SLEEPER Shane Victorino will start all season and hit second in a very potent lineup. He's got the speed to steal 20 bases and a bit of power to supplement his offense.
BUST As good as Ryan Howard is, he's going too early in drafts. He should be going in the back end of the first round, not the first half.
HITTER TO WATCH: Michael Bourn, OF Bourn can run and works the count extremely well, but his lack of power probably limits him to fourth-outfielder status.
PITCHER TO WATCH: J.A. Happ, LHP
Happ has fringy stuff, but he has excellent control and hides the ball well enough that hitters don't pick it up until very late.
MLB Preview 2007
FIXED Nobody watches Phillies pitchers closer than their closer, and Tom Gordon digs the view from the bullpen. "It's so much fun being a part of this team now," he says. After a busy offseason in which GM Pat Gillick picked up Freddy Garcia and Adam Eaton, the Phils have six quality starters. "Garcia was the best guy on the White Sox staff last year," one scout says, and Eaton has No. 1-caliber stuff. García had arm trouble late in camp; whether or not he's healthy, the key to success may be Jon Lieber, a savvy, strike-throwing righty (100 K's, 24 BBs) who's in the last year of his contract. The Phils could stand to improve the outfield and the pen. As they embark on what may be their first-ever real pennant race with the Mets, a surplus of starters would look especially good at the deadline.
NEEDS FIXING Pat Burrell "has lost his mojo," says a teammate. Burrell's been blamed for everything in Philly after sidestepping a trade to Baltimore last year. True, he hit .222 with RISP, but he had 29 HRs, 95 RBI and 98 BBs in 462 ABs. Those numbers might look fine on a winner.
"Some guys are fast and some guys fly. He's a dude who just flies." -- Jimmy Rollins on OF prospect Michael Bourn, who has averaged 41 stolen bases per year in the minors.
Philly fans are notoriously tough to please, so Charlie Manuel's got his work cut out for him. Manuel rates in our standings as MLB's second-worst manager, despite a win percentage (.534) that's best among Phils managers with at least two full seasons since Danny Ozark (.538).
"The Phillies have a very good chance at winning the division this year. Their single question mark lies in the bullpen: Can Tom Gordon stay healthy, can Ryan Madson regain his 2005 form, can Geoff Geary repeat last year, and can Matt Smith live up to his potential."