25 Bold Predictions for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013

Greg Pinto@@Greg_PintoCorrespondent IDecember 26, 2012

25 Bold Predictions for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013

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    So the end of the Mayan calendar did not bring a fiery death to we Earth-living beings, who now ask in equally as much confusion, "What in the world is in store for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013?" Excellent question. 

    The reality here is that the Phillies' season could play out in a couple of different ways. If you're willing to write off 2012 as an anomaly, then this club has another shot at a World Series title with an aging core. But with that in mind, those guys aren't getting any younger. Was 2012 the beginning of the end for the Phils? 

    You know what that means, right? It's time for some predictions. This slideshow will offer up a range of predictions beginning with January 1, 2013 and spanning the entire year. For the sake of this slideshow, no prediction is off limits. 

    So with that in mind, what is in store for the Phillies in 2013? 

Phillies Go with Two Outfield Platoons

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    This slide should start with a bit of a disclaimer. If I was running the show, the Phillies wouldn't need two outfield platoons because Domonic Brown is fully capable of playing everyday. In fact, he should be playing everyday. 

    Now, on to what may actually happen. 

    Prediction: The Phillies go with two outfield platoons in 2013.

    The Phillies haven't made it a secret that they've been looking for help in the outfield this winter. However, now that Nick Swisher and Cody Ross are off the board, the upgrades are looking slim. The Phillies could make a trade for a troubled outfielder, like Vernon Wells or Alfonso Soriano. They could add another platoon piece in the mold of guys like Bobby Abreu and Scott Hairston. 

    Or, the Phillies could do the unpopular thing and go with a pair of platoons in the outfield. In all reality, that may not be a terrible idea. Any pair of platoons in the outfield would consist of left-handed hitters Brown and Nix and right-handed bats John Mayberry Jr. and Darin Ruf. 

    Assuming that Charlie Manuel doesn't do anything drastic here and goes with history, we're probably looking at Brown in left field and Nix in right field against right-handed pitching and Ruf in left field with Mayberry in right field against left-handed pitching. 

    So what does that production look like? Well, we will call the platoon of Brown and Ruf "Platoon A" and the pair of Mayberry and Nix "Platoon B." If we combine their respective splits, here is what we are looking at: 

    Platoon A (Career) 353 .309 .357 .675 13
    Platoon B (Career) 1899 .269 .313 .497 84
    Platoon A (2012) 152 .313 .358 .679 6
    Platoon B (2012) 271 .260 .317 .442 10

    Now, it is important to keep in mind that some of these numbers are skewed in both directions. Ruf's sample size is too small to make any real observations, while Nix spent more than 50 games on the disabled list with a strained calf. 

    But there is plenty of reason to believe that both of these platoons can be successful. The real problem is the lack of depth using two platoons creates. 

Ruiz Signs a Contract Extension

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    Prediction: The Phillies sign Carlos Ruiz to a contract extension.

    Ruiz re-signing with the Phillies is far from a foregone conclusion. If this organization has depth in any one area, it is catching. With Ruiz and Erik Kratz handling the MLB catching this season, top prospects Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle will gain experience in the minors, along with a lesser known prospects Cameron Rupp and Gabriel Lino.

    Could the Phillies let Ruiz walk after the season and promote one of Joseph and Valle? Sure they could. Given Ruiz's recent suspension, it seems more likely than ever. He is a 33-year-old catcher likely to hit the downside of his career soon. 

    Of course, neither Joseph or Valle looked ready to take over the reigns following the conclusion of the 2012 season. Valle's plate discipline was miserable and Joseph's power hasn't developed the way scouts believed it would, at least not yet. 

    So in my opinion, an extension for Ruiz works for the Phillies. It would have to be in the two-year range, but they have the payroll flexibility to pull it off, especially with the luxury tax threshold rising to $189 million next winter.

Howard Hits 40 Home Runs

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    Is Ryan Howard still capable of being an "elite" power hitter? With a gun to my head at this moment in time, my answer would probably be no, but part of me believes that the Phillies' slugging first baseman still has another good run in him. 

    With big bodied players like Howard, it all comes down to conditioning and health. These are guys that have to be in their best shape to defy what becomes a very vertical statistical decline. Howard, obviously, was not in the best shape of his career last season following a torn Achilles tendon in October of 2011. 

    But Howard has had a full offseason to prepare for 2013. In many ways, missing the postseason was a blessing in disguise for this mangled Phillies club. It gave them an extra month to recuperate and prepare for another 162-game slate. 

    So here's the prediction: Ryan Howard hits 40 home runs in 2013. 

    With Howard, I believe that the real question is whether or not he can hit left-handed pitching. He posted a dreadful .604 OPS against lefties last season, albeit in just 98 plate appearances. 

    What was interesting with Howard was the return of power at the end of the season. He hit 14 home runs in 292 plate appearances, and I personally believe that 40 is still within reach for Howard, though he'll have to be more productive against left-handed pitching to even come close.

Utley Plays a Full Season

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    Prediction: Chase Utley plays a full season's worth of games in 2013. 

    When he is healthy, Utley is still one of the best second basemen in baseball. The problem, of course, has been his health. With a pair of chronically degenerating knees, the Phillies have struggled keeping their second baseman on the field. 

    All of that changes in 2013. For the last two seasons, the biggest problem for Utley has been a lack of knowledge. He knew what the problem was, but not how to fix it. Now, he has an idea of how to approach the offseason in a manner that will have him on the field for a full season in '13. 

    Now, does that mean that he will play every single game? Of course not. Part of the onus of keeping Utley healthy falls on Charlie Manuel, who needs to make sure that he doesn't run him into the ground. Scheduled days off will be a necessity for several of the Phils' aging stars this season. 

    As of right now, I do not see any evidence of a reason suggesting that Utley will miss a significant chunk of the season...

...And Signs a Contract Extension

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    ...and if Utley is healthy, the Phillies aren't going to let him walk away in free agency when his contract expires at the end of the season.

    Prediction: The Phillies agree to sign Chase Utley to a contract extension around the All-Star break.

    Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley recently wrote about Utley's future with the Phillies and his place in franchise history. In that piece, Baer writes that only two players in Phillies history have created more WAR than Utley—Mike Schmidt and Richie Ashburn—and Utley will pass Ashburn this season. 

    If there is reason to believe that Utley has his knee condition under control and can stay on the field for a majority of the season, where is the reason to believe that the Phillies would let him walk? Look no further than what the money tells you: Losing Utley would be a public relations nightmare for the Phils. 

    Combine that with the fact that there are no realistic replacement options outside of players like Robinson Cano and Ben Zobrist, who may not even reach the market, and there is even less of a reason to believe that Utley won't return. 

    So what will it cost to reach a new deal? Utley is 34 years old and Baer writes that a two or three year extension at around $10 million per season could work for the Phillies, and I definitely agree with that.

A Solid Rebound Season for Young

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    Prediction: Playing one position and a change of scenery helps Michael Young to have a nice bounce-back season for the Phillies in 2013. 

    Young's 2012 season was dreadful. It doesn't make a difference how you look at it. The eye test, the statistics—they all say the same thing: He was bad last year. 

    The Texas Rangers were willing to practically give Young away this offseason and the Phillies, who always seem to be interested in him, were finally willing to pull the trigger on a trade. They acquired Young for very little. Low risk, high reward. At least, that's what the Phillies are hoping for. 

    There is reason to believe that Young can be much better than he was in '12. First and foremost, he'll be playing one position this season. Taking repetitions at third base should help him feel more comfortable both offensively and defensively. 

    And as much as some people in today's game hate the "intangibles," a change of scenery could do wonders for Young. Now, he comes to the ballpark knowing that he is going to be in the lineup and where he is going to play. 

    For what it's worth, statistics prediction guru Bill James projects Young to hit .294 / .343 / .416 with 12 home runs this season.

The Outfield Platoons Evaporate

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    Prediction: The Phillies open the season with two platoons in the outfield, neither of which will make it through an entire season. 

    So, about those outfield platoons...

    On paper, I think that they are a good idea. The Phillies clearly aren't comfortable guaranteeing jobs to guys like Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf and they have the necessary pieces to use two platoons in the outfield already on their roster. 

    The thing about platoons is that they very rarely survive an entire season. Look at what happened with the Phillies' platoon of Jayson Werth and Geoff Jenkins in 2008. It wound up producing an All-Star and a free agent in the offseason. 

    While I would have no problem giving Brown one of the corner outfield jobs out of spring training, I have nothing against making him earn it either. Given the way that all four guys involved played last season, it would not surprise me to see Brown and Ruf as your respective right and left fielders by the All-Star break. 

    John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix are much better bench players than platoon players.

Brown Winds Up with One Job

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    Prediction: Domonic Brown is the everyday right fielder by midseason.

    I kind of spoiled the next couple of slides by predicting that the outfield platoons would evaporate, but over the next two slides, I'll explain why I think the players who I am predicting to get the jobs will. The first is Brown, who should probably be given a job out of spring training anyway. 

    I don't think that there has ever been a player in franchise history who was as touted and given up on so quickly as Brown. He has become an intriguing enigma among Phillies fans, but look at the bigger picture here. 

    First and foremost, he is only 25 years old. He hasn't even come close to stepping into the prime of his career as an athlete. Combine that with the fact that he has dealt with a number of injuries (broken hand, sprained knee) and you can see why the production sags. 

    What Brown needs is a real opportunity. Not a chance to face right-handed pitching, but to be given a full season's worth of at-bats so that he can develop into the outfielder that scouts always believed he could become. 

    He already has one of this lineup's best approaches. Now, he just needs an opportunity to produce.

...and Ruf Gets the Other

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    Prediction: Darin Ruf is the everyday left fielder by midseason. 

    Ruf has created one of the more interesting divides among Phillies fans that I can remember. On one hand, you have the fans who are captivated by Ruf's incredible minor league season (and brief destruction of MLB pitching). On the other, you have the scouts, analysts, etc., who believe that he is a flash in the pan. 

    So where does Darin Ruf go from here? 

    Personally, I believe that Ruf can be a "late-bloomer." When you look over his career, that has kind of been his thing. He was drafted as a 22-year old first baseman in 2009. In the three seasons that followed, he made respectable progress through the minors, capping with his MLB debut in 2012. 

    Does being "older" in the minor leagues necessarily make a hitter more "advanced?" I'm not so sure. What I saw from Ruf in his brief MLB stint was an unfinished talent with tremendous power. He needs to improve his plate discipline and stay in shape to play left field if he wants a chance, but I think that he can do it. 

    What is stopping Ruf from being the right-handed power source the Phillies have been craving? Paying him the MLB minimum, what is the risk? 

The Emergence of an "Elite" Center Fielder?

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    Prediction: Ben Revere begins to develop into one of the best center fielders in the National League. 

    Admittedly, when the Phillies acquired Revere from the Minnesota Twins, I liked the deal more than most people. A huge part of the reason why is because I believe that the Phillies sold high on Vance Worley, who should plateau as a "middle of the rotation" starter and Trevor May, who could wind up as a reliever.

    In Revere, the Phillies are acquiring a guy who has the tools to become an above average center fielder. Would I go so far as to call him "elite?" Well, not just yet, but the tools are there. 

    Revere is never going to have the power to be considered an "elite" center fielder, but there is a lot to like. He has plus speed and excellent range, making him one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. Offensively, he has a contact / line drive approach that helps him to reach base and distract with his speed. 

    If Revere can make a few adjustments to his approach, namely being more patient at the plate, he could follow a similar developmental path to the one that Michael Bourn took. 

"Doc" Is Healthy and Productive

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    Prediction: Roy Halladay is healthy and effective for the Phillies in 2013. 

    Anyone who saw Halladay pitch in 2012 knows that it was a struggle at times. For the first time in his Phillies career, "Doc" struggled to a point that fans and analysts alike were concerned that poor results couldn't be brushed off as a "bad outing." 

    If there is a bright side, however, it is that Halladay's struggles can be pinpointed. He had trouble with his fastball velocity and command—a pair of ailments that he had never faced in his career. As a result, people questioned whether or not he was injured (he was) and now, are questioning his future. 

    After a long offseason, I think that Halladay can have a strong rebound season in 2013. Assuming that his shoulder is healthy, Halladay is the type of pitcher that can pitch without his normal fastball velocity. His biggest concern in '12 was his lack of command, and by proxy, his shady pitch selection. 

...and Signs a Contract Extension

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    Prediction: Roy Halladay and the Phillies agree to a contract extension around midseason. 

    Assuming that he doesn't turn into Iron Man and throw an absurd amount of innings to vest his 2014 option, Halladay is going to become a free agent at the end of the season. Personally, I don't see that happening, as long as he is healthy. 

    At this point in his career, Halladay has made it clear that he is not interested in moving around from city to city. He came to Philadelphia to get a job done—win the World Series—and has not been able to accomplish that mission. 

    If he is healthy, it would not come as a surprise to see the Phillies and Halladay agree to a contract extension that keeps him in Philly for two or three seasons. 

Lee Wins 20 Games

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    Prediction: Cliff Lee wins 20 games in 2013. 

    This is a simple prediction. Because I believe that the Phillies will score runs and have a very strong bullpen this season, I don't see wins being a problem for this pitching staff, especially for guys like Lee and Cole Hamels. 

    Sure, Lee won just six games last season, but that didn't stop him from being an elite pitcher. Just seven starters (Gio Gonzalez, Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, David Price, Adam Wainwright and Zack Greinke) posted a FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) mark better than Lee's 3.13.

    So to make sure there is no confusion here: Cliff Lee is still an elite starter in this league. He is going to pound the strike zone, change speeds and keep the Phillies in ball games. It is up to the rest of the club to help him to 20 wins, and I believe that they are in much better position to do so this year.

...As Does the Cy Young Winner, Cole Hamels

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    Prediction: Cole Hamels wins 20 games en route to being named the National League's Cy Young Award winner. 

    It's just a matter of time. 

    Over the last few seasons, one of the truly fun things to watch has been the evolution of Cole Hamels. He has transformed himself into one of baseball's elite left-handed starters, and if you're asking my opinion, he is going to win a Cy Young before all is said and done. Could 2013 be that year? 

    Hamels had a very strong season in 2012, going 17-6 with a 3.03 ERA and doing so in the midst of a contract year, before signing an extension with the Phillies. 

    Now, the drama is behind him. Hamels is moving into the prime of his career and could realistically be the ace of a staff that includes both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. 

    Again, because I don't foresee the bullpen or lineup being horrendous, winning 20 games should be within reach for the Phillies' lefty. There will be plenty of competition in the NL for the Cy Young this season, but I see little reason that Hamels can't be among the game's best pitchers this year.

The Phillies Boast the Best Bullpen in the NL

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    Prediction: By numerous statistics, the Phillies will boast the National League's best bullpen in 2013. 

    In many ways, 2012 was a transition season for the Phillies. Some of their top stars, like Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, all missed time with an injury. One of the biggest areas of turnover was in the bullpen, where the Phillies struggled quite a bit last season. 

    That should change in 2013. A lot of those struggles were by rookie relievers who were still adjusting to the MLB. Now, with some experience under their belts, the Phillies are going to roll with some firepower out of that bullpen next season. 

    The middle relief corps is headlined by a few intriguing names. Antonio Bastardo really turned it up a notch at the end of the season last year and wound up posting a bold K/9 mark of 14.02. Justin De Fratus is healthy and Phillippe Aumont made fans giddy with his sensational repertoire. 

    One of the biggest improvements the Phillies made this offseason was undoubtedly to the eighth inning, adding veteran right-handed setup man Mike Adams. Even coming off of an injury, he represents a significant upgrade to the production the Phillies received out of the eighth inning in 2012. 

    And of course, the cherry on top is Jonathan Papelbon, who was every bit as good as advertised in his first season with the Phils. 

    Realistically speaking, the Phillies have all of the right tools in place to craft a dominant bullpen, and clubs with dominant bullpens tend to be successful.

...Highlighted by Papelbon's 45-Plus Saves

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    Prediction: Jonathan Papelbon saves at least 45 games for the Phillies in 2013. 

    Do you need to pay an absurd amount of money to find a good closer in today's game? No. But if you cast aside the contract that the Phillies threw at Jonathan Papelbon for a moment and take a look at the numbers, he was everything that they asked him to be last season. 

    With the rest of the bullpen in shambles, Papelbon was the rock. He was consistently good for the Phillies in the ninth inning and wound up saving 38 games in a year where the Phillies won 81 games as a team. For you math-savvy people, that means that Papelbon saved about 47 percent of all Phillies' wins—nearly half. 

    Imagine what he could do in a season where the Phillies were legitimate contenders and have a good bullpen ahead of him. We should be able to see that in 2013.

The Nationals Win the NL East

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    Prediction: The Washington Nationals win the National League East in 2013. 

    As good as I believe the Phillies have the potential to be next season, the Washington Nationals should be one of the best teams in baseball. This is a team that can hit, pitch and play defense, and that combination wins divisions. 

    The strength of this club is obviously their pitching. Assuming that they will take undo Stephen Strasburg's leash, their starting rotation will also feature Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler. With a bullpen that includes Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, this team can pitch. 

    The Nats' lineup is going to be good. The real question here is how good. Adding Denard Span in the offseason gives them the leadoff hitter and center fielder they've desired. They'll get a full season out of both Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth. They could still re-sign Adam LaRoche and then, would have to figure out what to do with Mike Morse. 

    This team is clearly the cream of the crop in the National League East, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the division isn't as good. The Phillies and Atlanta Braves will make plenty of noise.

...But the Phillies Win the First Wild Card

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    Prediction: The Phillies, who finish within striking distance of the Washington Nationals, win the National League's first Wild Card. 

    I like this Phillies club a lot. More than most people. The main reason for that is, first and foremost, I expect them to be healthy. Full seasons of guys like Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard make this club better without having to add any outside pieces. 

    On top of that, I think that they are going to pitch incredibly well. Any starting rotation that features Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee is a good one, and while they certainly are not as flashy, a bottom two of Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan completes a very solid rotation. 

    The biggest difference in 2013 should be the bullpen. Let me throw some names at you here: Michael Schwimer, Raul Valdes, Jake Diekman, Mike Stutes, Jeremy Horst, Justin De Fratus, Phillippe Aumont, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon. There is an elite bullpen in that mix. 

    The elephant in the room for this club is the big question mark—can they hit? I think the answer is yes. When Carlos Ruiz returns, they'll have an infield consisting of Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young. Ben Revere will give them the element of speed. 

    But what can they make out of the corner outfield positions? As we've already discussed, the potential for Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf to emerge as regular players is pretty good. John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix are solid reserve players. 

    This club has the pieces to win. What they'll have to do to accomplish the goal is something that they haven't been able to do in recent memory—stay healthy. I like them to win a Wild Card spot. I don't think that the Nationals are too much better than the Phils. It's close.

Phillies Advance to and Win the NLCS

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    Prediction: The Phillies advance to—and win—the National League Championship Series. 

    It's all about the pitching. That's been Ruben Amaro Jr. and company's baseball philosophy over the last few seasons and it hasn't paid off yet. Looking ahead to 2013, I think that the Phillies will finally cash in on their pitching staff. 

    A lot of that has to do with the bullpen's ability to save the starting rotation. Guys like Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee aren't spring chickens. The days of having them throw stupid amounts of innings should be in the past. But with Cole Hamels just entering the prime of his career and John Lannan replacing an injured Vance Worley, I like this staff. 

    The kicker here is that the Phillies figure to have a deep bullpen. The goal of the pitching staff should be to get the ball to Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. With guys like Justin De Fratus, Antonio Bastardo and Phillippe Aumont in the mix, the starters no longer have to throw seven innings each start to do so.

    And then you have to wonder if they're going to score runs. I think they will. Michael Young should have a much better season. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard should be healthy. Can they get production out of the corner outfield spots? To that, I will say that I like Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf more than most people.

    This is a good team. This is a team that should contend in 2013. If the Washington Nationals weren't absolutely stacked heading into next season, I'd predict the Phillies to win the NL East, so on that token, I believe that they are capable of winning a one game playoff and riding their pitching to the World Series.

...But Lose the World Series

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    Prediction: The Phillies drop the World Series to the American League. 

    The Phillies are old. That's just a fact. On paper, I think that this can be an excellent team that can make a run at the World Series. In actuality, you have to wonder if this club is going to have the youth and energy to carry itself into late October. 

    Look at some of this club's major players. I've listed the age that they will be in 2013 in parentheses. 

    Carlos Ruiz (34), Ryan Howard (33), Chase Utley (34), Jimmy Rollins (34), Michael Young (36), Cliff Lee (34), Roy Halladay (36), Mike Adams (34), Jonathan Papelbon (32). 

    I like this Phillies team quite a bit, but there is no doubt that most of this club's best players are on the wrong side of 30. They're going to need the young guns to carry them late in the season. That's a lot to ask out of an inexperienced bullpen and guys like Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and Ben Revere. 

    Can this team win the World Series? Yes. It will take some savvy managing from Charlie Manuel to keep his aging veterans fresh and putting his young players in positions to grow and excel. It's a lot to ask for. I don't think they'll have a whole lot left in the tank for a late season run.

Ruben Amaro Jr.'s Job Is Safe

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    Prediction: Ruben Amaro Jr. is the club's general manager in 2014. 

    Amaro hasn't been the greatest general manager since taking over the Phillies, but he really hasn't failed enough to warrant a dismissal. Under his watch, the Phillies have won three National League East pennants, been to the NLCS twice and been to the World Series once. By most accounts, that's a successful tenure. 

    And while some will argue that he is just running a club that someone else put together (myself included), there just isn't enough grounds to make a change. The only way I see that happening is if the Phillies tank and miss the postseason by a lot. 

    This will be a big season for Amaro. He doesn't have many chances left to win with this club and will make the 16th overall selection in June's amateur draft. This is his chance to leave a mark on the Phillies.

...But Sandberg Replaces Manuel

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    Prediction: Charlie Manuel does not return for the 2014 season and is replaced by Ryne Sandberg. 

    Is it really just a coincidence that Sandberg doesn't already have a job as the manager of an MLB club? There have been plenty of openings around the game and Sandberg's work with the Phils' Triple-A club was excellent. 

    Instead, the Phillies have slowly moved him closer to the head of the class. This offseason, he was promoted to the club's big league staff as the third base coach—undoubtedly a move to get him some experience on an MLB club. 

    Even if the Phillies have a great season, it is hard to imagine Manuel returning. He will be 70 years old and has mentioned retirement in the past (though, he has stated a will to stay in the game). It wouldn't surprise me, regardless of the 2013 club's outcome, to see Manuel move into the Phils' front office and Sandberg move into the manager's spot.

Prospects on the Rise

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    Prediction: The Phillies will use a number of prospects during the 2013 season and even more in their plans for the 2014 offseason. 

    The gripe against the Phillies' farm system for the last few seasons hasn't been that it is barren, because it's not. The big problem has been that most of the club's best prospects have been years away. With guys like Roman Quinn, Larry Greene Jr. and Maikel Franco, that is still the case. 

    But there are also a number of prospects just about ready to make an impact sooner. Some will have a say in what happens in 2013. Others will be figured into the future next offseason. Here is a small primer. 

    Prediction: Tyler Cloyd pitches in the MLB in 2013. 

    Long-term, Cloyd is not going to play a huge role in the Phillies' decision making. Rumor has it that they almost traded him to the Houston Astros in a package for reliever Wilton Lopez earlier this winter, undoubtedly trying to sell high. 

    But he is still a member of the Phillies organization and will have some use. He could take over Kyle Kendrick's role of long reliever in the bullpen. He can be a reliever in the event of an injury. He can be a starter in the even of an injury. There are roles for Cloyd. 

    Prediction: Next offseason—Cody Asche and Jon Pettibone figure prominently into the Phillies' plans. 

    By 2014, the Phillies are going to start infusing some of their top talent. Asche is likely to take over at third base, and assuming that Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick all return, the Phillies will have one open spot in their starting rotation—maybe two. 

    Pettibone is the kind of prospect that I can see them giving a job too. He has great control and a solid fastball with good secondary offerings. He can be the fifth starter with ease. Other names to consider include Ethan Martin and Adam Morgan. 

    Another guy who could conceivably make some noise is Jesse Biddle, but I imagine the Phillies will be taking it slow with their top prospect.

The Next Free Agent Market: Little Relief

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    Prediction: The Phillies do not make a big splash in next offseason's free agent market. 

    The Phillies aren't going to have many holes to fill next offseason. I've already predicted that they're more likely to hand out contract extensions and promote from within. Right now, they're likely to need two starting pitchers, a second baseman, a third baseman, a catcher and at least one corner outfielder. 

    But if you've been following along, I don't think that they'll need to fill any of those needs by around midseason—maybe into next winter. I think that they'll extend Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz. Three holes down. 

    I think that they'll promote Cody Asche next offseason, so you can scratch off a third baseman. Assuming Kyle Kendrick is tendered a contract, one of Jon Pettibone, Adam Morgan and Ethan Martin should be ready for the MLB.

    I've already predicted that Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf will eventually fill everyday roles. I think both will take big steps in 2013. 

    So, with that in mind, with most of the work being done in 2013, it wouldn't surprise me to see the 2014 roster look something like this: 


    Ben Revere (CF), Domonic Brown (RF), Chase Utley (2B), Ryan Howard (1B), Jimmy Rollins (SS), Darin Ruf (LF), Carlos Ruiz (C), Cody Asche (3B).


    Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Kyle Kendrick, Jon Pettibone.


    Erik Kratz, Freddy Galvis, John Mayberry Jr., Kevin Frandsen


    Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo, Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus, Jeremy Horst.

    The bench would obviously need some tinkering, but the point in listing out the roster is that I don't see the need for a major splash outside of the organization in the mold of Robinson Cano. I think the Phillies will roll with what they have.

The Trade Market: Some Interesting Options

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    Prediction: The Phillies consider trades, but do not make any.

    Be it in the free agent or trade market, if the Phillies do consider a major move next offseason, I have a feeling it will be for a corner outfielder. If there is one prediction that I am uncomfortable with, it is both Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf becoming everyday players. 

    With that being said, I think that they will. I still believe in Brown's potential and in the short time that I saw Ruf in 2012, I saw a player who can hit a lot of home runs and strike out a lot. He still has time to improve his plate discipline, but as long as he is cheap, he can be a great source of power.

    So while there will be some interesting names on the trade market, a la Josh Willingham on a one-year deal, don't expect any major splashes. The Phillies will already have a solid group, assuming that they bring back all of their free agents.