Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Search for a Number Two

Like Romeo and Juliet, so many of us spend so much of our lives searching for that one person who can make us whole. Often our searches aren't as fast as furious as the infamous star-crossed lovers, and can drag out a long time. Luckily it's pretty clear what the Phillies are looking for in their other half- a solid starting pitcher. A reversal of fates has occured in the pitching staff, with the bullpen going from worst to first, and the rotation going from good to below-average.

The greatest ailment for the rotation has been a case of serious mediocrity. Beyond Cole Hamels, who has been great as usual, things have been rocky. Jamie Moyer is pitching as well as you can really expect a 45-year-old to pitch. Kyle Kendrick is having some trouble nailing down his stuff after a successful rookie campaign. As for Adam Eaton, you'd find his picture in the dictionary under "mediocre"; I don't think there's a better example of the word anywhere on earth.

Brett Myers has been a disappointment, showing a lot of inconsistency. He'll go out one night and pitch an eight-inning, two-hit gem, and then give up three first-inning homers in his next start. It's believed that Myers has been struggling making the transition back to being a starter, after closing last year. It seems that after seeing how well he could close, and how fun it was, he's having trouble meeting expectations this season.

The logical solution to this problem would be to give some other arms a chance in the rotation, and see how they work out, but the challenge is that there aren't any good options available. Adam Eaton, at the back end of the rotation, is clearly the best choice. Chad Durbin is too valuable as a jack-of-all-trades reliever, and oft-injured Kris Benson is running into setback after setback along his comeback trail.

So, with four average guys already in the rotation, and no prospects or oft-injured arms waiting in the wings, clearly this new starter is going to have to come from outside the organization. The Phillies will probably be seeking out somebody to pitch in the second spot behind Cole Hamels during the playoffs, or maybe behind Brett Myers should he make a resurgence.

In my mind the best possibility is Erik Bedard. Now that the Mariners are in the AL cellar, and have fired their GM, they might shop him. The Flyers could deal some infield prospects in a possible trade, as Utley and Rollins won't be going anywhere soon. C.C. Sabathia might be a good option, but the Indians don't seem too likely to trade him, and even if they did, it'd be hard to compete with the Yankees, who have a better chance of re-signing Sabathia after this year. Freddy Garcia, if he wasn't so despised in Philadelphia, might fit. Expect trade talks to pick up as we approach the trade deadline- the Phillies might make a big move.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Why Myers & Durbin Should Pull the Old Switcheroo

Chad Durbin has done a great job in long-relief this year. As a starter, Brett Myers has been, well, less than stellar. Myers is giving up a lot of home runs, after a good season in the bullpen.

The solution to all of this? Switch'em. Myers is 238 pounds. He has to put his whole weight into his arm when he pitches. This tires it out quickly. For this reason, many big men, such as Bob Wickman, made their name out in the bullpen. Myers was showing signs of greatness as a blossoming closer last year, but necessity made a move back to the rotation a common-sense one. The acquisition of Brad Lidge made it even more necessary. However, now we're discovering that Myers is having trouble developing consistency as an ace.

That being said, I think the Phillies should take some time to try out some other guys in his rotation spot. It's going to mess up Myers' rhythm, but then again, what rhythm is there to mess up? The way he's pitching, I would not want to see him on the hill in October. He'll be a solid reliever, like last year, and he'll be very happy with it. He may even be good trade bait come mid-season. I hate saying this but Myers is built as a closer, and the Phillies aren't the kind of team that can afford to experiment with his versatility. Durbin has been solid, so they should try him out in that spot.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Player Rankings

This season has been full of ups and downs galore in terms of the way the Phillies players have performed. So, with many players slumping, it's time to give out our first Phillies' player rankings.

1) Chase Utley- As the Phillies' superstars go, Utley has been the only one thus far to live up to the expectations. He's been great at the plate, and his 14 homers is tied for best in the majors. If Utley can stay healthy and continue to play consistently, he'll no doubt be one of the top contenders for the league MVP award.
2) Brad Lidge- Lidge's 2008 success isn't a big shock to anybody, but the way he's regained his dominance is not what most people expected. Coming off his injury, he realized he'd have to focus more on control and movement than pitch speed, and now he's developed a devastating slider to go with his still-sharp heater. I have to admit, even though he's my favorite player on the team, I chuckled when I first saw "Lights-Out Lidge" on the scoreboard at Citizen's Bank Park. However, he's more than lived up to the nickname.
3) Pat Burrell- Unlike previous years Burrell's actually living up to his high salary ($14 million), providing the power the middle of the lineup desperately needs with Ryan Howard slumping. The question is whether or not Burrell can overcome his struggles with mid-season slumps.
4) Cole Hamels- Cole hasn't pitched as well as many would have expected, but it's too early to worry about him slightly cooling off. If his ERA is still over 3 by August, then it's worth discussing, but for now, he's doing his job well.
5) Jimmy Rollins- Rollins probably won't match his 2007 MVP performance this season, but he's still the best leadoff man in baseball, hands down. He's looking like his injury won't have much of a lingering effect on his speed.
6) Chad Durbin- Durbin's 24.0 innings pitched and 1.50 ERA have offered the Phillies the long-relief they've been searching for. With the starting pitchers struggling, expect Durbin to continue to play a large role, whether it's long-relief or possibly starting. A rare kudos to Pat Gillick for snatching Durbin up for less than a million dollars.
7) J.C. Romero- If you're going to be the only reliable lefty in the bullpen, you'd better pitch well. Romero's continued his good work from 2007, probably leaving Theo Epstein with some slight regret over cutting him last year.
8) Rudy Seanez- The righty has as ERA of 1.59, but only has 14 appearances. It's incredible when you consider four out of our top eight players are relievers. Wait a minute... WE HAVE THE LOWEST BULLPEN ERA IN BASEBALL?!?! THE PHILLIES?!?!? Wow, who would've thought...
9) Greg Dobbs- Dobbs .327 average is incredible when you consider he's not even a regular starter, or even part of a platoon. The Phillies would never replace Howard or Feliz with him though, although Dobbs could play in the outfield. The interesting thing here is that as mostly baseless Ryan Howard trade rumors circulate, you have to wonder if they might gain validity as Dobbs keeps getting better and better.
10) Chris Coste- I don't care if he's the backup catcher on a team filled with superstars. I personally watched Coste start rally after rally in Wednesday's 8-6 loss to the Braves, in which he went 4-4. He's batting .339, and that's no fluke.
11) Jayson Werth- Werth has managed to overshadow his platoon partner Geoff Jenkins, even against right-handed hitters. He continues to defy expectations.
12) Tom Gordon- Gordon hasn't given up a run in over a month, amounting to 11.2 scoreless innings in which he has only allowed 6 hits and 4 walks. This is impressive given Gordon's dim outlook after his early struggles, but kudos to him for picking up his game.
13) Geoff Jenkins- His mediocre start doesn't seem to be worth $6.5 million a year, but it's still early. He'll get less and less playing time as Werth gets better and better.
14) Kyle Kendrick- Kendrick is definitely showing signs supporting the universal sophomore curse, but he's been getting better as the season has progressed, suggesting that he's doing a good job of overcoming his early-season struggles.
15) Ryan Howard- Many people are confident that Howard will eventually pull out of his current slump. I think that he's going to have to work on some glaring weaknesses he has in the box, because his home runs don't make up for his very high strikeout count (58) and terrible .185 average. However, he shouldn't be traded.
16) Pedro Feliz- Feliz's defense has been fine, but his offense leaves much to be desired. His .241 average and dreadful .288 OBP are disappointing, and raise questions as to whether or not he should be the everyday starter. Expect Greg Dobbs to start getting increasing numbers of starts unless Feliz picks up his game.
17) Jamie Moyer- The oldest man in the sport is showing signs of running out of gas. It's yet to be seen whether he's still going to have to spark that could, come September, make his pitch like he did down the stretch last year.
18) Eric Bruntlett- Kudos to Bruntlett for doing a better job replacing Rollins that many would expect. Having a better average than Feliz, Howard, and Victorino has to count for something.
19) Carlos Ruiz- Ruiz's game hasn't changed much from last year, but with Chris Coste improving, Ruiz might lose his starting job.
20) Adam Eaton- He's looking better than last year, but it's yet to be seen whether his seemingly eternal "nagging injuries" are more than just an overused excuse.
21) Ryan Madson- Expected to be the shut-down guy in the seventh, he now has a 4.66 ERA. Last year this would have been great, but with the turnaround the bullpen has had, it just doesn't cut it. I have a gut feeling that Madson might not be here come playoff time, due to the amount of talent in the Phillies' bullpen, and the fact that Madson's services as a long-reliever (and maybe starter) might be in increased demand later in the season.
22) Brett Myers- Myers is stuck in an unfortunate position, built like a closer but experienced as a starter. Now that Myers has seen that the grass is really greener in the bullpen, he's having time adjusting back to being a starter. If he doesn't turn his game (and massive home run count) around, then expect him to be a reliever by next season- whether it's in our bullpen, or in another team's bullpen. 240 pound brutes aren't meant to be starters.
23) Shane Victorino- Victorino seems to just be in a slump, but it's important to remember that Victorino spent much of last season recovering from an injury, and only had about one-and-a-half really good seasons. He'll probably pull out, but it's not an inevitability by any stretch of the imagination.
24) So Taguchi- Taguchi's numbers have been downright awful, and unlike Howard or Victorino, he's unlikely to get much better. His defense hasn't exactly secured him even the lowliest title of "late inning defensive replacement" either.
25) Clay Condrey- Condrey's been doing okay, but he'll be the first to go if any pitching prospects are called up. He deserves praise, however, for fighting hard to win out that final roster spot over a plethora of other relievers, who now play for the downright awful IronPigs.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Outlook Thus Far

The first few weeks of the 2008 season haven't been kind to many top contenders. Many teams that were labeled as early front-runners in their divisions, or even early world series favorites, have struggled to get above, or sometimes even reach, the .500 mark. What's even more unusual is the good starts for some American League teams who were thought to be the worst in baseball (such as the Athletics and Orioles). We're over three weeks in, and if the playoffs were to start today, we'd have the Athletics, White Sox, and Marlins in!

The Phillies have had a mediocre start at best. They already weren't playing that well when Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins went down. The short-term loss of these two key players has left the Phillies without a natural leadoff man, somebody who has a history of running well and maintaining a healthy batting average. They've tried a bunch of new, odd lead-off men; late-inning defensive replacements Eric Bruntlett and So Taguchi, as well has middle-lineup outfielders Geoff Jenkins and Jayson Werth. What the Phillies are left with is a power-hitting lineup that has trouble (even more so than before) putting runners on base, resulting in a lot of home runs, but not a whole lot of runs.

The pitching has also been topsy-turvy thus far. Cole Hamels has pitched well in all four of his starts. Brett Myers needed some time to find a groove, as he's still adjusting after closing for a season. Adam Eaton has pitched surprisingly well thus far, while Jamie Moyer looks like he might be aging (surprise!) a bit too fast. Whether Kyle Kendrick will be able to return to his stellar form of 2007 is yet to be seen. The bullpen has met a problem similar to last year: inconsistency. J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge haven't allowed an earned run yet, but beyond that, the relief pitching has been par at best.

In my mind the keys for the Phillies in 2008 will be staying healthy (last year almost every member of the entire starting lineup was injured at one point or another), and maintaining consistency. This team is loaded with talented players, but they continue to be plagued by the fact that half of them seem to be struggling or sidelined on any given day. For instance, Pat Burrell and Chase Utley have been on a tear, while Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino (prior to his injury) haven't been doing so hot. As the pennant race heats up, it's going to be imperative that the men in the starting rotation have settled into their roles, and can give consistent performances night in and night out. The bullpen, as it did in September of last year, will have to be made up of at least a few arms who can shut down opposing batters in the final three innings, and hold on to leads in critical games. Finally, the Phils have to get comfortable at the plate. You can't win a title if you constantly have two or three of your best players in a slump.

One thing that worries me is how proactive Pat Gillick will be when it comes to making necessary mid-season moves. It often seems as if Gillick is just riding out his final year with the team, waiting for retirement. Gillick passed up an opportunity to get a bargain deal on Kyle Lohse, a solid arm who could have helped to anchor down the shaky starting rotation. The $4 million or so that Lohse wanted was quite low given the typical baseball salaries these days, especially considering that he wanted 4 years and $30 million earlier, and was now willing to take a petty one year pack. Gillick did a good job when he picked up Lohse last year at the trade deadline, and that move probably made the difference in the NL East race. Gillick needs to continue to make smart moves such as the Lohse deal, capitalizing on opportunities when they come.

Power Rankings- Week of 4/21/08

National League:

1 (6) Diamondbacks- The D'Backs league-leading 116 runs (thats 6.4 a game) has no doubt been the difference maker for the Diamondbacks thus far. They've clearly been the heavyweight in the NL in April.
2 (3) Mets- The Mets may be missing Pedro Martinez and Moises Alou, but they've shown strong depth to back up those losses. The Mets have posted some convincing wins against the Phillies, gaining a head start in a critical season series that could have major implications in the pennant race.
3 (4) Phillies- The injuries of Jimmy Rollins (now on the 15-day DL) and Shane Victorino have left the Phillies without the top of their lineup, leaving them without a proper leadoff man. They will probably continue to struggle as these injuries linger, but the Phils have already proven that they can pick up the scraps when it counts.
4 (2) Padres- The Padres are 9-9, hovering around the .500 mark similar to a lot of National League contenders. April's too early to really worry about this, so the Phillies, Rockies, Padres, and Braves shouldn't be too worried.
5 (9) Cubs- Similarly to the D-Backs in the west, the Cubs are leading the NL Central because of their 111 runs scored, second in the majors to only the Diamondbacks.
6 (8) Brewers- The Brew Crew started 6-2, but they've cooled off a bit since then. Expect it to be a race between them, the Cardinals, and the Cubs for the NL Central crown,
7 (5) Rockies- The Rockies have started flat, seeming to have lost the magic of their wonderous September. The question remains whether the Rockies were a fluke gone to far, or are a legitimate contender that can return to the World Series.
8 (11) Cardinals- If Todd Wellemeyer, Kyle Lohse, and Adam Wainright can continue to exceed expectations, and provide solid starts day in and day out (as they have been doing thus far), the Cardinals could easily become the front-runner in the NL Central.
9 (7) Braves
10 (1) Dodgers- The lackluster play by Andruw Jones, and the whole team in general, drops the Dodgers from being my #1 into the large mass of mediocre NL teams. Unlike other teams wandering around .500, the Dodgers have the most to worry about. Joe Torre better start earning his paycheck soon if he wants to return to the playoffs for the umpteenth straight time.
11(12) Astros
12 (16) Marlins- The Marlins lead the NL East?!?!?! How is this even possible? ....I'll answer that one for you: Their strength of schedule is by leaps and bounds the worst in the divison. The only team they've played above .500 was the Mets, who won that series 2-1.
13 (13) Giants
14 (14) Reds
15 (10) Nationals- After a strong 3-0 start, the Nationals have dropped 14 out of 16, earning the worst record in baseball
16 (15) Pirates

American League

1 (1) Red Sox-
2 (3) Angels-
3 (2) Yankees-
4 (5) Mariners-
5 (4) Indians
6 (6) White Sox-
7 (8) Tigers- It's been 19 games, and they're still playing flat. I think the Tigers can turn it around, but they need to do it soon if they want to compete in the tough AL pennant race.
8 (10) Athletics-
9 (11) Rangers
10 (7) Blue Jays-
11 (14) Orioles- With a record of 11-8 it's almost like the Orioles are a contender, or something crazy like that...
12 (9) Twins-
13 (12) Royals- 9-10! KEEP BREAKING OUT THE CHAMPAGNE!!! Finally, something for Royals fans to celebrate...
14 (13) Rays-

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Power Rankings- 4/3/07

National League:

1 (2) Dodgers - It's always fun to see Larry Bowa go beserk on an umpire, but for godsakes, you're a third base coach. Stay in the box (as the rule dictates), both literally, and symbolically. You don't get to yell at umpires anymore- you're not important enough.
2 (3) Padres
3 (1) Mets- Pedro Martinez is going to be out for at least 6 weeks, if not much longer. With Moises Alou injured as well, one must begin to wonder if the Mets' key veterans can stay healthy this season.
4 (2) Phillies- The Phillies are now at the point where they're trying to avoid being swept by the Nationals of all teams. One day their pitching falls apart, the next their bats. I wouldn't worry too much, as it's only the first week, and the Phillies have proven they can fight back. It is disconcerting, though, that the Phillies have begun the season with play reminiscent of their play in 2007. Kicking off the season with the pitching falling apart has many fans worried.
5 (5) Rockies
6 (6) Diamondbacks
7 (7) Braves
8 (9) Brewers- The Brewers have struck first and second in the battle of the NL Central heavyweights, up 2-0 in their series against the reigning-champion Cubs.
9 (8) Cubs
10 (13) Nationals-
The Nationals are 3-0? Say it ain't so! The Nationals have played well in their first three games. They got lucky yesterday due to the Phillies bats running cold. Could the Nationals be a contender this year?
11) Cardinals
12) Astros
13) Giants
16) Marlins-
The Marlins win on a walk-off against the Mets, with shades of the Marlins ownage of the Mets last September... Who the hell is Robert Andino anyway?

American League

1) Red Sox- Win the opening series 3-1, although it's only the Athletics that they beat.
2) Yankees-
3) Angels-
4) Indians
5) Mariners-
6) Tigers- Injuries to Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson hurt, but that doesn't drop Detroit past the Blue Jays.
7) Blue Jays-
8) White Sox-
9) Twins-
10) Athletics-
11) Rangers
12 (13) Royals- 2-0! BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE!!!
13 (13) Rays-
14 (12) Orioles- 10,000 fans on the second game of the season?!?! What is this, Montreal?

Monday, March 31, 2008

My Thoughts On Opening Day

Ugly. Disappointing. Worrying. These are a few ways to describe the Phillies' first game of the season, coming off their NL East title. The Phillies offense was at full power, but the pitching met the same challenges as last season. Brett Myers went 5 innings- four were strong, but he allowed four runs in the fifth. The Nationals tagged on two more, but the Phillies, aided by homers by Utley and Rollins, climbed back to tie it at 6-6. It remained 6-6 until the top of the ninth, when Tom Gordon allowed 5 runs, handing the Phillies a disappointing loss and yet another 0-1 start.

The thing that worries me about this game is how quickly the pitching fell apart. Brett Myers crumbled in the fifth, leaving us to wonder if he's ready to start pitching more than 5 or 6 innings after closing last year. Gordon, who is key to the bullpen, earned himself an ERA of 135.00 in a terrible outing that earned him more boos than Adam Eaton received during the pre-game introduction (and you know how much Philly hates Adam Eaton).

One must wonder if this bullpen really will be stronger this year, or if the bullpen woes will continue into 2008.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Myers Makes a Bold Statement

Last Year, before the season began, Jimmy Rollins stated that he thought the Phillies were the "team to beat" in the NL East. Yesterday, Brett Myers made a bold statement of his own, one that I'd suggest keeping an eye on: Myers believes the Phillies have the best starting rotation in baseball.

I wouldn't rule this one out; all five of the Phillies starters (Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, and Adam Eaton) have the potential to be solid starters, but the real question is whether they can avoid the problems they've faced. Hamels is quite prone to injury. Myers was a closer for most of last year, and was 0-3 as a starter anyway. Moyer is the oldest player in baseball. Kendrick is subject to the dreaded "Sophomore Curse". Eaton has been struggling with injuries, and hasn't been near 100% for quite a while now. I could see all of these guys with records of well above .500, but they have some problems, and potential problems, they need to deal with.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Garciaparra Down, Helms in for Dodgers?

As discussed earlier this month, there have been rumors of the Dodgers having interest in Wes Helms, who would play backup to Nomar Garciaparra at Third Base. Now, Garciaparra has broken his finger, making the chances of dealing Helms a bit more likely.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lohse Finally Signed

Kyle Lohse's Scott Boras-induced nightmare is over. Lohse has reportedly signed a 1-year pact with the Cardinals, with $4 Million or $5 Million. Boras tried to sell Lohse at almost twice that much per year, over four years, but nobody bit. Lohse is lucky to even get a major-league deal at this point.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hamels Punches Wall, Creates New Continent

Okay, obviously this isn't true, but the Serious Sports Network runs some pretty, well, unreal stories. And they are HILARIOUS. They do some great work over there, it's a wonder they haven't gotten more press coverage. A true pleasure for any fan of sports and satire. *Click here* to see the story from this post's title.

*Click here* to see another classic Cole Hamels one: "Hamels Performs own Tommy John Surgery, Recovers Immediately"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Helms to Dodgers?

With Third Baseman Andy LaRoche expected to be out for at least a couple months, the Dodgers have decided that Nomar Garciaparra will be manning the hot corner opening day. However, Garciaparra isn't expected to play in every game, so the Dodgers are looking for a backup to fill in once or twice a week. Joe Torre has said he prefers to look within the organization for that backup, but it's possible that they could make an offer for the Phillies' Wes Helms. Helms is now all but out of a job, due to the signing of Pedro Feliz.

If a deal happened, it would probably involve Helms going to the Dodgers for a draft pick (or draft picks), and maybe a pitcher if the Phillies are lucky. Acquiring Helms probably wouldn't be worth giving any sort of notable prospect for the Dodgers, and the Phillies don't need any more no-better-than-mediocre pitchers- they have plenty of those.

The Marlins and Braves have also shown interest in Helms. The Phillies seem to be aware of this, as they've been giving Helms a lot of playing time in Spring Training, despite the fact that he's a contender for the bench at best.

What might draw the Phillies into making a deal is getting Helms off the payroll. Helms is scheduled to make $2.15 Million this year. If the Phillies could get him off their payroll, they may have money to sign another free-agent- *cough cough* Kyle Lohse *cough cough* Armando Benitez. Then again, considering the Phillies' spending patterns, they could just pocket the money rather than use it towards winning a championship.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Projected 2008 Opening Day Roster (6th Edition)

SP Cole Hamels (Left-Handed)
SP Brett Myers
SP Kyle Kendrick
SP Jamie Moyer (L)
SP Adam Eaton
LRP Chad Durbin
LRP Francisco Rosario
SU Ryan Madson
MRP Clay Condrey
MRP J.C. Romero (L)
CP Tom Gordon
-- Brad Lidge*
1B Ryan Howard
2B Chase Utley
SS Jimmy Rollins
SS Eric Bruntlett
3B Greg Dobbs
3B Pedro Feliz
LF Pat Burrell
OF Geoff Jenkins
OF Shane Victorino
OF Jayson Werth
OF So Taguchi
C Carlos Ruiz
C Chris Coste

*Injured, but not on Disabled List


  • It remains to be seem whether Greg Dobbs or Wes Helms will be on the Opening Day roster. Having both is a very unlikely proposition, and would likely only happen if either of them are traded, or if Eric Bruntlett was sent down to AAA. The Phillies are unlikely to opt to have more than five bench players (five are shown here). At the moment, it looks like a toss-up between the two.
  • Brad Lidge will probably not be fully ready for opening day (although it's looking like he might rush himself out of excitement), meaning that Tom Gordon will move from set-up man to interim closer.
  • I wouldn't say Fransico Rosario is anywhere close to a definite; there will be a lot of competition for a bullpen spot or two, and there are a lot of contenders
  • Adam Eaton will probably be on a short leash. Expect Kris Benson (once he's healthy) and Chad Durbin to be next in line for that rotation spot. Shane Youman and Travis Blackley are also options.
  • I like what I've seen from Joe Savery during Spring Training. A bit further down the road this season, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Phillies give him a shot in the rotation, a la Kyle Kendrick.
  • Kyle Lohse would be a huge boost, and his value has decreased from about 4 years $40 Million to 1 year $4 Million (another player screwed by agent Scott Boras). Still, the Phillies don't want to spend any more money. Lohse would be a huge boost to the rotation, and I fail to see why they won't take such an incredible bargain.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Power Rankings- Week of 2/25

It's been a while since the last rankings, coming later than usual in the week, as I've been very busy. Here are my official, pre-spring training power-rankings...

National League:

1 (1) Mets- Lost their first Spring Training game yesterday, while the Phillies won. Frivolous, maybe, but it's not a great start for the Mets, coming off their collapse.
2 (3) Dodgers
3 (4) Padres
4 (2) Phillies- It's no surprise that an overexcited, oft-injured closer Brad Lidge hurt his knee pitching during Spring Training a few days back. In his absence, which could extend past opening day, the Phillies will likely have to move Tom Gordon to closer. Lidge's injury also raises the question of whether he can remain healthy this season which is key as Lidge is the keystone of the Phillies pitching staff. He has blamed his lackluster 2006 and 2007 campaigns on lingering injuries (rather than the Albert Pujols home run in the 2005 NLCS), making one wonder if 2008 will be any different.
5 ) Rockies
6) Diamondbacks
7) Braves
8) Cubs
9) Brewers
10) Cardinals
11) Astros
12) Giants
13) Nationals
14) Reds
15) Pirates
16) Marlins- Signing OF Luis Gonzalez gives them veteran leadership, but I doubt Gonzo will have much of a short-term effect.

American League

1) Red Sox- Signed SP Bartolo Colon, the 2005 AL Cy Young winner, to a minor-league deal. Sounds like the ideal sleeper pick to me...
2) Yankees- Added 3B/IF Morgan Ensberg earlier in the month. He could make a run at their First Base position currently looking to be filled by Shelley Duncan or Jason Giambi
3) Angels- CP Francisco Rodriguez, aka K-Rod, wants out of Anaheim- ehem, Los Angeles- after this year, due to some sour contract talks and an arbitration hearing. He's making $10 Million this year.
4) Indians
5 (6) Mariners- Their addition of SP Erik Bedard pushes them past the Tigers. Look for the Mariners, along with the Tigers and Indians, to be pretty much the only teams that will give a real challenge to the Red Sox or Yankees (whoever is in second in the AL East) in the Wild Card race
6 (5) Tigers- Ticket sales have been extremely successful for the club, probably due to the excitement over their acquisition of 3B Miguel Cabrera and SP Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins.
7) Blue Jays- Apparently new Blue Jay 3B Scott Rolen would have been open to being traded to the Phillies. The reality here is that the fans hate him; and it seems to be an awful coincidence that his interest in returning rises during the off-season after we won the division crown.
8) White Sox- The White Sox are stuck in the AL cellar that has proven almost as inescapable as a black hole, but they're poking their head out. Things look to be on the rise for the Sox, who two years after winning a world series, finished 72-90 last year.
9) Twins- Johan Santana is gone, but the Twins still have are in what I like to call AL Purgatory. They still have some falling to do before they drop into the fiery abyss below them.
10) Athletics- Signed semi-retired closer Keith Foulke to a one-year deal. Foulke signed with the Indians last year, but retired before opening day. You may remember him as the pitcher who pitched the last out in the 2004 World Series for the Red Sox.
11) Rangers
12 (13) Rays- Barry Bonds could be on his way to Tampa Bay. Bonds would likely be a distraction during the season, but then again, what is there to distract them from?
13 (12) Orioles- Trading away SP Erik Bedard moves the Orioles even deeper into the AL cellar. With so many washed up has-beens on the team, however, I think the O's could make some splashes if they play their cards right
13 (14) Royals

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lidge Out, Myers Moves to the Pen

Brad Lidge sustained an injury when he caught a spike in the pitcher's mound over the weekend. It has now been discovered that he damaged his meniscus, and will miss 3-6 weeks. Mitch Williams said on Comcast Sports Net that 6 weeks seems very unlikely, so that's good news.

This leaves the Phillies with a Brett Myers dilemna. It is unclear whether Myers will return to his closer role, or if Tom Gordon or another reliever will take over. Williams recommends the latter, and I agree with that. Let Myers stay in the rotation, so he can have some stability this year. I think Gordon will close, with Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero doing set-up.

Maybe the Phillies will be smart and try to get Kyle Lohse. Due to Scott Boras trying to oversell him, the demand for Lohse has dropped so greatly, that some think he may only get a minor-league deal. Quite a far cry from four years, $30 Million.

Lidge's injury is the sports gods just kicking Philly while it's down. The Flyers losing streak and loss of Simon Gagne for the season and Mike Richards for three weeks was already unbearable.

When it rains at the sports complex, it pours...