The Philadelphia Phillies vs. the NL East

Seth GarberContributor IFebruary 3, 2009

With spring training for pitchers and catchers just eight days away, we the fans are getting very excited. 

The Phillies won the 2008 World Series.  It may still sound foreign when you say it…but it’s fun to say.

This offseason proved to be very busy for the new General Manager Rubin Amaro Jr.  He dealt with Pat Burrell, many arbitration-eligible players, and hiring new staff.  He avoided arbitration by signing new contracts with Victorino, Durbin, Hamels, Werth, Blanton, Madson, Dobbs, and Moyer, but not Ryan Howard. 

Amaro signed Chan Ho Park and Raul Ibañez and traded for Ronnie Paulino.  To top it all off, he had to deal with the suspension of lefty reliever J.C. Romero.

The other teams in the NL East were also busy.  The Mets signed the former Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez and free agent Alex Cora.  They also signed J.J. Putz, Tim Redding, and agreed to a deal with Oliver Perez and John Maine. 

The Marlins were likewise busy as they signed reliever Logan Kensing, reliever Scott Proctor, third baseman Jorge Cantu, and left fielder Jeremy Hermida. 

The Braves were pretty active this offseason by signing one of the popular starting pitchers, Derek Lowe, as well as signing Javier Vazquez.  They resigned Casey Kotchman and expect Tom Glavine and Mike Gonzalez to have a clean bill of health for this season. 

The Nationals had a quiet offseason and only needed to deal with a few arbitration-eligible players.

The Phillies have a very good chance at repeating a World Series victory.  They filled the Pat Burrell void by signing outfielder Raul Ibañez.  He batted .293 last season, .291 in 2007, and .289 in 2006.  He has a lifetime average of .286 and 182 career homeruns.  The Phillies also signed Chan Ho Park, who has a career ERA of 4.34. 

Last season he had a 3.40 ERA with 79 strikeouts and a record of 4-4.  These two players, along with the competition for rotation spot five among Kendrick, Carrasco, Park, and Happ, just make the Phillies better.

The Phillies will still have to deal with the loss of Romero for the first fifty games.  They will utilize Scott Eyre and probably put J.A. Happ in the bullpen.  He can act as a temporary reliever until Romero comes back, and then could possibly start.

The competition in the NL East will be slightly tougher because of the Mets’ acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez, better known as K-Rod.  He is not invincible as shown by 62 saves in 69 chances, which means he blew seven saves.  He is stoppable. 

The Braves are tougher with the acquisition of Derek Lowe, the probable starter for Opening Night.  The Phillies have proved he is no obstacle by beating him and the Dodgers 3-2 in Game One of the NLCS.  I can safely say that Jimmy Rollins’ prediction that the Phillies are “the team to beat” is going to be quite accurate in this upcoming 2009 season.