Philadelphia Phillies Early Potential Opening Day Starters

Michael PizzutilloCorrespondent IIINovember 7, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies Early Potential Opening Day Starters

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    The Philadelphia Phillies' main focus is to put the best lineup on the field Opening Day and reclaim Word Series contender status through the season.

    In order to achieve this goal, management must make tough decisions to sign top free agents or build from within. 

    Either way, fans will demand a winning lineup on Friday April 5, 2013—it's right around the corner.

    Here are the predicted starters.

C Carlos Ruiz

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    "Chooch" is back—with a couple more zeros added to his bank account.

    Carlos Ruiz is a rock behind the plate and the Phillies were wise in not letting him slip away.

    His elite defensive skills are matched by his clutch offensive skills. He commands the field and works intelligently with the pitching staff.

    The Phillies held on to a clubhouse leader and field general.

1B Ryan Howard

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    Love him or hate him, Ryan Howard is a presence in the lineup.

    After the steroid era, strikeouts have become synonymous with long ball hitters. Ryan Howard is no exception. 

    He must produce a stat line better than .219/14/56/.295 to win over Phillies fans, especially with the money he is making over the next couple of years.

    There are two guarantees—he will be at first base next season and he will not be swinging lead pipes in the on-deck circle.

2B Chase Utley

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    Chase Utley is Philadelphia Phillies baseball.

    Each night his jersey gets filthy. He dives for every ball, runs out each hit and plays until the final out.

    Being a contract season, it will be an emotional year for both Utley and the Phillies.

    Though he may not be back next season, he has earned his starting spot at second base.

    The Philles and their fans hope Chase is injury-free all season, reviving his already brilliant career with the team.

SS Jimmy Rollins

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    Jimmy Rollins will forever be in Philly.

    Trade speculation has surrounded his name throughout the years, yet he always remained at shortstop for the Phils.

    There is no question he is talented in the field—recently he won his fourth gold glove. His offensive ability is the major question mark.

    Coming off a season with 96 strikeouts, the most since 2003, he must find discipline at the plate.

    Rollins can bat anywhere in the Phillies lineup and must focus on getting on base and producing runs—no matter where he ends up in the batting order.

3B Kevin Frandsen

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    Kevin Frandsen will be the biggest question mark in the Phillies' infield. 

    He had a tremendous second half, but the team and fans are still unsure of his abilities. 

    There are a couple of third baseman available, specifically Kevin Youkilis or Eric Chavez—it's unsure if management will spend money on the position. 

    Instead, Ruben Amaro alluded to spending in the bullpen for the upcoming season.

    Frandsen gets the call opening night.

LF Darin Ruf

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    He's a young stud with a promising major league career. Darin Ruf has the potential for stardom in this league

    Ruben Amaro says Darin is playing extremely well in Venezuela this winter and competing for the left field job.

    This is his position to lose. 

    Ruf is putting in the hard work now, but must prove he is an everyday player.

    The fans are pulling for him. The organization is behind him. He needs to step up his defensive skills and own the position.

    He will have his shot Opening Day.

CF Peter Bourjos

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    Many Phillies fans would love for Peter Bourjos to come to Philadelphia via trade.

    This would be a perfect move for the Phillies, especially if they save payroll at third base and instead spend on the bullpen—leaving some pitchers as trade bait.

    Bourjos is coming off a terrible season, but there is no denying the center fielder can play.

    Perfect time to buy low.

    When the Phillies decided to let Juan Pierre walk, the need for a natural leadoff hitter skyrocketed. 

    Walks, stolen bases, bunts—the Phillies need these. Bourjos is that guy.

RF B.J. Upton

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    Many reports show the Phillies as the front runner to sign B.J. Upton.

    As outlined by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Upton has ties with former Rays coaches now with the Phillies. This could potentially entice Upton to sign with the team. 

    Many believe he will be the starting center fielder, but Upton would actually fit perfectly in right. 

    He has a strong enough arm and is more than capable of handling the position.

    Upton would bring five-tool potential to the Phils, while adding right-handed power to the lineup.

    Hopefully, Philly can bring out the talent this young man possesses.

    It's a win-win for both parties.

P Roy Halladay

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    "Doc" Halladay is one of the best pitchers of this era.

    He had a dreadful year last season, parallel to the Phillies' season.

    Halladay had his lowest win total since 2005 and his ERA of 4.49 was his highest since 2000.

    To say this is a redemption year is an understatement.

    Along with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, the team has three legitimate aces, who will pave the way for the Phillies' success in 2013.