(2009 stats in parentheses)
2009 Record: 93-69
Key additions: SP Roy Halladay, 3B Placido Polanco, INF Juan Castro
Key losses: SP Cliff Lee, SP Pedro Martinez, OF Matt Stairs, 3B Pedro Feliz
Offense: The middle of Philadelphia’s lineup is as good as any.
Polanco (pictured, 27) gives the Phillies an upgrade in the second batting spot. The 3-4 punch of Chase Utley (31 HR, 93 RBI) and Ryan Howard (45 HR, 141 RBI) will produce plenty of runs. Utley’s production dipped slightly in 2009 from the previous two seasons, but the addition of Polanco (.331 OBP, 72 RBI) might benefit him the most of anyone in the lineup.
Jayson Werth (36 HR, 99 RBI) finally broke through in 2009, displaying great power that really helped Howard see more pitches to hit. He tends to strike out more than he should, but after a huge ’09, expect Werth to only improve this season.
Defense: The outfield is very strong, especially in center and right field with Shane Victorino and Werth. Raul Ibanez still has a few years left in the tank as well.
In the infield, Polanco is an underrated fielder, and has a quick release as a veteran fielder. Jimmy Rollins is arguably the best defensive shortstop in the game today.
The biggest deficiency in Utley’s game is his defensive play. He has not the best fielder at second base, but having Rollins on the other side helps him tremendously when trying to turn double plays.
Pitching:After months of speculation leading up to the 2009 trade deadline, Roy Halladay (pictured) indeed ended up in Philadelphia, just a few months later. Despite throwing a consistently high number of innings each season, Halladay (17-10, 2.79 ERA, 239 IP) is one of the five best pitchers in the league at getting strikeouts.
The rest of the rotation has some serious question marks, though. Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32 ERA) came off of a sensational 2008 with an awful season in 2009. The scouting report on Hamels is he needs to re-discover his curveball to regain his 2008 form.
J.A. Happ set the world on fire in his first year as a starter in the majors. He could very well supplant Hamels as the no. two starter in 2010.
The other starters are Joe Blanton (12-8, 4.05 ERA) and Jamie Moyer (12-10, 4.94 ERA).
In the bullpen, Brad Lidge (58 IP, 31 Saves) underwent off-season elbow surgery, and faces serious question marks about his durability.
The set-up man is Ryan Madison (5-5, 3.26 ERA). Madison has a 90-96 MPH fastball with good movement that gets a lot of outs.
Season Outlook: The Phillies are looking to win their third straight NL pennant in 2010. They picked up Cliff Lee at the trade deadline last year, which propelled them to a strong finish.
They then promptly traded him away in the off-season, landing former Blue Jays’ ace Halladay in a three-way deal with the Mariners.
They lost several key players off of last year’s team, but the additions the Phillies’ management made should keep them at the top of the NL.
Their offense is the best in the league, but a lack of pitching depth will be the Phillies’ biggest problem in 2010.
Projected 2010 finish: 1st place NL East