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01/30/2013 by anjru0805
Ryan Shannahan is a guest writer, Philadelphia sports fan and a Media Planner at Deutsch NY. Follow him on Twitter @ryanshannahan
The Philadelphia Phillies 2013 season will be much like the current state of Showtime’s Dexter – once great, maybe even the best, but now only a shell of what it once was. Storylines repeat, character development stalls, and plots stretch in an attempt to stay relevant.
Dexter, which premiered in 2006 along with the dawn of the Howard/Utley/Victorino/Rollins era, will begin its final season in the summer of 2013. The same seems true for the aforementioned familiar faces of the Phillies.1 Currently gearing up for one more run with its vets, many question marks hover over the squad, and I will do my best to not answer any of them with minimal research and no attempt to forecast a lineup.
For better or worse, this team’s offense will come from the infield. When it comes to baseball, I’m a fan of the rule of averages – everything balances out. Very rarely are there anomalies that sustain a full year, or more.2 That’s why I’m concerned. Since 2006, the combo of Rollins-Utley-Howard-and Young (retroactively) has been on a well-documented decline.
If I were a betting man, I’d go +200 that the age lands around 34.25 by the end of the year – averages I tell you. Seriously though, granted Utley and Howard only played about half a season in 2012, but what are the odds that the Big Piece and the last piece of Utley’s knee ligament both last a full season? The top-heavy, lefty lineup that has depended on Utley at three and Howard at four for years now will need to perform at or above its 2010 or 2011 level to be competitive this year.
Another huge issue for this lineup is who will bat fifth? Rollins seems like the obvious choice seeing that Carlos Ruiz took steroids, or ADD medicine, or something he was given as a joke by Domonic Brown. Rollins has been the best sub-.300 power hitting lead-off man in Phillies history, so I’m not sure he fits at five. Like I said earlier, I’m not even going to try to project this lineup, it makes my head hurt too much.
Michael Young is a lock for two trips to the DL, so I’m irrationally looking at you 30-year-old Kevin Frandsen to lock down the hot corner. Is Wes Helms out there? Yeah? I can’t even tell you how good he was in MLB2K5.
In summary – either Utley or Howard needs to carry this offense with significant contributions from Rollins, and I just can’t imagine Howard hitting .280 with 30 HRs. That leaves you Chase.3
This outfield has the potential to be laughably bad. It reminds me of the saying that if you have more than one quarterback you don’t have any (circa 2009 McNabb, Kolb, and Vick is comical in hindsight). I’m not expecting much from JohnDelmon Mayberry-Young or DarrenDomonic Ruf-Brown, I’m not even sure which parts of those names will be on the roster opening day.
Ben Revere is where it gets interesting for me. Has there ever been a player that is more of an all-or-nothing skill player? Makes very consistent contact, but no power or home runs. Great fielder, no arm.4 But he’s 22 and wears his hat to the side so let’s give him a break and let him bat leadoff.
Assuming Roy Halladay’s arm doesn’t fall off, Cole Hamels doesn’t leave the team and start doing sit-ups in his driveway, and Cliff Lee wins more than 6 games, our starting pitching should be fine. There are going to be a lot of 2-1, 3-1, 1-0 games this year and that will be a credit to those top three. Worley is gone, so Kendrick will get a real shot to not only be in the rotation, but to stay in it. He pitched fantastic at the end of the year and if he can eat up some innings and just be a number four guy, I feel good about the Phillies starting pitching this year. Oh, and our number five guy is some guy named John Lannan.
Honestly, the only guy I’m positive is in the bullpen is Jonathon Papelbon, so I’m going to live blog my reaction as I read the Phillies’ depth chart.
Ok, Bastardo – I remember him, he was good in 2011. Mike Adams, great so we’ll have an eighth inning guy, forgot about him. Phillipe Aumont! The Frenchman! Glad we traded Lee the first time now, a young arm for the future. Getting a little dicey now – Horst, De Fratus, Valdes…wait a minute. Michael Stutes! Stutesy is back after spending 2012 on the DL I think. I see a big role for Stutes in 2013.5 Is this guy still on the team? You know, Ugueth Urbina is out of prison…fine, I’ll stop.
2013 will most likely be the final year for ole Charlie and many of these vets. Yes, it is feasible that all these guys stay healthy and this core can make one more run. If the pitching works, this team will win some games and be formidable. And if they can stay in contention and get hot in August as they have done in the past, anything can happen with the addition of the second wild card. The Braves will be good, the Nationals will be good (but not as good), and the Mets and Marlins will not be good. Hey, there is one less team in the NL this year.
However, much like my hopes for the Eagles next season, this feels like a .500 team to me this year…again. I foresee injuries, long stretches of no hits, and injuries to be a theme in 2013. That and really, really bad outfield play.
1Players in contract years: Halladay (option), Utley, Ruiz, and some scrubs like Brown and Mayberry. Plus for all intents and purposes this will be Chaawlie’s last season as manager.
2Assuming no steroids
3Utley may be my favorite Phillie of all-time by the time he retires, I need a few years to contemplate – like how they don’t vote on Hall of Famers immediately. My current top 5 – 1. Chris Coste, 2. Doug Glanville, 3. Rico Brogna, 4. John Kruk, 5. Todd Pratt. (Bonus – 6. Mark Raynor because he signed my glove back at baseball camp in the 90s. Google him, I don’t care.)
4This is not Juan Pierre’s scouting report
52013 will be the year of flow for Philadelphia – Stutes, Foles, and the upcoming break out year for Riley Cooper. And throw in some Flyers, Giroux or something. And possibly Bynum, who knows what he’ll do with his ‘fro.