The Phils won just 66 games in 2017. Vegas foresees strong improvement, placing this year’s over-under at 75.5.So what’s your number? Here’s a handy guide. For each question you answer “yes” to, add two wins to that total. For each “no,” subtract two.
1. There is joy among fans that phenom Scott Kingery signed a six-year, $24 million deal and will open the season with the big boys. Still, he’s a rookie who’s never had an at-bat in the Majors. And he doesn’t yet have an everyday position. Are you confident the 23-year-old will have significant impact this season?
2. Ownership committed $75 million over three seasons to add Jake Arrieta to the rotation. Some scouts say Arrieta is a shadow of the guy who won the 2015 Cy Young. Others say his 2.26 ERA the second half of last year proves he’s still an ace. Are you a believer?
3. Aaron Nola definitely makes the All-Star team this season, right?
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4. It looks like the last dance for 3B Maikel Franco, whose OPS sunk from .840 to .733 to .690 in three seasons, while leading MLB in infuriating popups to short. Can the 24-year-old once-bright prospect turn his career around?
5. OK, Gabe Kapler is certainly an oddball. His words seem a bit contrived; his New Age philosophies off-the-wall. None of that matters, however, if Gorgeous Gabe can connect with the youngsters on his team and actually manage a game. So, can he?
6. Somehow three-fifths of the rotation must be found in the scratch-and-dent aisle of Jerad Eickoff, Vince Velasquez, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta and Jake Thompson. Can you locate three good cans of soup there?
7. No player infuriates fans more than CF Odubel Herrera, who alternates between highlight and bonehead moments. He also forgot how to take a walk or steal a base in 2017. Can we pencil him in for .280/.350/.450 this season?
8. Quick: Name the Phils pitching coach. Yeah, I needed to look it up as well. Still, as little as you know about Rick Kranitz, the 59-year-old former bullpen coach, won’t he still be an improvement over Bob McClure?
9. I was delighted when new talent joined the Phils last season in the form of C Jorge Alfaro, SS J.P Crawford and OF Nick Williams. I won’t get greedy – just tell me that two of the three will become solid regulars in 2018.
10. Speaking of young talent, Rhys Hoskins hit 18 homers after an Aug. 10 call up – which extrapolates out to more than 50 for the season. Perhaps that’s a stretch. But 40 from the new leftfielder -- that’s a lock, right?
11. It’s been a while since the Phils lured a big-time free agent hitter. But here comes 1B Carlos Santana to serve as mentor to this roster of baby-faced tyros, as well as draw walks and drive in runs. Will we all be happy with this $60 million, 32-year-old addition?
12. Finally, if this squad wins a few games, do you have faith that principal owner John Middleton and GM Matt Klentak will make deals to keep them in the playoff picture?
Okay, pencils down. What’s your count? I’ll go “yes” on 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 11 and 12. That adds four wins, which puts it at 79.5. I’ll round up and say the Phils go 80-82. Meh. But, hey, this is the era when our local teams surprise and delight us. So maybe if the answer to Q 12 is an emphatic “yes,” this could be a fun summer.