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Philadelphia Phillies Team Preview

Posted: Monday March 19, 2007 12:48PM; Updated: Monday March 19, 2007 12:48PM
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Ryan Howard has a lot of work to do to match his 58 homers from 2006.
Ryan Howard has a lot of work to do to match his 58 homers from 2006.
Chuck Solomon/SI
Projected Lineup (2006 stats)
Pos. Player Avg. HR RBI SB
SS Jimmy Rollins .277 25 83 36
RF Shane Victorino .287 6 46 4
2B Chase Utley .309 32 102 15
1B Ryan Howard .313 58 149 0
LF Pat Burrell .258 29 95 0
3B Wes Helms .329 10 47 0
CF Aaron Rowand .262 12 47 10
C Rod Barajas .256 11 41 0
Projected Rotation (2006 stats)
Starters W-L WHIP ERA K
Brett Myers 12-7 1.30 3.91 189
Freddy Garcia 17-9 1.28 4.53 135
Jamie Moyer 11-14 1.32 4.30 108
Cole Hamels 9-8 1.25 4.08 145
Jon Lieber 9-11 1.31 4.93 100
Projected Closer
Player W-L WHIP ERA Saves K
Tom Gordon 3-4 1.26 3.34 34 68
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Trash talk has started early between the Phils and the favored Mets. With a starting pitching staff that goes six deep, a lineup anchored by Chase Utley and NL MVP Ryan Howard, and a solid bullpen, Philadelphia looks like it's in position to challenge for the NL East crown.

Irreplaceable

"Six and a half feet of power," that's the way one of my SI colleagues describes Ryan Howard, one of the most imposing figures seen on a baseball field in a generation. Needless to say the NL home run and RBI leader has tremendous power to all fields, and he flashes it regularly. He ranked in the top five in the NL in slugging percentage (.659, second to Albert Pujols) and on-base percentage (.425, fourth) and his .313 batting average placed eighth. Just think how good he'd be if his 181 strikeouts didn't rank second in the majors. He's a monster and should be picked at or near the top of every draft.

The Next Big Thing

After three years of watching Cole Hamels's dominant performances intertwined with injury stints, greater Philadelphia finally got to see the best pitching prospect to come out of the Phillies chain in more than a decade. Amazingly, his 23 appearances in the majors were the most he has had on any level as a pro and matched his minor league total for 2004-06 combined. He'll contribute across the board, especially in strikeouts (145 in 132 innings). If you really want to see how good he is, check out colehamelsfacts.com.

Danger!

Aaron Rowand is a quality fourth or fifth outfielder who provides just enough speed and power to keep him in your lineup. But he's been rumored in trade talks, first to San Diego (which would sap his power numbers), and the latest have him heading back to the White Sox (which would make him useless in NL-only leagues). Since outfielders like Rowand aren't that hard to come by, it's a good idea to let someone else take the chance on where he'll end up.

Do You Feel Lucky?

Two seasons ago Rod Barajas saw an opportunity and seized the starting catcher job for the Rangers, clouting 21 home runs with 60 RBIs. Last year his numbers slipped because Texas wanted to finally transition to home-grown product Gerald Laird. Now Barajas finds himself in another good power park and a chance to play four five times a week, so his power numbers could creep up near the top among NL backstops.

Steals come from...

Jimmy Rollins is one of the most valuable fantasy players around, because of his mix of power (25 HRs last season) and speed (averaging 34 steals per full season). Rightfielder Shane Victorino hasn't run much in the majors, but throughout his minor league career he was a speedster, earning the nickname the Flyin' Hawaiian. Utley and Rowand also add some speed to the mix, as does fifth outfield candidate Chris Roberson, who's in line for the starting spot should Rowand be moved.

If Something Should Happen To Tom Gordon

Earlier this spring trimmed-down staff ace Brett Myers volunteered to close for the Phillies to help alleviate the veteran logjam in the rotation. That's unlikely to happen, though in the 1 percent chance that it does, it gives Myers added value. The top two relievers on the team, Ryan Madson and Geoff Geary, would be the right choices to take over should the 39-year-old Gordon falter. You can count out veteran Antonio (El Pulpo) Alfonseca, who has 121 career saves entering 2007, but none since serving as the Cubs' stopper in 2002. Keep tabs on lefty Matt Smith, who was lights out for five teams on three levels last season but has struggled mightily this spring.

You Need Them Too

Pat Burrell, Chris Coste, Freddy Garcia, Jamie Moyer

Better Left as Someone Else's Problem

Adam Eaton, Jon Lieber, Abraham Nu˝ez, Carlos Ruiz

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