Friday, March 28, 2008

"Experts" Have No Faith in Phillies

Call off the 2008 MLB regualr season. No need for the 162 game schedule that is about to start on Monday. We already know who is going to win each division thanks to the "experts" at ESPN. With baseball about to begin (finally), hopes are high for teams across the nation. These hopes are shattered quickly by "experts" at newspapers and large media conglomerates such as ESPN. The resident baseball experts there (Jayson Stark, Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, Keith Law, and Steve Phillips) have all posted there predictions on each MLB team. People in Philadelphia should feel sick. After a year that the entire city will remember (so will New York), four of the five experts predict the Phillies will miss the playoffs and finish third in the NL East. Only Tim Kurkjian has the Phillies in second place in the NL East. I couldn't find a mention of a wild card berth. So after a year that brought unimaginable ecstasy to the City of Brotherly Love, why so much doubt when the team is, relatively speaking, unchanged?

The Phillies have lost Aaron Rowand, Michael Bourn, Chris Roberson, Jon Lieber, Kyle Lohse, Freddy garcia, Antonio Alfonseca, and Jose Mesa. Rowand was the biggest contributor of the bunch with Bourn a close second. Lohse performed admirably down the stretch after he was acquired but was asking for way too much money to be brought back. To fill in the voids created by those departures, the Phillies acquired Geoff Jenkins, So Taguchi, Eric Bruntlett, Kris Benson, Brad Lidge, Chad Durbin, Travis Blakley, Pedro Feliz, and Chris Snelling. Shane Victorino will be sliding to center field full time in 2008 with a platoon of recently added Geoff Jenkins and the sturdy Jayson Werth in right field. Lieber/Garcia and Lohse are being replaced by moving Brett Myers back to the rotation from closer (where former Astro Brad Lidge will eventually call home) and by either Durbin or Benson.

The Phillies won 89 games in 2007, one more than the Mets, and won the NL East title for the first time since 1993...I was 8 the last time the Phillies were a champion of some sort. Wow. Anyway, the additions seem to at least balance the subtractions. So a team that won 89 games last year will struggle to do so this year? According to the "experts", yes. Only Tim Kurkjian has the Phillies winning more games in 2008 (91). Keith Law administers a low blow with a Phillies win total of only 83. Ouch.

With some added punch at third (and better defense, too!) in Pedro Feliz and a guy with more range in center (yes I am serious) I don't see the Phillies regressing much. The rotation looks to be the same, talent wise. Myers, Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, and either Adam Eaton (God no), J.D. or Chad Durbin, or Travis Blakley will be the main rotation. It's nice to know that we have many options for replacements when the inevitable injury occurs. They may not be amazing replacements. Mostly spare parts. But there are serviceable arms available.

The bullpen is shaping up as well. J.C. Romero and Tom Gordon return. Ryan Madson is back from injury. Brad Lidge was brought in to fill the void left by Myers. Unfortunately he is already injured and unavailable until the second week of the season. The bullpen should perform as well as they did last year.

It is all about the start for the Phillies. For the last few years the teams has started very poor (3-11 in 2007). They usually play their best ball from June-August. But in order to topple the Mets and hold off the Braves the Phillies must shoot out of the gate and never look back.

I will withhold my prediction for the Phillies until I post my 2008 MLB Predictions Monday morning. Let's just say the experts won't agree.

1 comment:

E said...