How Phillies compare, position by position, with foes

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Cole Hamels must bounce back from a subpar season.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Cole Hamels must bounce back from a subpar season.
Posted: February 12, 2014

WE ARE 2 days away from the first official workout for pitchers and catchers in Clearwater. A lot will have to go right for the Phillies to break .500, let alone contend for a playoff spot. Below, we break down our projected Opening Day roster position-by-position, with comparisons to those of the rest of the National League. If our unscientific eyeballing of where the Phillies fit is any indication, they will be a middle-of-the-pack team.

Opening Day depth chart: 1. Cliff Lee, 2. Cole Hamels, 3. Kyle Kendrick, 4. Roberto Hernandez, 5. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez/Jonathan Pettibone/Chad Gaudin

Preseason rank: 8th in NL

Last year: 4.41 ERA (14th), 968 1/3 innings (9th), 7.2 K/9 (8th), 2.76 K/BB (6th)

This year: The Phillies have exactly two starters who finished last season as healthy members of a major league rotation. Those two pitchers - lefties Lee and Hamels - will need to remain healthy for the Phillies to finish above .500 for the first time since 2011. Hamels had a rough start in 2013 but finished with a 3.60 ERA and 220 innings, while Lee checked in with a 2.87 ERA and 222 2/3 innings. Behind them, things are dicey. Kendrick and Pettibone are borderline No. 5 starters in a championship-caliber rotation, and both finished 2013 on the disabled list. Hernandez, the righthander formerly known as Fausto Carmona, was jettisoned from the Rays' rotation last year, when he posted a 4.89 ERA and 151 innings in 24 starts and eight relief appearances. Gaudin will provide depth, challenging Pettibone and Gonzalez for the No. 5 spot in the rotation or a role in long relief. Gonzalez, of course, is the biggest wild card, a hulking Cuban with a mid-90s fastball and serious question marks about his durability. The Phillies' numbers should look better at the end of the season because they won't include the 6.82 ERA in 13 starts that Roy Halladay logged last season. But a quick look at some of the better rotations in the NL reveal just how far behind the Phillies are. Kendrick, Gonzalez, Pettibone, Hernandez and Gaudin would have a difficult time even making the Opening Day roster of the Nationals, Braves, Dodgers and Cardlinals.

Better than: Mets (RHP Bartolo Colon, LHP Jon Niese, RHP Zack Wheeler, RHP Dillon Gee, RHP Jenrry Mejia); Padres (RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Andrew Cashner, RHP Josh Johnson, RHP Tyson Ross, RHP Tim Stauffer); Diamondbacks (LHP Tyler Corbin, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Bronson Arroyo, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Randall Delgado); Marlins (RHP Jose Fernandez, RHP Jacob Turner, RHP Nate Eovaldi, RHP Henderson Alvarez, RHP Tom Koehler); Rockies (LHP Jorge de la Rosa, RHP Jhoulys Chacin, LHP Brett Anderson, RHP Tyler Chatwood, LHP Franklin Morales, RHP Jordan Lyles); Pirates (LHP Francisco Liriano, RHP Garrett Cole, LHP Wandy Rodriguez, RHP Charlie Morton, RHP Edinson Volquez, LHP Jeff Locke, RHP Jeanmar Gomez); Cubs (RHP Jeff Samardzija, RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Travis Wood, RHP Jake Arrieta, LHP Chris Rusin).

Worse than: Nationals (RHP Stephen Strasburg, LHP Gio Gonzalez, RHP Jordan Zimmermann, RHP Doug Fister, LHP Ross Detwiler, RHP Ross Ohlendorf, RHP Nate Karns, RHP Chris Young); Braves (LHP Mike Minor, RHP Kris Medlen, RHP Julio Teheran, RHP Brandon Beachy, RHP Alex Wood, RHP Gavin Floyd, RHP Chris Young); Dodgers (LHP Clayton Kershaw, RHP Zack Greinke, RHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, RHP Josh Beckett, RHP Dan Haren, LHP Paul Maholm); Cardinals (RHP Adam Wainwright, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Michael Wacha, LHP Jaime Garcia, RHP Joe Kelly); Reds (RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP Mat Latos, RHP Homer Bailey, RHP Mike Leake, LHP Tony Cingrani, LHP Jeff Francis, RHP Chien-Ming Wang); Brewers (RHP Yovani Gallardo, RHP Matt Garza, RHP Kyle Lohse, RHP Marco Estrada, RHP Wily Peralta); Giants (RHP Matt Cain, LHP Madison Bumgarner, RHP Tim Lincecum, RHP Tim Hudson, RHP Ryan Vogelsong).

2013: .720 OPS (9th), .313 OBP (12th), .259 BA (10th), 57 HR (7th), 205 RBI (8th), 227 runs (13th)

2014: LF Domonic Brown, CF Ben Revere, RF Marlon Byrd, LF Darin Ruf, CF Tony Gwynn, RFBobby Abreu

Better than: Marlins (LF Christian Yelich, CF Marcell Ozuna, RF Giancarlo Stanton); Reds (LF Ryan Ludwick, CF Billy Hamilton, RF Jay Bruce); Giants (LF Mike Morse, CF Angel Pagan, RF Hunter Pence); Mets (LF Curtis Granderson, CF Juan Lagares, RF Chris Young); Padres (LF Carlos Quentin, CF Wil Venable, RF Seth Smith);Cubs (LF Junior Lake, CF Ryan Sweeney, RF Nate Schierholtz)

Worse than: Dodgers (LF Carl Crawford, CF Matt Kemp, RF Yasiel Puig); Nationals (LF Bryce Harper, CF Denard Span, RF Jayson Werth); Cardinals (LF Matt Holliday, CF Peter Bourjos, LF Allen Craig); Pirates (LF Starling Marte, CF Andrew McCutchen, RF Jose Tabata); Braves (LF Justin Upton, CF B.J. Upton, RF Jason Heyward); Brewers (LF Ryan Braun, CF Carlos Gomez, RF Khris Davis); Rockies (LF Corey Dickerson, CF Carlos Gonzalez, RF Michael Cuddyer); Diamondbacks (LF Cody Ross, CF Gerardo Parra, RF Mark Trumbo)

Breakdown: Byrd is the big question mark. Will the 36-year-old look like the player who hit .291/.336/.511 with 24 home runs for the Mets and Pirates in 2013, or the one who hit .260/.305/.358 with 10 home runs for the Cubs and Red Sox in 2011 and 2012? Where he falls on that spectrum likely will determine whether the Phillies have an above-average or below-average outfield, although Revere and Brown both have room to improve. The John Mayberry Jr. situation is a puzzling one since the Phillies will owe him around $200,000 if they cut him, and they cannot option him without exposing him to waivers. Still, at this point, let's project Tony Gwynn making the team as the backup centerfielder, making room for Ruf.

2013: .695 OPS (13th), .299 OBP (14th), .239 BA (11th), 19 HR (10th), 65 RBI (13th), 74 R (10th)

2014: Ryan Howard, Darin Ruf

Better than: Cardinasl (Matt Adams); Nationals (Adam LaRoche); Cubs (Anthony Rizzo); Rockies (Justin Morneau); Pirates (Gaby Sanchez); Marlins (Garrett Jones); Brewers (Juan Francisco); Padres (Yonder Alonso); Mets (Ike Davis)

Worse than: Reds (Joey Votto); Diamondbacks (Paul Goldschmidt); Dodgers (Adrian Gonzalez); Braves (Freddie Freeman); Giants (Brandon Belt)

Breakdown: While Howard's production wasn't worth the $25 million the Phillies paid him, the longtime first baseman was still a productive player relative to the rest of the NL, hitting .266/.319/.465 with 11 home runs in 80 games before undergoing season-ending knee surgery. Ruf could see a healthy dose of plate appearances against lefties, against whom Howard has historically struggled.

2013: .758 OPS (4th), .330 OBP (6th), .267 BA (7th), 20 HR (3th), 78 RBI (5th), 83 R (3rd)

2014: Chase Utley, Kevin Frandsen, Freddy Galvis

Better than: Reds (Brandon Phillips); Diamondbacks (Aaron Hill); Pirates (Neil Walker); Padres (Jed Gyorko); Dodgers (Alexander Guerrero); Nationals (Anthony Rendon); Mets (Daniel Murphy); Giants (Marco Scutaro); Brewers (Scooter Gennett); Cardinals (Kolten Wong); Cubs (Darwin Barney); Marlins (Adeiny Hechavarria); Rockies (DJ LeMahieu); Braves (Dan Uggla)

Worse than: Nobody

Breakdown: Utley did not have any knee problems last season, but he did miss a month with a rib muscle injury. When he is on the field, he is the best all-around offensive second baseman in the NL. When he is not on the field, the Phillies are in trouble.

2013: .736 OPS (7th), .331 OBP (7th), .267 BA (5th), 14 HR (10th), 63 RBI (12th), 64 R (13th)

2014: Cody Asche, Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen

Better than: Cubs (Luis Valbuena); Rockies (Nolan Arenado); Marlins (Casey McGehee)

Worse than: Mets (David Wright); Nationals (Ryan Zimmerman); Padres (Chase Headley); Cardinals (Matt Carpenter); Giants (Pablo Sandoval); Brewers (Aramis Ramirez); Pirates (Pedro Alvarez); Braves (Chris Johnson); Diamondbacks (Martin Prado); Reds (Todd Frazier); Dodgers (Juan Uribe)

Breakdown: The 23-year-old Asche hit .271/.338/.457 with five home runs in his first 142 plate appearances as a big leaguer. A 3-for-33 skid over his last 12 games of the season hurt his overall numbers, but there was plenty to like out of the young third baseman. Still, the Phillies once again have a huge amount of uncertainty at the position.

2013: .688 OPS (8th), .322 OBP (6th), .254 BA (8th), 9 HR (10th), 49 RBI (T-8th), 72 R (T-7th)

2014: Jimmy Rollins, Freddy Galvis

Better than: Marlins (Rafael Furcal); Cubs (Starlin Castro); Diamondbacks (Didi Gregorius); Giants (Brandon Crawford); Mets (Ruben Tejada); Reds (Zack Cozart); Pirates (Jordy Mercer)

Worse than: Rockies (Troy Tulowitzki); Dodgers (Hanley Ramirez); Nationals (Ian Desmond); Cardinals (Jhonny Peralta); Brewers (Jean Segura); Padres (Everth Cabrera); Braves (Andrelton Simmons)

Breakdown: Rollins had the worst season of his career as a 34-year-old. For the Phillies to provide their suspect rotation with enough offense, he will need to be closer to the player he was in 2012, when he hit .250/.316/.427 with 23 home runs.

2013: .674 OPS (8th), .300 OBP (9th), .245 BA (8th), 16 HR (8th), 71 RBI (10th), 55 R (11th)

2014: Carlos Ruiz, Wil Nieves

Better than: Brewers (Jonathan Lucroy); Pirates (Russell Martin); Braves (Evan Gattis); Dodgers (A.J. Ellis); Marlins (Jarrod Saltalamacchia); Mets (Travis d'Arnaud); Nationals (Wilson Ramos); Rockies (Willin Rosario); Cubs (Welington Castillo); Padres (Nick Hundley); Reds (Devin Mesoraco).

Worse than: Giants (Buster Posey); Cardinals (Yadier Molina); Diamondbacks (Miguel Montero)

Breakdown: Ruiz couldn't find any traction last season, missing the first 25 games due to a suspension and then hitting .268/.320/.368 in 92 games. Still, he showed some signs of life after returning in June from a monthlong stint on the disabled list.

2013: 4.19 ERA (14th), 8.1 K/9 (8th), 1.89 K/BB (15th), 67 percent save rate (11th)

2014: RHP Jonathan Papelbon, RHP Mike Adams, LHP Antonio Bastardo, LHP Jake Diekman, RHP Ethan Martin, RHP Brad Lincoln, RHP Chad Gaudin

Breakdown: Bullpen performance is notoriously volatile year to year, so we're not going to try to rank where the Phillies fit. A lot will depend on Adams, who is hoping to return from shoulder surgery early in the season, if not by Opening Day. The Phillies have some hard throwers, but they are short on proven, consistent veterans.


On Twitter: @ByDavidMurphy

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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