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 2011 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2011 Phillies Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of The 700 Level.
1. When I draft Domonic Brown this year, I want balloons, streamers and Megan Fox to fall from my ceiling. Not metaphorically. So what can we expect of him this year? Use superlatives, exclamation marks and hyperbole. Thank you.
Well, based on this pic of the Phillies’ new HD scoreboard, they’re anticipating Ben Francisco doing quite a bit of time in right this season. Of course, the all-knowing scoreboard doesn’t give Roy Halladay much love (3.41 ERA my uncle!) and refuses to acknowledge that Yunel Escobar was traded to the Blue Jays, so perhaps it can’t be trusted for fantasy advice after all. I think Brown will eventually emerge as a very good player with eleventy categories of production, but I’m not banking on superlatives this season. He’ll lose PT and ABs to Francisco, almost definitely a significant amount early on, but Brown will eventually emerge from the platoon like Jayson Werth did from the tremendous shadow cast by Geoff Jenkins! I just don’t have the first clue whether or when that will happen in 2011.
Even in the process of breaking up with Jayson Werth for most of the 2010 season and all of the off-season, the Phillies never handed this job to Brown, keeping him hidden on the bench, not getting meaningful ABs anywhere, and they’re speaking warmly about Francisco this winter. I’m hoping they’re confident enough in Brown that they feel they don’t need to coddle him, but rather challenge him to play his ass off in spring training and rightfully inherit a fan group in the right field stands.
I suppose you wanted something substantive and not all hedgy, so I’ll make something reasonable up. His totals won’t be gaudy this season, but his stats per fantasy game started could help in a pinch after the All-Star Break, especially the speed. I obviously wouldn’t pencil him in as anywhere near a starter in a fantasy OF, but if you’re feeling deep in the late rounds (and you should be if you follow your trusty Razzball tiers), he could be a rewarding stash-and-see, which is what I’m usually looking for late. Just be ready to wait, as most signs are currently pointing to Francisco. Long spring ahead though…
2. Roy Halladay will win the Cy Young with Cliff Lee finishing in 2nd and Oswalt a distant third. Of course, the argument will be that Oswalt should’ve won it with Lee finishing 2nd but the Phillies bullpen blew any game the starter didn’t go nine innings. Or is that being unfair to Lidge and he’ll be a fine fantasy closer this year?
I’ve been burned by Lidge before, both in not trusting him in 2008 and trusting him in 2009, so this one’s tough. I’ll give a firm answer though—Lidge should be a fine fantasy closer in 2011. Opportunity is king, and he’ll have plenty of that on a team that could win 100 games this season despite a key departure and a few unknowns. The Phillies offense lost production in Jayson Werth, and we don’t know what we’ll get from the current corner outfielders or Jimmy Rollins, so we could see some close games. It’s possible a healthy Lidge will see the NL lead in save opps.
He also has a well-known next-in-line commodity (and so should his drafters), so Ryan Madson should be stashed at the first signs of re-Lidge’n, and yet no one in the bullpen is likely to challenge for saves unless Lidge melts down (good for fantasy owners, not so much for Phils). It’ll take a pretty loud string of blown saves or an injury before Lidge is yanked from the closer role though, because Charlie Manuel has well-documented loyalty to him after 2008, giving him a much longer leash than his stuff has commanded since then. He may hurt you in WHIP (to the degree a closer can), but the saves will be there if he stays healthy, which can be an issue.
And yes, that’s the presumed pecking order for Cy this season. Each of the Phillies Big 4 should make a capable #1 starter for fantasy purposes. Take that, rest of the NL East. Those four should account for more save opps than their human rotation counterparts, with low runs against through the first seven or eight innings and limited exposure to save opp blowing middle relievers. Of course, their combined 50 complete games could account for some S-eepage.
3. I still love Chase Utley even if his health has betrayed us recently. And by ‘us,’ I mean me. Can Utley have one more year of 30/20 and compete for the MVP?
Sure, hindsight being 30/20, Utley wasn’t quite up to snuff last year. And while I think he’ll probably be just shy of both those marks in 2011, that’s still pretty good. I probably still wouldn’t take him as a first rounder (I don’t like any risk in round one) if drafting today, but he’ll make a fine second pick as long as he stays healthy. If I had a fantasy blog, it’d probably be called “As Long As He Stays Healthy.”
4. One more aging superstar question. While I’m still optimistic about Utley, I’m not on Jimmy Rollins. His career slide looks like it’s in full effect. Do you have any hope for him to give us one more 150 game, top shortstop in the league year?
Sadly, no. I can clearly remember a baffled press box hammering away on laptops after someone said, “Jimmy isn’t out there” when the Phillies took the field for the home opener. He’d been on the field beforehand and was even on the lineup card, but he strained his calf while getting loose. In May, he re-aggravated the injury and headed back to the shelf. Hard to have full confidence in his fantasy production, particularly his speed, after that, although I assume he’s going into the season healthy. We also don’t know how much the Phils will run this year with the great Davey Lopes leaving. SS is looking pretty unpredictable after the top tier, but I have my doubts as to whether Jimmy can make it back there. However, there’s also reason to think Rollins will bounce back at least somewhat this year. I’ve heard he had a relaxed off-season last year, but he’s really working out this winter to come out in great shape. It’s his contract year too.
5. Which of the following is true: 1) Pat Burrell liked to make love to the Phillie Fanatic to bust out of slumps, 2) Steve Carlton once had a 15-minute conversation that didn’t touch upon conspiracy theories, or 3) Ryan Howard and Greg Luzinski ran into each other at a Philadelphia-area Weight Watchers meeting.
You bite your tongue.