Catchers: Carlos Ruiz and Cameron Rupp
Infielders: Cody Asche, Andres Blanco, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley
Outfielders: Jeff Francouer, Odubel Herrera, Ben Revere, Darin Ruf and Grady Sizemore
DL: Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Pettibone (15-Day); Mario Hollands (60-Day)
As you can see by the listing, there is a very good chance this team could lose 100 games. Let's take a deeper look at the team the Phillies will trot out onto the diamond Monday.
The "I Wish It Were 2007" Club: Members: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jeff Francouer, Grady Sizemore and Aaron Harang
Ryan Howard has been on a rapid decline over the past few seasons, with a very noticeable drop-off since tearing his Achilles tendon in the final play of the Phillies' loss to the Cardinals in game five of the NLDS in 2011. Howard had a brutal 2014 season, hitting just .223 and striking out 190 times. The Phillies (and their fans) would give just about anything to have Howard return to his 2007 form, when he hit 47 home runs and recorded 136 RBIs, but barring a miracle of epic proportions, that won't be happening. As a result, the Phillies are now offering to eat a large chunk of the $60 million remaining on the former MVP's organization-hampering contract.
Chase Utley's decline over the past few seasons has been far from as dramatic as Howard's, but it is still evident the second baseman's better days are behind him. The 36-year-old is coming off a season in which he hit .270 with 78 RBIs in his most at-bats (589) since 2008. While those numbers are still very solid for a middle infielder, it's hard not to long for the 2007 model of Utley, who hit .332 with 22 home runs, 48 doubles, 103 RBIs and a .410 OBP.
Two of the Phillies' outfielders would be names to be excited about, if only it were eight years ago. Both players played all 162 games for their respective teams that year while putting solid numbers. Francouer hit .293 with 19 home runs and 105 RBIs in 2007, while Sizemore hit .277 with 24 home runs and 78 RBIs. Unfortunately, both players are shells of their former selves with Francouer logging just 10 Major League games in 2014, and Sizemore hitting just .233 in 112 games with the Red Sox and Phillies.
Taking the mound for the "I Wish It Were 2007" Club, Aaron Harang. Harang is still a very serviceable Major League pitcher, and the Phillies would be more than happy to have him surpass 200 innings like he did in 2014 for the Braves, and even happier for him to win 16 games like he did in 2007. That's highly unlikely for an aging pitcher who worked through back issues this spring though.
The Pen: Fortunately for the Phillies, their bullpen looks like it could be very strong. Unfortunately, they're likely to be out of the game by the time things get handed over to the bullpen each night. With a veteran closer like Jonathan Papelbon and a nice mix of younger players, including Justin De Fratus and the heir apparent to the closer position Ken Giles, the Phillies may be able to hold late inning leads relatively well, if they ever get them.
The Youngsters: The Phillies will be trotting out some young guys looking to prove themselves for the future as the team goes through a rebuild. While some of the young guys in the bullpen like Giles and De Fratus have looked solid in their time with the big club, the ones who will be in the field have quite a bit to prove.
With Jimmy Rollins gone and Chase Utley likely to need a game off here or there, Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez should get a considerable amount of time this season. If you have followed their brief Major League careers at all so far, you know just how terrifying that is. Galvis has hit just .218 in 514 Major League at-bats over three seasons, and hit just .176 in 2014. After hitting .289 in 2013, Hernandez took a step backward in 2014, batting just .237 in 114 at-bats.
A little more promising is Cody Asche, who will be manning the hot corner for the Phillies. Asche improved in his sophomore campaign, hitting .252 with 10 home runs. Asche still has plenty of work to do, but has shown the most promise of the three young infielders on the roster.
Odubel Herrera is likely to start in center field for the Phillies on Monday, bringing yet another giant question mark to the Phillies' roster. Herrera, a Rule 5 pick this winter, has yet to play at the Major League level. He has good speed and has put up solid numbers in the Minors, but with not a day of Major League experience, he is yet another gamble on a Phillies team that will already need a few miracles to be even close to competitive.
Conclusion: It's going to be a very long season.
By: Kyle Babcock
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