With the 2013 season approaching, it’s time to look at the Philadelphia Phillies roster. With an aging core, it’s now hard to balance experience and talent with youth and potential. Who are truly the top 10 players on the roster? Here’s my take:
10. Mike Adams
Mike Adams was one of the best free agent signings the Phillies had in this offseason, signing Adams to a 2 year 12 million dollar contract. One of the weakest spots for the Phillies last year was their 8th inning; they had trouble all year finding a guy to set up Papelbon consistently.
The Phillies filled that void hiring Adams, a terrific 8th-inning pitcher. From 2008 through 2011, he posted a combined ERA below 2.00 and a WHIP below 1.00. Although last year he received surgery to correct his thoracic outlet syndrome and a full recovery is expected.
9. Chase Utley
I do not know what to expect from Chase Utley this year but based on past success he receives a place in this top 10. Since 2010 Chase has been suffering from chronic knee pain as he only has played in 183 games in the last 2 seasons. Chase hasn’t even played in a single Spring Training game since 2010. He is very confident that he has taken care of his knees in the offseason and that he is prepared to play this whole season. As he said, “I feel pretty (darn) good right now, hopefully, it will stay that way, and I think it will. Hopefully, all the work has paid off.”
8. Carlos Ruiz
Carlos Ruiz had his best season of his career last year and was the most productive hitter for the Phils all season. Carlos batted .325 and he was one of the reasons the Phillies did not fall all the way out of the playoff hunt. But… after the season he tested positive for Adderall a PED. He will be suspended for 25 games and if he had not taken PEDs I would have had him in my top 5 for sure.
7. Jimmy Rollins
Jimmy brings everything to the table: speed, power, and fielding. What’s not to love about his game (apart from constant pop-ups)? Jimmy now 34 years old has not lost a step and he was awarded the golden glove for the 4th time in his career. He still has his speed stealing 30 bases 5th in the national league and scored 102 runs 4th in the National League. Jimmy shows he still has pop in his swing blasting 23 balls out of the yard last year. That was the most home runs he hit since his MVP season back in 2007.
6. Roy Halladay
With his resume and terrific numbers Halladay would deserve at least the 2 spot. But this year in Spring Training he has been a question mark to say the least. Last year Roy was plagued with shoulder weakness and it looks as if the weakness has not gone anywhere. Roy’s current top velocity is around 85-88 mph, not good considering when Roy is at his best he throws in the low 90s.
Rich Dubee and Charlie Manuel have both stated that they are “concerned” after Roy gave up 7 runs in 2 and 2/3 innings 2 outings ago. In his next outing Roy left after the first inning, and the Phillies organization said he had a “stomach virus.” Until I am certain Roy is going to be 100 percent healthy I cannot place him any higher than this.
5. Jonathan Papelbon
I don’t really know if I like Papelbon in a Phillies uniform yet. I’m not really sure what to think of his unorthodox setup or his stare at home plate. But I sure liked his All-Star numbers last year; he recorded 38 saves out of 42 opportunities along with boasting a 2.44 ERA. If you remember one of the major keys for the Phillies winning the World Series was the dominance of Brad Lidge in 2008. Brad was perfect in save opportunities, recorded a 1.95 ERA, and practically fueled the Phils to the World Series.
I’m not asking Papelbon to put up those kinds of numbers, but Brad’s numbers success in that year show a dominant closer is so important.
4. Michael Young
Michael Young was an absolute beast in Texas and when the Phillies signed him this year I was psyched. I, along with every other Philly fan, am sick of getting no production from the 3rd base position. No more Kevin Frandsens or Placido Polancosl the Phillies now have a legitimate threat at the 3rd base position and a hall of famer at that.
Young has a career .301 average and 2,230 hits in his career. Young is 36 years old so he only has a couple years left of high quality production, but at Citizens Bank Park, could do some real damage with his bat.
3. Ryan Howard
The anchor in the Phillies lineup is Ryan Howard and with his past success and his achillies tendon feeling fine Ryan is the best non-pitcher on the team. Ryan’s has been one of the best first baseman in the league for the past 5 years, and he has been an RBI and Homerun machine for the Phils. He has hit over 30 Homers and recording at least 100 RBIs from 2006-2011. Ryan has raw power that nobody else on the team possesses except for maybe Dom Brown (6 Home runs and counting in spring training). When Ryan Howard is hitting the ball the opposite way and driving in runs the Phils are virtually unbeatable.
2. Cliff Lee
Even with a down season a year ago Cliff owns this number 2 spot. Cliff is now 34 but he has not lost velocity or been plagued with injuries despite his amount of innings throughout his career. Even in a down year for Cliff he still posted a 3.16 ERA. I hope the Phillies give Cliff a lot more run support than he received last year, despite a very good ERA he only had 6 wins the entire year. Cliff year after year has proven he is durable and always one of the best pitchers in the game, I fully expect him to have another great year.
1. Cole Hamels
Cole Hamels is the best player on the Phillies. Cole is the Opening Day starter for 2013 and the ace on arguably the best starting rotation in the league. The 2008 World Series MVP is a stud and his numbers show it. Cole has a career 3.34 ERA and has placed top 10 in Cy-Young voting in the past 2 years. The 29 year-old lefty is only getting better as he has improved all his pitches to compliment his killer changeup, going 17-6 in 2012.
At still a relatively young age, Cole has post-season experience (7-4 in the postseason) along with great durability as he has recorded well over 200 total innings in his last 3 years. Without a doubt Cole deserves to be recognized as the best player on the Phillies roster.