After finishing 81-81, the Phillies faced many questions regarding their health and talent. The most important question is, will they contend for a playoff spot in 2013?
The Phillies have plenty of pitching depth in the minor leagues, which is gold when trading for big league stars. This offseason, they faced many problems in the outfield, in the bullpen, and at third base. They answered this by acquiring Ben Revere (OF), Delmon Young (OF), Michael Young (3B), Mike Adams (RP), and John Lannan (SP). I believe these moves were cost-effective, but could truly help their team.
Question marks surround Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Roy Halladay concerning injuries, but they each get a full Spring Training to prove that they can play a full 162 games at a high-level. Howard and Utley haven't had a full Spring in two years!
They've got good youth and talent, so Phillies fans, last year could be a fluke. They made good trades at the deadline last year, and could get back in the playoffs, either this year or next, partly due to the fact that there are two Wild Cards. Honestly, I think the Phillies could still be an up and coming team.
Projected finish: 90-72 3rd NL East. Contending for the 2nd Wild Card.
1. Toronto Blue Jays -- I really feel they took care of their needs this offseason with the trade with the Miami Marlins. They acquired pitching, to add to their below-average rotation, in Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson. Also, in the trade, the acquired Jose Reyes and John Buck, which adds pop to their lineup which already had Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. Well done, Alex Anthopoulos.
2. Atlanta Braves -- They did a good job stabilizing their outfield, with both BJ and Justin Upton. They had to give up Martin Prado, but also got Chris Johnson, who had 11 home runs only two years ago. They have plenty of depth everywhere and might be able to catch the Nationals.
3. Los Angeles Angels -- Look, Josh Hamilton can't HURT this team. Their big pieces just got bigger. Trout and Hamilton in the same outfield? Pretty nice. They also picked up a cheap Ryan Madson, who could really bolster this bullpen.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers -- They got the best pitcher on the market, Zack Greinke. Enough said.
5. Washington Nationals -- I really like their three big moves this offseason. Dan Haren, Denard Span, and Rafael Soriano all made a huge splash in the D.C. area. They filled big needs and will be a big contender in the NL.
6. Philadelphia Phillies -- I really hate being biased, but the Phils defiantly made cost-effective moves that could help their team. Delmon Young, Michael Young, Ben Revere, John Lannan, and Mike Adams all fill a need each with their own risks, but, based on their numbers, they could make a really good contribution. If these guys perform, and their core players stay healthy, the Phillies could have one more shot. Moneyball 2?
7. Boston Red Sox -- This offseason they turned themselves around by adding Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, and Ryan Dempster. These additons will help, but Dempster was very over-paid. I think they will be improved, but it will be hard to beat out the Orioles and Yankees atop the AL East.
8. Detriot Tigers -- They added Torii Hunter to this awesome offense that made the World Seires last year. They are built to win. And they will.
9. Clevland Indians -- They could be ranked higher because they added Swisher, Bourn, Bauer, and Stubbs, but I believe their pitching needs more improvements. Don't get me wrong, the Indians will have a good year this year, just they may not reach the highest potential.
10. Seattle Mariners -- Adding Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales, and Felix Hernandez could make the Mariners a surprise team in the AL West. The Athletics and Rangers will be very tough to catch, but the Mariners have youth to be one of the up and coming teams for years to come.
I know this sounds stupid, or dumb, but really I really don't think the Atlanta Braves addressed a need this offseason. Though Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, and Jason Heyward sound nice in the outfield, their pitching staff seems unrelyable as Tim Hudson has gotten one year older and Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm, and Brandon Beachy can be inconsistent. Jair Jurrjens has left, too. They have infield problems too, as Dan Uggla is also unrelyable and Chris Johnson is a downgrade at third base compared to Martin Prado. I don't even think they have a solution at shortstop. The bullpen is another strength, but I'm not sure how well the infield will provide to the outfield.
Worst Case (the infield offense does not provide and rotation struggles): 81-81 3rd NL East
Neutral Case (infield offense provides decent numbers and rotation pitches decently): 94-78 2nd NL East
Best Case (everyone provides above average to great numbers): 97-65 1st NL East
This winter, the Indians have added Michael Bourn, Drew Stubbs, Nick Swisher, and Mark Renolds. They now have a fine outfield and a first basemen. Mark Renolds will probably start the season at DH, and Nick Swisher will play 1B. Bourn, Michael Brantley, and Stubbs, will probably play center field, left field, and right field, respectively.
These additions are to a young team with an underrated bullpen (Chris Perez got 39 Saves in 2012). The only question mark here is the starting rotation. Their number one will probably be Ublado Jimenez, who is 2 years removed from that great season in Colorado (in which he threw a no-hitter). I think Kyle Lohse would fit here nicely, but after what they've spent, they have to be sure that they will contend.
After a 68-94 season, I predict that the Indians will finish 85-77 and contend for a wild card spot. But, if the Indians could provide some decent rotation stability, I predict them to finish 91-71 and win the second wild card. This team has youth and talent mixed in, which is a great combination. The only problems that scream out at me are the rotation. Well done, Clevland Indians.