StrategyFebruary 10, 2011

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30 Teams in 30 Days: Philadelphia Phillies

By R.J. White

With two World Series appearances in the last three years and one championship trophy, the Philadelphia Phillies have been the team to beat in the National League over the last few years. Willing to pull out all the stops in their quest for a title, the Phillies have imported some of the top talent in the league in each of the last two seasons. They did it again this offseason, nabbing the best pitcher on the market when they shocked the Hot Stove League and signed Cliff Lee. His return to the City of Brotherly Love gives the Phillies the best rotation of the last 15 years and maybe of all time. It’s clear that the organization will be satisfied with nothing short of another World Series win. Will fantasy owners of Phillies players also settle for nothing less than a championship?

In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
Offensive Starters

C Carlos Ruiz.302.400.447438530371 
1B Ryan Howard.276.353.50587311081550 
2B Chase Utley.275.387.44575166513425 
SS Jimmy Rollins.243.320.3744884117350 
3B Placido Polanco.298.339.386766525554 
LF Raul Ibanez.275.349.4447516834561 
CF Shane Victorino.259.327.42984186934587 
RF Domonic Brown.327.391.58965206817343in MiLB

Unsettled: Right Field. Jayson Werth struck it rich this offseason, taking his bat to the nation’s capital. That leaves a hole in the lineup, one the Phillies hope top prospect Domonic Brown can fill. The 23-year-old tore up the minors in 2010, posting a .993 OPS in Double-A and a .951 OPS in Triple-A. However, there are concerns he’ll catch up to the speed of the majors immediately; in fact, he struggled in his short debut with the big-league club at the end of last year. The most likely scenario has Brown platooning with Ben Francisco out of the gate, which means fantasy owners should pass on the prospect’s potential in redraft leagues this season.
Target: Shane Victorino. Always a plus-stealer in fantasy leagues, Victorino added some power to his bat in 2010, smacking a career-high 18 HRs. The power spike isn’t getting him drafted any earlier in leagues, thanks to a batting average that bottomed out at .259 after routinely being in the .280-.295 range. If Victorino’s hit rate normalizes, that average should come back up in a hurry. Furthermore, there’s a better-than-average chance he keeps the solid power. With an outside shot at a 20/30 season, he represents great upside nine rounds into the draft, where his current MDP has him slotted. I’d feel much better with Victorino than I would with Vernon Wells, Colby Rasmus, Torii Hunter and Nick Markakis, other OFs going around the same area as the Phillie.
The Rotation
Roy Halladay (R)21-102.441.0421930250.2 
Cliff Lee (L)12-93.181.0018518212.1w/2T
Roy Oswalt (R)13-132.761.0319355211.2w/2T
Cole Hamels (L)12-113.061.1821161208.2 
Joe Blanton (R)9-64.821.4213443175.2 

Unsettled: With the top four members of the rotation comprising some of the best talent in the game, the Phillies would love to unload Joe Blanton and his $17 million owed over the next two years. Unfortunately for them, they haven’t been able to find any takers. Blanton’s numbers from last season look pretty bad, but he was victimized by an awfully high hit rate; if he can start strong, the Phillies may be able to find a willing suitor. That would put the underwhelming Kyle Kendrick in the rotation, at least until the team can figure out a way to trade for Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez or Adam Wainwright.
Target: The Four Aces. You really can’t go wrong with any of the Phillies starters, as all have had success pitching in Philadelphia in recent years. Roy Halladay is a great target in the second round; his 7.0 K/BB ratio would have received more play if not for his new teammate’s 10.0 mark last season. Lee should come off the board in the fourth round. Cole Hamels, the only one of the aces with more than a strikeout per inning last year, should follow in the seventh round. If you’re looking for the best value, Roy Oswalt is a must-have. He was magnificent after joining Philadelphia, going 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 82.2 innings after being traded by the Astros. His aggregate WHIP over 2010 was better than it has been in any single year of his career. At 33, Roy O. may be getting better, not worse. He’s generally available after about 100 picks, but he deserves to go a few rounds higher.
The 8th and 9th Innings
Brad Lidge (R)272.961.23522445.2 
Ryan Madson (R)52.551.04641353.0 

Chasing Saves: One season after posting a 7.21 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP, Brad Lidge had many fantasy owners staying away in 2010. Those that did bid on the former elite closer were well rewarded, as Lidge harnessed his wildness to post a sub-3.00 ERA and 27 saves. Well, as long as they stuck with him through the bumps. He was excellent at the end of the season, allowing just two earned runs from August 1 on, though he did have a 5.57 ERA at the trading deadline. Lidge’s closing job is relatively safe heading into 2011, but setup man Ryan Madson holds value in fantasy leagues as well. Madson has picked up his share of saves filling in for Lidge over the last few years, and that adds value to his solid ratios. Should the injury bug bite Lidge, Madson will be instantly valuable in fantasy leagues. Speculating owners may want to get the jump on the competition by spending a late-round pick on him.
Final Thoughts
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard can be had at a later price than normal this season, so if you put stock in three-year and five-year averages, now would be a great time to spend a second-round pick on either. Jimmy Rollins is also capable of a nice bounce-back year and worth a fifth-round pick at a shallow position. Shane Victorino provides strong value as a third outfielder, while the rest of the Phillies hitters can be ignored in 12-team leagues. The Four Aces of the pitching staff all deserve consideration in the early parts of the draft. Halladay in the second, Lee in the fourth, Hamels in the seventh and Oswalt in the ninth all present solid value.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the Washington Nationals.

R.J. White is a fantasy blogger at the sports site FanHouse. Check out his work both here and there, and feel free to talk to him in the forums, where he posts under the name daullaz.
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