TBAG #5: Predicting The Phillies 2014 Lineup


So, how about that Chip Kelly, huh?

Yeah, in addition to being a Phillies fan, I’m also a huge Eagles nerd. And Monday night’s win over the Redskins was really something else.

Although I gotta admit. The second half left a bad taste in my mouth. After going up 33-7, the Birds allowed the Skins to score 20 unanswered points and draw to within a touchdown in the closing minutes.

Either the Redskins started behaving like who they really are, and the Eagles did too, or it was just a case of players letting down with a big lead.

I can’t help but be worried that the real team we saw on Monday night was the second-half version that couldn’t put the ball in the end zone and couldn’t get off the field defensively.

Still, Week 1 has been fun, mainly because of the coronation of Chip Kelly as the smartest human being who ever lived.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

And now, onto this week’s TBAG!

Sep 6, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Justin Upton (8) fails to make a catch during the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

This question was in response to B.J. Upton‘s performance in Philadelphia last week, in which the center fielder went 0 for 12 with 7 strikeouts and 0 walks. On the season, Upton is hitting .191/.271/.302 with 9 HRs and 12 SBs. He is in the first year of a 5 year, $75.25 million contract.

It, without a doubt, has turned into the most disastrous free agent signing of the winter (aside maybe from the inexplicable Joe Blanton deal), yet it’s hardly seemed to hurt the Braves this year as they get ready to clinch the NL East a full two weeks before the season is over.

Had the Phillies signed Upton, it would have a disaster of historic proportions for the franchise, easily the worst first season of any free agent in team history.

But just what was the worst free agent signing in Phils’ history? Here are my three candidates:

3. Danny Tartabull (1997)

Tartabull’s name lives in infamy in this town, mainly because of the way he went out. The Phils signed him to a one-year, $2 million deal, but the slugging outfielder never wanted to play here. So, after fouling a ball off his foot in spring training and playing in just three games for the Phillies, he went on the disabled list and stayed there for the rest of the year. The only reason he’s this low on the list is because it really didn’t cost all that much to sign him, and the team wasn’t going anywhere in ’97 anyway. His failure was more symbolic than anything else.

2. Adam Eaton (2006)

It’s easy to forget that Adam Eaton was actually a member of the Phillies 2008 World Series team. He has a World Series ring.

Sometimes life is just not fair.

Eaton was signed to a three-year, $24.5 million deal before the 2007 season and proceeded to go 14-18 with a 6.10 ERA in 49 starts over the ’07 and ’08 seasons, accumulating a -4.8 bWAR during his two years with the Phils. That’s a lot of money to pay a guy to lose ballgames for you. The only reason he’s not #1 on my list is that the Phils managed to overcome his awfulness and win two NL East titles and a World Series with Eaton playing a role on the team.

1. Lance Parrish (1987)

In the late ’80s, the Phils were still trying to make one last run with Mike Schmidt and felt American League All-Star catcher Lance Parrish was the man to help get them over the top. But he was an unmitigated disaster.

The reason Parrish is at the top of this list is because of the expectations surrounding him. He was an All-Star, a legitimate free agent that gave fans hope. But perhaps he was doomed from the start when the Phillies developed a promotional campaign around the phrase “Lance Us A Pennant.” The only thing he “lanced” was failure, hitting .230/.304/.385 for his Phils career, with 15 homers in ’88 and 17 in ’89, somehow making the NL All-Star team in his final year with the team.

But hey, Lance seems like a stand-up guy, even apologizing to Phils fans last year for his awful tenure with the team. But that won’t stop me from ranking him at the top of my list.

Sep 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher B. J. Rosenberg (53) delivers to the plate during the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Braves 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Wow, B.J. Rosenberg sure has people excited, doesn’t he? Dude’s on a nice little run here of late. Heading into Thursday’s game, Rosenberg had not given up a run in 9 2/3 innings since being called up in mid-August, with 10 Ks and 3 BBs. Opponents are hitting .121 against him during that time, with the right-hander finally flashing that mid-to-upper 90s fastball with some location and some breaking stuff. He’s definitely a reason to get excited about the bullpen in 2014.

However, interestingly, there haven’t been a lot of initialed Phillies in team history. Taking a quick glance at the all-time Phillies roster, these are the only initialed players I could find:

T.J. Bohn (1997), J.D. Durbin (2007-08), P.J. Forbes (1999-2002), J.A. Happ (2006-’10), A.J. Hinch (2004), J.R. Phillips (1996), J.C. Ramirez (2009-present), J.C. Romero (2007-’11), R.J. Swindle (2008), and C.B. White (1883).

Obviously, the most famous initialed Phillie of all-time is J.C. Romero, a lynchpin of the Phils’ 2008 World Series title who was later suspended for PED use. J.A. Happ is probably number two, simply because he helped bring Roy Oswalt to town. Rosenberg is third, followed by the rest of that bunch of no-names.

Although, we all remember the contributions of R.J. Swindle in 2008, don’t we?


OK, onto the next one…

No seriously though, there’s not a soul alive who would take Ryan Howard unless the Phils ate almost all his money, which would defeat the purpose of trading him in the first place. He hasn’t been healthy in over two years now, he’s aging, and can only DH. He also has what is widely regarded as one of the three or four worst contracts in the entire sport. Teams don’t usually acquire players like that. They run away screaming from them.

So, unless Amaro is going to slip a roofie in someone’s drink at the GM Meetings lobby bar, there’s no chance.

How do you leverage the UME authentication engine to log in a provided user WITHOUT using a password?

Well, I would say you take something the UME really cares about, like a family member or a cherished pet, kidnap it, and hold it hostage until the UME agrees to log in the provided user without a password.

It’s an old trick but still effective.

Important question. But it lacks the appropriate amount of depth.

If we’re talking hot tea, I gotta go mint tea. I’m a sucker for just about anything with mint in it. Although, a nice Irish breakfast tea on a cold morning can really snap you to attention. Hard to go wrong with either one there.

If we’re talking iced tea, there is nothing better than home-brewed iced tea from Lipton tea bags. Take about 12 tea bags, boil up a gallon of water and let ’em soak. When they’re all done, mix in a full cup of sugar and half a can of frozen concentrate lemonade. That makes an incredible lemon-flavored iced tea.

If I have to buy an iced tea at the store, than Arnold Palmer’s lemonade iced tea is the way to go. Lipton’s lemon tea in a bottle is also excellent, and a close second. Wawa lemonade tea would be third on my list, with Arizona iced tea fourth and Snapple a distant fifth. Remember when Snapple was all the rage? Thanks ’90s!

One thing I never touch, though, is unsweetened tea OR sweet tea WITHOUT lemon. Unsweetened iced tea just tastes nasty and you can’t mix sugar in it to sweeten it. The granules don’t dissolve properly in the water and instead all just fall to the bottom of the glass. As for sweet tea, like they serve in the South and at McDonald’s, it just tastes like sugar water to me. I gotta have some lemonade or, at least, some strong lemon flavoring in my iced tea for me to drink it.

I’m not sure how many words that was on tea, but probably twice as many as necessary. Moving on…

Obviously, this is what every Phillies fan is trying to do right now. And while most regular lineup positions appear set for next year, catcher and corner outfield are two spots that are still question marks.

My guess is the Phils re-sign Carlos Ruiz. He appears fully back and a force both at the plate, and behind it. The big question is Darin Ruf and the corner outfield. Will the Phils have seen enough from Ruf by the end of the season to give him the job in right field full-time? Or will they go out and spend some money on a free agent and make Ruf a bench/platoon bat instead?

Carlos Beltran could be in the everyday lineup in 2014. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I’m guessing the Phils go out and sign a free agent like Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran, maybe even take a flyer on Corey Hart or something, and let Ruf be a bench guy/4th outfielder/back-up first baseman. With that in mind, here’s what I would do with the opening day lineup for 2014:

Here’s what I think the Phils will do:

  • CF Ben Revere
  • SS Jimmy Rollins
  • 2B Chase Utley
  • RF Nelson Cruz
  • 1B Ryan Howard
  • LF Domonic Brown
  • 3B Cody Asche
  • C Carlos Ruiz

I think a lineup with Beltran at cleanup would like very nice, provided he can stay healthy. I only worry about how much he would cost. It’s also obviously time to drop Ryan Howard down in the lineup. There is no reason for him to still be batting cleanup, especially if Beltran or Cruz is on the team. Brown deserves to be getting more at bats than Howard, and in my mind, Asche should be at the top of the lineup, not Rollins.

It’s possible the lineup could look very different next year. Even if Ryne Sandberg isn’t the manager, whoever is at the helm of the 2014 squad will NOT be named Charlie Manuel.

That could help shake things up.