The Phillies are a incredible offensively minded team and they offer a ton of top rank talent and some interesting pitching picks which largely should be left alone except in deeper leagues.
The Best of The Bunch:
Jimmy Rollins (SS): One of the truly elite shortstops in the game, Rollins is the complete package who contributes in all five categories. He deservedly won the MVP last year and he’s a fantasy MVP as well - he’ll hit .300 or so, rank in the top 10 in steals, hit 25-30 home runs and score a heck of a lot of runs.
Chase Utley (2B): There isn’t a better fantasy second baseman to be had than Utley in either league. He’s a legitimate MVP candidate, top 15 pick and could easily go in the first round. Our projections: .305-30-110-110-12.
Ryan Howard (1B): With true sluggers becoming an endangered species, any guy who can make a run at 50 home runs per season is a real treasure. Howard can not only do that but should post a respectable average (.270-ish) and lead the team in RBIs with 120+. He’ll be a top 10 pick in most leagues.
The Second Tier:
Shane Victorino (OF): Victorino could be a very pleasant surprise for those looking for an overlooked source of speed. Last year he only managed 131 games and still put up a decent season with 12 home runs and 37 steals. If he could play 150 games he could go .285-15 with somewhere on the order of 45 steals. He should score plenty of times too while hitting second in the Phillies potent lineup.
Pat Burrell (OF): The often maligned Burrell has been a fantasy mainstay for the last 8 seasons, and he should have a few more good seasons left in him. Still, at 31, a slight decline from those .265-28-100 seasons might be inevitable, but I think a decline to .265-25-95 is more than acceptable and he still had the potential to hit close to 40 home runs.
Cole Hamels (SP): The ace of the Phillies staff built nicely on his rookie season and is poised to take another step forward in 2008. He’s averaged almost a strikeout an inning and this year he should pitch 200 innings which should give him the chance to involve into the elite level. That might be a bit of a reach but expecting Hamels to improve on last years 15-5, 3.39 isn’t a stretch of the imagination.
The Third Tier:
Geoff Jenkins (OF): Jenkins still has plenty of life in his bat and could contribute 25 home runs if he played full time. That won’t be the case in Philly. Jenkins is scheduled to platoon and won’t get to face lefties which means he’s only good for perhaps 120 games at most. A 15-18 home run season with an average around .260 and 400 AB is about realistic.
Pedro Feliz (3B): The 33 year old Feliz should absolutely love hitting in Citizens Bank Park, the best hitters’ park in the game right now. It should allow him to at least match last year’s 20 home run campaign and probably surpass it. That being said, you’ll have to put up with his .250 average and pathetic OBP (.290 last year). For those of you in leagues where it takes one game to qualify at a new position, Feliz played a game at catcher last season.
The Question Marks:
Carlos Ruiz (C): While most people are dismissing Ruiz as a extreme low end option, you might want to take a deeper look. He only managed six home runs last year in 374 AB, but that was his first full season in the Majors and his minor league numbers suggest that he has a ceiling of about 12-15 home runs and a .280 average. Still he’s 29 so he’s somewhat of a gamble.
Brad Lidge (RP): His stuff is filthy, his record shows he can close but just how tightly his head is screwed on is should worry potential fantasy owners as should the fact he just had knee surgery and might not be available until around May. Playing in a hitter’s park -- especially one so home run friendly -- could eat his confidence even if he is healthy. Call him a middle round gamble.
Kyle Kendick (SP): Kendrick is someone who definitely benefits from having the soft tossing Jamie Moyer around to use as a role model. Any hope of continued success will have more to do with what he has between the ears than the evolution of his stuff. Now that he’s been around a bit and the book has been written on him expect him to have a rougher sophomore season.
Adam Eaton (SP): After a really ugly 2007 (10-10, 6.29, 97 Ks, and 1.77 WHIP), it’s hard to have a lot of faith that Eaton will ever turn into even the shadow of the pitcher we suspected he would one day be. Now at age 30 he’ll have to try to right his ship in the worst pitching park in baseball today. Odds are he’ll be better, but still not good.
Jamie Moyer (SP/RP): Moyer’s 14 wins last season may deceive some people. You shouldn’t be one of them -- he’s 44 had a 5.01 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. He’s unlikely to be that good again.
Tom Gordon (RP): Gordon seems likely to get more save chances than he did last year because of the injury and unpredictability of Brad Lidge this year -- especially since it would smack of desperation for the Phillies to move Myers back to the pen. But without being assured of at least a part time job, Gordon is at best a late-mid round round pickup.
The Great Debate:
Brett Myers (OF): Can Myers easily take the step back into the starting rotation after being a closer last season? While many think that he’ll do fine in that role, a look at his situational stats show a significant weakening almost every year after the fifth inning. Looking at his 2006 numbers -- his last full year as a starter -- the numbers are startling. ERA in the 5th inning: 3.21, in the 6th: 4.18, in the 7th: 5.40, the 8th: 7.04, and the 9th: 18.00. Those numbers track fairly well over his four year career, so expecting Myers to evolve into a 15-18 game winner might be a stretch.
Travis Blackley (SP): This is a lefty with a live arm and the potential to be a big league pitcher, even as soon as this year. He’s been a starter his whole minor league career but is likely to see more time in the bullpen with Philadelphia than in the starting rotation. He will certainly get a chance since he’s a Rule V draft pick and if the Phillies drop him from the active roster, they’ll have to offer him back to the Giants for cash.