A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE PHILLIES
To be a good hitter you've got to have a good lower half, and I don't think Ryan Howard had that solid base last year—his ankle must not have been strong enough. He's going to have to become a better hitter: more disciplined, a guy who stays in the zone and uses the other field. You can pitch him inside and make him think you're going to pound him, then get him out with soft stuff away when he starts to cheat. If he can adjust his approach, he'll be O.K... . Jimmy Rollins is frustrating. For a little guy, he takes swings like Dave Kingman from both sides of the plate. The worst thing he ever did was hit 30 home runs (thanks to that bandbox of a ballpark) because now he thinks that's what he's capable of doing... . . Domonic Brown has a chance to be an impact player, but his swing is really screwed up. When he gets healthy, he needs to go down to Triple A and rediscover his swing. In Double A he hit everything. But at the big league level he's not seeing the breaking ball and adjusting to the off-speed... . Chase Utley might come back from his knee injury, but he won't have the strength in his front leg that power guys need to have... . My advice to a team hitting against Roy Halladay? Good luck. You hope that your ground balls find some holes, and maybe he makes a mistake or two and you hit a gapper... . When he's right, Cliff Lee has that classic down-angle on all his pitches—he only goes up in the zone to make you chase. But this spring he couldn't get the ball down. Maybe he was just a little stiff in his back. If he's healthy, he can do so much to keep hitters off-balance... . Brad Lidge needs to do something to build his arm strength back up. His slider velocity is down to 85--88. It used to be a swing-and-miss pitch; now it's a contact pitch.
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER CHARLIE MANUEL
7TH SEASON WITH PHILLIES
Times in the last two seasons that the Phillies scored at least nine runs in a game, second only to the Yankees. (The Phils went 54--3 in those games.) In that span Philadelphia pitchers allowed nine or more runs in a game just 21 times, the fewest in the majors.
Who has a 7.62 career ERA and every chance to be a big story this year? Phillies reliever Scott Mathieson. The 27-year-old righthander was a well-regarded starting prospect five years ago, before two disastrous cups of coffee in 2006 (7.47 ERA in nine games) followed by two Tommy John surgeries in a span of 20 months. Recast as a fireballing reliever—his fastball averaged 95 mph in two outings for Philadelphia last season—Mathieson ate minor league hitters alive in 2009 and '10, with a 2.14 ERA in 96 2/3 innings and a strikeout rate of 30% of batters faced. Concerns about his command persist, but the Phillies need to integrate new blood into their bullpen: The top five relievers are all at least 30 years old, and only Ryan Madson had a sub-3.00 ERA last year. Charlie Manuel likes his guys; it's high time he started liking other ones. Mathieson, along with righthander 23-year-old Vance Worley (two runs allowed in 13 innings as a call-up last year) and 28-year-old lefthander Mike Zagurski (11 strikeouts in seven big league innings in '10), can give an aging pen some youthful vigor.
ROBERT BECK (HOWARD)
HOWARD SMITH/US PRESSWIRE (MATHIESON)