February 26, 2008

Do The Phillies Still Have The Edge?

Apparently Mike over at A Citizen’s Blog had some choice words as to why the Mets aren’t the team to beat in the National League East this season. But wait a minute Mike, the Phillies didn’t win the East last season. They were just there to collect the prize, like they were the only one’s bidding on a product on EBAY. It took a historic collapse in the form of key players struggling, important figures on the DL or playing injured and an over exposure to the bullpen that eventually caught up with them.

So here are his key notes and below are my rebuttals to his, as he likes to put it, four good reasons as to why the Phillies shouldn’t fear the Mets in 2008:

1. History: Remember the 2002 Mets? In the wake of the Mets surprising run at the N.L. East title in the days after 9/11 the Mets management decided to open up the team’s purse-strings and attempt to lure the top free agents to Queens. In came Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, and Jeremy Burnitz. And the Mets finished seven games worse than they did the previous season. History is against the Mets here.

Less we forget that those acquisitions were made under the Steve Phillips regime and how about the Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner, Marlon Anderson, Jose Valentin, John Maine, Oliver Perez acquisitions? Should I go on with more players or do you get the point? This is a new era and a new General Manager, so that point is moot.

2. Numbers: The addition of one player rarely makes the sort of impact that people are talking about here. Suddenly the Mets suspect rotation goes from a weakness to an exceptional strength? I don’t think so. Remember, Santana will throw 35-40 games for the Mets in 2008. They still need pitchers for the 120-130 games that Santana cannot pitch. Do you really feel comfortable, Mets fans, with Willie Randolph handing the ball to John Maine on the last game of the season?

Way to downplay this one. It’s not just the addition of one player. It’s the addition of the most dominant pitcher of this decade, who pitches more innings, strikes out more batters and provides more protection than most every other starter out there and as a result it will provide the bullpen to not be used as it was last season and knocks down every other starter to take the pressure off of them. Can you tell me a better one through four in the East? Not likely.

3. The Aging of their Roster: They added Santana to bolster the rotation, but they’ve updated none of the other positions on the roster in any meaningful way. Anyone notice that Carlos Delgado really struggled in 2007? His OBP plunged to .333, a decline of nearly thirty points and a nearly seventy point decline from the .399 he posted with the Marlins in 2005. His home runs declined from 38 in 2006 to 24 last season and he saw his Runs Created dip from 101 to 70. Delgado is 36 this season and is entering the twilight of his career. He better not struggle in 2008 or the Mets are in trouble.

Granted, Carlos Delgado isn’t getting any younger and he may be on the wrong side of thirty, but let’s look at your first baseman. Ryan Howard hit .313 in 2006, had 58 home runs and drove in 149 runs as well as striking out 181 times. In 2007 he hit .268, with only 47 home runs and drove in 136 runs as well as striking out 199 times. I think Howard had a little bit of a drop off. I’m not even going to get into the home runs because the Phillies play in a little league park to begin with. So before you sit and judge our first baseman, I would be a little worried that if pitchers had caught on to Ryan Howard and his ridiculous way of setting himself up to bat. Can he adjust? Was 2006 a fluke? Can he please strike out a little less!

4. It’s in their heads: The memory of last season is still going to echo in their minds. Any time the Phillies have struggled in a pennant race the ghosts of 1964 are raised. Any time this season that the Mets struggle, the ghosts of last season will return. I wonder how badly this will affect the play of a young player like Jose Reyes, who really seemed to wilt under the pressure of the pennant race last season while his counterpart in the Phillies lineup, Jimmy Rollins, shined. Will Reyes struggle any time the mention of 2007 comes up? I think he will.

I will give you this one, but not easily. There is no way to tell if last season will remain with them as psychological downer or a motivator. You can sit on either side of the fence and make an argument one way or the other, but the only way we will truly know is when the season ends next year and, we fans can look at it in a whole.


Anonymous said...

I don't know what hes smoking.omar is never gonna bring in another mo vaughn

Anonymous said...

they have to tell themselves something to sleep at night

Anonymous said...

whatever well justhave to wait until the season to see if they truley are still the team to beat

Anonymous said...

i think rollins put his foot in his mouth with his little 100 wins comment