The Phillies were one of the biggest disappointments in the majors last season, finishing 10 games behind the Braves in the NL East. The pitching staff was hit hard by the move into Citizens Bank Ballpark while the offense sputtered. This year, with easygoing Charlie Manuel at the helm, little is expected from the Phils, so don't be surprised if they contend for the division crown.
Worth Every Penny
One of the most overlooked superstars in the majors, Bobby Abreu is the definition of a fantasy stud. In addition to posting spectacular numbers, he's incredibly consistent and one of only four players in baseball history with six straight seasons of 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, the others being Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds and Willie Mays. Do whatever you can to get him.
About To Blossom
After years of struggling, it all came together in 2004 for Jimmy Rollins. He was the only player in the NL to reach double figures in doubles (43), triples (12), home runs (14) and stolen bases (30). A lot of his newfound success can be attributed to his dramatic reduction in strikeouts -- he struck out fewer than 100 times for the first time in his career. That trend should continue as Rollins establishes himself as one of the better players in the league.
Cory Lidle finished the year on quite a roll for the Phils after he was acquired from the Reds. In 10 starts, he had a 5-2 record with a 3.90 ERA. There's little indication from his past record that he can duplicate that type of success, especially in a home run happy ballpark.
Do You Feel Lucky?
David Bell is supposed to be the starting third baseman and Chase Utley is starting at second, leaving Placido Polanco out in the cold. But that's only on paper. Bell's back has been bothering him and Manuel might not be all that set on Utley, which should give Polanco an opportunity to step in and claim at least part of both jobs for himself. Last season he hit 17 home runs and batted .298 so don't be surprised to see Polanco in the lineup more often than not.
Rollins and Abreu are the obvious choices here, but don't overlook the aging Kenny Lofton, the active major league steals leader with 545. Lofton swiped only seven bags last year for the Yankees, but he was a 20-steal man as recently as 2003 with the Pirates and Cubs. He's a favorite of Manuel from their days together in Cleveland, so he'll find his way into the lineup more often than not.
If Something Should Happen To Billy Wagner
Between Wagner and Tim Worrell, the Phillies have one of the best one-two closer punches in all of baseball. Filling in for Wagner last season, Worrell saved 19 games. That came on the heels of his 38 saves for the Giants in 2003. There's no doubt he's the man should Wagner go down again.
Don't Forget About
Jim Thome, Jon Lieber, Pat Burrell, Mike Lieberthal
Don't Bother With
Bell, Ryan Howard, Vicente Padilla, Brett Myers
David Sabino is the associate editor in charge of statistics at Sports Illustrated and the author of the book, Dominate Your Fantasy Baseball League (Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade).