The 2016 Phillies get their season underway this afternoon at 2 pm in Arlington with an Opening Day match-up against the Texas Rangers. There hasn’t been optimism directed towards this Phillies team and many experts are predicting them to be one of baseball’s worst teams. Does this aging core have anything left in the tank? Here’s our staff predictions for the 2014 Phillies season.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: The Phillies pull out 84 wins as every team in the NL East struggles all year long. The Phillies are old, but could put together some lucky runs and squeak into the playoffs as the last wild card spot. Utley, Howard, and Rollins (The League of Extraordinarly (old) Gentleman) put together some solid hitting numbers and carry this team above mediocrity. Honestly, the biggest reason why any of this can happen is the other divisional teams struggling more so than Phillies success.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: This could potentially be one of the worst teams in the league. In Spring Training, there have been few bright spots and the worst part is the lack of hitting. No one has really has stellar numbers coming into the regular season. Add this to the gradual decline in play over the last few years and there isn’t much hope.
TEAM MVP: Cliff Lee – The best player on the team and he doesn’t dress every day. He’ll continue to be a great pitcher and earn himself a trade out of the city come the deadline.
TEAM LVP: Jonathan Papelbon – Won’t be much use for a team that probably loses a ton of games. He’s not worth the contract, especially on a team “hoping” to contend.
PREDICTION: 71-91, 4th place in NL East (barely)
BEST CASE SCENARIO: PHILLES WIN THE NL EAST! Let’s be honest, the NL East isn’t the who’s who of baseball. The Braves are pretenders, the Nationals are a glamour team and the Mets and Marlins are just terrible. In a best case scenario situation, Ryan Howard gets his power back, Chase Utley stays healthy, the pitching staff is one of the best in the NL, and Ryne Sandberg is exactly the great manager I think he can be. The best case here has the Phils winning 90 games and edging out the Braves and Nats for the division title.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: Yikes was I wrong. Here the Phils Struggle to win 70 games with a roster full of players past their primes and others who might not even have a prime. The bullpen will fail, the offense will struggle to produce runs and both Hamels and Lee will spend time on the DL. They will have an epic battle for last place in the East with the Marlins. That’s all you really need to know.
TEAM MVP: Dom Brown
TEAM LVP: Jimmy Rollins
PREDICTION: They aren’t as bad as everyone thinks they will be, but Ryno won’t be able to do the brilliant job I think he will do with this team. They will finish somewhere in the middle. I see an 85 win team that will fall just short of the NL East Title.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: AJ Burnett earns every dime of that one year/$16M contract, Hamels comes back into the rotation by May 1st, Cliff Lee takes home his second Cy Young, and Dom Bomb shows us last year wasn’t a fluke. Oh yea, Chooch/Utley/Howard all stay healthy too. It’s a stretch I know. Record: 88-74.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: The worst very well may just be a continuation of their awful spring training. I can’t think of a worse March in my life. Between the Rollins benching, Hamels and Mike Adams injuries, and Howard trying to re-invent a swing (and failing), this season could be very ugly. Record: 65-97.
TEAM MVP: Cliff Lee – I know his contract is massive, but he gives the Phillies a great shot to win every 5 days. It’s just a shame it’s not 2009 anymore where he was able to start in two games per playoff series.
TEAM LVP: Ryan Howard – This is becoming the worst contract in baseball. He’s still owed $85M minimum on this current deal and he still hasn’t learned to work a count or hit a curveball. He might end up driving in 70 runs, but it won’t be pretty.
PREDICTION: 74-88, 4th in NL East
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Ben Revere picks up where he left off prior to his season ending injury, becoming a huge spark plug at the top of the lineup. Rollins, Utley, Howard and Ruiz find the Fountain of Youth and each have relatively healthy and productive seasons. Maikel Franco tears it up in AAA and gets a mid-season call up where he continues to hit well. Dom Brown has a 25-30 home run season. The offense is good, but not great, however, the rotation is strong enough to carry the team. Papelbon, Diekman and Adams all have good years in the pen, and the Phils bring Wild Card hopes into the late-summer in a struggling NL East. Record: 85-77
WORST CASE SCENARIO: The injury bug hits the team badly. Hamels takes longer than expected to return from his shoulder injury. After Cliff Lee, the rotation is very shaky, posting one of the highest team-ERAs in the National League. The offense struggles to get on base, and it’s a very long summer in Philadelphia. Can you say fire sale? Record: 63-99.
TEAM MVP: Who else but Cliff Lee? He still has Cy Young potential, and he could be the team’s most valuable trade asset at the deadline should they be out of contention at that time.
TEAM LVP: I hate to have the same answers as my co-writers, but it has to be Ryan Howard. I had hopes for him to be a potential Comeback Player of the Year, but his spring stats don’t look very promising. With his contract, he’s also the least-valuable trade asset for the Phils.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: I’m taking this in a different direction. Best case scenario would be the team completely bottoming out. Unlike last year, the team plays so poorly that any hope of staying in the race is lost before the end of May. Ruben Amaro begins shopping Lee, Utley, Rollins, Ruiz, Burnett, and Papelbon early and maximizes the value he gets in return. Ryan Howard is benched for mid-season call up Maikel Franco and the team gets some experience for Cody Asche, Franco, Darin Ruf, Ethan Martin, and Jesse Biddle. The reset button is finally hit and the team can begin rebuilding a new foundation.
WORST CASE SCENARIO: The team wins 90 games and I lose my bet to Randy and have to pay his rent for a year. But seriously, the worst case is this team does just enough to hang around in the wild card hunt and Amaro doesn’t sell at the trade deadline. Or even worse, he trades Ethan Martin or Darin Ruf for a middle reliever. The team doesn’t maximize its value by trading Lee or Utley and they fall well under .500 by the end of August. Another wasted season results where the Phillies stay in limbo by holding on to players past their primes. The following year, Rollins walks for nothing, Ruiz and Utley fall off considerably and lose trade value, and Lee doesn’t garner as much interest as a rental. The 2015 Phillies follow the same script as the 2013 and 2014 teams and Philadelphia remains in baseball purgatory.
TEAM MVP: Domonic Brown – Brown proves that 2013 was no fluke by hitting .275/.335/.505 with 29 home runs. His outfield defense improves from “awful” to “mediocre” and he’ll again represent the Phillies at the All-Star game.
TEAM LVP: Jonathan Papelbon – The diminishing velocity makes him an ineffective closer and kills all value he has in the trade market. He blows seven saves in the first two months and the Phillies are forced to keep him through the deadline. In August, he gets into a physical altercation with Larry Bowa in the clubhouse after Bowa “anonymously” rips him to the media. The Phillies stay on the hook for the remainder of his bloated contract.
PREDICTION: 72-90, 4th place in NL East
BENNETT – 71-91
JOBST – 85-77
ALVAREZ – 74-88
ROZANSKI – 79-83
SCHMIDT – 72-90
Not a very positive outlook on the 2014 Phillies from 3D Philly Sports. Feel free to leave your own predictions in the comments.