It's about that time Philadelphia, the Phillies are back in action. It seems like only yesterday when they were playing in their second consecutive World Series against the New York Yankees. The Phillies reported to Clearwater on Thursday, and they brought with them high hopes for the 2010 season. As Jimmy Rollins says, "We are the team to beat." It is certainly shaping up to be that way this year.
After being swept 4 games to 2 in the World Series, ever body was asking questions whether it be about their bullpen, their lack luster bench, or their starting pitcher. Ruben Amaro Jr. has seemed to fix many of these problems with the acquisition of Toranto Blue Jays All-Star Roy Halladay. The deal didn't come easy though, the Phils had to give up their newly acquired ace Cliff Lee and minor league prospects. It was a dagger in the heart for Phillies fans as Lee, who was acquired from the Cleveland Indians on July 31st, went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA. Many questioned the trade between the teams, as well as Cliff Lee who had planned to finish his career in Philadelphia.
Halladay was not the only upgrade made this off season, as they acquired former second baseman for the Phillies Plocido Polanco from the Detroit Tigers. The Phillies released Pedro Feliz who was a strong defensive player along the line and made room for Polanco to start at third base. The Phils improved their bench as well by signing Florida Marlins outfielder Ross Gload and L.A. Dodger Juan Castro. The bullpen is a different season and is the Phillies weak point. The departures of Scott Eyre, Clay Condrey, and Chan Ho Park left the Phillies searching for new faces in the pen. The Phillies managed to sign veteran right hander Jose Contreas and Baltimore pitcher Danny Biaz. They Phillies still have one of the best set-up men in baseball with Ryan Madson and their closer Brad Lidge. Many question Lidge coming into this year because of his season to forget last year. However, in 2008, the year the Phillies one the World Series, he was perfect saving 48 for 48.
The Phillies offense still remains one of the best in baseball with All Stars from infield to outfield. Emerging outfielders like Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth are sure to have another breakout year this year. Their infield is still one of the best as 2007 N.L. MVP Jimmy Rollins as returned along with the superstar Chase Utley, and 2006 N.L. MVP Ryan Howard. They are sure to be stacked from one to nine in their offense lineup in the season to come. I have a feeling that this season will be one of the best for the Phillies. They are determined to go for a third straight NL Pennant and maybe their second World Series in two years. Who knows how the season will turn out, but it's sure to be promising!