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Day 3 of Philliedelphia's 2011 MLB Predictions: Mike Chimes In

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

Openingday2011

I hate Predictions posts. First, I predict the most likely outcomes. Second, crazy random happenstances cause less likely outcomes to occur. Third, I am told that my predictions were "wrong." I'm "wrong" because some experts thought giving Derek Jeter a Gold Glove was a reasonable course of action? I'm "wrong" because an "unfocused" Cole Hamels had a .317 BABIP? OK. Rant over. Please note that the following predictions are for entertainment purposes only. Don't blame me if the Giants beat the Phillies in the NLCS again. If they do, it's only because of small sample randomness. (Warning: Bookies do not care about small sample randomness.)
American League predictions

AL East Division winner – Red Sox

Have you seen that Red Sox lineup? Yikes. Not sure if Lester (.289 BABIP) and Buchholz (.261 BABIP/79% LOB) will be as good as in '10. But the lineup and bullpen are so strong it might not matter.

AL Central Division winner – Twins

Really like the Twins' lineup. Not really excited by the rest of the Central. It's cool that the Twins are helping make the division more competitive, by using Slowey in the bullpen.

AL West Division Winner – Rangers

This one is close. If Trevor Cahill posts another .236 BABIP, maybe Oakland squeaks in. But I think the Rangers are the best team here.

AL Wild Card team– Yankees

Maybe if they spend $400 MM, they can win the division. Or have better rotation options than Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Still, that lineup should get them the Wild Card.

AL MVP – Josh Hamilton

Think Hamilton will be the best player in the AL. If he behaves himself, he should get enough votes to win the MVP Award.

AL Cy Young – Justin Verlander

There are many good choices here: Felix Hernandez, C.C. Sabathia, and Jon Lester, to name a few. Jeremy Guthrie could post a .198 BABIP, and run away with the Award. But I have a good feeling about Verlander in '11.

AL Rookie of the Year – Hellickson, TB

I think Hellickson will be the best rookie pitcher. But that tough Division may rough up his stats a bit, and Michael Pineda or Dustin Ackley could win the Award for Seattle.

AL Manager of the Year – Ron Gardenhire, MIN

Division Winner + reasonable team payroll = Manager of Year Award winner

AL Playoff prediction

Divisional Round
– Red Sox over Twins, Yankees over Rangers

Championship round – Red Sox over Yankees

Anything can happen in the playoffs. I just picked the better teams to win, but I may be "wrong."

National League predictions

NL East Division winner – PHILLIES!

Too many Aces. If healthy, best team in the NL.

NL Central Division winner – Brewers

Brewers? Reds? Cardinals? Too close to call- injuries will decide this Division. If the three teams are hit equally by injuries, the Brewers squeak by. But anything can happen here.

NL West Division winner – Giants

It's either Giants or Dodgers, I'll go with the Lincecums here. Have a feeling that the Padres and Rockies are going to be mediocre, and that Arizona is going to be horrendous.

NL Wild Card team– Braves

Braves have a good team, and they'll fatten up their win total against the Nationals, and the decayed carcass of the New York Mets. The Braves would probably win the NL Central, and perhaps the NL West.

NL MVP – Pujols

Best player in MLB

NL Cy Young – Halladay

I'll pick the Ace of Aces. But Lee, Hamels, Lincecum could all be in the hunt. BABIP may decide the victor.

NL Rookie of the Year – Aroldis Chapman

I think Freddie Freeman might win the Award, as an average first baseman. But Chapman will be the best rookie, albeit in sixty innings, for a non-contender.

NL Manager of the year – Ron Roenicke, MIL (the former Phillies great!)

The winner of the NL Central gets this Award.

NL Playoff prediction

Divisional Round
– Phillies over Brewers, Giants over Braves

Championship round – Phillies over Giants

The Phillies are the bestest!

World Series Prediction

Phillies over Red Sox, in 6 games

Battle of the Titans! As a Phillies fan/blogger, I am required to choose the Phillies. In a short series, anything can happen!


Four Straight Goals Give Philly 5-2 Win In Pitt

Playing their best game since last Tuesday's shootout loss to Washington, the Flyers scored four straight goals to top the Pens 5-2 in Pittsburgh tonight.

Ville Leino led the attack with three points scoring two goals in the third period and assisting on another earlier tally. Scott Hartnell had a goal and an assist as Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves to give Philly their fourth win of the season against Pittsburgh.

After exchanging powerplay opportunities earlier in the period, Alexei Kovalev opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 opportunity. Taking the puck in from the blue line, Kovalev acted as if he was going to pass it cross ice but instead ripped it blocker side as Bobrovsky stood stone in the crease. Kovalev's 16th gave Pittsburgh the 1-0 lead 12 minutes and 22 seconds into the game.

Rebounding quickly, for a change as of late, Jeff Carter watched a pinball shot finally cross the goal-line to tie the game at one. As a power-play opportunity wound down, Braydon Coburn boomed a shot from the right point. Carter apparently deflected the puck off the right post, then watched it bounce back to hit Marc-Andre Fleury's right skate and roll into the net for his 35th goal on the season.

The remaining four minutes and four seconds in the first period saw the Flyers out shoot Pittsburgh 2-0, but they couldn't register another goal to gain the lead.

The second period saw the Pens gain a 2-1 lead thanks to a soft goal by Bobrovsky. After receiving a pass from Brooks Orpik for a 2-on-1 opportunity, Tyler Kennedy took a wrist shot that somehow snuck its way under Bob's right pad and across the goal-line for his 19th on the season. Bob's error was his first shaky moment of the night.

A problem with the Flyers lately has been lack of success on the power play and lack of driving to the net. Both were fulfilled with Scott Hartnell's power-play goal on Philly's third man advantage on the night. With Paul Martin in the box for interference, Hartnell drove from the right side of the crease and slammed home the puck between Fleury's right arm and hip for his 21st on the year.

Forty-seven seconds later, Claude Giroux gave Philly their first lead of the game. After Sean O'Donnell fed him the puck from the left boards a couple strides inside the blue line, Giroux drove to the slot and cut to the right before letting a shot fly over Fleury's blocker for his 25th goal on the season.

Thanks to that burst, the Flyers headed into the final twenty minutes with a lead and the chance to grab a crucial two points. With victory in sight, Leino answered the call.

At the 5 1/2-minute mark of the third period, Leino was able to redirect a Hartnell shot at the left post past Fleury for his 18th goal on the season and a Flyers' 4-2 lead.

Just over 3 minutes later, Leino put in his second goal of the period to give the Flyers a three-goal edge. As both Danny Briere and Leino fought for the puck behind the net, Briere eventually passed it to Leino standing just in front of the right post.

Gaining control of the puck after a rebound from his first shot, Leino managed to pop the puck up and over Fleury and over the goal line before Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek swept it out.

Despite giving Pittsburgh three power-play opportunities after scoring their final goal, Philly hung onto their three-goal lead to win 5-2.  

The Flyers may have had some lucky bounces tonight, but they've managed to outplay Pittsburgh all year long. Winning all three games in Pittsburgh, Philly's only losses to their cross-state rivals on the year was a 5-1 thumping in the midst of their only three-game losing streak on the year back in mid-October and barely losing in a home shootout 2-1 Thursday.

Being in an offensive drought since their last game against Pittsburgh, both Giroux and Leino stepped up today. Along with two takeaways, Giroux had three shots on net, one of which resulted in the game-winning goal halfway through the second period. Leino, in addition to his two third period goals, also had the primary assist on Hartnell's power-play goal.

This was a big win for the Flyers as they widened their lead in the division from two points to four. Along with adding on to the divisional lead, the Flyers also gained a point on Washington tonight as the Caps lost in a shootout to Carolina.  

Notes: The Flyers win marks the first time since 1983-84 (4-0-0) the club has gone unbeaten and untied during the regular season in the Steel ity...They've beaten Pittsburgh four times in the regular season for the first time since 2007-2008....Kovalev's first period goal was his 33rd regular season goal against the Flyers in his career...Briere recorded his 30th assist on the season on Coburn's first period goal...Kennedy had four goals in six games against Philly this year...O'Donnell posted his first two-assist game since November 18th against Tampa Bay....The Flyers went 4-1-1 against the Penguins in the 2010-2011 regular season and are now 16-3-2 against the Atlantic division (PIT 4-1-1, NYR 4-1-0, NJD 3-1-1, NYI 5-0-0).


Atlantic Watch: 3/23-3/29

How fitting is it that Scott Hartnell scored the goal last night against the Penguins (in Pittsburgh) that may have saved the division title for the Flyers?

Just when it looked as though the Flyers were gearing up to sleepwalk through another game in their free fall from the top, the most despised player in Pittsburgh scores a game shifting goal to start a string of four unanswered goals putting Philly in a more spacious lead at the top of the Atlantic.

Hartnell didn't score the game-winner, but his goal did seem to wake the team up as Claude Giroux scored the eventual game-winner only forty-seven seconds later. A pair of goals from Ville Leino in the third and Philly now has a four point lead in the division with a game in hand over Pittsburgh. Philly also has a three point lead in the conference over Washington, a team over which they also have a game in hand.

The week didn't start out well for the Orange and Black as they fell 2-1 in a shootout Thursday night against the same Pens' team they beat last night. It took a Chris Kunitz shot through Sergei Bobrovsky's five-hole in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Pens the crucial additional point.

Two days later, the Flyers beat up on the New York Islanders like they usually do with a score of 4-1 in Uniondale. A James van Riemsdyk hat trick was enough for Philly to put away the Isles for a fifth straight time this season. Bobrovsky had 36 saves on 37 shots.

The following night, the Flyers displayed another lackluster performance against Boston losing 2-1 in front of their home crowd. A late power-play goal from none other than Brad Marchand with 3:43 left in regulation gave Boston enough to slip by.

When you factor in last night's result with the previous three games this week, Philly went 2-1-1. The record doesn't suggest panic, but the play the Flyers have provided states otherwise. However, last night's win looked like a confidence-boosting result. Hopefully Peter Laviolette's boys have worked out of their lazy, non-offense producing ways that have consumed them over the past few weeks.

JVR had the strongest offensive performance of the week for Philly potting his first career hat trick against the Isles on Saturday. He also had an assist against Pittsburgh on Thursday and an assist against Boston.

Those are not the most impressive of numbers, but when you consider the source, a three-assist week is a solid string of games for Sean O'Donnell. After assisting on JVR's second goal on Saturday, O'Donnell posted two assists last night against the Pens -- including the primary helper on the Giroux game-winner.

The Flyers have a busy week taking on four conquerable opponents.

Closing out March with a home game against the Thrashers tomorrow night, the Flyers travel to Newark to finish off their season series with the Devils on Friday. Sunday features yet another nationally-televised matinee game with the Rangers, but this time from the comfort of home. The week ends with a trip to Ottawa to play the lowly Sens.  

Pittsburgh Penguins: 3-1-0. The record reads three wins in four games, but the Pens could have easily lost each game they played this week. Notching wins against Philly, New Jersey, and Florida all via shootout, the Pens only loss on the week was to the orange and black last night.

A strong third period effort resulted in no game-winning goal as the Pens needed a four-round shootout to edge out the unmotivated Flyers.

The next day, the Pens barely managed to get two points yet again. This time, the win came against a team outside of the playoff picture. With no goals netted during regulation or overtime, James Neal won the game with his third-round shootout goal.

Beating the Panthers 2-1 on Sunday, the Pens won their fourth straight game via shootout. Neal and Alexei Kovalev scored the shootout goals this time to give Pittsburgh the additional point.

Finally snapping their winning streak based on nothing but shootout victories, the Flyers handed Pittsburgh a devastating 5-2 loss in front of their home fans. Ironically, the Pens last loss in regulation was also 5-2 (3/20 against the Rangers).

In a week that only saw his team net four goals, Tyler Kennedy had two of them. Both coming against Philly, Kennedy scored the game-tying goal in Thursday's game and briefly gave his team a lead in the second period of last night's game.

Kovalev only had two points this week, but he played a pivotal role in his team's success. Scoring shootout goals against Philly on Thursday and Florida on Sunday, Kovalev also assisted on Ben Lovejoy's goal against the Panthers. His only goal of the week opened the scoring in last night's game against the Flyers.

Not scoring a single goal in regulation, Neal gave his team two victories this week scoring the game-winning goal in both Friday's and Sunday's games. Neal also assisted on Lovejoy's goal against Florida.

After visiting Tampa Bay tomorrow night, the Pens stay in Florida to take on the Panthers on Saturday. They finish off the week hosting the Devils on Tuesday night.     

New York Rangers: 1-0-1. After dropping a shootout at home to Ottawa, the Rangers shut out the Bruins in Boston to capture three of the possible four points this week.

Not a single Ranger was able to find the back of the net in the five-round shootout that ensued after the 1-1 tie at the end of regulation Thursday against the Sens. Finally, Eric Karlsson slipped one past Henrik Lundqvist to give Ottawa the additional point.

Two days later, Derek Stepan netted the game-winning goal before seven minutes had passed in regulation. This was all the offense Lundqvist needed to give New York the win as the visiting Rangers won 1-0.

Without a doubt the Ranger of the week was Lundqvist. Managing to lose a game when only allowing one goal all week, Lundqvist stopped fifty-five of fifty-six shots fired at his net. His shutout on Saturday gave Lundqvist his league-leading eleventh shutout.

Brandon Prust had the lone Rangers' goal in Thursday's game on Thursday.

After a light two-game week, the Rangers endure four games over the next seven days. After a trip to Buffalo tonight, the Rangers visit Long Island tomorrow to take on the Islanders. Two days later, the Rangers make a trip to Philly to play the Flyers in a nationally televised matinee game. The week ends for the Rangers at home against the Bruins on Monday night.

New Jersey Devils: 0-1-1. The Devils managed to gain a point this week despite registering a goal all week. Falling to the Pens in a shootout on Friday, the Devils couldn't rebound against the Sabres on Saturday dropping the game on the road in regulation.

Sixty minutes of regulation plus five minutes of overtime, and three rounds of a shootout didn't see a single Devils' shot cross the goal line. A Neal goal in the third round of the shootout gave Pittsburgh the additional point on Friday. The Devils only managed a single shot in the first period.

Despite out shooting the Sabres in the second and third periods, the Devils first period cost them another valuable two points on Saturday. First period goals from Nathan Gerbe and Thomas Vanek were the only goals on the night as Buffalo held on for a 2-0 win at home.

Usually highlighting the offensive side of things for New Jersey, this week Ilya Kovalchuk embarrassed his club. Being on the ice for both of the goals scored against his team this week, Kovalchuk went -2 and registered one shot all week.

The road ahead looks to only get harder for the Devils as they have three games against teams in playoff position this week. After hosting the Islanders tonight, the Devils watch the Flyers visit The Prudential Center on Friday and the Canadiens visit on Saturday. New Jersey wraps up the week with a visit to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.

New York Islanders: 0-2-0. Being out scored in the first period by a combined score of 4-1, the Islanders found themselves on the losing side of both of their games this week. After dropping their home game to Atlanta on Thursday, the Isles were tricked into another loss on Saturday against the Flyers.

John Tavares leveled the game at one a minute and thirty-eight seconds into the second period on Thursday, but the Islanders couldn't find a way to edge out a win. Just over twelve minutes later, former Islander Rob Schremp stuck it to his old team with the game-winning goal to let his Atlanta team win 2-1.

Saturday's match up against the Flyers couldn't have been fun for Islanders' fans. Losing to Philly for the twentieth time in the last twenty-one meetings, witnessing a JVR hat-trick, and being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs summed up the Isles night as New York saw their second home loss on the week by a score of 4-1.

Not a single Islander registered more than a point this week. Blake Comeau scored in the first period of the Isles' game on Saturday to give them a brief period of hope before JVR's second goal on the night put Philly back up by two goals.

A visit to North Jersey tonight is the only time the Islanders leave New York this week as they host the Rangers on Thursday and the Hurricanes on Saturday.


Lidge 3-6 weeks from throwing, Contreras to Close, James not a fan of Special K cereal

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

Ruben-amaro-jr
Courtesy lehighvalleylive.com

Some big news came out of CBP tonight, as the Phillies prepare for the first of two On-Deck Series games.

GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. indicated that closer Brad Lidge will not throw for 3-6 weeks.

Not good. We already knew that Lidge would begin the season on the DL, but this report is ominous. If Lidge doesn't throw for 3-6 weeks, his return could be 5-10 weeks away. He could be placed on the 21-Day DL, but the 60-Day DL (8.5 weeks) is certainly not outside the realm of possibility. Given the strength of The Rotation, the Phillies' other bullpen options, and the relative ease of the early-season schedule, the Phillies seem to be in good shape to survive without Lidge. It is better than Lidge miss time now, than at the end of the season. But they are a better team with him, and the sooner he gets healthy, the better.

Manager Charlie Manuel indicated that Jose Contreras would likely begin the season as the closer.

(*checks fantasy baseball league waiver wire*)

The first thing to remember is that the bullpen situation is a fluid one. Manuel implying that Contreras will be the closer, with the season opener still three days away, doesn't necessarily mean that Contreras will close on Opening Day (or at any point, after that). But, taking Manuel at face value:

  • Pending free agent Madson would likely prefer to close, as accumulating saves/serving as the closer will help him in future negotiations. Do the Phillies not trust Madson in the closer's role? Are they attempting to reduce his free agent cost? Are they trying to "light a fire under him?"
  • The Phillies might actually be better off with this scenario, as a non-closing Madson would likely find himself utilized in higher leverage situations. Having the best pitcher used in the most important situations is definitely the best way to go. The Phils' process here might be faulty, but they appear headed towards an optimal conclusion. (Or perhaps their process is actually correct, but they chose this announcement for competitive reasons? Hmm.)

The best move might have been to refrain from announcing a closer, and simply let the game situation dictate bullpen use. But this might be as close as we could hope to get to that strategy.

Chase Utley took ground balls today, without any furniture assistance.

Finally, some good news on the Utley Front. It's good to hear that he is able to field ground balls sans chair. However, he has missed all of Spring Training, and his DL stint could be lengthy. While Amaro has indicated that he doesn't plan to place Utley on the 60-Day DL, that still seems the most likely scenario. Like Lidge, the Phils are better off with Utley missing time now. However, watching Luis Castillo and Wilson Valdez man Utley's position in the interim is not going to be very enjoyable. Utley's ability will, hopefully, be better-appreciated, upon his return.

Charlie Manuel indicated that he expects Ben Francisco to be the primary right fielder.

Were you expecting Ross Gload? (If you were, I hope you are in my fantasy league. And have Contreras on your roster.)

Matt Rizzotti cleared waivers, and was outrighted to the minors.

It seems surprising that Rizzotti cleared waivers, but with teams currently determining their Opening Day rosters, it was a good time to sneak him through. (I think I would have risked Brian Schlitter, rather than Rizzotti, as Schlitter had already passed through MLB in mid-February.) The Phillies now have an opening on the 40-Man roster for Luis Castillo, without needing to place Lidge or Utley on the 60-Day DL.

Highly-regarded minor league prospect/Twitter enthusiast Jiwan James (@Jiwan23)announced that he does not eat Special K cereal.

It's surprising that James would be willing to go on the record with information that may be damaging to his prospect status. It is rumored that Frosted Flakes are his cereal of choice, but those rumors have yet to be substantiated.


It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia... Except Roy Halladay and Opening Day?

Posted By Christina Angelos

Phillies-june-2010-storm-100510-439x329

Courstey of weather.com

The 2011 Major League Baseball season gets into full swing in four days when the Philadelphia Phillies host the Houston Astros at Citizen Bank Park.

If you have not heard bad weather might be a threat during the game on Friday April 1, 2011 at 1:05 p.m.

According to the National Weather Service the weather outlook is deteriorating as each day passes. As of now, National Weather Service is calling for a possible snow event that may drop 6-12 inches, strong winds, even disrupt travel over a wide area. However, the local weather stations have been saying that heavy rain will damp the area and depending on the timing it could wash-out or delay the game. 

Either way the weather isn’t going to be sunny.  Just be prepared for any kind of weather coming to Citizens Bank Park.

Our in-house meteorologist Adam Gonsiewski will be tracking this incoming weather, and updating us each of the next three days.   Adam is a senior and the lead-forecaster at Millersville University.  He will be tracking the potential storm as it approaches and give us the latest.


Phillies' 2011 Bullpen Picture Geting Clearer?

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

Baez
Courtesy espn.com

October 26th, 2010 was a good day. Though the pain of the NLCS defeat was still only days old, and a potential Cliff Lee Return was still inconceivable, the Phillies made a wise move that day. They declined the $4.5 MM option on reliever J.C. Romero's contract, presumably cutting ties with the flammable reliever. Romero's departure seemed prudent, as his performance had been erratic at best, and his potential salary could be spent much more wisely. As a fan, I was thrilled to be rid of Romero. I wanted to see some new blood in the 'pen, and was sick of watching Romero walk opposing batters.

Of course, a little more than two months later, Romero returned to the Phillies. Thankfully, his new contract will pay him $1.35MM, or less than one-third of the value of the the declined option. The reduced salary makes Romero's presence in the bullpen a bit less unpalatable, but only if Manager Charlie Manuel puts Romero in a position to succeed.

In retrospect, my Romero Hate may have been a bit wrong-headed. Romero's 2010 splits against left-handed batters: .217/.323/.277. By way of comparison, Roy Halladay's splits in 2010: .245/.271/.373. Against lefties, Romero is a damn good pitcher! If Manuel employs Romero as a LOOGY (left-handed one-out guy) and/or pitches him mostly against lefties, Romero could be an extremely valuable bullpen piece. But if Manuel continues to use Romero as a "proven veteran late inning option", and allows him to face right-handed batters on a regular basis, there is a good chance that Romero will have performance-related issues.

*****

With relievers Scott Mathieson, Mike Zagurski, and Mike Stutes all having been dispatched to the minor league camp, the bullpen picture has become much clearer. Even with Brad Lidge unavailable due to injury, the Phillies have the makings of a good bullpen, provided that Manuel uses his relievers in their proper roles . The Phillies' Opening Day bullpen appears likely to include the following:

Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson is good. Very good. Madson's 2010 splits: .212/.308/.582. Madson has done an outstanding job in his role as the primary eighth inning reliever. With Brad Lidge beginning the season on the Disabled List, Madson appears likely to begin the season as the closer. Is that the best place for Madson? I'd argue that, as the best Phillies reliever, Madson should pitch in the eighth or ninth inning, depending on the game situation. With multiple baserunners/middle of the opposing lineup due to bat, Madson should, probably, get the ball. However, it is likely that Madson will be used as a conventional closer, taking the ball in the ninth inning. Given that Madson is a potential free agent, Madson (and agent Scott Boras), undoubtedly, prefer this option. There are two key things to remember about Madson. Many of his "blown saves" in the past occurred in the eighth inning, so his saves/save opportunity stats are a bit deceiving. (In the eighth inning you can "blow" a save, but you can't earn a save. A perfect eighth inning, preceding a Lidge ninth, earns Madson a "hold", but doesn't affect his saves/save opportunity numbers.) The other key thing: Madson is a damn good pitcher, and is likely to have success, whenever he is utilized.

Jose Contreras

Contreras figures to join Madson in the eighth/ninth inning mix, at least until a Lidge return bumps Contreras back to the seventh inning. The thirty-nine year old right-hander did well as a reliever in 2010, posting a split of .255/.319/.380. As Contreras has a BABIP of .327, it is possible that he could even show improvement, as an average BABIP in the .290-.300 range could deflate those split stats further.

J.C. Romero

As stated previously, as a LOOGY, Romero could be very effective. But facing right-handed batters, in a game where the result is still undecided, is not a good move.

Antonio Bastardo

Bastardo, a twenty-five year old southpaw, has had injury concerns in recent seasons. He needs a full season in MLB, so the Phillies can figure out what they have in Bastardo. He should be used in the sixth/seventh inning.

David Herndon

Herndon spent 2010 with the Phillies, pitching only 52.1 innings. As a Rule V selection, the Phils had to keep him on the MLB roster, or return him to the Angels. He would likely benefit from some time in AAA, a level he skipped in 2010, where he can pitch more frequently/in different situations. Herndon should be used in low leverage situations, and will likely be sent to AAA when Lidge returns.

Danys Baez

Baez had a bad, bad year in 2010. His atrocious splits: .301/.382/.481. His BABIP was .322; a kinder, gentle BABIP in '11 could help his stat-line. But Baez should probably be kept in low leverage situations. Baez' guaranteed contract, combined with the fact that the Phillies can't send him to the minor leagues (without, potentially, losing him on waivers, and paying him to play for another team) should guarantee him a roster spot. However, as the season goes on, it becomes cheaper for the Phils to cut ties with Baez. If Baez doesn't improve on his 2010 performance, he probably won't survive the 2011 season. At least, not as a Phillies reliever.

Kyle Kendrick

Kendrick was the Phillies' fifth starter in 2010, pitching 180.2 innings, with splits of .283/.329/.477. On December 2nd, Kyle was offered salary arbitration, and later agreed to a $2.45MM contract for 2011. The plan was for Kendrick to be the fifth starter. While a cheaper option, such as RHP Vance Worley, may be able to equal Kendrick's MLB production (at $2MM less), GM Ruben Amaro chose to retain Kendrick. Given that the Phillies expect to contend, the extra $2MM to retain Kendrick was somewhat defensible. But two weeks later Cliff Lee was signed, making Kendrick an expensive sixth starter/reliever. If the Phillies opt to trade one of their five starters, Kendrick may move back into the rotation. But Kendrick will be used in long relief to start the season. Despite his contract, Kendrick's MLB spot isn't safe, as the Phils may decide he has more value to them stretched-out in AAA, in case they need another starting pitcher.

While this seems likely to be the group of relievers chosen to start the season, nothing is written in stone. The Phillies could opt to go with six relievers, in order to carry another position player. (Given the Lidge injury, however, this seems highly unlikely.) As other MLB teams decide on their own Opening Day rosters this week, a bullpen upgrade may become available to the Phillies. Though Mathieson, Zagurski, Stutes, Worley, and Justin De Fratus all appear headed for AAA at present, injuries/ineffectiveness could result in later promotions to MLB. There should be several openings in the 2012 bullpen, and as the veteran core becomes more expensive, the Phillies could look to younger, cheaper options. It might be prudent for the Phillies to find some MLB time in 2011, for these younger, cheaper options.


Day Two of 2011 Philliedelphia's MLB Predictions: Adam Gonsiewski

Posted by Adam Gonsiewski

The second of a five-day series of predictions from Philliedelphia's contributors.

Opening day logo 2011

American League predictions

AL East division winner – Red Sox

AL Central division winner - Tigers

AL West division winner – Athletics

AL Wild Card team – Yankees

AL MVP – Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

AL Cy Young – Jon Lester, Red Sox

AL Rookie of the Year - Mike Moustakas, Royals

AL Manager of the year – Bob Geren, Athletics

AL Playoff prediction

Divisional Round – Red Sox over Athletics, Yankees over Tigers

Championship round – Red Sox over Yankees

National League predictions

NL East division winner – Phillies

NL Central division winner – Reds

NL West division winner – Giants

NL Wild Card team – Braves

NL MVP – Ryan Braun, Brewers

NL Cy Young – Roy Halladay, Phillies

NL Rookie of the Year – Freddie Freeman, Braves

NL Manager of the year – Fredi Gonzalez, Braves

NL Playoff prediction

Divisional Round – Phillies over Giants, Reds over Braves

Championship round – Phillies over Reds

World Series Prediction

Phillies over Red Sox in 6 games.

Comments:

In the National League: The Reds remind me of the 2007-2008 Phillies. While they have question marks in their starting rotation, they boast a potentially dominant lineup. The Reds are a better team than the one the Phillies dominated in 2010 in the postseason, and shouldn't be overlooked again this upcoming year. In the NL West, the Giants' pitching staff will again guide them to the postseason, but the Rockies will contend. The Phillies will win the NL East because they have the best starting pitching staff in the majors, but the Braves are sure to keep it close and come out on top in the Wild Card race.

In the American League: On paper, the Red Sox have the best team in the AL (and possibly the majors). Despite missing the playoffs last season, I believe that the road to the Series in the AL goes through Fenway. The Yankees will win the Wild Card, but don't discount the Rays as a sleeper playoff team. In the AL Central, the Twins, White Sox, and Tigers will race down to the wire. This time, I believe the Tigers come out on top. I think the uncertainties surrounding Joe Mauer's offseason surgery and Justin Morneau's concussion symptoms will end up haunting the Twins throughout the season. In the AL West, the Rangers are the favorite to win the division. However, I picked the Athletics as my surprise playoff team because of their starting pitching staff. The loss of Cliff Lee will definitely hurt the offensive-minded Rangers.


Flyers @ Penguins Preview

Game 76: Philadelphia Flyers @ Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:00 pm, CSN.

Flyers' Records
Overall Record: 45-20-10
Away Record: 24-9-4
Record vs. Penguins: 3-1-1
Away Record vs. Penguins: 2-0-0

Penguins' Records
Overall Record: 45-23-8
Home Record: 24-13-2
Record vs. Flyers: 2-3-0
Home Record vs. Flyers: 0-2-0

The Numbers
Flyers' Winning % vs. Penguins: .600, 3/5 games (17th)
Flyers' Point % vs. Penguins: .700, 7/10 pts (16th)
Flyers' Losing % vs. Penguins: .400, 2/5 games (14th)
Flyers' Goals/Game vs. Penguins: 2.20, 11 goals/5 games (22nd)
Penguins' Goals/Game vs. Flyers: 2.40, 12 goals/5 games (14th)
Flyers' Shots/Game vs. Penguins: 27.6, 138 shots/ 5 games (27th)
Penguins' Shots/Game vs. Flyers: 27, 135 shots/5 games (20th)
Flyers' Powerplay % vs. Penguins: 17.4%, 4/23 (13th)
Penguins' Powerplay % vs. Flyers: 24%, 6/25 (11th)
Flyers' Penalty Kill % vs. Penguins: 76%, 19/25 (18th)
Penguins' Penalty Kill % vs. Flyers: 82.6%, 19/23 (17th)

Flyers' Team Leaders
Points- Claude Giroux, 70
Goals- Jeff Carter, 34
Assists- Claude Giroux, 46
+/- - Andrej Meszaros and Jeff Carter, +27
PIM- Scott Hartnell, 132

Penguins' Team Leaders
Points- Sidney Crosby, 66
Goals- Sidney Crosby, 32
Assists- Kris Letang, 40
+/- - Sidney Crosby, +20
PIM- Matt Cooke, 129

Former Penguins Currently On The Flyers
None

Former Flyers Currently On the Penguins
#19 Mike Comrie
Current Season Against The Flyers: 3 games, 0 goals, and 2 assists.
Current Season With The Penguins: 18 games, 0 goals, and 5 assists.
Career With The Flyers: 1 season (2003-2004), 21 games, 4 goals, and 5 assists.

#45 Arron Asham
Current Season Against The Flyers: 3 games, 0 goals, and 0 assists.
Current Season With The Penguins: 40 games, 5 goals, and 5 assists.
Career With The Flyers: 2 seasons (2008-2009 and 2009-2010), 179 games, 23 goals, and 30 assists.

The Games
Flyers' 3-2 win in Pittsburgh on October 7th

Penguins' 5-1 win in Philly on October 16th

Flyers' 3-2 win in Pittsburgh on October 29th

Flyers' 3-2 win in Philly on December 14th

Penguins 2-1 shootout win in Philly on March 24th


An Early Look at the Phillies HD New Scoreboard

Posted by Frank Klose

Phillies_CBP_Scoreboard_Night
Nbcphiladelphia.com

In a recently posted story by NBC10, the Phillies' new scoreboard gets its first sight.

The article details the Phillies' flight taking a quick wrap around by Citizens Bank Park so the Phillies players could see the stadium.

Chopper 10 took an image of the scoreboard, pictured above.

There it is, and I did not even have to go to an "On-Deck" game against the Pirates to see it.


Stutes Goes to Philly (for On-Deck Series)

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

Stutes
Photo courtesy www.philliesnation.com

As the Phillies prepare for their final Spring Training games, they made a somewhat surprising addition to their traveling squad. Despite the fact that he was recently assigned to their minor league camp, right-handed reliever Mike Stutes was selected to accompany the squad to Philadelphia. Stutes, who is not currently on the 40-Man Roster, has no MLB experience. A questionable move, to say the least.

Is Stutes ready for MLB?

Stutes has had an outstanding Spring. In ten innings, Stutes allowed only a single run. Even better, he only walked one batter, while striking out eleven. However, Spring success is not a good predictor of MLB success. As opposing batters have varying levels of readiness and ability during the Spring, Stutes' success must be taken with a grain a salt.

Stutes' minor league stats are a much better predictor. Stutes threw 40.2 innings of AAA relief in 2010, posting a tidy 3.10 ERA. However, ERA can be very deceiving, particularly for relievers. Stutes' ERA was deflated by an unsustainably low BABIP (.242) and LOB% (82.6%). Stutes' K/9 of 9.3 was excellent, but his 5.09 BB/9 was not very good. The statistic xFIP adjusts for factors outside of a pitcher's control, such as BABIP and LOB%. Stutes' xFIP of 4.50 seems to imply that the twenty-four year old would benefit from more minor league seasoning.

Where would Stutes' role be, if he made the MLB bullpen?

Stutes has pitched in relief since 2009, so he's not a good choice as a long reliever. He'd likely figure in the sixth/seventh inning mix, in the lowest-leverage situations.

Is Stutes the best choice for this role?

David Herndon and Scott Mathieson both have more experience than Stutes. Herndon, despite never pitching at AAA, spent 2010 in MLB, and performed adequately. Mathieson has never been able to stick in MLB, despite throwing at MLB velocity. Herndon and Mathieson both appear to be ahead of Stutes, in that order. As members of the 40-Man Roster, keeping Herndon (or Mathieson) wouldn't necessitate the jettisoning of another 40-Man player to the waiver wire, or to the 60-Day DL.

How long will this bullpen opening exist?

The seventh reliever is just keeping an active roster spot warm for closer Brad Lidge, who should return in only a few weeks. Losing a player on waivers would be costly, particularly considering that the derived benefit would be a bullpen downgrade from Herndon to Stutes. These kinds of moves are not good business.

The Phillies already know all of this. So why is Stutes in Philly?

Top three reasons for Stutes' On-Deck Series inclusion, in order:

  • Stutes was merely added as an extra arm. The Phillies have workloads planned for their pitchers, in the final Spring games. If the game situation calls for additional innings to be pitched, Stutes will be used.
  • Stutes is being showcased for a potential trade. The Phillies' bench, as currently constructed, is not very strong. A potential trade partner may have available upgrades in the utility infielder and/or outfielder (preferably, centerfield) roles. As Stutes would not need to be placed on the 40-Man roster, the acquiring team could pick up a future asset, without having to risk a potential waiver loss. Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro may want to let potential trade partners see Stutes perform in an MLB park against, presumably, MLB bats.
  • In the event that another Phillies pitcher is dealt, Stutes could make the roster as a middle reliever. Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick both have trade value, particularly to rotation-poor teams. Trading one now may be the best way to maximize that trade value. If Blanton or Kendrick are traded, Danys Baez could attempt to be the long reliever, with Herndon solidifying his own roster spot, and Stutes taking over as the pre-Lidge placeholder.