Key Additions: Raul Ibañez, Chan Ho Park (did I really just type that?)
Shane Victorino (CF)
Chase Utley (2B)
Ryan Howard (1B)
Jayson Werth (RF)
Raul Ibañez (LF)
Pedro Feliz (3B)
Chris Coste (C)
Star Power Outage? This could be an example of “Live by the sword, die by the sword”. How long until Chase Utley is 100% healthy? Is Cole Hamels’ elbow really tender or are the Phillies just being ultra-cautious? Also, the back end of their starting rotation could be dicey. Anytime you see Chan Ho Park penciled into your starting rotation, you should worry. He’s worked with Moyer in the offseason to develop his change-up. Will this be enough to return him to serviceable form? Also, how bloated will Joe Blanton’s E.R.A. get this year? Look for J.A. Happ to see some time as a starter, eventually cementing a place for himself in the rotation. It’s just a matter of whose spot he will eventually take.
Players to Watch
J.A. Happ: Expect Happ to spend some quality time in the bullpen while J.C. Romero serves his time on the “Naughty List”.
Honorable Mention: Hamels & Utley. If those two bounce back from setbacks early, the Phils will be dangerous once again.
The Phillies have the tools in place for another run. The few new additions to the team shouldn’t disrupt the clubhouse, which is always a plus. (Manuel said that the 2008 team was the first one he’s ever coached that didn’t have an issue in the clubhouse over the course of the season) Even though the road to a third NL East title will be tougher than the previous two, look for the Phillies to be in contention as the calendar turns to September. After that, it’s anyone’s guess!
Oh, I have to make a guess? How about:
2008: (92-70 – 1st NL East)
2009: (93-69 – 1st NL East)