Article Written by: Julian Beck
2013 Record: 73-89 (4th place in NL East)
Key additions: Marlon Bryd, Roberto Hernandez
Key loses: Roy Halladay (retired)
Most important players for 2014: Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Domonic Brown, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz
The Philadelphia Phillies have decided against rebuilding this off-season, instead plugging a pair of major holes by signing Marlon Byrd to man right field and Roberto Hernandez to fill out the starting rotation. Those moves should help out, but they are far from enough to put the team in a position to make a run at the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals in the NL East.
Philadelphia doesn’t have much talent on the roster, and the best players they have are now a year older. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz are the veterans that carry this offense. They have been producing year after year, but seem to be slowing down thanks to father time. All three of the players still have some gas in the tank and have the skills to make it back to the All-Star game. They can’t do it all themselves, though. Domonic Brown is going to have to show that last year wasn’t a fluke and can continue to produce stellar numbers. Brown burst onto the scene last season after being considered a bust for his first few seasons in his short career. The Phils may have something special on their hands with Brown. If they decide to trade him it is best to do it now so they can reap the benefits of his All-Star season in 2013 and start their rebuilding process.
Marlon Byrd should add another threat in the line-up after signing a two year contract during the off-season. Byrd resurrected his career after having a great year at the plate for the New York Mets and continued his hot year with the Pittsburgh Pirates after being traded at the deadline. He is considered “old” in the baseball world but that doesn’t mean he can’t continue to produce runs. With players at the top of the line-up that can reach base on a consistent basis with Utley and Rollins, Bryd should be able to drive in runs. He will be manning right field, a position the Phils weren’t able to get production from.
Ryan Howard is another huge factor to the Phillies. When healthy, Howard is considered one of the most dangerous hitters in the league, being able to drive the ball over the fence all over the field. He does strikeout a lot, but as long as he is able to stay on the field this season and produce like he did before his injuries the Philadelphia fans should be able to forgive him for his recent down years. He is getting paid like a super-star, so he should be able to prove that he is still worth that massive contract.
Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are one of the best one-two punches in baseball. Hamels did have a down season in 2013, but he was still able to battle on the mound. A lot of that had to do with Carlos Ruiz missing a majority of the season. Ruiz is Hamels catcher every 5 days and having to rely on young catchers that don’t understand Hamels pitching repertoire hurt his stats and the teams record. Cliff Lee had a down year in 2012 but bounced back big in 2013. Still considered one of the best pitchers in baseball, Lee should continue his success. Lee is able to put batters away quickly, saving his pitch count and allowing him to throw deep into the game. But after Hamels and Lee, the rotation is very iffy. Roberto Hernandez was signed to help with that, but he isn’t a number three starter for any rotation. If he can learn a few things from the studs they have in Cole and Cliff then he should be able to have a decent season.