With four weeks remaining until Opening Day, I figured once a week we will preview a Mets National East rival. Yes, I know what you are saying that Philly makes you wanna puke, yeah I know. Let’s take look if Met fans can truly believe they can overcome the critics and take the division crown back from their hated rivals.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last three seasons, you know the Mets and Philadelphia Phillies have developed quite the bitter rivalry. Unfortunately, we have been on the wrong end of the stick over that time as the Phillies come into the 2010 season as the three-time defending division champion.
After the Mets cruised to the division title in ’06 the Mets were the smart pick to win back to back division titles in ’07. Big mouth Jimmy Rollins felt otherwise and instead of showing respect to the division champs, he decided to rile things up. This talk ended up starting a battle of the words over the course of the following seasons. However, at this point their is not much to say and I think the Mets have taken a classier approach then the Phils and have only congratulated the Phils, whereas the Phils look to take shots at the Mets at all costs.
Well since we are hoping the wheels fall off for the Phils this season, lets see if it even possible.
Key additions: Roy Halladay-P, Placido Polanco-3B, Jose Contreras-P, Danys Baez- P, Ross Gload-1B, Juan Castro-Util., Brian Schneider-C
Key subtractions: Brett Myers-P, Cliff Lee-P, Pedro Feliz-3B, Chan Ho Park-P, Eric Bruntlett-Util., Clay Condrey-P
Strengths: OFFENSE, OFFENSE, OFFENSE. This team plays in a bandbox and has formed their team to make this a strength. This team has a great lineup, as many would say an American League type lineup. This team can also run and field the ball. They also now have one of the top 5 starters and most durable pitchers in the game spearheading their pitching staff.
Weaknesses: Bullpen. For those of you that think Ollie is a headcase, you must also admit Lidge is just as big a headcase. Funny they both had “knee injuries” as well last season. Madson doesn’t scare me either as a closer, and who even knew Baez was still around. I also feel that after Halladay they have questions just like the Mets. If Hamels can rebound they should be fine, but he had an embarrassing post season to go with his not so stellar season. Happ and Blanton are mediocre at best and I love seeing Jamie Moyer throw his 68 MPH heat. If the Phils are to falter this year it will be due to pitching, not offense.
Hitters: You are not going to find a better duo in the infield then Howard and Utley. The key is Rollins, if he can bat near .300 this offense will even be better then last year. Polanco will have a big season in that bandbox, you’re looking at another 20+ homer hitter. It could be possible that all 4 infielders hit plus-20 jacks. The outfield last season had a great year but Ibanez looked done by the end of the year and Werth had a career year. Look for these two to have down years. Victorino is the player I hate most, he can do it all good but not outstanding in my opinion. I think his numbers are also due to decrease. Ruiz is decent backstop and can hit for power, I also bet Schneider has a decent year just to stick it to us.
Pitchers: Halladay will have a good year but not as good as Santana, that ballpark will kill him occassionally. I repeatedly saw this guy throw complete games and give up 4,5 runs. Yeah its nice to throw CG’s but at 4-5 runs, he will lose some of those. They will need to pinch hit for him and that will decrease his CG numbers. A good year for Halladay but no Cy for him. Already, told you I’m not scared of anyone else on this staff and the pen cannot match up with the Mets.
2010 Prediction: These guys just got way too lucky last year. As a Mets fan, I know pitching is very important. I don’t care how good their lineup is. If Lidge and others continue to falter this team will blow a close division this year. I think they too have alot of “ifs” and need things to go their way again. In my opinion, things will not go their way this season. If they wanted to go for the kill they should have kept Lee and this move alone will be the reason they cannot compete with the big boys again this season. These guys will probably earn a playoff spot but don’t look for them to dominate the NL again. My prediction is a 2nd place finish for Philadelphia, but cross those fingers an injury to Howard, Utley or Halladay will end their playoff hopes.