MADISON, February 7, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today, the process continues by looking at number 28, the Philadelphia Phillies.
2013 Record: 73-89 with a -139 run differential
2014 Projected Lineup:
OF Ben Revere
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
OF Dominic Brown
OF Marlon Byrd
C Carlos Ruiz
3B Cody Asche
2014 Projected Rotation:
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
Key Losses: C Erik Kratz, LHP Rob Rasmussen and RHP Roy Halladay
Key Additions: OF Marlon Byrd, RHP Brad Lincoln, C Wil Nieves and RHP Roberto Hernandez
Best Case: The Phillies’ aging roster stays healthy. Chase Utley has been extremely productive posting 3.0 WAR or better every year since 2004, but the Phillies will need him to play at least 130 games. Ryan Howard stays healthy and returns to his 2011 form after suffering through injuries the last couple years. Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee continue to provide a great one two punch at the top of the rotation and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez shows the form that initially caused so much excitement prior to injury concerns. Dominic Brown builds on his breakout year in 2014, while Marlon Byrd continues to find the fountain of youth. Jonathan Papelbon bounces back boosting his strikeout percentage after posting a career low 22.4%. The Phillies finish third in the NL East.
Worst Case: Ryan Howard and Chase Utley both succumb to age and injury as neither plays more than 70 games. Cliff Lee starts to get hit more while losing a bit of his velocity and reducing some of the effectiveness of his pinpoint control. Gonzalez gets hit around and is ineffective getting sent down in mid-July. Manager Ryne Sandberg is proven to be over his head and loses the veteran clubhouse as they lose faith in their rookie manager. GM Ruben Amaro Jr trades Cliff Lee and/or Cole Hamels at the trade deadline for what is considered an insufficient return. The Phillies fall out of the race early and finish behind even the Miami Marlins.
Prospect Watch: The Phillies and their front office take a lot of ridicule for their farm system but there are some bright spots. Third baseman Maikel Franco is unlikely to stay at that spot but his bat should play at first base or in the outfield after posting a .320/.356/.569 slash line across A and AA. LHP Jesse Biddle posted a 3.64 ERA over 138.1 innings in AA with 154 strikeouts. The club also signed Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who defected from Cuba, last summer to a three year $12 million deal after initially being rumored to have signed him for six years and $60 million. Gonzalez is projected to make the rotation out of camp.