“Let me tell you this: Without Santana, we felt as a team we have a chance to win in our division. With him now, I have no doubt that we’re going to win in our division. I have no doubt in that. We’ve got what it takes. We have good chemistry as a team. He fits great because he’s a great guy. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game. Who doesn’t want to have him on any ballclub? Without him last year we did good until the end of the season. So this year, to Jimmy Rollins, we are the team to beat.” -Carlos Beltran, New York Mets
Carlos Beltran may not be as flamboyant as some of his teammates, but from the moment we exchanged glances at an MLB All-Star party in San Francisco I knew there was another side to that man. Ah, but that’s another story for another day, kids.
So now the NL East has a new prophet, but should we believe him?
The defending NL East Champion Philadelphia Phillies have been sporting a shirt that says it all: “Winning Starts Now.”
Well, once you get over the picture on the front of a bare-chested Pat Burrell doing bicep curls, the message is clear. The Phillies are ready to defend their title and go farther in the playoffs.
There are people who like to say that the Phils got lucky in 2007. Yes, the Mets had a horrible September, ending the month with a 5-10 record in the last two weeks, while the Phillies had a great month, with an 11-4 record in that same span.
However, the season is not just one month; the season consists of 162 games.
Just think, if the Phillies didn’t have such a slow start, the race wouldn’t have been so close last year. But when it comes down to it, all the “what ifs” don’t matter.
Some argue that our position players among the best in the NL East. Many say our lineup is a force to be reckoned with.
Almost all say the problem is in the pitching.
With a potent offense and a questionable pitching staff, can the Phillies repeat as NL East Champions?
Yes they can.
The Phillies are right—winning starts now. There is no room for slow starts and injury-plagued rosters.
So the question is, who believes Carlos Beltran? Are the Mets the “team to beat”?
My loyalty resides with the Phillies.