Leading up to the start of the 2008 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 32 teams. Teams will be rated on a 10-point scale in the following 5 areas: Lineup, Pitching, Manager, Intangibles/Chemistry, and Overall. Today’s team is the Phliadelphia Phillies.
Everyone knows about the two big threats of the lineup, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. This group has also added some important integral parts. Jimmy Rollins is the reigning MVP for crying out loud. Many people forget that when looking at this lineup on paper. Don’t forget about the incumbent Pat Burrell. He should be good for 30 homers and has the ability to drive in 100 runs. They also added some very good firepower to their bench, but players with experience in the starting lineup that could become valuable additions. It seems that Philadelphia always has a nice complement of spot starting type guys on their bench that can be effective in their role coming off the Philly bench. I like their bench a lot, in adding Geoff Jenkins, So Taguchi, and Pedro Feliz. Shane Victorino started off as a guy who was a spot starting guy and has blossomed into a key in this lineup. The speed/power mix this group has is impressive and there won’t be many lineups that score like the Phillies will this year, especially in that bandbox ballpark Citizens Bank.
The rotation is going to go Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer everlasting, rookie Kyle Kendrick, and Adam Eaton. J.D. Durbin could get some starts should one in this group falter as they have in the past.
Brad Lidge is going to have to show he’s got something left in the tank, because he’ll be the guy to take the ball in the 9th inning as the closer when the Phillies have a lead. Tom Gordon is a fine set-up man but questions will be asked because of his age. J.C. Romero was resigned and will be the guy to get the tough lefty matchups and 7th innings. Ryan Madson, Clay Condrey and Scott Matheison will also see action.
If there is a chink in this team’s armor other than their manager, it will be the pitching. A lot of pressure on Cole Hamels to be an ace when I think he’s best fitted to play a #2 role in his career. After Hamels, there’s a lot of question marks. This is a team who could definitely make a move to bolster this staff, but who knows how that will shake out.
Charlie Manuel. He’s a likeable enough man, for sure. He’s probably accomplished more than any other career .198 hitting player who was born from parent cousins could accomplish; but this guy is never going to win you a World Series. In fact, Manuel will lose you playoff games. He replaced Larry Bowa, and after you’ve been swigging around horse shit and water in your mouth, piss might taste better to swash around in there. Bottom line is Charlie Manuel is a guy who can take talented teams to the playoffs and lose, or allow talented teams to underachieve. How he survived the axe sharpening he was in at the beginning of last season is a mystery to me. Manuel ultimately will not leave this organization with any type of title, and he’s got his hands full having the Mets in his division. Luckily, he’s got a very capable roster, or he’d be up shit creek with no paddle.
This is a team that will steal some bases. This is also a team that has a rabid fan base cheering them on 82 games out of the year. On a bad team, a Philly crowd might harm the players’ performance, but this is a talented roster full of guys that have ‘been there’. The Phillies are going to bend teams over the laundry hamper and use the belt on them plenty in 2008. They can beat you with the long ball (217 to lead the league last year) or they can run you to death. They make things happen. They’ve got a strong core and should continue to win many character ballgames in which they shouldn’t and squeek out plenty of late/close games.
I wish there was a rating taken into consideration for ballpark ambiance and food at the concession stands. I’ve been to Philly’s Citizens Bank, and it’s a great place to turn one into a fan. It’s a magical place that can turn a skinny into a fat ass real quick (crab fries and cheesesteaks). They also throw tailgates in the parking lots like it’s football season. We drank Jack Daniels there and no one looked at us like we had 10 heads.
Unfortunately, this team is in a tough division. I think they’re better than the Atlanta Braves but not at the level of the New York Mets. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are gonna do their thing. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are going to make hell at the top of the lineup.
Overall, I see the pitching staff being what makes the ship sink, oh and also Charlie M. They’re still one of the more dangerous teams in the National league and they’ll be a nightly task for their opposition because they never stop battling.