|Fantasy Take: The 2006 Philadelphia Phillies|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 18, 2006
For the past few seasons, the Phillies have underplayed what they are capable of. After a firing of their manager and a few moves on the diamond, the team still kept playing worse than the level they should be at. However, last season was a major improvement. Should we expect the Phillies of old or a repeat of last year?
The Top Tier
OF Bobby Abreu – The Phillies’ right fielder is considered the most unknown superstar in the game. He has put up .300/25+/100 consistently. After winning the Home Run Derby last season, Abreu went into a second-half slump. Many fantasy players are taking him in the first two rounds, so if he’s there, draft him expecting to have an outside shot at a 30/30 season.
2B Chase Utley – Considering the lack of depth at the keystone position, Utley has to be considered one of the best. Last year, he hit .291/28/105. This season, he should do nothing but better those numbers, which should qualify him as the next Jeff Kent, a consistent source of production from the second base position.
The Second Tier
1B Ryan Howard – Despite the prodigious numbers he’s putting up in spring training and the minor leagues, I’m going to rank Howard in the second tier. The talent is there for him to be a 35-40 homer guy with the numbers in other spots that’ll make you want to draft him. Expect something similar to last season, .290/25-30/90. Not too bad, if I do say so myself.
SP Jon Lieber – Staff ace only in name, Lieber won seventeen games last season for this franchise. Can we expect a repeat of that? Probably not, but we could see fifteen wins very easily, and if you match that with the expected decrease in his ERA (Lieber, a groundball pitcher, will allow less home runs), he could be a fine pitcher to have on your staff, as long as he’s not at the top.
SP Brett Myers – In what can only be considered a breakout season, Myers threw 215.1 innings and struck out 208. This can be considered a good sign for the Phillies’ ace. I wouldn’t take him until guys like Sheets, Oswalt, and Zito are long gone; draft him around the fifth or sixth round and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with his stats.
SS Jimmy Rollins – With a 36-game hit streak being carried into the season, Rollins has the pressure of trying to keep up with the great Joe DiMaggio. It’s doubtful he’ll achieve the vaunted 57th game. However, Rollins will steal enough bases -- in the 40-45 range -- to be a valuable shortstop on your team; his power (12 bombs last season) only adds icing to the proverbial cake.
The Third Tier
C Mike Lieberthal – This veteran backstop once put up a .300/30/98 season. And after that, Lieberthal never came close to putting top or second tier numbers up. Last year wasn’t too horrible for the Phillies’ catcher: .263/12/47. He figures to play the same number of games next season and figures to have the same kind of statistics, which are valuable late in drafts.
CF Aaron Rowand – “The Fielder’s Bible” rates Rowand as the best defensive center fielder in the game. (It’s probably because Andruw Jones was just having a bad year.) I thought I’d mention that to give him a little pub. Anyway, last year Rowand hit .270/13/69. It would be difficult to project continued success from him because he strikes out so often and is switching leagues. However, he can give you a few stolen bases, because that never goes into a slump.
The Question Marks
OF Pat Burrell – Pat the Bat has always been an enigma for Phillies’ fans. They never know which one is going to show up. In his career, he has put up two excellent seasons (’02 and ’05) and three horrible seasons (’01, ’03, and ’04). Do you know which Pat the Bat is going to show up? I don’t, so I’m avoiding him come draft day.
RP Tom “Flash” Gordon – After pitching inning after inning for the New York Yankees, Gordon’s elbow has been cause for concern this spring. The Phillies pitched him in a minor league game recently, which would allow the team to DL him retroactive to an earlier date if necessary. I think he’ll be all right once the season gets started, and we should expect 30-35 saves and some fine ratios, but he’s on the wrong side of 35.