MM: Much has been made of the age of the Phillies roster, is this team too old to contend?
Lacy: I don’t think age is necessarily the problem. Older players like Chase Utley, A.J. Burnett, and Marlon Byrd should still be productive players. In fact, the weakest part of the team is the bullpen, and the Phillies are actually relatively young there. Poor production from expensive players is the real problem.
MM: How is Ryan Howard doing? What are your expectations for him this year?
Lacy: Howard has looked decent in the early going, although the stats don’t show it. He is only batting .212 with 13 strikeouts, but he looks to be staying on the ball better and has hit into some bad luck. If he can stay healthy, I think a 30+ home run season is likely.
MM: What is the latest on Cole Hamels and when he might return?
Lacy: Hamels is ahead of his original rehab schedule and has said that he feels strong. The latest talk is that he should be back by the end of April, which would be a huge boost for the Phillies.
MM: Ryne Sandberg has been a bit of a polarizing figure as a manager so far. What do you think of the job he has done so far and does he have the support of the fan base?
Lacy: Sandberg has drawn some fire, mostly due to his use of the bullpen, but I don’t want to rip him too much. A lot of times, a manager can be made to look dumb or smart based on how the relievers perform. Thus far, most of the relievers are making him look dumb.
MM: Would you provide us with a scouting report of the pitchers we will be facing?
Lacy: A.J. Burnett – He was coaxed out of retirement by the Phillies, mostly because he wanted to play relatively close to his Maryland home. He’s a reliable veteran who usually gets a lot of strike outs and a lot of ground balls. Considering the Phillies’ leaky defense, one of those outcomes is preferable to the other.
Jonathan Pettibone – He’ll be making his first start in 2014. He showed some promise as a rookie in 2013 before an injury ended his season. There are concerns that he’s not quite ready for prime time though, and the Phillies might be rushing him into this spot.
MM: Finally, any bold predictions you would like to make on the outcome of the series and who you see winning?
Lacy: Based on the pitching matchups, I see the Marlins winning the first two games. (Phillies couldn’t seem to figure out Fernandez last season, and I don’t trust Pettibone.) But I think the “good” Kyle Kendrick shows up on Sunday and the Phils pull out the third game.
We want to thank Mike for his help and wish them all the best this season. If you want even more in-depth coverage on the Phillies prior to the season, be sure to head over to “That Balls Outta Here” and check out their top-notch site!
Tags: Miami Marlins