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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Philadelphia Phillies

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This time a year ago, the Phillies were the talk of the baseball world, having added Cliff Lee to an already formidable rotation to give them a starting five that rated among the best in history.

But for as much success as they had during the regular season, their super-rotation formula fell flat in the playoffs, saddling them with yet another first-round exit. Now, with their payroll tied up long-term, they have no choice but to do it all over again -- only a year older and without some of the players that made it possible last season.

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Roy Oswalt was one of those players. Granted, of the Phillies' quartet of aces entering 2011, he was the one who didn't pull his weight, spending time on the DL with back issues, but when he was healthy, he was an improvement over the Joe Blanton-Kyle Kendrick combo that will attempt to replace him.

Still, with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, pitching won't be this team's problem. Its problem will be a lineup that's quickly becoming long in the tooth, having relied on the same cast of characters for the last seven seasons. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins are all 32 or older and showing clear signs of decline. The Phillies did inject some youth with the acquisition of Hunter Pence last July, but with Howard expected to miss a month or more with a torn left Achilles' -- and only Ty Wigginton and Jim Thome available to replace him -- a lineup that was already treading water will now be bailing it by the bucketful.

No doubt, the Phillies are still an NL powerhouse, and for all their inflated contracts, they did find a way to reel in closer Jonathan Papelbon this offseason. But with the rest of the NL East making even bigger moves, a changing of the guard could happen in the not-too-distant future. Outside of their pitching staff, the Phillies aren't the hotbed of Fantasy talent they used to be.

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Bust ... Hunter Pence, OF

The average Fantasy owner is all-in on Pence, targeting him as a top-10 outfielder in the fourth or fifth round. But before you hop aboard the hype train and ride it all the way to crazy town, you might want to remind yourself that the only aspect of his game that changed for the better last year was his batting average. He didn't gain any power. He didn't walk more or strike out less. He didn't fundamentally change as a player. He simply got better results, putting together a .361 BABIP instead of his usual .305 or so. It wouldn't be the first time. He had a .377 BABIP as a rookie in 2007, when he hit .322. But the peripherals suggested it was too good to be true then, and they do now as well. Pence is an asset in Fantasy because of his job security and 20-homer power, but he's a .280 hitter who can't take a walk. That, to me, isn't worth the price tag.

Sleeper ... John Mayberry, OF

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has made the comparison. Manager Charlie Manuel has made the comparison. It's Mayberry's identity now: the next Jayson Werth. For the Fantasy owners who have played long enough to remember when Werth rose from obscurity to put together a 20-20 season in 2008, that's cause for celebration. But is it a reasonable expectation? Hey, Mayberry is more of a certainty now than Werth was then, having hit 15 homers in 267 at-bats last year. Like Werth, he's a former first-round pick who, like Werth, didn't begin to meet his potential until his late 20s. And like Werth, he happens to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage. The Phillies are committed to starting Mayberry in left field this year, so as long as he hits righties well enough to keep Domonic Brown's bat in the minors (where the Phillies want it), 20-plus homers is the reasonable expectation. You won't find a more projectable player in the late rounds of mixed-league drafts.

Fading star ... Chase Utley, 2B

Chase Utley has a long history as the top second baseman in Fantasy, and though most owners recognize by now that younger players like Robinson Cano have leaped him the rankings, a certain segment of the Fantasy-playing community still regards him as elite based on nothing more than reputation. Really, nothing more. When he disappointed in 2010, you could argue it was mostly because he missed six weeks due to thumb surgery, but last year, his numbers simply weren't up to par. His .769 OPS was lower than that of Marco Scutaro, among others, decreasing (along with his batting average and slugging percentage) for the fifth straight season. Optimists will point out that Utley was never fully healthy, having missed the first seven weeks with a knee issue, but at age 33, injuries come with the territory. When a player on a steady downward trend can no longer stay in the lineup for 140 games, the end is near. I can think of better uses for my sixth-round pick than Utley.

2012 Philadelphia Phillies Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Jimmy Rollins SS 1 Roy Halladay RH
2 Chase Utley 2B 2 Cliff Lee LH
3 Hunter Pence RF 3 Cole Hamels LH
4 Ryan Howard 1B 4 Vance Worley RH
5 Shane Victorino CF 5 Joe Blanton RH
6 John Mayberry LF Alt Kyle Kendrick RH
7 Placido Polanco 3B
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Carlos Ruiz C CL Jonathan Papelbon RH
Top bench options SU Antonio Bastardo LH
R Ty Wigginton UTL RP Jose Contreras RH
R Jim Thome 1B RP Michael Stutes RH
R Laynce Nix OF RP Dontrelle Willis LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Trevor May 22 SP Class A Double-A
For all of Matt Moore's exploits last year, May actually led the minors in strikeouts per nine innings. He'll be ready to carry the baton once Halladay-Lee-Hamels is done.
2 Brody Colvin 21 SP Class A Class A
Though his stock dropped last year, Colvin still has top-of-the-rotation stuff if he can rediscover his delivery. Clearly, the Phillies don't have any reason to rush him.
3 Jesse Biddle 20 SP Class A Class A
Though maybe the safest of the Phillies' big pitching prospects, Biddle is also the furthest away. He'll need to show more consistent velocity to take another step forward.
4 Sebastian Valle 21 C Class A Double-A
Valle has a high ceiling both offensively and defensively, but his progress has been slow so far. You shouldn't expect to see him in the majors for a few more years.
5 Jonathan Pettibone 21 SP Class A Double-A
The hard-thrower with good command might be the pitching prospect closest to joining the Big Three in Philadelphia, but it still likely won't happen in 2012.
Best of the rest: Phillippe Aumont, RP; Justin De Fratus, RP; Michael Schwimer, RP; Joe Savery, RP; Freddy Galvis, SS; Larry Greene, OF; Tyson Gillies, OF; Matt Rizzotti, 1B; Austin Hyatt, SP; J.C. Ramirez, SP; Darin Ruf, 1B; and Harold Garcia, 2B.

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Player News
Phillies SS Freddy Galvis benched Saturday at Washington
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:53 pm ET) Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis complained that the cold weather in Colorado made him cold at the plate - but perhaps he's just cold at the plate. He went hitless in four at-bats at much-warmer Washington on Friday night.

The bottom line is that he's out of the lineup Saturday for the fifth time this season. He has just three hits in his last 27 at-bats.


Nationals 2B Dan Uggla gets the start against Phillies
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:53 pm ET) Nationals 2B Dan Uggla has been solid against left-handed pitchers this year, something his team wants him to continue on Saturday against the Phillies' Cole Hamels.

Uggla, who is hitting .273/.385/.545 in 11 at-bats against lefties this season, will get the start over Danny Espinosa.

In 62 career at-bats against Hamels, Uggla is only hitting .145/.239/.323 with three home runs, two doubles and six RBI.


Angels SS Erick Aybar smashes his first homer of 2015
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:45 pm ET) Angels shortstop Erick Aybar has been raking for three weeks, but he did something Friday night he had not done all year.

He homered.

Aybar blasted off with one aboard to put the cherry on top in a nine-run fifth that buried Boston. He had already walked and scored in the inning.

He has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games and his .325 slugging percentage is at its highest point since the season opener.


Braves SP Miller looks to continue hot streak in start against Brewers
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:40 pm ET) Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller has been on fire to start the season.

Miller (5-1) will get the start on Saturday against the Brewers, where he will look to extend his excellent start to the season.

Through eight starts, Miller has a 1.33 ERA.


Mariners' McClendon: Hisashi Iwakuma still not close to return
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:39 pm ET) Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma continues to receive treatment for his strained right lat muscle. However, he has yet to resume throwing, per MLB.com.

“I would imagine when we get back he’ll start throwing again and then start his process all over again,” McClendon said. “He’s going to be out awhile.”


Austin Jackson's struggles in minors delaying return to Mariners
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:37 pm ET) Mariners outfielder Austin Jackson played in his sixth rehab game for Triple-A Tacoma on Friday. He went 1 for 5 with three strikeouts.

Jackson is batting .250 (6 for 24) with four walks and seven strikeouts on his rehab assignment. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, however, gave no indication Saturday of a specific date for Jackson's return.

“The ankle is feeling good, but the bat isn’t,” McClendon said, per MLB.com. “As of right now, it’s still open.”


Braves LF Jonny Gomes will start against Brewers
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:36 pm ET) Braves left fielder Jonny Gomes will start against the Brewers on Saturday.

Gomes will be in the starting lineup for the second time in the team's last three games. He's 2 for 5 in his last two games.


Braves SP Alex Wood feeling better, plans to make next start
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:32 pm ET) Braves right-hander Alex Wood has confirmed that he will make his Wednesday start against the host Dodgers after losing his Friday outing to a virus, 680 The Fan has reported.

Wood, who added that he would be available Saturday out of the bullpen, will probably simply wait until his next start to pitch. He is coming off his finest effort of the year, a seven-inning performance at Miami in which he allowed just one run.


Mariners' McClendon not worried about Fernando Rodney's high ERA
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:31 pm ET) Mariners closer Fernando Rodney has allowed at least one run in five of his six appearances in May, resulting in a 9.00 ERA this month. Despite some shaky outings, Rodney has converted nine straight saves since his only blown save of the season April 14.

Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon doesn't appear worried at all about Rodney's high ERA (6.61).

“I don’t think you worry about his ERA much,” McClendon said prior to Saturday’s game, per MLB.com. “A lot of that is inflated from (two early season games). My old skipper told me this a long time ago. Your responsibility as a manager is to get the ball to your closer in the ninth inning. After that, what are you going to do? He either wins it or loses it.”

Rodney entered Friday's game against the Blue Jays with a three-run lead. He allowed two runs on two hits, including a home run, before recording his 11th save.

“He gets those one-run leads, I think he’s a little bit more focused,” McClendon said. “Three-run lead, he’s a little more relaxed. It’s just the animal that most closers are. It’s not just him. I’ve seen it with other guys, too. It gets within one or two and they tighten down."


CF Lorenzo Cain knocks two hits in Royals win
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:26 pm ET) Royals centerfielder Lorenzo Cain went 2 for 4 in a 5-0 win over the Cardinals on Friday.

The performance was Cain's 11th multi-hit game of the season, increasing his batting average to .311.


 
 
 
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