The Phillies right now are in good shape. Three straight National League East titles and back-to-back trips to the World Series. It doesn’t get much better than that. But the best part is that the Phillies could actually do it again, making it three straight trips to the World Series. After a devastating loss to the Yankees in last year’s World Series, manager Charlie Manuel claims “we will be back.” With pitching star Roy Halladay now wearing a Phillies uniform, he just might be right. Many MLB Odds makers have listed the Phils as having a extremely good shot at making the Fall Classic.
Pitching: What do we get from Roy Halladay you ask? The Phillies get a guy who is largely considered the best pitcher in baseball. The 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner has finished in the top 5 of vote getters four other times. Now he has one of the best lineups in baseball to offer him better run support. Halladay went 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA last season. Thats very good considering the power hitters he had to face in the AL East last year and making the switch to the N.L. doesn’t seem to be a problem when Roy is 17-8 lifetime with a 3.02 ERA against N.L. clubs. I'm not doubting that Halladay will be in the N.L. Cy Young mix this season. The key to unlock the door that will lead the Phils to another World Series could very well be Cole Hamels. Hamels had a hard time on the mound in 2009 after being named World Series MVP in 2008. Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ will be major factors as well. Blanton could be poised for a strong campaign as this is a contract year. Happ is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.93 ERA. Former starter Jamie Moyer and MLB-AAA toss around Kyle Kendrick are the leading candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation.
After going perfect in save opportunities in 2008, closer Brad Lidge made the Phillies fans endured a horrific 2009 for the young closer. He led the majors in blown saves (all 11 of 'em) and his 7.21 ERA didn't help make matters any better. It was the highest of any relief pitcher in the major leagues. The Phillies are hopeful that offseason elbow surgery will have Lidge looking a lot more like the 2008 version of "Lights Out Lidge". If he can’t regain top form, the Phils will have to put the lights out on his closing role and Ryan "Mad Dog" Madson will likely be thrust into the closer role.
Infield: Second baseman Chase Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins make up one of the best middle infield tag teams in all of baseball. Utley led all N.L. second baseman with 63 extra-base hits in 2009. Rollins won his third straight Gold Glove while only committing six errors (fewest in the majors). Soon to be third basemen Placido Polanco is back with the Phillies after being traded to Detroit in 2005. He adds another Gold Glove to our golden infield and is another guy capable of double-digit homeruns and 70-plus RBIs. First baseman Ryan Howard is perhaps one of the best in baseball at his position. The 2006 MVP Award winner has finished in the top-5 of the MVP vote getters each season since. Howard leads the majors with 635 RBIs from seasons 2005 to 2009. Carlos Ruiz returns as the man behind home plate where he has earned the respect of the pitching staff and all Phillies fans with the way he is able to call games.
Outfield: Jason Werth, Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino make up the outfield and all three were All-Stars in 2009. Werth popped 36 homeruns with 99 RBIs. Ibanez hit 34 round trippers with 93 RBIs. Victorino had 181 hits, which was good for eighth-best in the league, and stole 25 bases.
Prediction: 1st N.L. East - The Phillies can play defense and they can hit for power, and now they add one of the the best pitchers in baseball today, Roy Halladay. If Cole Hamels can bounce back from a dissapointing year of last and if the bullpen doesn't faulter down the stretch, the Phillies could become the first N.L. team to make three consecutive trips to the World Series since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals.
So that is what I think. Please leave your comments and thoughts below.