Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Reasons They Will Cruise to Another NL East Crown

Tom MechinAnalyst IJune 15, 2011

Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Reasons They Will Cruise to Another NL East Crown

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    PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 12: The Phillie Phanatic performs during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on June 12, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 4-3. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    The 2011 edition of the Philadelphia Phillies is one of the deepest teams ever assembled in the City of Brotherly Love.  

    However, not all has gone right for the team. They have lost players to injury, watched others fail to live up to expectations, and seen one of their Fab Four hurt his back and lose some zip on his fastball. Their offense has also struggled mightily at times, making the fans and front office scratch their heads in astonishment.  

    The team that once struck fear into opponents now struggles to score more than three runs a game.

    However it is a long season, things happen, and everyone—even the mighty Phillies— loses some swagger.  

    But the Phillies will not lose their division lead again.

    Here are five reasons why, when the calendar turns to the end of the season, the Phillies will be left standing as five-time defending NL East Champions.

1. Experience

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    CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  A new on-deck mat celebrates the Philadelphia Phillies 2008 World Series Championship as spring training play begins against the Toronto Blue Jays February 26, 2009 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Al
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    This Phillies team is a battle-tested, veteran group that knows what it takes to get to October. 

    Over the past five years, they have seen everything a team can—they have been the underdogs with little chance, they have faced and overcome the largest/latest deficit in MLB history, and they have been the defending champions with the bulls-eye planted firmly on their backs. They have also faced numerous injuries---both to their stars and roll-players---up and down the lineup and in the rotation. 

    And yet they have overcome all of it.

    They've managed to play much better in second half of seasons than in the first and have won four straight division titles, an streak that only figures to extend.

2. Charlie Manuel

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    PITTSBURGH - JUNE 03:  Philadelphia Phillies head coach Charlie Manuel #41 coaches from the bench against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on June 3, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pirates defeated the Phillies 2-1 in extra inning
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Charlie might not be the most decorated, well-spoken, or well-researched manager in baseball today—he might not even be the best—but he manages to keep the Phillies going strong.

    He lets the players be themselves most of the time but rules with an iron fist when needed. 

    Manuel has earned the respect and trust of his players and front office and the admiration of a passionate fan-base.

3. Pitching

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    PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 26:  Pitcher Roy Halladay #34 (R) and Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies sit in the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 26, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Phillies have question marks in the bullpen and at the back-end of the rotation, and no one is absolutely sure what’s happened to Roy Oswalt’s fastball.

    However, nothing that has presented itself could outweigh the Phillies' tremendous rotation—they have the best number-one starter, the best number-two starter, the best number-three starter, and the best number-four starter in the league. 

    Every team knows when they face the Phillies they ARE going to have to deal with at least one ace---and probably more. 

    This pitching staff could carry the Phillies all the way.

4. Ownership and Front Office

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 31: Philadelphia Phillies president Dave Montgomery tips his hat at a victory rally at Citizens Bank Park October 31, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay  Rays to win their first World Series
    Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

    For years the Phillies owners—who have mostly remained hidden from public view—have been crucified for their lack of willingness to spend money and put the best talent on the field. 

    They have failed in attempts to build a farm system and spent way too many years trying to patch together a winner in the post-Pete Rose years. (I would have said post-Mike Schmidt years, but the Phillies have been trying unsuccessfully to hang onto an era that ended in October of 1983 against Baltimore, Rose’s last year in a Phillies uniform.) 

    However, in recent times they have expanded payroll, they have allowed their GMs to acquire top-shelf talent, and, even when they were supposedly at their max-budget (what they will spend, not what they can spend), they have gone above and beyond. 

    There is no reason to believe they won’t again this year, if need be. 

    If they need another bat—which at this point I’m not sure they do or if the available options are even worth making a move for—Ruben Amaro probably will be allowed to absorb at least some payroll.

5. Simply Put—They Are Better

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    CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 10: Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies hugs Carlos Ruiz #51 after throwing a complete game shut-out against the Cincinnati Reds during game 3 of the NLDS at Great American Ball Park on October 10, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. T
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Marlins and Braves, the Phillies two toughest division opponents, have deep, talented teams that could each make a run—either one would make a worthy wild-card winner.

    But neither is as talented one through 25 as the Phillies are.  

    The Braves have a formidable rotation, a scary-good bullpen, and a couple of youngsters who should stick around the majors for the next decade or so.

    The Marlins have the best right-hander in the NL not named Halladay (if Josh Johnson is able to return from his injury), a couple of players with other-worldly talent, and a knack for coming through when everything is against them.  

    However, neither can match the Phillies, who can out-pitch and out-play any opponent on their quest for a fifth-straight division title and what would be their third pennant in four years.

Conclusion

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 31: The Philadelphia Philies arrive at a victory rally at Citizens Bank Park October 31, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win their first World Series in 28 years. (Photo by Jeff Fu
    Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

    The Phillies may not win the division by 30 games—they may end the season only two or three games better than the Marlins or Braves.

    But it’s unlikely either Florida or Atlanta will make a serious run at the division. 

    The Phillies have been in first place all but 14 hours of this season, and first place is most likely where they'll be at the end of the year. They have shown that they have the know-how to win when the season winds down, how to get better as the calendar turns, and what it takes to finish off a season. 

    The Braves failed to do so last year (they had injuries, but not nearly as many as the Phillies suffered all year while still managing to stay in the race), and the Marlins have never won a division and won’t start this year.  

    Another parade is coming, Philadelphia!!