It’s always fun to generate and debate lists. We’ll continue with the All-2000 to Present Phillies Lineup.
C – Mike Lieberthal
1B – Ryan Howard
2B – Chase Utley
3B – Scott Rolen
SS – Jimmy Rollins
RF – Bobby Abreu
LF – Pat Burrell
CF – Shane Victorino
SP – Roy Halladay
SP – Cliff Lee
SP – Cole Hamels
SP – Randy Wolf
SP – Brett Myers
Closer – Jonathan Papelbon
Atlanta Braves
Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels
Miami Marlins
Minnesota Twins
New York Mets
New York Yankees
Oakland A’s
Seattle Mariners
Tampa Bay Rays
Texas Rangers
Toronto Blue Jays

Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge is hurt again. This time it’s his shoulder. The severity of the injury is not known now, but he will start the season on the disabled list. If you are hungry for saves, snag Ryan Madson. He had five saves last year to go along with a 2.55 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 64 strikeouts in 53 innings. Jose Contreras can also be useful while Lidge is out. He had four saves, a 3.34 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 57 strikeouts in 56-2/3 innings last year.

After averaging 46.7 home runs and 141 runs batted from 2007-2009, not factoring his ridiculous 58 HR, 149 RBI 2006 season, Howard hit just 31 HRs last year with 108 RBI. While those are still solid numbers, they clearly aren’t the type of numbers that made him a star.
I know he was limited to 143 games and 550 at bats because of a sprained ankle, but his slugging percentage (.505) and OPS (.858) were career lows. He hit a home run every 17.7 at bats, which is a far cry from his career 12.8 mark. Could this be the beginning of a downward trend?
I say “not so fast”. He’s only 31 years old. If he were a few years older, I would be very concerned with his power drop, but he’s still plenty young to mash with the best of him. Plus, it’s not like his HR total was in the high thirties and low forties. He hit between 45 and 58 HRs the four previous seasons. He had between 136 and 149 RBI. Those are ridiculous numbers.
While Jayson Werth is gone,  Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins have a chance to be in the lineup a ton more this year. J-Roll was limited to 88 games and Utley was limited to 115. Losing two dynamic players like them will have an adverse effect on your RBI total.
If you look at the monthly breakdown of Howard’s numbers, you’ll see he had just one bad month, which came in August. He was limited to just one HR and four RBI. Every other month, Howard had at least 16 RBI, including three with 20+.
If you want Howard, it’s going to cost you. His average draft position, according to Mock Draft Central, is 16. That’s a decent risk considering how deep the first base position is. That said, there aren’t many players with legitimate 50  HR, 140 RBI potential.
I don’t think Howard is on the decline yet. I think he rebounds this year and hits 40+ HR with 120+ RBI. What’s your take?

Also check out:

Image from Sports Illustrated


While the NFL is dealing with Lawrence Taylor’s legal issues and Minnesota courts ruling that the Williams wall will have to serve four games in the StarCaps fiasco, Major League Baseball lost another Hall of Famer. At 83 Robin Roberts was a far cry from a Whiz Kid, but still owned the hearts of Phillies fans.


Roberts was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976. He was named to seven consecutive All-Star games and won the 1952 Major League Player of the Year, the 1952 & 1955 TSN NL Pitcher of the Year, and the 1962 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.


He ranked 28th on the all-time wins list with 286. The workhorse pitcher ranked 21st on the all-time innings pitched list with 4688-2/3 innings, including leading the league five consecutive years (’51-’56). He also ranked 40th in strikeouts (2357), 20th in starts (609), 38th in complete games (305), 29th in shutouts (45), and the dubious distinction of allowing more HRs (505) than any other pitcher.


Even after his retirement he remained one of the most beloved sports figures in Philadelphia. My condolences go out to his family and friends, the Phillies, and all of his fans.


Stats from baseball-reference.com.

Like two ships passing in the night closer Brad Lidge returned from the DL as his fill-in Ryan Madson lands on the DL with a broken toe. Any questions as to whether they would ease Lidge back into the closer role or work as a closer by committee were put to rest thanks to Madson’s injury.


If you drafted Lidge, feel free to get him back in your lineup. If you grabbed Madson for the short-term saves, there are a couple of options out there.


Evan Meek, Pittsburgh Pirates – Picked up his first save last night. He sports a 0.60 ERA (compared to closer Octavio Dotel’s 10.61). Dotel got the vote of confidence, but I can imagine his leash only goes so far. Even if Meek doesn’t win over the gig anytime soon, he can help you with Ks, ERA, WHIP, and the occasional surprise save or win.


Carlos Villanueva, Milwaukee Brewers – Trevor Hoffman is an institution, but the foundation is giving way as evidenced by his  13.00 ERA. Villanueva has yet to pick up a save, but has not allowed a run yet either. He also has 15 Ks in 12 innings. LaTroy Hawkins could get the call if Hoffman is replaced, but he’s not much better with a 7.71 ERA.

By Dave Marshall, PokerJunkie.com


The Philadelphia Phillies earlier in the week signed first baseman Ryan Howard to five-year contract extension that will keep him in a Phillies uniform until 2016 with a club option for 2017. The deal will net Howard a hefty $125 Million payday.


Scott Van Pelt talked to Rob Neyer on Wednesday about the players that they would take and sign to a long term deal over Howard. The obvious names such as Albert Pujols were being thrown around, but the two ended up with a list of over 25 names that they would sign over Howard.


I don’t know if these guys are paying close attention but they are talking about a player that has hit at least 45 home runs and drove in at least 136 runs the last four years in a row. There are only three other players in history that have done that in Babe Ruth, Sammy Sosa, and Ken Griffey, Jr.


Naturally, the big knock on him is his defense and his high strikeout totals. While they are cause for concern, Howard is a player that every manager in the NL has to coach around whenever they face the Phillies. In addition, the Phillies have been to back-to-back World Series’. They won it all in 2008 and Howard is a big part of that team. Baseball isn’t like a free poker game where you have a new winner every time. It takes strong teams to win and when you have something that works, don’t mess with it. Howard fits in the Phillies puzzle and they hope to have him as a big piece of that puzzle for a long time to come.


For those that thing the contract is too big, or too much money, think about your favorite player that after a few years got traded or left during free agency and wound up with a new club. Ryan Howard is now poised to potentially play his entire career with the Phillies. That is good for not only the Phillies franchise, but good for Major League Baseball as a whole.


14 April 2010

Today a trio of fantasy notables landed on the DL to go along with Brian Roberts and Aaron Hill, who recently found themselves there. Those notables are Phillies’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins and closers Brian Fuentes (Angels) and Mike Gonzalez (Orioles).

Fernando Rodney should keep the spot warm for Fuentes whiel Jim Johnson will hold down the fort for the O’s. Go ahead and grab those guys if they are available.

Replacing J-Roll will be a tall order.  Alex Gonzalez (Blue Jays), Edgar Renteria (Giants), Cliff Pennington (A’s), Juan Uribe (Giants), and Ronny Cedeno (Pirates) are off to solid starts and could soften the blow.

Uribe and Cedeno can also be used at 2B for Roberts or Hill, along with Kelly Johnson (Diamondbacks), Aki Iwamura (Pirates), Casey McGehee (Brewers), Joaquin Arias (Rangers — while Kinsler is out),  Clint Barmes (Rockies), and Scott Sizemore (Tigers).

Image courtesy of Icon SMI

It’s odd that Jimmy Rollins’ numbers have been on the decline in the Phillies’ two most successful seasons in recent memory. From 2004-2007 he averaged 125 runs. Compare that to the 88 he’s averaged the past years and it’s a wonder how they reached the World Series in consecutive years. OK, he’s had some help, but still.

Does that mean he’s no longer a dominant fantasy force? Hardly. Despite a paltry .250 average last year, he still managed to produce a quality line of 100 runs, 43 doubles, 5 triples, 21 HRs, 77 RBIs, 31 SBs, and a .719 OPS. 

He has a career average of .274 and hadn’t hit below .277 since 2003. I fully expect his average to bounce back. With the average back in place, and being at the top of the Phillies’ potent offense, the runs should return.

With an improved average, more runs, and a healthy amount of HRs, RBIs, and SBs, Rollins remains one of the elite players in a relatively shallow positions (click to see SS rankings). His two year dip in production should make him a great value this year.

Prediction:  .275, 115 runs,  18 HRs, 80 RBIs, 38 SBs

Past profiles:
Arizona Diamondbacks:  Brandon Webb
Atlanta Braves: Yunel Escobar
Baltimore Orioles:  Adam Jones
Boston Red Sox:  Clay Buchholz
Chicago Cubs:  Geovany Soto
Chicago White Sox:  Jake Peavy
Cincinnati Reds:  Joey Votto
Cleveland Indians:  Grady Sizemore
Colorado Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
Florida Marlins: Cameron Maybin
Houston Astros: Lance Berkman
Kansas City Royals: Billy Butler
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Howie Kendrick
Los Angeles Dodgers: James Loney
Milwaukee Brewers: Corey Hart
Minnesota Twins: Joe Nathan
New York Mets: Jason Bay
New York Yankees: Robinson Cano
Oakland A’s: Kevin Kouzmanoff

Now an early look at the NL East.

1.  Will Tommy Hanson lead the Braves in Wins?
There is a decent chance he does. Jair Jurrjens pitched about as well as you can imagine last year and only managed to win 14 games. Tim Hudson always has question marks. Derek Lowe hasn’t won 16 games since 2006. That leave Hanson who won 11 in 21 starts. He stumbled a bit in July (1-2, 3.94 ERA), but rebounded nicely to finish the year off.

2.  Can Billy Wagner hold up?
He sure looked good for Boston last year. He had good velocity. He’s getting up there in age, but I believe the lefty could put together a 30 save season.

3.  Will Ricky Nolasco bounce back?
Nolasco was high on everyone’s list going into last year after his 15-8, 3.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 2008. Sure, his ERA bloated to 5.06, but his WHIP was a very respectable 1.25. What’s more is he had a better strikout ratio (9.49 K/9 compared to 7.88). Plus, he was 11-4 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP from June through the end of the year. Hopefully his first half struggles and overall numbers let him slide in your drafts making him a great value in 2010.

4.  Will Leo Nunez hold on to the Closer gig?
It’s his job to lose, but do note that he blew seven of his 33 save opportunites (21 percent). He was even worse in December with three blown saves in 11 chances with a 6.10 ERA.

5.  Is Citi Field cursed?
I can’t recall a team going through as many injuries at the Mets did last year. Reyes, Wright (see where he ranks among 2010 Third Basemen), Johan, Beltran, the list goes on and on. Seriously though, I think the offense will be fine. Jason Bay adds his big bat to an already impressive lineup (when healthy). The trouble is their pitching. I don’t see them having enough starting pitching to compete with Atlanta or Philadelphia.

6. Will Cole Hamels return to form?
I can’t think of a more important question for the Phillies. I think the role of Superman in the postseason may have got to his head a bit. He received a lot of negative attention when he said he couldn’t wait until the season was over. I didn’t take it as him quitting rather the year took a toll on him. I think he’ll work hard to get back to the level he and his fantasy owners have grown accustomed to. Despite his struggles, he did manage to produce a decent ERA (4.32) and a solid WHIP (1.29). He doesn’t have the pressure of being the ace of the staff anymore either.

7.  Will Jayson Werth continue to be a fantasy beast?
After a solid 2008 season, Werth’s numbers exploded last year as he scored 98 runs, hit 36 HRs, and had 99 RBIs. He matched his 2008 SB total with 20. He’ll turn 31 early in the year, and I see no reason he can’t continue to produce at a high level, especially in that lineup.

8.  Should you draft Stephen Strasburg?
Only in deep keeper leagues. He means too much to the future of the Nationals for them to rush him along. If you’re in a league with three or four keepers, he won’t be worth hanging onto just yet. Be patient with him, like the Nationals will be.

9.  Will Nyjer Morgan continue to produce?
I don’t see why not. He was solid for Pittsburgh before being dealt to Washington, where he was even better. He hit .351 with 35 runs and 24 SBs in 49 games with the Nationals.


Monday Must Be Pitching Day

14 December 2009

The Hot Stove has been relatively quiet, but that changed today as three aces have found new homes.

ESPN is reporting that John Lackey reached a five-year deal with the Red Sox for $85 million. Lackey’s fantasy value shouldn’t change much as he remains on a contender. He is pitching in a tougher division, but his move to third in the rotation should lead to move favorable match-ups.

ESPN is also reporting that Cy Young winners Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee will have new homes in 2010. The Phillies, Mariners, and Blue Jays agreed to a three-way deal that will send Halladay to the Phils, and Lee to the M’s. The details have yet to be finalized. Personally I don’t see the point of acquiring Halladay if you can’t have Lee as well.

Both Halladay and Lee should be two of the first Pitchers off of fantasy boards next year.

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