So I was featured in Crashburn Alley’s Phillies preview on Friday. I answered all the questions he asked even though two were published along with some predictions. Here are my answers to all of his questions:
1. How concerned are you about Cole Hamels going into 2010? - I’m not concerned at all about Hamels for 2010. He is still one of the best young pitchers in the game despite a terrible 2009 season. We know he’s going to give up homers in the hitter-friendly CBP but he’s going to strike out a lot of batter as well. With the addition of Roy Halladay, he has all the weight of being the team’s ace off his shoulders. Doc has also been a positive influence on Hamels’ work ethic as he tries to get to the field at the same time Doc does. Hamels should win 15-17 games in 2010 with an ERA in the low 3′s.
2. Give the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee mega-trade between the Phillies, Blue Jays, and Mariners a letter grade and explain your grading process. - I give it a B+. The Phillies could have gotten more out of Lee as far as prospects but going after Halladay was the right move. He’s a better pitcher than Lee, only a year older, and his influence on the team could be his biggest asset. The Phillies had to trade Lee to restock the depleted farm system and Tyson Gillies and Phillippe Aumont could prove to be nice little gems.
3. What should the Phillies do about Jayson Werth and his impending free agency? - If they can get Werth to take a pay cut and/or the front office can give Ruben Amaro more room to work with, then sign him. Trading Howard would be a terrible move.
4. Jimmy Rollins says he wants to hit .300, accrue 200 hits, score 150 runs, steal 50 bases, and commit 3 or fewer errors. Give us your AVG, H, R, SB, and E predictions for Rollins in 2010. - I stated in a post a few weeks ago that I expect Rollins to hit .286 average, 121 runs, 194 hits (40 doubles, 8 triples, 16 homers), 68 RBI’s, and a .330 OBP. He’ll commit seven errors because Roy Halladay is a ground ball pitcher and losing a fielder like Pedro Feliz will give Rollins more opportunities.
5. Is the duo of Ryan Madson and Danys Baez reliable back-up for ailing closer Brad Lidge? – Madson and Lidge were victims of a bad season last year. Madson should be a reliable set-up man but not a closer. I think Baez should get the chance to close when Lidge is not available but isn’t a spectacular choice. Am I confident that they will do the job? Not as confident as I would be with Lidge.
6. Which team in the NL East worries you the most? – None with the exception of maybe the Braves. But I see the Phillies winning the division by 10 games anyway.
7. Teams have been approaching Ryan Howard with a steady diet of left-handed pitching and breaking balls and by employing the shift on the right side of the field. Will this trend continue in 2010, or will Howard make the appropriate adjustments? – The trend will continue and Howard will hit through it like he has in the past. We should also see more of his opposite-field abilities as he is not just a big bopper. I actually expect an MVP-caliber year from Howard.
8. Placido Polanco is making the switch from second base to third base. How good will he be defensively? – Good enough to not worry the Phillies. His bat will make up for his weaker arm. He is a gold glove fielder so he will be able to eat up ground balls. How smart he is with when to make a risky throw will be key.
9. Who should win the #5 spot, Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick? – Kyle Kendrick. He’s younger, healthier, and has pitched much better so far in Spring Training. Halladay has had a positive influence on him so far and pitching in the same rotation with Doc during the regular season will make Kendrick better.
10. The bench was great in 2008 but disappointing last year. Will the additions of Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, and Juan Castro help? – Gload will have the biggest impact on the bench. He’s a .300 hitter off the bench from last year and his bat has a little pop. Schneider gives the Phillies a legit back-up catcher that will keep Carlos Ruiz fresh for the post season so he can have another great October. Castro will be able to spell Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, keeping them fresh for the long run. The bench is much better this year thanks to adding those three fresh faces and holding onto Greg Dobbs and Ben Francisco.
11. Will J.A. Happ come close to his 2.93 ERA from 2009? – No he will not. He won’t have exactly a sophomore slump either. I think an ERA in the mid-3’s will be realistic with a full season under his belt.
12. The Phillies essentially swapped Chan Ho Park for Jose Contreras. Thumbs up or thumbs down and why? – Can I answer this with a thumbs sideways? Park was certainly effective but Contreras proved last year that he can be great out of the pen. Contreras brings a great veteran presence to the pen as well.
13. Which Phillie(s) is/are we most likely to see dealt by the July 31 trading deadline? – Jayson Werth if only a deal can’t be reached and the Phillies want to get some great prospects for him.
14. The Phillies have had one of baseball’s best defenses for several years running according to most metrics. Does this trend continue? – It certainly does. Only Raul Ibanez is a below-average fielder and he even played well last season. With a strong fielding bench, that can be fixed easily in later innings. It helps when Ben Francisco can not only field but hit as well so the Phillies won’t be leaving a hole in the line up.
15. What will the team get from Domonic Brown this season? – If he has a monster year in AAA, it could lead to the Phillies trading Jayson Werth if they can’t work out a deal. Brown will see some time with the Phillies this year when they go on the road against American League teams with the DH. He’ll also be a part of the roster expansions late season.
Record - 96-66, 1st in East
Playoffs – The Phillies will go back to the World Series after an easy first round win and a tough 6/7 game series with the Cardinals. Will beat the Yankees in 7.
Team MVP: Ryan Howard with a .283 average, 51 HR’s, 149 RBI’s
Team Cy Young: Roy Halladay with a 21-6 record and 2.47 ERA.
Biggest Rookie Contributor: Dom Brown
Breakout player: Kyle Kendrick with a 13-8 record and 3.58 ERA
Under-the-radar: Brad Lidge with 38/42 saves.