The ifs are being addressed by the Philadelphia Phillies, and they begin with Roy Halladay. However, while Phils fans finger their worry beads, the warts on the Braves and the Nationals are quite visible.
My articles are designed to represent a baseball man’s thinking, the view from the dugout and the GM’s box. Most fans do not consider the budget, prospects on the radar, the club’s weaknesses, the track record, the competition and the other intangibles. Please go to my author archives or Phillies page for my most recent coverage. Scroll down to Tal’s Handy Links at the bottom. Thank you.
When the stove is hot, I will continue the process of the previous Monday’s approach, if appropriate. For early birds Sunday evening is post time. Due to a strong response and a complicated offseason, my reviews will be weekly until spring training ends. The new summer schedule will allow me to publish the best 3 storylines each week, but there will be an updated calendar included with each feature: Posts involving commentary, polls and stats will be listed for the upcoming 7 days. This review is a 2nd posting.
|December to April||Baseball-Fix Monday||Weekly|
|December to April||Suds or Studs||2-4 Times a Month|
|April to Season's End||Nitecap Insight||3 Times a Week|
|April to Season's End||Suds or Studs||2 Times per 10 Days|
|April to Season's End||Tal's Handy Stats||2 Times per 10 Days|
Atlanta and Washington have drawbacks on their roster that will create a 3-team race for the divisional flag throughout the entire 162.
The Braves might finish third for 2013 because of questions about their plate discipline. Six of their eight current regulars exceeded 100 strikeouts last year, while the other two are concerns as well. Brian McCann hit .230–which compares to Dan Uggla’s .220–and they will count on SS Andrelton Simmons (.289) in the leadoff role after only 166 at-bats. He replaces Michael Bourne, who eclipsed the century mark in punch outs, and is superceded by 3 acquisitions who did that last season.
100 Strikeout Club:* 2011 Stats
|Phillies||1B Ryan Howard||557*||172*||Braves||CF B.J. Upton||573||169|
|Phillies||RF Delmon Young||574||112||Braves||2B Dan Uggla||523||168|
|Nationals||SS Danny Espinosa||594||189||Braves||RF Jason Heyward||587||152|
|Nationals||1B Adam LaRoche||571||138||Braves||3B Chris Johnson||488||132|
|Nationals||LF Bryce Harper||533||120||Braves||1B F. Freeman||540||129|
|Nationals||3B R. Zimmerman||578||116||Braves||LF Justin Upton||554||121|
|Nationals||SS Ian Desmond||513||113|
Atlanta has a lockdown ‘pen but their rotation is weaker this campaign. Julio Teheran will hold down the 5 spot until Brandon Beachy is reaclimated for the 2nd half. He’ll return in mid-June but it will take time before he is at full strength. Teheran has been limited to 7 appearances (3 relief) during the last 2 tours with an over 5.00 ERA for both.
Their 5-man staff is comprised of 3 hurlers that have short resumes. Kris Medlen had 13 starts during 2012, while Beachy and Mike Minor have basically 1 full summer under their belt. They are betting on 60% of their front 5 with minimal success. They will have to tax their bullpen more also.
According to the numbers:
- Tim Hudson is a two: 16-7, 3.62 ERA.
- Paul Maholm is a four: 4-5, 3.45 ERA (Braves) and 13-11, 3.67 ERA (total).
- Minor is a five: 11-10, 4.12 ERA.
- Medlen is a three until he duplicates 2012: 10-1, 1.57 ERA.
- Teheran will slot in at five: 0-0, 5.68 ERA.
The Nats have a strong 1 to 3 with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, but Ross Detwiler relies on a variety of fastballs only, which has worked for him so far. Dan Haren was only signed for 1 year due to the elbow problems he had last season, and that was a deal breaker with the Cubs. Meanwhile, their offense will benefit from a healthier Jayson Werth in the 5 hole, and Denard Span to ignite their attack. However, 5 of them fan frequently.
The Nationals lost 3 southpaws from their relief corps: Sean Burnett (Angels), Mike Gonzalez (Brewers) and Tom Gorzelanny (Brewers). They added Bill Bray, who was released outright by the Reds. They say their right-handers can retire left-side sticks, but that may not be a wise decision with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on an adversary’s squad. Their relievers will be expected to carry a heavy load again.
2012 Pitching Ratios:INN+/1 = SP Minimum Targeted Workload
The locals have in recent campaigns been known to swing and miss, but recent statistics suggest otherwise. When you face tougher pitching during the postseason, not putting the ball in play is a series killer. The red pinstripes enter the new 162 with 3 aces, the best setup arm and a top-tier closer. In other words, that’s 38 games (23.5%), which does highlight strikeout hurlers, against your 2 immediate rivals for playoff berths.
Delmon Young’s motivations:
- $100,000 per the first 3 monthly weigh-ins at 230 pounds and the last 3 for 235 pounds. (His current weight is 238.)
- $250,000 for 1 day on the active roster.
- $100,000 apiece for 40, 80, 120 and 160 days on the active roster.
- $150,000 each for 250, 300, 350 and 400 plate appearances.
- $200,000 apiece for 450 and 500 plate appearances.
- $250,000 each for 550 and 600 plate appearances.
Utley knows that he must be active year-round to prevent more spring issues, while Howard’s recuperation should be complete. Young has $2.75 million in incentives for $3.5 million total, and he could double that after a solid summer. It is not going out on a limb to think Halladay will almost be the stud he was in 2011, or maybe the same number one he’s been at the Bank. Utley has the pop back in his stroke, Howard is sound, and the Doctor is prepping for surgery.
Doubled 2012 stats:
- Howard at .219, 28 bombs and 112 RBI for 520 at-bats.
- Utley at .256, 22 taters and 90 RBI for 602 at-bats.
Like the Yankees in 2009, this aging band of warriors can win the NL East by beating Washington and Atlanta during those 38 battles.
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This is the 13th storyline for 2013. Check out my recent publication (Creative Doctoring) on the Phillies page or my author archives, where there is an excerpt photo. Also, my new feature is Suds or Studs. The last one was The End Result.
I will periodically publish the 2013 ERA for the NL East and the 2013 ERA for the MLB 5. Thank you, to all who bookmarked my page.
Tal Venada (Author Archives)