There have been several story lines that have dominated the Philadelphia headlines as we head into the 2013 season. Will Chase Utley's knees be ready for opening day? Will Ryan Howard return to form following the Achilles injury of 2011? Will Doc be able to regain some of his Cy Young form? Those are all going to be key questions for the 2013 team and the health and level of play from those 3 stars are important. But there are a few role players who may be being overlooked.
The main and most consistent offensive bat in the 2012 lineup will start the season serving a 25 game suspension. So backup catcher Erik Kratz will be forced into the starting lineup and could start almost every game until Ruiz returns. The Mennonite boy from local Christopher Dock emerged onto the Philly scene while filling in for injured vets. The 32 year old has spent the majority of his career in the minors but he looked like a major leaguer in his time with the team last year.
In just 50 games he slugged 9 homeruns, had an .ops of .810 had an impressive 1.4 WAR and had a lot of people "Kratzing" their hands . At 6-4 250 lbs, he fits the stereotypic size of a catcher. When this Mennonite connects with a fastball, the ball takes a long long ride. Kratz also showed an ability to be an aduaqute defender and signal caller to go along with the cannon he possesses on his right arm. Right now journeyman Catcher Humberto Quintero has the inside track to start the season as the teams's backup. With his mediocre career numbers and the way Charlie manages. I would expect Kratz to get almost all 25 of the starts until our beloved Chooch returns. With the early season suspenion of Ruiz and the general wear and tear a catcher receives, expect Kratz to play an key role on the 2013 Phillies while filling in for Ruiz.
Prediction: 55 GS, 252 AVG, 13 HRS, 45 RBI's
Most reports indicate that Chase Utley's knees are great and that he will be ready for opening day. I hate to be negative but I'll believe that he will be ready for opening day when he is at 2nd base at Turner Field on April 1st. This could throw a certain back up infielder into the starting lineup. The easiest way to describe "Frandsy" is he is a baseball player. Yes technically everyone on the team is a baseball player but Kevin fits the term to a tee. He may not make it look pretty but he gets the job done. Just like Kratz, Frandsen has been a minor leaguer for the majority of his career and was forced to step up when some players went down. And like Kratz, he didn't dissapoint.
In 55 games Frandsy hit a remarkable .338 while filling in at 3rd. His clutch hits and hustle made him a favorite among the Philly phaithful. As the infield continues to get up there in age, a backup infielder plays a huge role. Even with a "healthy" Chase. Frandsen could be asked to fill in at 3rd for a 36 year old Michael Young as well. He may not have a lot of pop, but he knows how to get on base and isn't afraid to get dirty if the job calls for it.
Prediction: 38 GS, .289 AVG
Over the last few years, Kendrick had been the baseball equivalent of a yo-yo. He has been pulled back and forth between the bullpen and rotation consistently but has always kept his mouth shut and has tried to do what is best for the team. This spring, Kendrick will enter as the number 4 starter. Over the offseason Kendrick has been Doc's "mini me" as the two have been spotted working out together in Florida.
Last season in 159 innings, he posted a solid 3.9 era. I would expect the 28 year old to approach 200 innings with an era around 3.5 in what is a contract year. The 3 "aces" get most of the attention (they should) but a solid 2013 for Krazy K could go a long way in helping the Phightins return to October baseball.
Prediction: 13-7, 3.58 ERA, 193.1 IP
Scott Glick BLN (@BLNPhiladelphia)