Over the past four seasons, the Philadelphia Phillies have easily been one of the top three teams across Major League Baseball.
In that time the Phillies have been the NL Champions three times, the 2008 World Series Champs, went back to World Series again in 2009 and made the post season in 2010. Also, the team won 97 games last year, which was the most in baseball.
This ball-club is clearly popular favorite with fans, in Vegas and with players because everyone seems to want to a piece of the Phillies. This off-season proved that after Cliff Lee chose the Phanatic over the Yankee pinstripes.
The pressure is on for this team in 2011, can they live up to the World Series or bust position they’ve put themselves in?
Let’s take a look at the Philadelphia Phillies heading into the season.
Pitching. There is no better rotation heading into 2011 across baseball.
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels (and Joe Blanton) almost seems surreal, but then you realize this is reality in Philadelphia and that is nuts. Each of the names already so respected in the league by itself, that it would be no surprise if they went down historically as the best starting rotation ever. Just think about the fact that Blanton is the team’s fifth starter and anywhere else he would easily be a #2 or #3 guy.
SS Jimmy Rollins talents shine when the spotlight is on him and this season it is glaring in his face, as Rollins is in a contract year. Last year was an utter disappointment, as he played in just 88 games, posting just eight home-runs, 41 RBIs and a career low .243 batting average. Rollins showed up this Spring in incredible shape and is healthy as can be, so expect those numbers to shoot up big time because he knows that at 32-years-old, this will be his last big contract.
If the team ever needs a pick-me-up, the Phillies fans will surely give them that extra motivation. Citizens Bank Park will be packed without question for every home game, as the fans are nuts for this team.
It doesn’t hurt that the Phillies are managed by one of the best skippers in the game Charlie Manual. Manual is one cool customer and the players literally worship him.
All-star 2B Chase Utley’s injury situation keeps looking more grim with each passing day. The latest confirmed by MLB Trade Rumors is the worst news yet, as the Phillies have signed Mets throwaway Luis Castillo. Castillo got kicked to the curb by NY’s other team a week ago, despite having to eat $6 million owed just to get him to leave.
This is the Mets, who financially are in serious hot water, presumably wouldn’t waste money unless the situation was dire. Same reason the Phillies went out and grabbed Castillo, desperation because Utley knee must be really bad. It is embarrassing for the Phillies, as Utley must have felt his knee had a problem during the off-season. Utley has yet to play in a game this spring. YIKES!
It would be impossible for the ‘fab four’ to throw for nine innings every start, but my bet is they will try. Handing the ball to Brad Lidge after working eight shutout innings does not reassure a win at all. Lidge hasn’t been the same since 2008 and a closer has to be consistent. Lidge has been flirting with biceps tendonitis this spring but he did pitch an inning in a minor league game and it went well. Lidge has to get back to his World Series Championship form so the starting rotations efforts aren’t a total waste.
I have said from the moment Jayson Werth was not re-signed that the team would seriously regret it. This I still firmly believe as Werth was their only power right hitter. Werth really carried the team in 2010 when Utley, Rollins and Ryan Howard were all on the DL.
Werth still preformed pretty much knowing he was a goner at the end of the season.
How did he know this?
Probably right after the Phillies front office rashly gave Howard a $125 million dollar new contract to keep him thru 2016. What I never understood was why they didn’t wait till Howard’s contract actually ran out, which originally wasn’t until the end of 2012. Making this move Howard would have made sense maybe later on, but he was locked in for another two full season already. It hogged tied them financially enough where they couldn’t afford to give Werth the contract he deserved and didn’t feel Werth was worth making the financial risk. They sure found a way to pay Lee, hope he is Werth what they gave up.
Isn’t it crazy to think that the Phillies line-up is now the team’s weakness?
Players To Watch:
SS Jimmy Rollins has to produce because he sparks the entire line-up and the team does better. Rollins OBP (on-base-percentage) the last two seasons (.296 and .320 respectively) is not up to par for batting leadoff. Rollins anchors the offense, can be a base stealing threat for opposing pitchers and he is the team’s homegrown leader. Well, no better time then now to start to play like it.
2011 NL Central Prediction:
The Phillies have owned the NL East, winning it the last four years in a row. Well, after 2011 it will be five years, as the Phillies could not lose this division with this pitching staff.
If the Phillies ever failed this season to win the NL East, it would without question be worse then the Mets collapse in 2007.
Look, the Phillies were willing to be labeled the Miami Heat of baseball, instead of re-signing Werth and being the Chicago Bulls. So, not making the World Series would make 2011 a complete loss.
The rotation is the anchor of the team and that will get them a spot in October again. Whether the pressure breaks them once they get there is another story.
Whether The Phillies can get back to the World Series in 2011 is something I have serious doubts about.
- “Luis Castillo Isn’t Very Good at Baseball, But He’s Probably Going to Be on the Phillies Soon, and That’s OK” and related posts (thegoodphight.com)
- Phillies-Red Sox World Series could be a spring fantasy (aol.sportingnews.com)
- Castillo: He Never Disappoints (citifieldofdreams.com)
- Jumping The Gun: 7 MLB Headlines You Might Be Reading At 2011 All-Star Break (ladylovespinstripes.com)
- Philadelphia Phillies: World Series Favorites for Good Reason (bleacherreport.com)
- MLB News: New Phillies Second Baseman Luis Castillo Makes Bad First Impression (bleacherreport.com)