley ivy, it becomes a ground-rule double. Same goes for a batted ball that gets stuck in Werth's beard: ground-rule double.

2) Werth has a pen in his beard, so at all times, even between innings, if a new contract is given to him and he agrees to the terms, he can sign the deal.

3) Werth grew the beard to hide the fact that he is taking steroids (kidding). Reporters will continue to ask questions about the beard, while at the All-Star break, Werth has 31 homers.

4) Following the 2010 season, Werth will announce that on off days and when traveling, he lived in the woods, hunted, caught and cooked his own food for a reality show on TBS.

5) Werth could not attract Jeff Garcia or Mike Piazza's wives, so he grew his own beard.

6) Werth does not give a flying **&&%^%^%%^ about all this hoopla over his beard and just wants to concentrate on this season and play the best baseball he can.

OK, that last one is serious.

I just wanted to have a little fun. Can you imagine the headline if Werth messes up with the beard in tow, like getting thrown out stealing home: "Phillies, Werth Lose By A Hair."

Life is too short.

Baseball is one great game. And in Philadelphia, we got one great team.

 

*** Photo courtesy of Philly.com

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Is 2010 Jayson Werth’s Swan Song with the Philadelphia Phillies?

February 23, 2010 by josh levitt  
Filed under Fan News

Like Carl Crawford, the chances of Jayson Werth re-signing with his current club beyond the 2010 season seem to be slim to none:

The Phillies are coming off an offseason in which they signed Shane Victorino, Roy Halladay, Joe Blanton, Danys Baez, Placido Polanco, Brian Schneider, Carlos Ruiz and Ross Gload to multiyear deals, pushing their 2011 payroll to $130.85 million.

Werth, who arrived yesterday sporting a bushy beard and shaggy hair, will be a 31-year-old free agent after this season.

The Phillies will be less than $10 million away from the $140 million threshold that they targeted this season, with 15 open roster spots. What happens next is anybody's guess.

"I haven't really thought about it," said Werth, who will earn $7 million in the last year of the 2-year contract he signed before last season. "I know that how much they are spending is an issue, and I think it's always an issue, no matter what the situation is. I definitely think that will play a part of it going forward. But again, that's something that my agent and the team will work out, and hopefully it will work out and I'll be in Philadelphia for a long time and continue to play with these guys."

----snip----

The two sides have not engaged in substantive negotiations. Earlier this offseason, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted that money will play a role in the team's decision-making. The status of top prospect Domonic Brown, a corner outfielder, could also factor in.

"Jayson is under contract through this year," Amaro said. "We've had very, very preliminary discussions about what his future might be like here. There will be some difficult decisions down the road. We'll have to weigh where we want to fit in all the dollars and how we want to fit the puzzle together. We can not operate with nothing but $15 to $20 million players. And if there's any indication, how much the Holliday and Bay signings have a direct impact on where Werth may be at the end of this year, we're going to have to sift through it and figure out what's best for the organization."

 

The writing is on the wall for Werth in Philadelphia. With so much money committed already to players in 2011, there is virtually no chance that the Phillies will be able to re-sign Werth without doing something creative or having him take a well below market deal.

And as the article mentioned, if top prospect Domonic Brown is ready to take over the position in 2011, then the Phillies would have a cheap, high upside player who could replace Werth.

And as I mentioned back in January, if Werth puts up big numbers in 2010, then there is plenty of reasons to expect that he will land a huge contract. Sure, maybe the deal won't be in the Matt Holliday territory, but Werth could position himself as one of the top free agents on the market and demand a multi year commitment with a $13-$16 million annual salary.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies Rotation Preview

February 22, 2010 by Avery Maehrer  
Filed under Fan News

 

While the Philadelphia Phillies have been a hit first, pitch second type of team the last few years, the gap might hinge just a bit closer in 2010.

 

Don't get me wrong, the Phils offense will continue to be among the best in the league and the biggest strength on the team.  What I am referring to is the evolution and maturation of the Phils rotation since last year, which now has become a group of pitchers who are much more suited for the grueling 162-game season that players must endure.

 

 

1.  Roy Halladay - Rating:  10/10

 

Let's start at the top, with Roy Halladay.  Last year the team went into the regular season with what they hoped would be their big time ace, Cole Hamels.  This year, they go into the regular season knowing that their ace is definitely, 100 percent, for real.  No worries about lack or preparation, World Series hangover, or injury. To say the least, Rueben Amaro, Jr. is not worried that his number one pitcher is Halladay.

 

Halladay has been waiting for this opportunity his entire career, most likely sacrificing millions of dollars to ensure the opportunity to be on a team that consistently has a shot at winning.  

 

His statistics are astronomically high for a pitcher who has thrown over 2,000 innings in his career. He has compiled a 3.43 ERA, 1,495 strike outs, 148 wins, and 49 complete games.  All while playing in the vicious American League East, a division which includes the Boston Red Sox and the World Champion New York Yankees.  

 

Now, he gets to come to the cozy confines of the National League. Instead of battling a designated hitter every time through the lineup, Halladay will have the pleasure of dealing with a pitcher at the plate, who in most cases will want no part of trying to hit his pitches.

 

While Cliff Lee joined the Phils in August, giving the team the necessary boost to make it through to the World Series, Halladay will be with this team all season long, giving them a high probability of winning every fifth day.

 

And ultimately, that is all you can hope for, especially in a league filled with very few "sure things."

 

 

2.  Cole Hamels - Rating:  7/10

 

It is very hard to believe that a year after Cole Hamels did virtually everything right, he has become a big question mark in terms of how well he will be able to perform.

 

Every question that fans can ask is being asked. Did the celebrity thing get in his head?  Was 2008 an aberration? Was last year the real Cole Hamels? Can he really use his curveball as an effective pitch? And finally, the biggest question going into 2010: Will he be able to return to his old self and be dominant again?

 

Well, if you ask the organization, they believe the answer to this final question is "yes'. If they didn't, there is no way they would have even contemplated trading Lee.  

 

In 2008, Hamels's ERA was 3.09. In 2009, it rose to 4.32. This is considerably high even when looking at his career ERA of 3.67.  

 

But, at 26, Hamels has been in seven postseason series, which included a World Series title and a World Series MVP. This is more than some pitchers can hope for in an entire career.  

 

In the offseason after the Phils won it all, the excitement of being a celebrity most likely got to his head. He probably had a sense of invincibility, a "nobody can beat me" kind of attitude. And in response to these feelings, he wasn't ready.

 

He wasn't ready for spring training, which made him fall behind for the regular season, which never really gave him an opportunity to catch up. Before you knew it, he was getting hammered in Game Three of the World Series on his own field.

 

But there is reason for Phils fans to be hopeful for a turnaround.

 

Today on Mike & Mike in the Morning, Buster Olney of ESPN talked about how well Hamels has looked early in spring training. His curveball seems to have found its movement again, and Hamels himself looks much more confident.  

 

There are also reports that Hamels has thrown nearly every day in the offseason, going as far as bringing his glove on vacation to throw.

 

This should be a good sign for the Phillies going forward, and they should be cautiously optimistic about Hamels's chances of success.

 

 

3.  J.A. Happ - Rating:  6.5/10

 

It is hard to believe that a temporary fill-in for Brett Myers in 2008 is now the Phils' No. 3 starter.

 

After taking over the reigns for Chan Ho Park's spot in the rotation, J.A. Happ became one of the most consistent pitchers in the National League, not losing a game until facing the Cardinals in July. For almost the entire year, Happ was giving the team exactly what Hamels wasn't. He would pitch deep into games, hardly every letting the game out of grasp.  

 

Ultimately, there is not very much to criticize about Happ. He is a solid middle-of-the-rotation kind of pitcher that will not overpower you but use his off-speed stuff to mess with a batter's head.  

 

One cause for concern, however, is his performance against the Rockies in the postseason, in which he was only able to get through three innings before being pulled by Charlie Manuel. He looked shaken up and it appeared as if the pressure got to him.

 

Another worrying element is the recent memory of the collapse of Kyle Kendrick. The year after going 10-4 his rookie year, posting a 3.87 ERA  in twenty games, Kendrick saw his ERA rise to 5.49 and his spot vacated in the rotation.  

 

Happ came into the league the same way as Kendrick. The only question that remains is will the sophomore blues that haunted Kendrick pass Happ by, or send him back to bullpen.

 

 

4.  Joe Blanton -  Rating:  6.5/10

 

Coming fresh off a three year, $24 million contract, Joe Blanton has plenty to be pleased about. And rightfully so. Blanton has been a key contributor the past few years for the Fightins, often providing solid outings, which kept his team in the game.  

 

His Game Four performance in the World Series was satisfactory enough to rival C.C. Sabathia's performance, giving the Phils a legitimate shot to win the game.  

 

He isn't an elite pitcher, not even close. Last year he posted a 4.05 ERA, better than his career ERA, but still average to say the least.

 

However, Blanton has played a huge role in the rotation of this team, and at the age of 29, he still looks to have plenty left in the tank.  

 

 

5.  Jamie Moyer/Kyle Kendrick - Rating:  5/10

 

Here's where things get messy.

 

Jamie Moyer, the hometown hero, is set to make $8 million in 2010. He has been a key member of the rotation since he arrived and has led the team in wins the past two years. If it were any other pitcher, these qualities would make him a lock for the fifth starter spot. But there is one factor that separates Moyer from the rest.

 

He's 47 and coming off surgery.

 

Now, there is no doubt in my mind that it is Moyer's spot to lose. If Kendrick and Moyer fare equally in spring training, Charlie's loyalty to Moyer coupled with the $8 million owed to him will be the deciding factor in his decision.

 

And there is also no doubt in my mind that Moyer is going to give it everything he has left in the tank, albeit there may not be much left.  

 

Moyer's ERA of 4.94 last year could have been an aberration, or it might have been a sign of old age. The only way we'll find out is if Moyer is part of the rotation heading into the season.

 

Then there is Kendrick. His rookie year was stellar, his sophomore year not so much. He has been through a lot since 2007 and he spent the majority of last year with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  

 

I had the opportunity to see Kendrick in person and he gradually became the best pitcher on the Pigs' staff. The return of his confidence was evident and his slider began to look much improved from when he used it in the Big Leagues.

 

If the competition is generally even, I expect the team to go with Moyer. If he fails in the role, Kendrick will be there waiting. Unlike many teams, the Phils have the rare luxury of being able to experiment with their fifth starter.

 

Regardless of who the fifth starter is, the Phils have very little to worry about regarding their starting rotation. The city hasn't seen a group this good since Curt Schilling carried them to the World Series seventeen years ago.

 

 

Phillies Rotation Overall Rating:  7/10 

 

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies’ Top Five Postseason Moments

February 22, 2010 by Gary Suess  
Filed under Fan News

For having the distinction as the longest standing professional sports franchise in one city spanning 128 years, it is somewhat amazing that a large concentration of the Philadelphia Phillies organization's postseason highlights have come in the most recent 30 years. Certainly, some of this relates to Major League Baseball's format changes that first added a round of league playoffs with the initial formation of divisions and then expanded to the current four playoff participant approach in each league. Simply put, since the changes, there have been more opportunities to participate in the annual year-end tournament than in the days of baggy knickers. But, the increase in autumn thrills can also be attributed to the fact that the organization has been on a definite up swing over the past four decades, perhaps still reaching to attain new heights with the current era of the club. Prior to that time, the Phillies history was strewn with large periods of futility and dry spells. It is a safe bet that Phillies faithful would have preferred a richer history dotted with triumphs in exchange for varying levels of annual disappointment and frustration. However, rather than bemoaning the team's less decorated history, the upside for die hard Phillies fans is that it provides for a deeper appreciation of those relatively scarce high points and achievements. Accordingly, so many of the magical memories and moments over the past couple years still reside in the forefront of Phillies fans minds— and probably aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Yankees fans may have quantity in their favor, but Phillies fans sure do have quality. With many years and long periods of unsatisfied yearnings and unconditional love invested into the team, the thrills and payoff are that much sweeter. Of course, the Phillies organization and their fervent fanbase would not complain if quantity were to come their way as well. Sifting through the archives of the Internet and my mind, I present to you the top 5 postseason moments in Philadelphia Phillies history:

Begin Slideshow

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

2010 MLB Preview: NL East

February 22, 2010 by Andrew Kneeland  
Filed under Fan News

Originally published at TwinsTarget.com .

Not too many years ago, the National League East was one of the more competitive leagues in baseball. For the past decade, the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, and New York Mets have battled for the top position, with the Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals (also known as the Montreal Expos before 2005) picking up the scraps.

Philadelphia has been incredibly successful in the NL East since 2001, and have been in the thick of things just about every year. The Braves dominated the early Aughties, with division crowns from 2000-2005. New York has had ups and downs this decade, with the future looking mostly sour. Florida has remained competitive for most of the decade, but hasn't been able to claim a division title. The Expos/Nationals have been mostly comatose these last 10 years.

The past three NL East titles have been awarded to the Phillies, who won the World Series in 2008 and still boast a very strong team. Atlanta has suffered ever since the ill-advised Mark Teixeira trade that sent Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, and two others to the Texas Rangers. Florida and Washington are on the rise, while the Mets seem destined once again to a sub-.500 season plagued with injuries. Here is how I see the 2010 season playing out in the NL East.

 

 

1. Philadelphia Phillies – (95-67)  

Possessing one of the best teams in the league for the past few years, the Phillies boast an incredibly talented core that managed to score a league-leading 820 runs in 2009. With much of the same young team coming back for the 2010 season, it is very likely that they will be able to cross the plate even more this year.

The Phillies acquired Roy Halladay this offseason, who will head up an impressive rotation. Halladay/Hamels/Happ/Blanton/Moyer won't be able to dominate the way the rotations in San Francisco and St. Louis do, but they will get the job done. When the first six spots of your batting order are filled by the likes of Rollins/Polanco/Utley/Howard/Werth/Ibanez, starting pitching isn't that big of a priority.

Closer Brad Lidge should return to normal this year, and if the Philadelphia bullpen is able to hold on to the leads they are given, there is no reason why the Phillies can't return to the World Series for a third year in a row.



2. Atlanta Braves - (90-72)

Offense will be the name of the game for the Braves in 2010. With one of the best starting rotations in the league in Jurrjens/Hanson/Lowe/Hudson/Kawakami, crossing the plate will be crucial for Atlanta, particularly from their outfield. Last season Garrett Anderson, Nate McLouth, and Jeff Francoeur combined to hit .260/.313/.393 with just 29 home runs.

This offensive deficiency will certainly be helped by the emergence of Jason Heyward and the acquisition of Melky Cabrera. The majority of the Braves' perennially strong infield of Brian McCann, Troy Glaus, Martin Prado, Yunel Escobar, and Chipper Jones will be entering the prime of their careers this season. McCann, Prado, and Escobar will be fantasy favorites this year, and each should be able to notch VORPs above 30.

Although Atlanta's front office is probably still mentally kicking themselves for sending Feliz, Andrus, and two other prospects to the Rangers for Teixeira, they have got to be feeling good about their chances in 2010. Assuming there are no crippling injuries, the Braves will contend for the division crown for much of the season, and will be one of the favorites for a National League Wild Card berth.



3.Washington Nationals - (79-83)

Call it a hunch, an informed prognostication, or simply a dumb pick, but the Nationals could surprise us in 2010. Despite losing 102 games last year, the Nationals were just slightly below the league average in runs scored, showing that their offense was not as languid as some assumed.

The Nationals possess a decent enough core of talent, with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, first baseman Adam Dunn, and left fielder Josh Willingham all capable of VORPs above 30. Elijah Dukes, Nyjer Morgan, and Jesus Flores are all in their mid-to-late-20s and should be able to provide a shaky Washington rotation with adequate run support.

Four of Washington's five projected starters—Lannan/Marquis/Olson/Mock/Martin—are under the age of 27, and have plenty of room for improvement. With an average bullpen this year, and the possible contributions of Stephen Strasburg for the last two months of the season, the Nationals could come within spitting distance of their first winning record since 2003.

They won't contend in any way, but the 2010 season could be a vital first step as they attempt to journey away from their culture of losing.



4. New York Mets - (75-87)

For a case study in incompetence, bad luck, and Murphy's Law, look no further than the New York Mets. With a $136 million payroll last season, the Mets came dangerously close to crossing the loathed century mark, posting a 70-92 record.

Expecting the return of Jose Reyes and other various injuries, the Mets signed left fielder Jason Bay this offseason, which gives them a formidable top-half of a batting order in Reyes/Beltran/Wright/Bay. After those four, the production quickly drops off, with Daniel Murphy, Jeff Francoeur, Luis Castillo, and Omir Santos expected to round out the lineup.

The Mets have some hope ready in the minor leagues, most notably outfielder Fernando Martinez, who could be called upon in the case of injury. Unfortunately for New York, this is very likely. The Mets' training staff certainly looks upon the 2009 season with embarrassment; losing Beltran, Delgado, Putz, Reyes, Santana, Maine, and both Jesus and Ramos Martinez to the disabled list for lengthy periods of time. It goes without saying that contention in 2010 will be impossible if it is plagued with this many injuries.

Outside of Johan Santana—whose return from injury isn't guaranteed—the Mets don't have a very strong rotation. A lot will need to go right for Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Jonathon Niese, and probably Oliver Perez (among a plethora of others) to combine for an ERA under 5.00. The New York bullpen is well off; headlined by closer Francisco Rodriguez. That said, the Mets have too many holes to seriously contend in 2010.



5. Florida Marlins – (73-89)

Outside of two or three young players with excellent futures ahead of them, the Marlins should once again find themselves struggling to compete. By not taking advantage of the free agent market (or even the arbitration process, for that matter), Florida is content to bring a very flawed team into the final two years in Sun Life Stadium.

Shortstop Hanley Ramiez and starting pitcher Josh Johnson are the two players that will draw the attendance for the Marlins. Outside of second baseman Dan Uggla, left fielder Chris Coghlan, and staring pitcher Ricky Nolasco, there is really nothing to get excited about for these Marlins. As is the case in most years, the Marlins will likely hang around the top of the NL East standings for a few months before being relegated back to the Wild Card race, and eventually fall out of all forms of contention.

Even though owner Jeffery Loria was asked in no uncertain terms to raise his payroll in the future, the 2010 Marlins have yet to really show baseball their commitment to spending money and attempting to improve their club.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Next Page »