We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2009 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2009 Phillies Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of The Fightins.
1) Will Ryan Howard hit above .260 in 2009?
Yes. Yes he will.
Even I, the staunch Ryan Howard defender, can’t possibly begin to explain what the hell was going on with him at the start of 2008. By the end of May, the greatest power hitter in baseball was batting a dismal .206 with 78 punchouts; well on his way to obliterating the single-season strikeout record. He spent the better part of the summer trying to boost that first number while lowering the second. Over the next 4 months, he regained that MVP swagger and wound up hitting .273 with just 121 K’s in twice the amount of at-bats that he had in April and May.
I don’t think it would be asking too much to expect those same type of numbers throughout a full season in 2009.
For some odd reason, many baseball fans — especially in Philadelphia — don’t give Howard the propers he deserves. They think the strikeouts are way too high and average way too low, therefore dismissing the brute strength that has been known to deposit poorly-placed fastballs 25 rows deep in right field.
Me on the other hand, I have faith in the big guy. I’ll gladly take the behemoth who hits 175 homers in 3½ years, thankyouverymuch.
The point of baseball is to score more runs than the opposing team. Nobody will help you do this on a nightly-basis better than he. Because Ryan Howard just doesn’t produce — he PRODUCE.
2) When will Chase Utley return? How do you think the surgery will change his game?
Your guess is as good as mine. I assume he’ll miss the first month of the season, but then again, this is Chase F*cking Utley we’re talking about. Towards the end of last year, you could really notice how the hip was bothering him. He’d swing at pitches he usually crushes and put his head down right away knowing he didn’t get enough of it.
Chase’s offseason training regimen is sick, though. By the end of next year, he’ll put up his usual line of .300+ BA/30+ HR/100+ RBI/100+ Runs and everyone will forget he was injured in the first place.
3) Cole Hamels avoided injuries and got above 30 starts in 2008. But does the 262 innings in 2008 worry you? Can he stay healthy in 2009?
Yes, the increase in innings are definitely a cause for concern.
I wouldn’t dare call Cole Hamels soft (blasphemy!), but his stick-like frame and injury history would lead one to believe that a repeat performance is nearly impossible. As long as it’s nothing major, we (and by “we” I mean “the Phillies and I”) should have enough above-average pitching available (Happ, Kendrick, Carrasco) to come in and fill the void if need be.
But until he actually gets injured, I will go on believing that Cole Hamels is a cot damn iron man who will show up every fifth (or sixth) day with that outstanding change-up of his and continue to baffle MLB hitters.
Plus, he’s so dreamy!
There is definitely another reason, and I’m pretty sure it has something to do with being the least productive member of the greatest run-producing infield ever assembled. While Schmidt and Rolen were supposed to be the team’s main source of offense, Pete Happy is best served playing in the shadow of guys like Chase, Young James, and Big Brown.
The reason Phillies fans were so hard on Mike Schmidt and Scott Rolen was simple: they loved to complain. When a player in Philadelphia bitches about the fans, or the way they are being treated, the fans repay those players by booing the ever-loving shit out of them. Over time, we have forgiven Schmidt. He was a sensitive fellow, but at the end of the day, he was THEE greatest third baseman to ever play. Rolen on the other hand, was, is, and always shall be, a joyless prick with loads of talent who never lived up to his potential. At least now he gets to revel in the obscurity of playing for Toronto.
It’s just how he likes it, too. When no one pays attention to you, no one complains.
Say what you want about Feliz, but he was an unsung hero during the playoffs who — might I add — smacked the game-winning hit in the deciding contest of the World Series. And his glove work makes up for the fact that he can’t hit an off-speed pitch to save his life.
Seriously, why do pitchers even bother throwing him fastballs?
5) Because Raul Ibanez is boring, we’re going to end this with a Pat Burrell question. It’s rumored that Pat Burrell was the man back in college days, earning the nickname, ‘Pat The Bat.’ (My girlfriend was a Sugarcane, the baseball team’s cheerleaders at University of Miami, and Burrell slept with a bunch of her friends. I refuse to believe she was one of them.) So a friend of yours calls you up from a bar to tell you your wife/girlfriend is talking with a player. Are you more worried if it’s Burrell or Brett Myers?
Rumored?!!?? That’s a FACT, brother.
Stories of Pat’s philandering — especially in his early days — are legendary around these parts. If you happen to run into an attractive girl under 30 in the Tri-State area, chances are Pat has slept with her, one of her good-looking friends, or both at the same time. Phils broadcaster Harry Kalas even told a story this year how teammates used to call him “Pat the Bait” because they would take him to a bar just so they could sample his leftovers. His LEFTOVERS!
The sad truth is, if you see your girlfriend/wife chatting it up with Pat Burrell in a bar, let her go man. It’s over.