The defending NL East champs should gather their titles while they may, since the same Phillies that flower today tomorrow will be dying.
It’s been six seasons since the Phillies finished anywhere other than first in the National League East. Last year, they led the major leagues with 102 wins, their highest total during their recent run of success. Over the winter, they signed Jonathan Papelbon, the top closer available on the free agent market, and saw their jilted former closer, Ryan Madson, blow out his elbow before he could throw a meaningful pitch for a competitor. Their starting rotation will be headlined by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels, who project to be three of the 15 most valuable pitchers in baseball. Their lineup will be bolstered by a full season from Hunter Pence. On the surface, most signs point to continued success. But the Phillies’ competitive window may be closing quickly.
There are four Phillies ranked between 51 and 100 on ESPN’s list of the top 500 players for 2012: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Shane Victorino. It’s conceivable that none of those four will be both ranked in that range and in uniform for the Phillies in 2013. Howard was worth less than two wins in each of the past two seasons and finished 12th on his team in WARP last season, so he’s already out of place that high on the leaderboard. This could be the season his reputation starts to reflect his recent performance: Even after he recovers from the ruptured and subsequently infected Achilles tendon that could cost him the first two months, his on-field decline will likely accelerate at age 32.
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Tommy John surgery claims several more pitchers, and Joba Chamberlain suffers an extremely gruesome ankle dislocation.
Ryan Madson, Cincinnati Reds (Tommy John Surgery)
On Friday, one of the most surprising bits of news with the greatest impact was that Madson needs Tommy John surgery. Madson had battled elbow trouble throughout the spring, but it looked like he was turning a corner as recently as last week. Unfortunately, in the few days prior to his scheduled debut, he suffered a setback and was sent to Dr. Tim Kremchek for further evaluation. Dr. Kremchek found that the ulnar collateral ligament was torn (some of it off the bone), and that the tear appeared to be recent because of the amount of bleeding present.
Madson signed a one-year deal with the Reds over the winter after his four-year deal with Philadelphia fell through. Madson’s injury throws everything in flux for the Reds’ pitching corps, but for now, Sean Marshall is the heir apparent as closer. General manager Walt Jocketty has not ruled moving Aroldis Chapman back into a bullpen role this year but insists nothing is set in stone. The only sure thing is that Madson will miss 2012 and will have a hard time convincing teams to sign him next winter as he completes his rehabilitation.
The Phillies are slammed by injuries to key players, and the results are in for Miguel Cabrera's busted eye socket.
Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (Bilateral Knee Soreness)
Both of Utley’s knees are in pain. They likely degenerated further from his 2011 condition despite modifications to his strength and conditioning program. Last year, the second baseman dealt with chronic patellar tendinitis and trouble with the cartilage on the back of the kneecap. The patellar cartilage has very little ability to heal itself; if it generates pain, surgery is required. The surgery would most likely involve a microfracture technique, something that would put Utley out for at least several months.
The cartilage isn’t the only issue, though. The tendon undergoes changes to the point it’s not really tendon tissue any longer; it changes at the cellular level. In tendinosis, those changes lead to tendon weakening and make the tendon more prone to rupture. It’s one of the reasons why there is an increased chance of Achilles tendon ruptures with cases of chronic Achilles tendinitis.
Injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley make the Phillies' chances of maintaining the NL East crown slimmer.
Have you already penciled the Phillies in atop your projected NL East standings? Well, you might want to find an eraser.
Ryan Howard is going to miss the first two months of the season while recovering from the Achilles injury he suffered last October, and it now appears that Chase Utleywill be joining him on the disabled list with recurring knee woes. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels should hold down their end of the fort, but questions about the Phillies’ offense are looming rather large as the season approaches.
Cano, Utley, Asdrubal, and Iannetta step into the Keeper Reaper's office this week.
Robinson Cano | New York Yankees
Shallow (30 keepers): YES Medium (60 keepers): YES
Deep (90 keepers): YES
NL-only (60 keepers): YES
Super Deep (200 keepers): YES
Last year, Cano was the tenth most valuable player in deep leagues according to PECOTA, registering $31 in auction value. The best part for fantasy owners is that he did so without doing anything unusual.
Can the Phillies count on their killer rotation to hold up over the long haul?
The Team Injury Projections are here, driven by our brand new injury forecasting system, the Comprehensive Health Index [of] Pitchers [and] Players [with] Evaluative Results—or, more succinctly, CHIPPER. Thanks to work by Colin Wyers and Dan Turkenkopf and a database loaded with injuries dating back to the 2002 season—that's nearly 4,600 players and well over 400,000 days lost to injury—we now have a system that produces injury-risk assessments to three different degrees. CHIPPER projects ratings for players based on their injury history—these ratings measure the probability of a player missing one or more games, 15 or more games, or 30 or more games. CHIPPER will have additional features added to it throughout the spring and early season that will enhance the accuracy of our injury coverage.
These ratings are also available in the Player Forecast Manager (pfm.baseballprospectus.com), where they'll be sortable by league or position—you won’t have to wait for us to finish writing this series in order to see the health ratings for all of the players.
Our medical detective explains why a American Orthapaedic Society for Sports Medicine survey skews injury figures, along med news from around the majors.
Sometimes, things hide in plain sight. Do you remember those Encyclopedia Brown stories from about fourth grade? The brainy kid would solve the mystery inside of 10 pages, always in some sharp way. Put on your Encyclopedia Brown hat, because you're going to solve a mystery. Last week, a major study was published at the annual conference of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine that got quite a bit of publicity. The money line from the study is that "pitchers are 34 percent more likely to be injured than fielders" and that "77 percent of all injuries to pitchers happen before the All-Star Game." The first seems like common sense, especially in this era. The second, the 77 percent, is wrong. It's correct, yes, but there's a very apparent reason. Think about it and I'll give you the answer in just a bit.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting. Picking favorites for the Wild Card for the respective leagues initially might have seemed easy, since the selections universally favored the second-place team in the AL East, while all but two voters picked their second-place teams in the NL East to earn the non-division champ playoff team, but a tie in the rankings had to be broken in favor of the team named the Wild Card winner on the most individual ballots, which is sure to upset some people.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that's been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
Will the Phillies establish a mini-dynasty, or will the Yankees add to their crowded trophy case with another title?
A year ago, the Phillies broke a 28-year-old title drought by winning the World Series, defeating the upstart Rays in five games. After winning 93 games in the regular season and tidily dispatching both the Rockies and the Dodgers in the first two rounds, they're back to defend their crown with a cast that's largely the same, save for summer acquisition Cliff Lee. They're the first NL team to repeat as pennant winners since the 1995-1996 Braves, and if they win the World Series, they'll be they first senior circuit club to do so since the 1975-1976 Reds.