TTB

Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Tag Archives: 2012

Season Preview: NL Central

Co-written by John Russo and Chris Bengel

Expectations: No Pujols, no problem…. wait, you mean we have to rely on Matt Holliday now? Oh crap!
Key Addition: OF Carlos Beltran (signed from San Francisco)
Key Loss: 1B Albert Pujols (signed with LA Angels)
Projected Record: 90-72
Summary: St. Louis knows they lost a huge bat in Albert Pujols to the Angels. They also know they are expecting a lot out of Lance Berkman to have a repeat performance of last season as well as Matt Holliday to be the leader of the offense.

That is why St. Louis brought in Carlos Beltran to take some of the strain off Holliday and Berkman this season, hoping the 34-year-old can stay healthy and revive his career in St. Louis.

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Season Preview: NL East

Before I begin my NL East season preview, I’d like to take a few sentences to thank John Russo for not assigning me the AL West this year. That division is almost as exciting as a glass of milk. Key word being “almost.” Milk can spoil and that’s exciting.

Expectations: Will lead the league in wheel chairs.
Key Addition: RP Jonathan Papelbon (signed from Boston)
Key Loss: SP Roy Oswalt (free agent)
Projected Record: 100-62 (get 100th win on last day)
Summary: As mentioned in my last column here on TTB, the window is closing. However, it hasn’t shut quite yet. In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. While the Nationals and Marlins have certainly gotten better in the off-season, they’re not there yet. The Phils are still the cream of the crop and it’s still their division to lose.

The addition of Jonathan Papelbon gives the Phillies their first closer since the 2008 version of Brad Lidge (the 2009, 2010 and 2011 updates sucked. Thanks, Windows) and Jim Thome gives the Phils a nice bat off the bench and a healthy achilles on first base. Re-signing Jimmy Rollins gives the Phillies a healthy infielder (for now) and guarantees all of us our daily dose of first pitch pop outs.

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Spring Training: Yankees 13, Phillies 9

It was a bullpen outing for the Phillies today against the Yankees.

With several spots up in the air with an injury to Michael Stutes and the unreadiness of Jose Contreras from last year’s injury, a couple of surprises could make the Opening Day roster.

Kyle Kendrick and Jonathan Papelbon, two locks for the bullpen, struggled the most in the Phillies 13-9 loss to the Yankees. Papelbon was hit around for four runs on three hits and a walk with two strike outs in only 2/3 innings of work. Kendrick put two on the board, allowing five hits and two walks.

On the other hand, Chad Qualls needed to impress and he looked less than impressive, allowing a run on one hit and two walks.

Lastly, Juan Pierre had himself a fine spring game. A day after making the roster, he went 4-for-5 with four singles. He was caught stealing once in the game as well.

Season Preview: AL West

Expectations: The Rangers ditch all of their Braves’ World Series tapes that they’ve studied from the past two years.
Key Addition: SP Yu Darvish (signed from Nippon of the Japanese League)
Key Loss: SP C.J. Wilson (signed with LA Angels)
Projected Record: 93-69
Summary: The Rangers, coming off of their second straight World Series appearance, have one of the best lineups in baseball.

They had four players with 25+ HRs (Adrien Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton). Beltre, Hamilton and Michael Young all hit over .295 while Kinsler and Elvis Andrus added the speed (30 or more steals each).

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Season Preview: AL Central

Expectations: Prince Fielder hopes to live up to his father’s legacy in the Motor City, and the Tigers hope to snap a near 30-year title drought.
Key Addition: 1B/DH Prince Fielder (signed from Milwaukee)
Key Loss: DH Magglie Ordonez (free agent)
Projected Record: 97-65
Summary: Expecations are very high in Detroit as the Tigers are coming off a 95 win season and have signed one of the biggest free agents in Prince Fielder. Fielder allows Miguel Cabrera to move back to third base which is his natural position. The combination of Cabrera and Fielder in the lineup should allow the Tigers to score a tone of runs and take control of the AL Central.

The Tigers also have a very strong pitching staff. Justin Verlander is the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP and was a dominating 24-5 in 2011. Combine that with Max Scherzer and Doug Fister, who can win 15 games this year, and this is one of the stronger rotations in the American League.

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Season Preview: AL East

Expectations: Better than the Yankees
Key Addition: 1B Carlos Pena (signed from Chicago Cubs)
Key Loss: OF/DH Johnny Damon (free agent)
Projected Record: 103-59
Summary: The odds on favorite to win the division, the Rays have it all: great young hitting, great young pitching, solid veteran presence. With guys like Evan Longoria, BJ Upton, and Desmond Jennings anchoring the offense along with key players like Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez, it will power them to a division crown.

They can also pitch with any team. David Price (my pick for CY Young in 2012) combined with James Shields and youngster Jeremy Hellickson can pitch with the big boys any day of the week. Most exciting prospect to watch is in their rotation too: Matt Moore. The kid has electric stuff.

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An Angry Amaro Defends Utley, Himself

Angry may not be the best word. More like “annoyed.”

Whichever word you want to use, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro is not in the cheeriest of moods lately. The injuries to his star players have led to speculation on how much truth has been divulged to the media and fan base this spring and Amaro fired back today.

Amaro truly believed that Chase Utley would be ready for Opening Day, that is until Utley left on March 18 to see a specialist for his knee and Amaro said that Freddy Galvis would be the starter on April 5.

At least that’s what Amaro said.

“I honestly believed we still had Chase Utley playing for us opening day up until he said, ‘I’ve got to go see another specialist because I’m not feeling well enough,'” said Amaro earlier today to reporters.

Even more, Amaro is not pleased that people think he would lie to the public.

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Phils Announce Rotation 2.0

The fans who got tickets for the home opener were given a real treat today.

The Phillies announced their starting rotation for the season. And in a move popular with many, the lefties will be split like last season.

Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Vance Worley will take the mound for the Phillies in their opening series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. That means Cole Hamels will pitch in the home opener on April 9 against the Miami Marlins, a real treat for the fans.

Joe Blanton’s first start could be skipped. He’s slated to pitch April 11 but with there being a day off on April 6, Halladay could make his second start on that date.

On March 14, I wrote about how it would be a good idea for the Phillies to split the lefties, keeping a balance in the rotation while maintaining a clear advantage against opposing teams in every series.

Brown sent to minors; Utley, Martinez updates

LF Domonic Brown. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

It was a busy morning down in Clearwater for the Phillies. Roster moves and injury updates have been the hot topic this spring for the Phillies and it starts with Domonic Brown.

The left fielder was optioned to minor league camp this morning, meaning he will start the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Brown’s spring was injury-riddled again, but thankfully not as serious as last year when he fractured a bone in his hand. He jammed his thumb diving for a ball as well as suffering a sore neck while sleeping on the bus this spring.

But injuries aside, Brown enjoyed a good offensive spring in which he hit .300 (6-for-20) with two triples, a homer and two RBIs while scoring four times. He only struck out once all spring.

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Predicting the 25-man roster for Opening Day

From left to right: IF Pete Orr, LHP Jake Diekman and 2B/SS Freddy Galvis.

It’s about that time of year again when Opening Day approaches and speculations about the roster arise.

In a perfect world, there are no injuries and this guessing game is easy. But for the Phillies, they don’t live in a perfect world.

Instead, their two best players are starting the season on the disabled list – combining for $35 million out of the line up in Pittsburgh. Their top middle infield utility player broke his foot during Spring Training and a couple of the relievers don’t appear to be in regular season form.

It leaves the door wide open for a handful of spots on the Opening Day roster, and here is a look at who will be dressing on April 5.

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