Phillies Vote Against Change

FanHouse continues its 2009 MLB Preview with a look at the Philadelphia Phillies.

Brad Lidge Eric Hinske

That strong roster is mostly intact as they bid for a second straight title, but it won't be easy. The Phillies will likely have to be even better than they were last year to win a third straight division title. The Mets addressed their weaknesses, the Braves made some interesting moves and you can't count on the breaks going your way every year.

2008 was a year of momentous change. The Phillies are hoping the status quo reigns supreme in 2009.

1.Jimmy RollinsSS
2.Shane VictorinoCF
3.Chase Utley2B
4.Ryan Howard1B
5.Raul IbanezLF
6.Jayson WerthRF
7.Pedro Feliz3B
8.Carlos RuizC
9.Pitcher's SpotP
Pitching Staff
1.Cole HamelsL
2.Brett MyersR
3.Jamie MoyerL
4.Joe BlantonR
5.Kyle KendrickR
CLBrad LidgeR
Coming and Going

In:Raul Ibanez, LF (free agency); Chan Ho Park, SP/RP (free agency); Ronny Paulino, C (trade); Marcus Giles, 2B (free agency)
Out:Adam Eaton, SP (released); Pat Burrell, LF, (free agency); So Taguchi, OF (free agency); Tom Gordon, RP (free agency)


Under New Management...
The World Series title was general manager Pat Gillick's swan song in the executive suite. Ruben Amaro Jr., a Gillick acolyte, has replaced him at the top of the food chain, and his first move was a head-scratcher. Amaro allowed Burrell to walk, and quickly signed Raul Ibanez for just under $32 million over three years. It turned out to be a bad read on a depressed market. Bobby Abreu wound up signing for a $5 million base salary and Burrell joined the Rays for $8 million a year, just two outfield bargains among many this winter. Ibanez isn't a bad player, but he isn't an upgrade either, and he does nothing to balance an already lefty-heavy lineup. Letting Burrell go was reasonable, but Amaro's replacement plan leaves much to be desired. Amaro may also need to deal with an in-season crisis, something he's never done before, so his performance bears watching.

The 'Pen is Mightier...
Billy Wagner Brad Lidge J.C. Romero Chad Durbin Clay Condrey Scott Eyre

Let's Get Some Runs...
The Phillies scored 799 runs last year, finishing second in the National League. That seems great, until you realize that's 93 fewer runs than they scored in 2007. They shouldn't have much to worry about with Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley, but they could use a better season from Ryan Howard. He wasn't terrible in 2008, but an awful first half cost him a lot of his production and created a drag on the offense. Expecting much more from Pedro Feliz or Carlos Ruiz is folly, so Jayson Werth is going to have to be a key player. He's done well in a part-time role for the team over the last two years, but they need his righty bat in the lineup every day with Burrell in Tampa and he needs to keep up his production. If Utley's hip surgery leads to any drop in productivity, the Phillies offense may not have enough options to pick up the slack.

Cole's Supporting Cast...

Cole Hamels took the leap from top starter to elite ace in the playoffs, but the surest thing behind him is 46-year-old Jamie Moyer. Brett Myers went to the minors last summer before returning and turning in a strong August. One good month isn't enough, though, and Myers needs to get back to the 2005-2006 vintage form. Kyle Kendrick took a step backward after a strong rookie year and Joe Blanton has really struggled with his control last season. Moyer bounced back from a poor 2007, but his age makes it hard to proffer a robust projection. Highly regarded prospect Carlos Carrasco is waiting in the wings if a spot opens up. Whoever gets the starts needs to be better than they were during most of the 2008 regular season.

2009 Outlook

Why You Should Watch: Because they're trying to repeat as World Champions, what else do you need? Hamels, Howard, Rollins and Utley are four of the game's biggest stars, Lidge is as exciting as any closer in the business and their rivalry with the Mets has become one of the league's nastiest.

What Defines Success: When you've been to the top of the mountain, the view just isn't as nice from anywhere else. Anything less than a third straight NL East title will be a disappointment, not making the playoffs will be a failure. The Phillies have been one of the feistiest teams in the league for some time, but winning can sometimes take away the edge and willingness to do all the little things. Their offseason sniping with the Mets indicates that they've still got spunk, now they've just got to gird up for another 162-game grind.

Related Links

- Fantasy Baseball Preview: A Little Less Than Championship Material
- Better Know a Prospect: Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies Vote Against Change originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Tue, 03 Mar 2009 14:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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