Friday, February 12, 2010

NL East Capsule: My predictions - The Phillies

Continuing our series on the NL East and the team outlooks brings us today to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are the reigning (Two-time) NL champions and the just dethroned World Champions from 2008. Their loss in the 2009 World Series to the New York Yankees has no doubt left them feeling a little bitter and unfulfilled... does that make them more dangerous in 2010? Is it even possible for them to be "more" dangerous than they were in 2008 and 2009?

Philadelphia Phillies

SS: Jimmy Rollins
3B: Placido Polanco
2B: Chase Utley
1B: Ryan Howard
RF: Jayson Werth
LF: Raul Ibanez
CF: Shane Victorino
C: Carlos Ruiz
Bench: C Brian Schneider, 1/3 Greg Dobbs, OF/1 Ross Gload, IF Juan Castro, OF Ben Francisco

Pitching Staff:
SP: Roy Halladay
SP: Cole Hamels
SP: Joe Blanton
SP: J.A. Happ
SP: Jamie Moyer
CP: Brad Lidge
RP: Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Danys Baez, Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, Kyle Kendrick

I'm not sure how much I can write about the Phillies. Baseball fans are familiar enough now with this power-packed team to know they are very dangerous. The Phillies are best known for their Home Run power, but they also happen to hit for average and run the bases as well as any team in the game. The Phillies prowess doesn't stop with their incredible offense, they also happen to be one of the best defensive teams in baseball.
The starting rotation doesn't offer much weakness either. The Phillies have one of the best pitchers in the game as their ace (Roy Halladay) and follow him up with a talented stable of starters. The only real question in the rotation comes from the #5 spot where Jamie Moyer will battle Jose Contreras and Kyle Kendrick for the job in Spring Training.
The only glaring problem with this team is in the bullpen, last year the Phillies relievers were terrible. And there hasn't been much turnover to this year, so it seems the front office believes that the relievers are better than last years numbers show. The Phillies did add Danys Baez and Jose Contreras who will no doubt be valuable additions to the pen in 2010.
I think that the Phillies could be in trouble in the near future (2011-2012) because of their burgeoning payroll and their odd willingness to offer long and large contracts to players like Placido Polanco. I think that 2010 will be Jayson Werth's last as a Philly and that they will become financially strapped as their core players salaries begin to balloon. 2010 is already a record in terms of Phillies payroll, and it just is not likely that the team can run at this level of operating cost for long.
All of that being said, however, I think 2010 will be another spectacular year for Phillies fans (barring injury). The Phillies are the class of the National League and a World Series run in 2010 is not out of the question - in fact the Phillies are probably the odds on favorite to win the NL pennant. I think that the bullpen will still be a liability and that the Phillies will face a tougher road to the playoffs this year than they did in 2009, but I still expect them to be a playoff team in 2010. Look for the Phillies to again win the NL East division and be prohibitive favorite in the playoffs.

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