Category Archives: Philadelphia Phillies

2018 NL East Predictions

  1. Washington Nationals

The Nationals are definitely the team to beat in the NL East and there isn’t really a team that will likely compete with them in 2018. Washington has a terrific lineup led by Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmermann, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon, and Trea Turner. Also, having a healthy Adam Eaton for the 2018 season makes this lineup even better. It is very difficult to find a weakness in their lineup as they have very dangerous hitters from top to bottom. Washington also has a very good starting rotation especially with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez. It will be key that those 3 pitchers stay healthy because they have struggled with injuries in recent seasons. Washington also has a very good bullpen with Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brandon Kintzler as solid late-inning options. Overall, it is very difficult to find any weakness on this roster and they are not only the favorites to win the NL East, but they are legitimate world series contenders as well.

2. New York Mets

The Mets should certainly be a playoff contender if all goes well in 2018 and they might even provide some competition to the Nationals in the division. New York has arguably the best starting rotation in the MLB with Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, and Jason Vargas. However, the issue for the Mets is that their starting pitchers have really struggled to stay healthy. If the Mets pitchers can stay healthy for the most part in 2018 then they will clearly carry the team. The Mets also have a decent lineup led by very good outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Michael Conforto. New York also added 3rd baseman Todd Frazier this offseason to provide even more depth to their lineup. It is unknown what they will get from the other starters like Asdrubal Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez. However, if the Mets lineup can be above average then the Mets could be a very good team. New York’s bullpen also has the potential to be good as Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, and A.J. Ramos are all good late-inning options. However, the team needs to find a more reliable closer than they had last season and hopefully Familia can improve in that role in 2018. New York still has a few weaknesses that will hold them back, but if their starting rotation can just stay healthy and their lineup can be average then this could be a playoff team.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia had a very disappointing 2017 season, but they made several key additions that should help them to at least be a respectable team in 2018. Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams are two solid outfielders that provide some power in the Phillies lineup and they should only get better in 2018. Also, the team signed veteran 1st baseman Carlos Santana this offseason and he will provide a big power bat in the middle of their lineup for sure. However, Philadelphia needs more production from other players in their lineup like Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, and Cesar Hernandez. The Phillies have the potential to be a good hitting team, but it is unknown what type of production that their young players can provide. However, Philadelphia clearly needs some starting pitching help. Aaron Nola is the clear ace for the Phillies rotation, but besides him the rotation is very inconsistent. The key for the Phillies pitching staff will be whether Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez can improve from their poor 2017 seasons. If Eickhoff and Velasquez can return to form in 2018 then the Phillies could have a decent starting rotation. However, Philadelphia still needs to find some better 4th or 5th starters as they are relying on unproven players Nick Pivetta and Ben Lively to fill those roles. Philadelphia did improve their bullpen this offseason though as they signed Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek to be reliable setup options for quality closer Hector Neris. Philadelphia is a team that has high potential for the 2018 season, but they could also be a very bad team in 2018. The Phillies need their young players to step up and if they do so then the Phillies could possibly be a playoff contender.

4. Atlanta Braves

Atlanta is a similar team to the Phillies because they are still in a rebuild mode, although the Braves still could be a team that surprises some people this season. Freddie Freeman is an elite player that will carry the Braves offense once again in 2018. However, the rest of the lineup isn’t too much of a threat. Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte should continue to be productive players, although neither provides much power as they only combined for 19 home runs last season. However, if the Braves want to be successful offensively they will need more production out of young infielders Dansby Swanson, Johan Camargo, and Ozzie Albies. Atlanta’s lineup has tons of potential with the young players that they have, although don’t expect much production out of it in 2018 besides Freeman. The Braves starting rotation doesn’t appear to be very good heading into the 2018 season. Julio Teheran is the only good starting pitcher that the team really has and even he didn’t have a very good 2017 season. Atlanta is hoping that Teheran can bounce back and be the ace that he has been for most of his career. The Braves also have Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb as a couple of inconsistent young starting pitchers. Both of those guys have tremendous potential, although they haven’t proven that they can be consistent starters at the MLB level. Atlanta will likely struggle quite a bit with their starting pitching and that will hold them back from being a competitive team. The Braves bullpen should be good this season as they have talented young closer Arodys Vizcaino leading the way. However, the depth behind him is kind of concerning as Jose Ramirez and A.J. Minter are the next best options and both of them are kind of unproven. Overall, Atlanta is a team that has some talented young players, but unless those players make significant improvements in 2018 then this team probably won’t be very competitive.

5. Miami Marlins

New owner Derek Jeter came in this offseason and basically made the Marlins a Triple-A team for the 2018 season as he traded away basically every quality player that the team had. The Marlins had a great outfield with Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. However, Jeter decided to significantly cut payroll and he traded all three of those players away. The Marlins did get some good prospects back in those deals by acquiring Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, and Isan Diaz., yet that won’t help the Marlins be competitive in 2018. Brinson could win a starting job for the Marlins in 2018, but the other two guys will likely be starting in the minor leagues. Miami still has some good players in their lineup with J.T. Realmuto, Justin Bour, and Starlin Castro. However, the rest of the lineup is just filled with very unproven players or players like Cameron Maybin and Derek Dietrich that are just temporary starters. The Marlins won’t score many runs this season especially if they trade away Realmuto which they are highly likely to do. Meanwhile, the Marlins rotation have a couple of good starting pitchers with Dan Straily and Jose Urena. However, the rest of the rotation is not very good and they will be relying on unproven starting pitchers to make their rotation effective. The Marlins bullpen could be decent, but they will need closer Brad Ziegler and setup man Junichi Tazawa to improve tremendously in 2018 because they both weren’t good last season. Overall, Miami is arguably the worst team in the MLB heading into the 2018 season and they basically will be lucky if they are even a respectable team.


Phillies sign Santana to a 3-year deal

The Philadelphia Phillies have found their new starting 1st baseman for the next few years as they have signed Carlos Santana to a 3-year/$60 million contract. Santana had spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians which is why it was kind of surprising that he didn’t decide to stay with the team in free agency. Either way, Santana provides the Phillies with veteran leadership and plenty of valuable playoff experience as well. However, it was kind of surprising that the Phillies made this move considering that the Phillies already had plenty of options at 1st base with Rhys Hoskins and Tommy Joseph. Also, both Hoskins and Joseph are much younger options that provide just as much if not more offensive ability than Santana can. The Phillies have bigger needs than at 1st base and if they really want to improve then they should focus on other areas like with their starting pitching. $60 million is a big commitment to make especially for a player at a position that they didn’t have a need at. Now, Rhys Hoskins will likely move to left field which isn’t a big deal considering that he played at that position last season. However, Tommy Joseph will now move to a bench role which is strange considering that he hit 22 home runs with 69 RBI’s last season and he was once considered to be their 1st baseman of the future. There isn’t much doubt that Santana is an upgrade over Joseph at 1st base, yet I don’t think this signing is very worth it for the Phillies since it likely won’t make a significant difference.

Grade: D+

carlos santana

Phillies re-sign Hunter to a 2-year deal

The Philadelphia Phillies will likely have a much better bullpen next season as they have signed veteran right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter to a 2-year/$18 million contract. Philadelphia is looking to improve the back end of their bullpen as they didn’t really have reliable setup options late last season after they traded away Pat Neshek. However, adding a consistent relief pitcher will certainly help the Phillies. Hunter had an impressive 2.61 ERA for Tampa Bay last season as he was mainly used in a late-inning role there. We’ll see if Hunter is given the 7th or 8th inning role for the Phillies next season, but he will certainly provide some more stability than what they had in the late innings. The Phillies now have what could be a very good bullpen in 2018 as they have closer Hector Neris returning to that role and they just signed 2017 all-star pitcher Pat Neshek to fill the other setup role. Philadelphia still has many needs in order to be a playoff contender, but they are certainly taking a step in the right direction by improving their bullpen with the signing of Hunter.

Grade: B+

tommy hunter

Phillies trade Kendrick to the Nationals

The Philadelphia Phillies continued trading away their veteran players as they sent left fielder Howie Kendrick to the Washington Nationals in exchange for minor league pitching prospect McKenzie Mills.


Philadelphia Phillies analysis/grade:

This trade makes a lot of sense for the Phillies since Howie Kendrick is a free agent after the season and he wasn’t a starter for the Phillies anyway. Kendrick provided the Phillies with a player that can play many positions and he provided quality veteran leadership to the young Phillies roster. However, it made sense for the Phillies to trade away Kendrick now rather than lose him for nothing. The Phillies ended up acquiring 21-year old left-handed starting pitcher prospect McKenzie Mills who is having an outstanding season in Low-A. Mills has a 12-2 record with a 3.01 ERA in 18 starts this season which is remarkable considering how terrible he was in his first 2 minor league seasons. Mills is striking out tons of batters and he seems to have improved his control considerably this year. He is still far away from reaching the major leagues, but if he can continue to pitch well consistently like he has this season then he could reach the MLB level in a few years. Mills is an intriguing prospect and it is a good return for the Phillies to get for a veteran player that didn’t play much anyway.

Grade: B


Washington Nationals analysis/grade:

This is a good trade for the Nationals to make in order to improve their depth as they look to make a deep postseason run this season. Kendrick is 34 years old and he will only be a rental player for the Nationals since he is a free agent after this season. However, Kendrick has proven that he can still be a very effective player as he hit .340 with 18 RBI’s for the Phillies in limited playing time this season. The Nationals will probably have Kendrick split time with Adam Lind in left field, but Kendrick is very useful since he can play many different positions. The Nationals didn’t have to give up much for Kendrick and he should be a useful player for the Nationals as they look to make a world series run. Washington lacked depth on their bench prior to this trade and Kendrick definitely will improve this team immediately.

Grade: B+

howie kendrick

Phillies trade Hellickson to the Orioles

The Philadelphia Phillies continued their lengthy rebuild just before the trade deadline as they sent starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for outfielder Hyun Soo Kim and minor league pitcher Garrett Cleavinger.


Philadelphia Phillies analysis/grade:

Jeremy Hellickson had really hurt his trade value this season with the Phillies as he had a 4.73 ERA for the team. However, Hellickson was set to be a free agent after this season so the Phillies had to get at least something in return for him. The most notable player that the Phillies received in this trade is Hyun Soo Kim who has been a backup outfielder for the Orioles. Soo Kim had a good 2016 season for Baltimore as he hit .302 with 6 home runs in his first major league season. However, Soo Kim has struggled this season as he is hitting only .233 with 1 home run in limited playing time. Soo Kim is a free agent after the season, so he is likely just a temporary solution for the Phillies in the outfield. He should get a lot more playing time the rest of this season with the Phillies than he did in Baltimore since Philadelphia is not competing for a playoff spot. The Phillies also received 23-year old minor league relief pitcher Garrett Cleavinger in this trade. Cleavinger was a 3rd round pick in 2015 by the Orioles, so he clearly has the potential to be a major league player. However, Cleavinger is having a terrible season in 2017 as he has a 6.28 ERA in Double-A. Cleavinger is still an intriguing prospect and if he can return to the type of player that he was in 2015 and 2016 then he could be a good bullpen piece for the Phillies. Overall, the Phillies didn’t get much in return for Hellickson, but this trade was definitely worth it since he was probably going to leave in free agency anyway.

Grade: B


Baltimore Orioles analysis/grade:

The Baltimore Orioles have struggled to find quality starting pitchers for years and they especially don’t have much depth in their rotation right now. However, the addition of Hellickson should at least add some starting pitcher depth for the Orioles this season. If Hellickson can pitch like he did in 2016 or like he did early on in his career, then he could make a big difference for Baltimore. However, Hellickson is very inconsistent and he hasn’t had a good 2017 season as he currently has a 4.73 ERA. The Orioles still have very slim playoff hopes this season, but this isn’t the type of trade that will get them there. Hellickson is only a rental player for the Orioles since he is a free agent after the season which is why it is strange that the Orioles traded for him since Baltimore doesn’t have much of a chance at the playoffs this season. The Orioles didn’t give up much to acquire Hellickson and maybe they can re-sign him this offseason, but this is a trade that won’t make much of a positive impact for Baltimore.

Grade: C-

jeremy hellickson

Phillies trade Neshek to the Rockies

The Philadelphia Phillies continued their lengthy rebuild as they sent all-star relief pitcher Pat Neshek to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for minor league prospects Alejandro Requena, J.D. Hammer, and Jose Gomez.


Phillies analysis/grade:

Pat Neshek was pretty much the only bright spot for the Phillies this season as he was the team’s only all-star since he had a 1.12 ERA before being traded. However, Neshek is about to turn 37 years old and he is going to be a free agent after the season which made it an easy decision for the Phillies to trade him. The Phillies also received 3 good prospects from the Rockies in exchange for Neshek. Jose Gomez is the top prospect that the Phillies received in this trade as he could be a good starting middle infielder one day. Gomez has been outstanding in the minor leagues as he has a career .316 batting average and he is once again impressing this season as he has a .324 average with 33 RBI’s. He doesn’t provide much power as he only has 9 career home runs, but his offensive ability is still impressive. Gomez also has 73 career stolen bases, so he clearly has above average speed. Gomez is a shortstop right now, but he will probably move to 2nd base at some point because he doesn’t have great arm strength. Gomez is still a long way from being major league ready, but he projects well as a good starting infielder in the MLB. The Phillies also received 23-year old right-handed pitching prospect J.D. Hammer in this trade. Hammer was a 24th round pick by the Rockies last season and he has been good so far in his minor league career and he has a 2.25 ERA so far this season. He projects well as a middle relief pitcher as he has the ability to strike out batters effectively. Hammer is in High-A right now, so it is possible that he could make it to the majors in a few years. The final prospect that the Phillies acquired in this deal is 20-year old starting pitcher Alejandro Requena who is having a good year in Low-A with an 8-3 record and a 2.85 ERA. Requena struggled during his first 3 minor league seasons, but his impressive 2017 season shows that he does have some potential. Requena doesn’t throw very hard, but if he can continue to control his pitches well then he has a chance to make it to the MLB at some point. This is a very good return for the Phillies to receive for an aging relief pitcher that they weren’t going to re-sign anyway. The Phillies now have another 3 good prospects to work with as they continue their rebuild.

Grade: A


Rockies analysis/grade:

The Rockies desperately needed some more consistency from their bullpen since the only reliable relief pitcher that they have is closer Greg Holland. The addition of Pat Neshek should not only help to secure Colorado’s playoff spot, but it should help them to possibly go deeper in the playoffs this year. Neshek has a 1.12 ERA this season and his side-armed pitching style still should work well despite pitching at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Neshek gives the Rockies a terrific 8th inning option to try and setup closer Greg Holland in the 9th inning. Neshek is probably just a rental player for Colorado since he is about to be 37 years old and he is set to be a free agent after this season. The Rockies did give up some good prospects with potential, yet they didn’t give any top prospects in this deal so it won’t affect the Rockies minor league system much. We’ll see if Neshek can continue to pitch well in the worst stadium for pitchers, but at least he gives the Rockies with a much better 8th inning option. The Rockies did give up some talented young prospects, but they didn’t give up too much in return for Neshek and this is a move that should help to solidify a playoff spot this season.

Grade: B

pat neshek

Biggest need remaining for every NL East team

Atlanta Braves – Biggest need: 2nd base

There is no doubt that Jace Peterson will be the Braves everyday starter at 2nd base, but he will need to be more consistent than he was last season. Peterson hit .254 with just 7 home runs last season, so Atlanta will need him to be better going forward. The Braves did add utility infielder Sean Rodriguez this offseason as a backup 2nd baseman. However, Atlanta will have to do something to improve the position very soon.

Miami Marlins – Biggest need: Shortstop

Adeiny Hechavarria is a shortstop that makes incredible defensive plays often, but his offense has certainly been a weakness throughout his MLB career. Hechavarria hit only .236 with 3 home runs last season so he is definitely an issue in the Marlins lineup. He doesn’t hit consistently and he doesn’t hit for much power as well. The only reason that he is the Marlins everyday shortstop is because of his defensive abilities. Miami needs some more depth at the position either way and it isn’t worth starting Hechavarria just for his defense since he is a liability offensively.

New York Mets – Biggest need: Catcher

The catcher position was a major weakness for the Mets last season especially after their starter Travis d’Arnaud was injured for a large portion of the year. d’Arnaud wasn’t a great option anyway for the Mets as he hit only .247 with 4 home runs in 2016. The Mets have solid depth at catcher, yet they need to find an upgrade at the position over d’Arnaud.

Philadelphia Phillies – Biggest need: Right Fielder

Philadelphia has a big need in right field as they have two inexperienced players that will compete for the starting job in 2017. Roman Quinn is the projected starter in right field right now, but he has hit only .263 in 57 career at-bats. Aaron Altherr has more experience than Quinn, but Altherr is a career .212 hitter which isn’t very promising. Either way, it is a mystery as to how Quinn or Altherr will perform with the starting right field job. The Phillies need to sign a veteran right fielder to a 1-year deal in order to provide a temporary solution to the position.

Washington Nationals – Biggest need: Closer

The Nationals let go of closer Jonathan Papelbon after he had a poor season in 2016 and the team was confident that they would be able to sign a top free agent closer. However, all of the top free agent closers are now signed and yet the Nationals still have a need for a closer. The Nationals’ options at closer are running out and it appears that they’ll have to find a closer from their roster. Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, and Sammy Solis are all candidates to be the team’s closer in 2017. However, none of those guys seems like a very good option especially for a team that has world series aspirations.