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Philadelphia Phillies 2014 Season Predictions


Opening Day is finally here! But how will the Phillies do this year?

The writers at That Ball’s Outta Here have made their predictions as to how the 2014 season will play out:

Spencer Bingol (@spencerbingol)

Best case scenario

If Cole Hamels comes back strong, A.J. Burnett & Cliff Lee maintain their performances, Roberto Hernandez gets solid defense, Jonathan Papelbon gains back 2-3 mph on his fastball, Mike Adams and Ethan Martin return to full health, and Antonio Bastardo proves his strong 2013 wasn’t purely steroids, then that’s a competitive pitching staff.

Every starting position player not named Ben Revere, Marlon Byrd, or Carlos Ruiz needs to prove that Spring Training stats aren’t predictive - they all need to show more. Even if every single question mark breaks the team’s way, the best possible scenario I see is still probably squeaking into the 2nd wild card spot, and at most losing in the NLDS.

I will never root against the players, but if you can’t tell, I’m a proponent of the idea that a rebuild is in the best interest of the long-term health of the franchise.

Worst case scenario

The worst case scenario is one of two things:

First, the team sits around .500 during the early (and easiest) part of the schedule, giving fans the unreasonable hope that it’s sustainable. At this point the team stays put, or tries to ADD pieces, at the trade deadline. It ends without a playoff berth, the team is stuck with the same (one year older) veteran pieces, and haven’t boosted their farm system.

Second, the team DOES fall apart, but the cause is tradable quantities not performing. Lee and/or Burnett falling apart, Papelbon imploding, Byrd and/or Brown regressing, Adams not recovering, or generally any more injuries. These pieces have no value at the deadline, and the effect is the same as the above scenario (but with maybe a better draft pick?).

What will happen

As hard as it is to say, the likely outcome is the one predicted by most projection systems (but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad news). You might get a few of those question marks sorting themselves out, but the odds that 9-10 of them becoming a strength is very unlikely.

If I had to bet, I’d imagine a team fading towards the back of the division, making a relatively clear trade deadline decision for GM Ruben
Amaro. If fans are lucky, ownership will agree to eat parts of larger contracts in order to receive stronger prospects in any deals. Don’t
expect every single player with a rumor attached to them to be dealt – I’m fairly certain at least Cole Hamels and Chase Utley are off-limits – but expect a very active July 31.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Cheremeteff (@AlexCheremeteff)

Best case scenario

The linchpin to the Phillies success will be Ryan Howard. Period. He is healthy and plays around 145 games, the Phillies will be a much better team than in 2013. The core of the starting lineup stays healthy and productive.

The starting rotation was solidified with the addition of A.J. Burnett. Once Cole Hamels returns, the Phillies have a solid, front-end of the rotation. Papelbon becomes a leader in the bullpen instead of a distraction. The youngsters in the bullpen – Jake Diekman, Justin DeFratus, B.J. Rosenberg and Mario Hollands – have breakout seasons.

The Phillies have a mid-80′s win total and contend for a Wild Card in mid-September.

Worst case scenario

Injuries, age and attrition. Three words that no one should use when describing the 2014 Phillies. If that is the case, the team will be in quite the mess. Howard and Chase Utley break down physically. Rollins and Papelbon become distractions to the point that their presence in the clubhouse is a detriment to the team.

Hamels has a setback in his rehab and is not the same pitcher upon his return. Burnett isn’t effective and Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez collapse. The young relief corps isn’t ready for the bright lights.

The Phillies are 15-20 games out of a playoff spot by the All-Star break and Ruben Amaro is fielding phone calls from a dozen general managers about the services of Cliff Lee.

What will happen

First and foremost, there is no reason to expect Utley not to post similar numbers to last season. Plus, if Howard is truly healthy and receives protection from Marlon Byrd, the offense will be a lot more potent than last it was in 2013.

I fully expect Hamels to bounce back and take his place in the rotation by early May. Also, Kendrick and Hernandez will be pleasant surprises this season. The young, power arms in the bullpen will surprise as well.

The Phillies will sneak up on the National League this year. The veterans are healthy, motivated and want to prove their detractors wrong. They will contend for a playoff spot well into September but fall a few games short.

Record: 84-78 (2nd place)

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Pete Dymeck (@PeteDymeck)

Best case scenario

With an average age of 35 years old, the core of the Philadelphia Phillies must remain healthy in order for the best case scenario to follow suit. In the event that everything goes right (and then some), no prolonged disabled list stints must occur for the veterans. More importantly, Ben Revere and Domonic Brown must build on their strong 2013 seasons. Cody Asche must perform on a two or more wins above replacement level. If not, Maikel Franco should get promoted in order to add more might to the Phillies lineup.

Injuries have dismantled any early hopes for the pitching staff. From Cole Hamels to the bullpen, too many question marks loom. If the Phillies can prevail against these trade winds, they could find themselves in a much better position than they were a year ago. Surviving several or more missed starts from Hamels will be critical. Finally, Jonathan Papelbon must rebound and deliver on a level comparable to his salary. It’s not as if the Phillies have a lineup of Triple-A cast-off’s. No, they are formidable and could be contender’s if all the pieces work accordingly.

Worst case scenario

This is where it gets ugly. If anything, one has to feel pity for Cliff Lee. If the Phillies continue their current trajectory and fall within the bowels of the National League, it will be due to several factors. First, Ryan Howard proves to be worthy of nothing more than platooning, seeing at-bat’s against right-handed pitching only. Second, Chase Utley and Marlon Byrd begin to show their age. Third, Jimmy Rollins is not enabling the lineup by trying to outperform his current capabilities. Finally, Domonic Brown proves he was a one-year wonder.

A.J. Burnett could become susceptible to the harsh realities of playing in Philadelphia, relegating him to a usefulness more adequate to his time spent in New York than Pittsburgh. Roberto Hernandez could fall on his face, opening the door to more failure in the rotation by leaning to heavily on the like’s of Jonathan Pettibone or Jeff Manship. All in all, disaster appears likely if the aforementioned scenario ensues. On the plus side, many Phillies fans would likely get their wish. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would likely be fired.

What will happen

Most likely, something between the best and worst case scenarios will occur in 2014. The Phillies lineup appears as healthy as it has ever been. They may not score a lot of runs but I think the jaw-dropping anticipation for a terrible offense is unlikely. Do I think the offense will be near the top in Major League Baseball? No. I do feel that it will be better than some expect though.

The pitching isn’t anything to write home about either. Serious concerns surround the bullpen. Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon’s better days are likely in the rearview mirror. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, when healthy, will form a tandem that will rank among the best in baseball. It’s the other guys I’m worried about. More importantly, those worries will likely translate into a lack of wholesome success for the Phillies in 2014.

Record: 74-88

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Mike Lacy (@MikeLacy_215)

Best case scenario

Many people are predicting the Phillies to be a disaster, but I don’t see it. On paper, they look considerably improved from the beginning of 2013. Sure, there are a lot of question marks, but sometimes those do work out. A lot has gone wrong for the Phillies the past two seasons, and maybe they get some overdue good luck.

I figure it isn’t impossible that the following happens:

Hamels comes back strong toward the end of April; Kyle Kendrick pitches like he did in the first half of 2013; Between Roberto Hernandez, Jonathan Pettibone, and Jeff Manship, they get adequate performances out of the fifth slot in the rotation; Jonathan Papelbon’s velocity returns in real games and he’s once again an elite closer; Mike Adams comes back soon to solidify the 8th inning; Antonio Bastardo’s success wasn’t all chemically based; the Phillies other relievers aren’t Chad Durbin-esque train wrecks; Marlon Byrd and Chase Utley play like they did in 2013; Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz play like they did in 2012; Ryan Howard plays like he did in 2011; Dom Brown hits like he did in the first half of 2013; and Cody Asche proves to be a competent hitter and defender at third base.

Whew.

If all that happens, they make the playoffs.

Worst case scenario

The opposite of what I said above. They finish in last place, and at least a couple of players get traded away.

What will happen

They’ll have just enough go right to stay within striking distance for the entire season.

Howard will be healthy, which means he’ll hit at least 30 homers, and the lineup will be decent. I’m actually confident that the bullpen will be good this year. It seems like they’re due for some of these guys to actually exceed expectations.

In the end, they’ll have a winning record, but fall short of the playoffs.

Record: 82-80

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Michael Lecke (@Bee5pace)

Best case scenario

Let’s not rule out the Phillies for a World Series win in 2014; after all, Boston wasn’t considered a real contender last off-season and look what they did. Faith comes more easily when teams are all still 0-0.

How could this happen?

Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and A.J. Burnett have to make over 30 starts each and at least one of them has to be in the running for the Cy Young award. The middle of the order has to produce, whether it’s Howard, Utley, Byrd, Brown, Ruf, or an in-season pickup. The bullpen has to settle in to become a reliable unit and the defense has to improve.

That’s a lot to ask but then again that’s baseball. The whole team has to excel to raise a banner. It begins with fundamentals and Ryno and Bowa are sticklers.

Worst case scenario

If the offense can’t score and the bullpen can’t shut down rallies it won’t matter if the starting pitchers have a great year. A horrible start could doom the roster to a fire sale. Even a total meltdown might not be enough to finish below the Marlins but then again the trend has been steadily down. Last place seems more likely than first place at this point.

What will happen

I expect the Phillies under Sandberg to snap out of their two-year funk and make a good run at the wild card. If certain players can’t raise their game, Sandberg will make changes for the better without sentimentality. The past is all talk and talk is cheap. Ryne is a show me kind of guy and I think the Phillies as a group have something to prove.

Record: 91 – 71, second NL Wild Card

How do you think the season will go? Leave a comment with your predictions below.

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