The Phillies 2012 season got off to a rough start when former All Star 1B Ryan Howard and 2B Chase Utley were forced to miss the start of the season due to injuries. Many expected Utley to be back sooner than June 27th and in the meantime, ace RHP Roy Halliday went down with a significant injury. Halliday was on the DL from May 28th to July 16th. Howard made his season debut on July 7th. It was no coincidence that the Phillies played their best baseball in August and September.
The Phillies moved CF Shane Victorino and RF Hunter Pence as they gave up on their season at the end of July. They have essentially replaced them with Revere, who was acquired from Minnesota in a trade for RHP Vance Worley, and Young, who was signed to a ridiculously team friendly contract. Young will start the season on the disabled list, giving Domonic Brown a chance to play every day. Brown (.235, 5, 26 in 56 games) has gotten small samples of opportunity to play and is still thought of to be a core type player. This will be the season we either see it or see that Brown is not that type of player. Revere is a younger, better defensive version of Juan Pierre. Fans will find quickly that Pierre's 2012 season (.307, 1, 25, 37 SB in 130 games) could be a tall order for Revere to equal. However, Revere had a breakout season in 2012 (.294, 0, 32, 40 SB) and will be just 25 this year. Young could be the biggest bargain signing of the entire off season, coming off (.267, 18, 74) a good season with an even better postseason (+.300 AVG, 3 HRs).
Michael Young came over from Texas in a trade for very little. Young had a historically bad season in 2012 (.682 OPS), but is just a year removed from a .338, 11, 106 season in 2011 with 41 2Bs and 213 hits. Playing 3B could be an issue for Young, who has spent most of the past two seasons as a DH. Catcher Carlos Ruiz will start the season suspended, with SS Jimmy Rollins (.250, 23, 68, 37 SB) the lone starter from last season who played the entire season (156 games). With OF Darin Ruf starting the season in AAA to work on his defense, the Phillies could start the season with John Mayberry Jr and Laynce Nix in LF. If Delmon Young is not ready soon enough, expect Ruf to be on the big league roster sooner rather than later. I'd line the Phillies up like this: Revere CF, Utley 2B, Rollins SS, Howard 1B, M Young 3B, Brown RF, Mayberry/ Nix LF, Eric Kratz C. Delmon Young and Ruiz make the lineup much deeper and gives manager Charlie Manuel more flexibility. Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen and perhaps Ender Inciarte will be important members of the team's bench, with Mayberry, Nix and Ruf playing a huge role when Delmon Young returns.
I know the Phillies have at least another year or two out of their big three of Halliday (11-8, 4.49), Cole Hamels (17-6, 3.05, 216 Ks in 215 1/3 IP) and Cliff Lee (6-9, 3.16, 207 Ks in 211 IP). Kyle Kendrick pitched well down the stretch of last season and finished 11-12, 3.90 in 37 games, 25 starts. In doing so, for the first time, Kendrick will have a spot in the rotation to start the season. John Lannan comes over as a free agent from Washington, where he was forced to spend a lot of time in the minors last year just because he had minor league options left. Lannan made 30 plus starts three out of four seasons (from 2008-2011). Top pitching prospects Jesse Biddle and Ethan Martin could get a look in 2013, but are more likely to debut in 2014.
The Phillies middle relief was atrocious in 2013. Getting the ball to closer Jonathan Papelbon (5-6, 2.44, 38 saves) seemed like an impossible task at times. Outside of Papelbon and Jeremy Horst (1.15 ERA), the Phillies had no relief pitchers pitch in over 31 IP and have an ERA less than 4.33. They should expect a bounce back season from Antonio Bastardo (2-5, 4.33 in 65 games). However, Bastardo did strike out 81 batters in 52 IP last season. Mike Adams (5-3, 3.27 in 61 games) comes over from Texas to solidify the 8th inning. Chad Durbin (4-1, 3.10 in 76 games) returns to Philadelphia after a 2 year hiatus. Bastardo and Horst will return. Phillippe Aumont (0-1, 3.68 in 18 games) and Jake Diekman (1-1, 3.95 in 32 games) will round out the bullpen. Michael Stutes is also an option.
I thought Vegas was very down on the Phillies, putting their over/ under at 81 1/2. To me, it is an easy over. Though the division will be very competitive (in my opinion, the only division with three 90+ win teams), I see the Phillies and their leadership prevailing. They will win 94 games, 2 more than the Nationals for 1st place in the NL East.