Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fightin' Phils at Last?

it's still early, but i'm getting a good feeling about the phillies.

- phil sheridan says that gillick has turned over the roster and made this a hard-nosed team (except for one notable exception).

Subtract poker-faced, major-league-cool players.

Add high-motor, high-energy, hustling players.

- paul hagen says this team has a shot at reclaiming the city that was once theirs

The coast is clear. The Eagles are done until training camp. The 76ers and Flyers have little to play for beyond a shot at the first overall draft choice. The Phillies suddenly have a roster chock-full of exciting young players - Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels - that fans can root for. They have been on the edge of making it to the playoffs for the past couple of years and have added a proven starting pitcher, Freddy Garcia, who could help push them over the top.

And should it all come together and result in a world championship, well, that would most likely result in a seismic shift in the football-baseball balance in the area.

- buster olney says the team is built on old fashioned values

The Phillies are built upon old-fashioned scout values, which figures, because general manager Pat Gillick is still an old-fashioned scout, prone to traveling thousands of miles on late notice to see a low-level minor league player or an amateur prospect with his own eyes. He often makes these trips clandestinely, sometimes without telling even some of his colleagues, because he does not want his whereabouts revealed.

The modern-day trend is for teams to shift more resources into the structure of the bullpen. The Mets, for example, have three excellent left-handed relievers in Billy Wagner, Scott Schoeneweis and Pedro Feliciano, and solid right-handers Duaner Sanchez, Aaron Heilman and Guillermo Mota, with Ambiorix Burgos coming in as a high-ceiling candidate from Kansas City. And the Mets have made a calculated gamble that they can piece together enough starting pitching to consistently get a close game into the hands of that bullpen.

The Phillies, on the other hand, have stacked their rotation, the way teams have been trying to win for, oh, about a century. They have All-Star Brett Myers, star talent Cole Hamels, veterans Freddy Garcia and Jamie Moyer, and free-agent signee Adam Eaton. They've got Jon Lieber for depth, as well, although it is still possible that Lieber will be traded for offensive help.

The Phillies' assumption and hope is that something good will emerge from their bullpen, like the Mets' assumption and hope with their rotation. The Phillies hope Tom Gordon stays healthy and enough middle relief will develop to make this a workable unit.

The Phillies will probably get more outs from their starting pitchers than the Mets do -- anywhere from 16 to 21 per game. The Mets, on the other hand, might get only 12-17 outs from their rotation, but will want to get the ball to their bullpen.

And while most teams are relying on on-base percentage, the Phillies have traded some of the crown princes of on-base percentage (Jim Thome and Bobby Abreu), while making a concerted effort to create a lineup of players who score high in intangibles among scouts, like Shane Victorino, Aaron Rowand, Chase Utley and, of course, NL MVP Ryan Howard. High energy, high intensity, major effort guys in their daily preparation. Wes Helms, who will share time at third base this year, is never going to be confused with Miguel Cabrera in his production, but he is a well-respected professional and of the players with at least 150 plate appearances, he led all major league hitters in average after the All-Star break last season, hitting .385.

The Phillies don't have the same kind of overall lineup or roster depth that the Mets possess -- an injury to Utley or Howard would be a crusher for them -- but they will be an interesting team, after ranking second in the majors in runs scored after the All-Star break last year, and going 41-24 in their last 65 games.

Gillick sounded optimistic on the phone Tuesday night, liking the makeup of his team, raving about Hamels and what he could do. Once a week in spring training, Gillick said, Moyer -- who has won 216 games in his career because of his understanding of how to change speeds -- will meet with other pitchers on the Phillies' staff to talk about pitching. "If you have a guy like that around, you might as well take advantage of it," Gillick said.

- it's looking likely the phils will head to spring training with jon lieber still on the team

i haven't necessarily agreed with all of his moves, but pat gillick has assembled what looks to be a very likeable team and i am more interested in baseball this year than i have been in a long, long time. baseball used to be my second favorite sport. i hope to get the love back this year.



Anonymous Phil said...

Prediction: huge hype for season outlook coming out of training camp followed by horrendous 1st 2 months. People, stop drinking the cool-aid. I don't even follow baseball anymore, but I know what's going to happen.

3:30 PM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

i think the makeup of the team gives them a good shot at hitting the ground running.

previous teams lacked heart and passion, so it seemed to me that they eased into each season.

i'm hoping these guys are able to bring some early season intensity to the ballpark.

i've always maintained that the reason i was turned off by previous phillies incarnations was that i didn't like the team's personality (or the personality of their GM). i like the players on this team, and i like the GM.

3:43 PM EST  
Blogger GM-Carson said...

The Phils always have my heart, but it would be nice if they didn't crush it into a million pieces for a change of pace. The Krazy glue is getting old.

6:01 PM EST  

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