2006 Finish: 85-77, 2nd place in the NL East, 12 games back
Manager: Charlie Manuel
Comings: RHP Freddy Garcia, 3B Wes Helms, RHP Adam Eaton
Goings: C Mike Lieberthal,
Offense: Leadoff man SS Jimmy Rollins is coming off a career year in the power department. He hit 25 HRs (his previous career high was 14) and drove in 83. He scored 127 runs. He was down in the average and on base areas, his lowest totals since 03. 2B Chase Utley has become the premier secondbaseman in the NL if not all of Major League Baseball. He hit .309 with 32 HRs and 102 RBIs. He signed a big dollar extension during the offseason and I like to see how players react after signing a big deal such as this one. 1B Ryan Howard is coming off an MVP season. He put up incredible numbers last year, hitting .313, 58 HRs, and 149 RBIs. He needs to improve with runners in scoring position, hitting only .256 and he struck out 181 times. LF Pat Burrell has been considered a disappointment since signing his big extension. What is amazing is that hitting 29 HRs and driving in 95 is a disappointment. He doesn’t hit for a high average and strikes out too much, but you could stick that production in almost any lineup and make that team better. CF Aaron Rowand only appeared in 109 games due to injury and has been the subject of quite a few trade rumors this offseason. He is probably just average offensively, but provides tremendous energy and excellent defense. Right field will be handled by Shane Victorino. He performed admirably last year, appearing in 153 games while hitting .287. He also plays above average defense. Wes Helms was brought in to play third. Last year with the Marlins, Helms hit .329 with 10 HRs and 47 RBIs in only 240 at bats. He also provided valuable leadership to the young Marlin club. Rod Barajas will be the regular catcher. He has above average power but seems to wear down and that tremendously affects his offensive production. Carlos Ruiz will also get some of the time behind the plate. OF Jayson Werth was brought in from the Dodgers and should get time in the outfield. Werth did not play in 06 due to two wrists surgeries but provides good athletiscm off the bench.
Rotation: The rotation is strong but has a lot of health questions. RHP Brett Myers has ace type stuff, he just needs to find a little more consistency. Last year he was 12-7 with an ERA just under 4. He, also, had the off the field incident with his wife. Hopefully all that is behind him and he can put all his focus on the field. LHP Cole Hamels has the stuff to be one of the elite lefties in baseball. His biggest problem is staying healthy. His first season in the bigs saw him go 9-8 with an ERA of 4.08. He had an impressive strikeout rate of 145 in 132 innings. LHP Jamie Moyer came over from the Mariners and was really impressive in September, going 4-1 with a 3.43 ERA. RHP Freddy Garcia was brought over from the White Sox and is being counted on to provide big innings and big game experience. He has had some health problems this spring and the White Sox are anxious for him to bounce back. RHP Adam Eaton was brought in for big bucks to anchor the back of the rotation. Eaton has always had good stuff, he just has had a problem staying healthy. He started only 13 games last year, 22 in 05, and only 6 in 02. RHP Jon Lieber is the odd man out. He is being relegated for the time to the bullpen, but is readily available for trade for the right price.
Bullpen: This is a big area of weakness for the Phillies. Closer, RHP Tom Gordon, saved 34 games last year. Flash is getting older and injuries are always a concern with him. RHP Antonio Alfonseca was brought in to set up. He was injured last year, appearing in only 19 games and pitching 16 innings. RHP Ryan Madson is a durable swing man with good stuff. I feel he just needs to be let be and allow his stuff to take over. I think he has just been shuffled around too much. LHP Matt Smith is the only lefty in the bullpen and has less than 21 innings of big league experience.
Adrian Cardenas-SS-Won the Baseball America High School Player of the Year in 2006. Hit .647 with 18 homers, leading his high school to the Florida State Title. Teammate of Nationals’ first round pick Chris Marrerro. The Phillies made him the 37th pick overall in the 2006 First Year Player Draft. Had a very solid debut hitting .318/.384/.442 in 41 Gulf Coast League Games. Cardenas is an above average defender at shortstops but many scouts see him shifting to second. Should start the season at low Class A.
Kyle Drabek-RHP-First Round selection (18th overall) in the 2006 First Year Player Draft. Son of former Cy Young award winner Doug Drabek. Considered by most scouts to be the most talented player in the draft, fell due to concerns about his make up. Is considered hard to instruct and gets upset when errors are made behind him. Only 5’11”, has a fastball that tops out at 97 and usually sits 93-95. Has an above average curveball. Throws a slider and is developing a feel for his change up. Was knocked around in 23 innings in Rookie Ball. Was also considered to be one of the top high school hitters in this draft and some projected him as a big league shortstop.
Analysis: This team should challenge for the NL East title. The pitching is deep if healthy. Howard and Utley give the Phillies one of the best young twosomes in baseball. The bullpen has a lot of question marks and the Phillies are going to have to keep looking for help. Pat Burrell is going to be counted on mightily to protect Howard. If the rotation stays healthy and help is found for the bullpen, this team could play well into October.