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Phillies 2013 Predictions: Writers of "A Snowball's Chance" weigh in

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The 2013 Phillies season has officially begun. And unlike the past several years, there’s quite a bit of uncertainty regarding this team, so the writers of Philly2Philly’s A Snowball’s Chance offer their insights as to how they think the pinstripes will fare this season. Believe it or not, some of their answers might actually surprise you.

 

Joe Vallee: 

 

Unlike last season, there is more reason to be optimistic with this Phillies team. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard had very nice springs, Domonic Brown looked great, and the bullpen is improved. Of course, none of this means anything after the first pitch of Opening Day, but there are reasons to be optimistic.Halladay: Lee/Associated Press

 

At the same time, there is still a lot of ifs on this team. The elephant in the room is Doc Halladay. Fox 29’s Mike Jerrick asked me on Good Day Live this past Friday if I have faith in Doc.

 

And I’m honestly not sure. I want to, but I’m realistic at the same time. He’ll be 36 in May, he’s logged a lot of innings in his career, and pitchers just don’t get their stuff back as they get older. We realistically are seeing the beginning of Halladay’s decline. Any pitcher can reinvent themselves, or at least try, but that doesn’t mean it will work. Moreover, there’s not a whole lot of time to find out. The best thing we can do is cross our fingers here and hope Halladay can somewhat get his groove back. If he could win 13 games this year, that puts the Phillies in a good position to grab that second Wild Card.

 

We all knew this day would eventually come, but the Phillies are no longer the division favorites anymore. The Nationals and Braves have clearly caught up with them as far as talent goes. However, as we saw in 2010 and 2011, the best team on paper doesn’t always win. This Phillies won the World Series with probably their second least talented team of this era in 2008. They tend to play better when they’re the underdog, and if they can squeeze out 90-91 wins, the Phils probably can sneak in the playoffs. And if they’re hot at the right time, they could do some damage.

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Ryan Downs: 

 

The 2013 Phillies are in unfamiliar territory. They are not reigning division champions, nor are they favorites to recapture that flag. Instead, this team is being relegated to dark horse, and I'm fairly sure they'll have a chip on their collective shoulder.

 

Let's be honest, the Washington Nationals are very talented. The Atlanta Braves are also young and talented, but their offseason overhaul seems a bit overhyped to me. I believe the Phils have a solid chance to make some noise in the division this year. That said, they carry plenty of "ifs" regarding health, defense, and, perhaps most notably, manager. These could prove to be their undoing if things do not break their way.

charlie manuel

 

If Ryan Howard and Chase Utley can stay healthy and mimic the players we knew from 2005-2009. If Doc Halladay can overcome his loss of velocity to maintain some form of consistency. If Michael Young can still play a decent third base, and if Dom Brown brings that new and improved stroke north to Philly. If a low-fat Delmon Young can return and provide some right-handed pop in the middle of the lineup. If the Phillies can catch and throw the ball on a consistent basis. I see defense as a real concern. After years of Pedro Feliz and Placido Polanco, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino, perhaps we are a bit spoiled.

 

Oh, and there’s always the chance that the team starts slow and allows Charlie Manuel’s contract situation to become an even bigger issue. If the Ryne Sandberg whispers get louder by May or June, this team could be headed for some serious trouble and/or changes.

 

My best bet is that everything does not break the Phillies way in 2013. As a result, they are a probable Wild Card threat at best. But, this is the type of veteran, talented team that could sneak up on the non-believers and surprise some people.

 

Ultimately, I still believe their ceiling is 2013 NL East Division Champs, but they’ll fall short.

 
 

Matt Goldberg: 

 

The MLB postseason has become like the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Once in the postseason, anybody can win it all—except, it seems, the very best team during the regular season. We Phillies diehards found that out the hard way in both 2010 and 2011.

 

So, I’m here to offer one piece of good news. I will go out on a limb and tell you that the 2013 Fightins will not have the best record in baseball.Photo: Phillysportslive.com

 

The not-so-good news? I’m not sure if they will be good enough to get into the postseason. Now, if this were 2009, this team…with a younger Michael Young and a more Doc-like Halladay (to say nothing of prime Howard/Utley/Rollins)…I would be afraid that this team would win 100 or so games. As is, I still like them to win somewhere around 87—call it 88, which is both a lucky and unlucky number for diehard Flyers fans. But, let’s get back to it.

 

This morning, on the way to softball practice, I heard someone say that only 10 players from the 2012 Opening Day roster will be on the roster tomorrow night in Atlanta. There may be a technicality or two there (a couple guys on the DL, and Carlos Ruiz’s 25-game suspension), but that is a lot of change. I didn’t fact-check it, but I came up with either 9, 10 or 11.

 

With so much turnover, and a lot of question marks, a lot can go right and perhaps, a whole lot more can go wrong. It’s almost surreal that Halladay has become a question mark, as he was one of the surest things in baseball for so long—on a par with Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Vin Scully in that regard. With a somewhat vintage Doc, our starting pitching rotation still stands with the Nats and the Dodgers as the best in the league. Without him, it’s still nice enough.

 

The bullpen, with Mike Adams figuring to be a terrific eighth-inning arm, should be much improved this year. And then, what? Can Eric Kratz be Chooch-like for those first 25 games? What does Michael Young have left? Can Ben Revere chase balls (seemingly) from foul line to foul line? Is the 2013 Clearwater version of Domonic Brown coming north? Finally? And then, of course, can Jimmy still bring it every day as he has, and can we see the 2009 versions of Chase and Ryan—still very pivotal players in our fortunes.

 

My sense is that even if just half of those answers break the right way, that we can get to 88 wins, and perhaps, it’s my heart saying (for the second year in a row, mind you, but without a semi-facetious “World Champions of Baseball” prediction) that they will indeed beat out teams like the Braves, Reds or Cardinals for that second wild card slot. As I write, the Phillies of 2012 missed the postseason, followed by a putrid Eagles team, this year’s lowly 76ers and maybe the Flyers all not qualifying. The orange-and-black may yet sneak in, probably not. But, at least the Phillies get back in.

 

Call me a homer, but they have to, right?


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