Last season has come and gone. Dreams of back-to-back World Series titles have faded in a sea of despair. Ending like a cheese steak from Geno's, with Phans still salivating for more.
The 2010 season is here. Starting a little over 1,000 miles away from the snow-covered streets or Broad St., the Phightin's begin their defense of their National League title. In the words of J.C. Romero, "Somebody else has a trophy that I want. We have to go get it now."
The Phil's have come a long way since J-Roll stated that they were the team to beat in the N.L. East a few years back. Now, the Phillies are seen as the team to beat in all of the National League, and in some circles, in all of baseball.
Key offseason additions including Roy Halladay and Placido Polanco have added to this notion. While the departure of Cliff Lee and Pedro Feliz will be felt not only on the field, but in the club house, the 2010 version of the Phillies is, on paper, better suited to compete against the best that the American League has to offer.
That's right. No longer do the concerns of the organization lie in the N.L. East. No longer do the Phaithful seem overly anxious about the National League in general. The focus has shifted to being able to field a team that, even without the D.H., can handle the upper eschelons of the American League.
So in his second year as G.M., Ruben Amaro Jr. has gone out and acquired arguably the most dominant pitcher in the American League and a No. 2 hitter who is among the most difficult to strike out in all of baseball.
Sure, the Phil's will miss Lee's dominant performance in the playoffs. And who in their right mind wouldn't want Feliz's steady glove at the hot corner? But the additions to this year's squad will be more than able to fill the shoes left behind by those departed.
This is not just fan conjecture; it is the feeling of the organization as well.
As Manuel put it, "Feliz definitely had one of the strongest and most accurate arms at third base in baseball," Manuel said. "He was that good as far as his throwing. Polanco has quick feet at third base. Third base is a reaction kind of place. Polly definitely can do that. Polly does throw good. He is accurate. All around with the bat and everything, he's a better player than Feliz. I don't see where we're going to get hurt there."
As far as Halladay goes, his track record speaks for itself, posting a career ERA of 3.43 and WHIP of 1.20. Pitching in the A.L. East is no small task. Being able to dominate there, almost unheard of.
All things considered, 2009 is "Outta Here!" as the late, great Harry Kalas would put it.
2010 is here.
It's a long road ahead, and this is but the start. But with that said, Phillies Phans have nine months to get prepared for another Parade down Broad St.
Can't wait to see ya there.