2011 MLB Preview: Looking at Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies "On Paper"

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIMarch 2, 2011

2011 MLB Preview: Looking at Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies "On Paper"

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    PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Cliff Lee #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the New York Yankees in Game Five of the 2009 MLB World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 2, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phi
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Prior to the start of the 2009 season, the Yankees made a huge splash in free-agency by landing CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. They won 103 games and the World Series. Looking back, the Sabathia signing sent shock waves, but nothing like the Cliff Lee spectacle this past offseason.

    The Phillies won a MLB high 97 games a year ago, and it was a down year. Players were falling down like flies, and many fans were doubting if the team could even make the postseason. During the summer, the Braves held a large lead in the NL East.

    Now with the signing of Lee, the fans are dreaming big and rightfully so. In the end, the Phillies may be the World Series Champions on paper, but now they have to go out and earn it.

    ALSO CHECK OUT

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    2011 Atlanta Braves Preview

    2011 Florida Marlins Preview

    2011 New York Mets Preview

Infield

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 21:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies fields a ball against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 21, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Sh
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
    • C-  Carlos Ruiz- 7.75 
    • 1B- Ryan Howard- 8.75  
    • 2B- Chase Utley- 9 
    • SS- Jimmy Rollins- 8 
    • 3B- Placido Polanco- 7.5

    Carlos Ruiz (32) 371 AB .302 BA 43 R 8 HR 53 RBI 0 SB 

    • Pitchers absolutely love pitching to Chooch. He’s a quick and agile receiver of the baseball. He doesn’t let any pitches in the dirt get by him. Ruiz has a quick release on his throws to go along with a strong and accurate arm to nab base-runners.
    • Senor Octobre’s career-high .302 average last year was a bonus. He’s a patient hitter who looks to drive fastballs into the gaps.

    Ryan Howard (31) 550 AB .276 BA 87 R 31 HR 108 RBI 1 SB

    • Howard saw a dip in his home run and RBI totals; he had 45 home runs and 141 RBIs the season prior. His strikeout totals took a huge dip as well, 157 compared to 186 the year before.  Howard has moved closer to the plate to try and combat the outside half. With his new stance, Howard should improve against the lefties with the long, sweeping sliders. This is where Howard struggles most.
    • I’ve talked about his weight loss before as the main culprit in his improved defense. He still needs to work on fielding on his backhand side, and cutting down on his hesitancy on the throw to second base.   

    Chase Utley (32) 425 AB .275 BA 75 R 16 HR 65 RBI 13 SB

    • Like Howard, statistically, Utley had his worst season as a pro. As Utley continues to deal with nagging injuries year after year, he won't be starting 155-160 games a season anymore. 
    • Utley is an extraordinary hitter. He crowds the plate, and his hands are so quick that pitchers can’t jam him. His defense is ok, but he tends to struggle with his throw at times.

    Jimmy Rollins (32) 350 AB .243 BA 48 R 8 HR 41 RBI 17 SB

    • It’s a contract year for J-Roll, and it may be his last chance to land a possible three-year extension. Rollins played in just 88 games a year ago. He could never find a rhythm with his swing because he was unable to stay on the field.
    • It looks like once again Rollins will lead off. He pops too many balls up and draws too few of walks for my taste to lead off, but then again, what is a prototypical lead-off hitter these days?  You don’t see guys trying to limit the strike zone and draw walks anymore, it’s a different era.

    Placido Polanco (35) 554 AB .298 BA 76 R 6 HR 52 RBI 5 SB

    It’s a toss-up between Chooch and Polanco as to who the most underrated player on the Phillies is.  He’s the perfect two-hole hitter because of his ability to make contact and spray the ball wherever he wants to with a short and compact stroke.

Outfield

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    NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 04:  Ben Francisco #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies bats against the New York Yankees in Game Six of the 2009 MLB World Series at Yankee Stadium on November 4, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Ima
    Nick Laham/Getty Images
    • LF- Raul Ibanez 7.25 
    • CF- Shane Victorino 7.5 
    • RF- Ben Francisco 7

    Raul Ibanez (38) 561 AB .275 BA 75 R 16 HR 83 RBI 4 SB

    • Ibanez struggled mightily in the first half, but his .309/.375/.494 line in the second half was awfully impressive. 

    Shane Victorino (30) 587 AB .259 BA 84 R 18 HR 69 RBI 34 SB

    • Victorino is a extremely high-energy player who plays a fantastic center field. The back-to-back gold glove winner plays deeper than normal, but makes great breaks on the ball using his quickness. His arm is strong and accurate.
    • As for his bat, the Flyin’ Hawaiian saw an increase in power, but a big decrease in average.  Victorino batted .280 plus in each of his prior four seasons before last year.

    Ben Francisco (29) 179 AB .268 BA 24 R 6 HR 28 RBI 8 SB

    • With the departure of Jayson Werth, the starting right field job is up for grabs. Francisco is the front-runner with Brown struggling in Spring Training so far. Brown is tinkering with the position of his hands and has yet to find a comfort zone. 
    • Meanwhile, Francisco is raking. He possesses a simple, compact swing and has prior starting experience.

Starting Pitching

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 21:  Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 21, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
    • 1. Roy Halladay- 10
    • 2. Cliff Lee- 9
    • 3. Roy Oswalt- 7.75
    • 4. Cole Hamels- 8.25
    • 5. Joe Blanton- 7

    Roy Halladay (33) 250 IP 21-10 2.44 ERA 1.04 WHIP 219 K

    • Halladay is the perfect pitcher, literally. He’s a horse who led the league in innings pitched and complete games with nine. The best part of his arsenal is his ability to locate all of his pitches on both sides of the plate.

    Cliff Lee (32) 212 IP 12-9 3.18 ERA 1.00 WHIP 185 K

    • Halladay led the league in complete games with Lee second with seven. He pitches a lot like Halladay, he’s just going to give you about 30 less innings over the course of the season. 
    • His cutter is almost more like a slider; it has a late, quick bite. When he’s not throwing the fastball, he’ll buckle your knees with his tightly spun spike curveball.

    Roy Oswalt (33) 211 IP 13-13 2.76 ERA 1.02 WHIP 193 K

    • After coming over from the trade with Houston, Oswalt dominated, finishing 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA and .89 WHIP. It was also evident that he wanted out of Houston because he was just 14-18 in his final 50 starts as an Astro.
    • Oswalt comes at you with his fastball and changes speeds on his curveball. He also added a change-up last year which he throws with a claw grip. 

    Cole Hamels (27) 208 IP 12-11 3.06 ERA 1.18 WHIP 211 K

    • With the increased velocity on his fastball, incorporation of the cutter, Hamels is on the verge of breaking out. His changeup is still one of the best in baseball. Some have even went out and prognosticated a possible Cy Young Award. 

    Joe Blanton (30) 175 IP 9-6 4.82 ERA 1.42 WHIP 134 K

    • Will he stay or will he go? If he stays, he’s one of the best fifth starters in baseball. He’s a hot and cold pitcher who possesses good control. 

    If Blanton does go, the Phillies likely will turn to Kyle Kendrick to vacate the fifth starting spot. Vance Worley is another option. 

Bullpen

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 29:  Brad Lidge #54 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the continuation of game five of the 2008 MLB World Series on October 29, 2008 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Th
    Elsa/Getty Images
    • RP- Danys Baez- 7
    • RP- Jose Contreras- 7.25
    • LRP- J.C. Romero- 7
    • SU- Ryan Madson- 7.25
    • CP- Brad Lidge- 7.25

    Jose Contreras, Danys Baez, J.C. Romero

    • Contreras made a nice transition from starter to reliever a season ago. His forkball remains his bread and butter.
    • Romero is a solid lefty out of the pen, while Baez was brought in during the offseason.
    • All in all the Phillies bullpen is just ok, but with such a great rotation, how much will the bullpen be needed?

    Ryan Madson (30) 53 IP 6-2 2.55 ERA 1.04 WHIP 64 K

    • Madson is a top-tier set-up guy who has good velocity on his fastball; about 93-95 MPH. He throws a good changeup with nice arm action and late movement. He also throws a cutter to both right and left-handers.

    Brad Lidge (34) 46 IP 1-1 27 SV 2.95 ERA 1.23 WHIP 52 K

    • As long as Lidge’s right knee holds up, he could be in for a big year. Lidge continues to throw the fastball less and less, and the slider more and more; 58-percent of the time last season. 

Sizing Up the Phillies "On Paper"

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    CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 10: Starting pitcher Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers the ball against the Cincinnati Reds during game 3 of the NLDS at Great American Ball Park on October 10, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/G
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    • C-  Carlos Ruiz- 7.75 
    • 1B- Ryan Howard- 8.75  
    • 2B- Chase Utley- 9 
    • SS- Jimmy Rollins- 8 
    • 3B- Placido Polanco- 7.5 
    • LF- Raul Ibanez- 7.25 
    • CF- Shane Victorino- 7.5 
    • RF- Ben Francisco- 7

    Projected Lineup (This lineup will change frequently)

    1. Jimmy Rollins- 8
    2. Placido Polanco- 7.5
    3. Chase Utley- 9
    4. Ryan Howard- 8.75
    5. Shane Victorino- 7.5
    6. Ben Francisco- 7
    7. Raul Ibanez- 7.25
    8. Carlos Ruiz- 7.75

    1-3- 24.5

    4-6- 23.25

    7-8- 15

    Projected Rotation

    • 1. Roy Halladay- 10
    • 2. Cliff Lee- 9
    • 3. Roy Oswalt- 7.75
    • 4. Cole Hamels- 8.25
    • 5. Joe Blanton- 7

    Bullpen 

    • RP- Danys Baez- 7
    • RP- Jose Contreras- 7.25
    • LRP- J.C. Romero- 7
    • SU- Ryan Madson- 7.25
    • CP- Brad Lidge- 7.25

    Bench- Domonic Brown, Wilson Valdez, Brian Schneider, Ross Gload- 7.5

    Manager- 8

    INF- 41

    OF- 21.75

    SP- 42

    RP- 7

    CP- 14.5

    Hitting- 62.75

    Pitching- 63.5

    MISC- 15.5

    TOTAL- 141.75

Prediction

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 31: The Phillie Phanatic celebrates at a victory rally at Citizens Bank Park October 31, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay  Rays to win their first World Series in 28 years. (Photo by Jeff F
    Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

    PREDICTION- 103-59 1st NL East

    The Phillies have seen an increase in their win total in each of their last five years.

    2010- 97

    2009- 93

    2008- 92

    2007- 89

    2006- 85

    In the end, it doesn’t matter how many wins the Phillies accumulate over the year. The World Series Crown is the only goal.