Phantasy Philes: The Offseason

Up here in Philly, when the calendar says February, it usually means mind numbing cold and trying to forget about how the Eagles broke your heart yet again (which that mind numbing cold can actually help with). But in Clearwater, Florida February means the start of Phillies baseball. So, in this the first edition of Phantasy Philes for the new season, we'll take a look at some of the aspects of the club that have changed since last October.

Like the winter before the 2003 season, Eddie Wade once again went out and made some big moves to help improve his squad as they make the move to the new Citizens Bank Park. Last year, the additions seemed to have more of an offensive theme with the acquisitions of Jim Thome, David Bell, and Tyler Houston. Whereas this seasons, the pitching staff was more the focus by improving the bullpen and adding even more talent to an already solid starting rotation.

Perhaps the most important addition of the winter was that of Billy Wagner to replace Joe Table as closer. Although the real life implications of this change are probably bigger than the fantasy ones, this move will make a difference for fantasy owners. If you have or plan on drafting Billy Wagner, look for his stats to stay in the same range as they've been over recent years. The only change for Wagner with the move to Philly will probably be a few less home runs (he gave up one or two more in Minute Maid Park than he did at the Astrodome), but other than that his numbers should stay about the same across the board. The real importance for fantasy owners here will be with the starting pitchers. No matter which Phillies starter you draft, don't be surprised if he ends up with a few extra wins notched in his belt by season's end now that Joey Table and his 6.52 ERA are gone, and a real closer has taken over. Should Wagner get hurt, another new addition, Tim Worrell, will probably take over the closer's job. But that shouldn't be a worry right now.

Speaking of the starters, we have what could be the final piece in the puzzle that is the Phillies' rotation. What to make of Eric Milton will probably be a question that lingers until he gets out there and actually does whatever he does, especially since the former Twinkie has been on the cusp of his breakout year for about five years now. This season will be even more interesting for Milton since he's coming off a knee injury that kept him out of most of last season. As long as that knee isn't a problem, the keys for Eric's success will be to keep the homers allowed to a minimum, something he's had a problem with in the past, improving on his consistency from start to start, and keeping that WHIP in check. For Milton, who is now 28, it's getting to the point where it's now or never in regards to him fulfilling his potential. Maybe the change of scenery will help him, but for now, I would only recommend drafting Milton in NL only, or really deep leagues where the pickings are slimmer and the gamble won't be as big.

Those were the two biggest additions as far as fantasy value goes, but there were a few more guys that Wade brought to Philadelphia. One of those other guys was our old friend Dougie Glanville. Now, I don't know about all of you, but when I heard Dougie was not coming back to the team for the 2003 season, I was doing back flips for a week. How could you not be happy to see this guy go? Sure he was a nice person and all, but one look at his OBP and you'll realize he's actually a demon sent up from baseball hell to mess with the offenses of the Cubbies and Phils. He fools GMs and managers into thinking he's a good leadoff hitter because he has some speed and other attributes of a guy that hits first in the lineup. Once he gets that job though, he unleashes his magical power that stops him from reaching base. Don't believe me? Look at the numbers; Glanville hasn't had an OBP over .320 since 1999. That's enough about Dougie, if we stay on this subject any longer; I think my head's going to explode.

That'll do it for now folks. However, this is just the beginning of what Phantasy Philes has in store for you this season. Once Spring Training arrives, we'll continue to look at various Fightin' Phils, and their fantasy values, as well as answer whatever questions you may have regarding your own fantasy leagues and teams. Also, we'll bring back the non-Phillie of the week feature from last season. Until next time, I'm gone like the Phillie Phanatic's head.

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