This past week I tweeted to my followers that I believe the Phillies will win 88 games this season, putting them in the mix for one of the 2 NL wild card spots. Then on Thursday morning I had a chance to glance at SI’s Phillies preview before heading off to work. Not that I really care what SI says but the article predicted a record of 82-80 for the Phils (SI must like that record for they also assigned it to the 2 closest teams to my house after the Phillies, namely the Yankees and Orioles.).
What did disturb me about this article is the reasoning behind the 82-80 prediction. Of course the article mentioned Doc’s struggles this spring but then I became incredulous when I read that Ryan Howard was limping this spring. Is the Big Piece a champion sprinter? No not even to the post-game spread! But I didn’t notice him limping at all down in Florida. If anything I saw a player ready to resume his place as one of the most feared power hitters in baseball!
The apparent good health of both Howard and Chase Utley is one reason I think the Phils will be better this season than last. I also believe that Michael Young is a vast improvement over Placido Polanco offensively-and that doesn’t even factor in that Polanco spent extended parts of 2011 and 2012 on the DL. In addition, the bullpen appears more solid. Mike Adams is a definite improvement over the motley crew that attempted to keep the Phillies in games in the 8th inning last season. We also are finally seeing some dividends from the trade of Cliff Lee to Seattle in December 2009 as Phillippe Aumont will also play a key role in the bullpen.
Finally I must comment on the one player the Phillies refused to part with in any of the trades they made to acquire starting pitching help. Domonic Brown looked great at the plate this spring. Of course one must wonder why he played mostly in right field when the plan turned out to start him in left field when the team came north. He did misplay one ball yesterday which hopefully is not a sign of things to come. Given Darin Ruf‘s problem in left it appears that left is Brown’s job this season.
In summary I am going with a record of 88-74 for your 2013 Philadelphia Phillies. I think that will get them 2nd place in the NL East (My gut tells me that the Nats are due for a big fall this season) and a berth in the 1 game Russian Roulette playoff known as the Wild Card Game.Tags: Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Domonic Brown, Michael Young, Mike Adams, MLB, Philadelphia Phillies, Phillippe Aumont, Ryan Howard