I was with my Mets fan cousins the other day, and one of them admitted to me that he thinks the Phils have the best lineup in the NL. This is a Mets fan who lives off the McNeil-Lindor-Nimmo-Alonso combo, and he's sitting there saying Turner made the Phils' lineup unstoppable. I went 'can we get that on record?' jokingly. But they are looking good next year, and additions like Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker and Matt Strahm do make me feel really good about their future chances. The NL East is gonna be tight, but they're not as outmatched as they were.
Despite going into the season with the outfield very clearly being Schwarber-Castellanos-Herrera, Matt Vierling did work his way into being a nice depth, and occasional starting, outfielder for this team. In 117 games, he hit .246 with 30 RBIs and 80 hits, plus 2 postseason hits and 1 postseason RBI. He's a handy guy to have around, and even with Brandon Marsh rendering him obsolete for the second half, he was still a big piece of this team.
2023 Prediction: Okay, so at the very least the first half, if not the first three quarters, of this season will use Schwarber at DH, Castellanos in right and Marsh in center. Folks, I think we're looking at our starting right fielder next year, and I think he'll do a nice job for himself. Defensively he's better than Marsh or Castellanos, so we'll be alright.
2023 Prediction: Zunino's gone, the Rays need a new Florida man. Eflin's from Orlando, and he'll be there for a bit. They will enjoy him this year before he gets injured.
A team with the best catcher in baseball should also have a great backup catcher, and after FINALLY getting rid of Andrew Knapp, the double-letter backup catcher trend continued after Rupp and Knapp with former Astros backup Garrett Stubbs. Stubbsy was a really nice tool for us, and I got to see him leg out a triple when no one expected him to. In 46 games, Stubbsy hit .264 with 16 RBIs and 5 homers, which was the right kind of backup performance. Sadly, Stubbs did not appear in the World Series against his former team.
Brad Hand spent 2021 with 3 teams, and spent 2022 with just one, and one that got him to October. Suffice to say he chose the right team. Hand was never the team's designated closer, but he was a stern, imposing eighth inning man, and he finished the year with a 2.80 ERA with 5 saves. Not as flashy as Alvarado or Dominguez, but the workmanship did not go unnoticed.
2023 Prediction: Part of me kinda wants the Phils to re-sign him, but he's more likely going to a mid-marketer and having a decent year for them.
2023 Prediction: More of the same. I never hope for a scenario to use him everyday, as that'd imply a JT injury which I do not want, but I think he'll continue his solid work for us.
2023 Prediction: We're likely going with a Hoskins-Stott-Turner-Bohm infield. Bohm and Stott are gonna need to miss games. I think Maton is gonna have some nice games for us in the first half, and unless Bohm or Stott completely collapse, might be a trade incentive for someone.
2023 Prediction: The Phils rotation has Nola, Wheeler, Suarez and Walker confirmed. Falter's a heavy favorite for the fifth spot out of camp, though Cristopher Sanchez and Andrew Painter are gonna make a run at it, and maybe Hans Crouse if he's anything like Topps has been saying. I think Falter will be the fifth starter as the season opens. I am not certain he will be as the season ends. Painter might be ready next year.
2023 Prediction: Our primary backup infielder for next season. He's gonna do a lot of great stuff for us, and mayyyyybe take Stott's job?
2023 Prediction: The Dodgers signed him expecting a Tyler Anderson-esque surprise FA triumph. I do not think it'll go as well as they think it will.
2023 Prediction: I don't think he'll be quite as good for the Mets, but he'll have some good moments. Robertson is probably gonna go down as one of the great relievers of the last 10 years, and next season won't be an outlier.
Tomorrow, a few fun odds and ends with the Pirates.