The regular season is finally upon us! And guys, I don't know how to tell you this, but I don't think the Phillies are going to be very good this season. I KNOW. SHOCKING NEWS.
Several members of the TGP staff have made predictions about the upcoming Phillies season. You can read them below, but we want to hear from you! Make your official predictions in the comments, including "prediction" in the comment subject. In six months, we'll take a look back at the staff and reader predictions and see who was the closest.
Hamels Status: Traded before the deadline
Other players traded: Harang, Papelbon, Revere
Vaporized to Mars for the good of baseball. Woof. The Phillies are going to lose a lot of games. I mean, a lot a lot. But in the end, I couldn't do it. I couldn't predict that they'd lose 100 games. I have to cover this team every day, I need to give myself *some* hope. Not that predicting they'll lose one game short of 100 is hope. It's more like PhilliesHope, which is the fervent desire for things to be just slightly less bad than the worst case scenario we've all come to expect. Mmmm, PhilliesHope. Smells like cheese. Cheese, and whatever a poorly run organization stuck in the 1920s smells like. (I'm guessing old man stink and bathtub gin.) If there is a God, and I'm not sure there is, then Papelbon will be traded before the end of the season. If he's not traded this season, then he's never leaving and we all have to make peace with that. If Harang can be even slightly better than average, some team will want him to shore up their rotation. The departure of Ben Revere would made me sad, as I'd miss that adorable drunken squirrel scurrying around in the outfield, but he steals bases and hits for a high (but empty) average. Someone will want him. At this point, I don't think anyone is sacred. It won't make the team more fun to watch, and who knows if it'll end up being actual positive progress, but why not try things like trading Ben Revere, or putting Odubel Herrera in center field? There's no better time to try crazy things then when the team is going to be indescribably terrible.
Record: 67-95 (4th in NL East)
Players traded: Hamels, Papelbon, Harang, Revere
I feel I've been beating this drum all offseason, but I think the odds are in favor of the Phillies finishing with a better record than the Braves. Those odds aren't overwhelming, maybe 55-45 or 60-40, but they're there. You have to believe me. Despite finishing ahead of the Braves, the Phillies will still likely have one of the 3 or 4 worst records in baseball, so the powers that control Citizens Bank Park were wise to expand the selection of alcohol at the park. Expect more instances of fans vomiting on other fans due to the confluence of increased alcohol consumption and disgust with the on-field product. As with most sicknesses, this rough period will be temporary and we'll get a glimpse of the cure starting mid-summer when Nola and Franco arrive for good. It won't be pretty, but at least we'll be better than the Braves.
Record: 64-98 (5th, NL East)
Players traded: Hamels, Sizemore, Harang, Utley
I'm trying to set my expectations for this 2015 Phillies season to full-blown Darkest Timeline: everything short of blood rain, a hailstorm of frogs targeted at Jesse Biddle's head, and Mike Schmidt outing himself as a lifelong Braves fan in the middle of a broadcast as T-Mac gratifies himself with a rapid-fire string of "How about that!"s. So… Papelbon will hurt himself, joining Cliff Lee on the too-broken-to-trade list. Ben Revere's offensive profile will remain the same, except that he'll hit .260, rendering himself totally useless. Domonic Brown is the guy from last year. Most of the other twenty-somethings--Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Darin Ruf, Cameron Rupp--are so bad that we almost pine for the days of Michael Young. Chad Billingsley will turn in five straight shockingly dominant starts in May and June… and then tear something, miss the rest of the year, and probably retire. Chase Utley will hit like gangbusters for the first six weeks, then succumb to the Superfund site of his baseball surroundings and accept a trade to the Angels in late June. Hamels will go to the NL Central, as a Cub or Cardinal, in a deal most of us are surprisingly okay with. With the Phils on pace to lose 112 games and having totally lost the clubhouse, Ryne Sandberg is fired on August 6, replaced by--wait for it--Larry Bowa. Throwing everything into total confusion, the team plays near-.500 ball under Bowa to avoid 100 losses. The Phillies' lineup on the last day of the season: P Joely Rodriguez, C Tommy Joseph, 1B Maikel Franco, 2B Cesar Hernandez, 3B Cody Asche, SS (trade acquisition), LF Odubel Herrera, CF Aaron Altherr, RF (trade acquisition). They win the game.
Players Traded: Hamels, Papelbon, Howard, Giles... Utley
I expect the season will begin poorly but for a few bright spots, and then pursue ever greater levels of rank decay. Utley will have a month of .300/.400/.500 hitting. Hamels and Buchanan will give the Phillies a chance to win every time out and will have a few excellent games between them. Revere will hit 18 HRs in April, all walk-off. But by the end of May RAJ will start trading pieces off. First, Utley. Then, Hamels and Paps. Then, Howard, whose ability to punish RHPs will garner trade-deadline interest. And, finally, Giles will stretch out his back, hit the upper 90s again, and become fodder for padding the farm because the Phillies don't expect him to be useful when they are ready to compete again. As these players are traded away, the morale of the team will wane and their commitment to playing hard everyday will falter, leading to a devastating 20-loss streak interrupted only by a rain-postponed game with the Braves that MLB decides would be better left unfinished. But not all will have been lost. Finally, Darin Ruf will be given the starting 1B job and the fans will be satisfied that they have seen justice done.
David S. Cohen
Lifelong Phillies traded: 2 (Hamels and Chooch)
Outfield home runs: 12
Starting pitchers used: 15
This is going to be ugly. The only real intrigue is who is going to be worse - the Phillies or the Braves. Right now, I give the Phillies a slight edge, but the Braves may have the guts to really go for the bottom this year in a way the Phillies won't. I wouldn't be surprised to see the two "rivals" duking it out for the 100 win mark by the end of the season. My best wish for the team is that the young guys progress and stay healthy, they get good return for a couple of veterans mid-season, and CBP remains a fun place to watch a game. Because even if the team is going to stink, that doesn't mean we can't still enjoy baseball in South Philly. Right? Please?
Opening Day Players Traded: Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Grady Sizemore
From an objective standpoint, this Phillies team is going to be bad. If you live for powerhouse wins, this season isn't going to be fun. On the other hand, if you can find a way to squeeze some amusement out of what is otherwise a tire fire, this team has the potential to be fun. Not in the 2009 Phillies sense, of course, but more in the 2013 Astros sense. A team that is so bad, it's, well, not good, of course, but just less bad. In other words, learn to be like this guy: