Philadelphia Phillies: 2012 Season Is World Series or Bust

April 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Fan News

World Series or bust. 

That has been the mantra the Phillies have lived by since their 2008 championship run. Three years in a row, however, the team has failed to bring the trophy back to Philadelphia. And this mantra has never seemed more formidable than it does right now. 

As the team kicks off its 2012 season in Pittsburgh today, sports pundits and baseball fans alike have seemingly pushed the Fightin’s off to the wayside—instead viewing the rejuvenated Miami Marlins and the up-and-coming Washington Nationals as the new powerhouses of the NL East.  

Both teams are, undeniably, improving.  

Miami made waves this offseason when they signed shortstop Jose Reyes, lefthander Mark Buehrle, closer Heath Bell and righthander Carlos Zambrano. And then there is Ozzie Guillen, who joins the team after an eight-year stint with the Chicago White Sox. Reyes, Zambrano and Guillen—three of the biggest hotheads in the game, all in the same clubhouse—what could go wrong there?  

The Nats will see the return of Stephen Strasburg, who after 20 months of rehabilitation from Tommy John’s surgery will start on Opening Day. All Star Ryan Zimmerman is back, along with newcomers Brad Lidge, Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson. Oh, and let’s not forget Jayson Werth, who brings his ridiculously inflated $126 million, seven-year contract back for another season.  

Meanwhile, the Phillies have remained relatively quiet this winter, replacing closer Ryan Madson with Jonathon Papelbon, and have bolstered their bench with the addition of slugger Jim Thome. But with both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley out for the foreseeable future, the Phillies’ lineup looks more shallow, old and incomplete as it has in years. 

The Opening Day lineup will consist of: Victorino (8), Polanco (5), Rollins (6), Pence (9), Wigginton (3), Mayberry (7), Ruiz (2), Galvis (4), Halladay (1). 

Based off of this, it looks like Charlie is shuffling up the batting order in response to the injury plague. Hunter Pence, who is in his first full season as a Phillie, is perhaps the most important piece to the order until Howard makes his return. With no other proven real power threats in the lineup, Pence is going to be carrying this lineup through the early part of this season. Rollins, who has struggled in every role outside of leadoff, will also need to respond to his new role. 

Are things as bad as everyone is saying they are? No, absolutely not. Until the Phillies lose their NL East crown to somebody else, they are the favorites. And with the addition of an extra wild-card team to each league, their odds of reaching postseason play are even more likely.

A wild-card berth is not the worst thing in the world either—proven last year as the Cardinals humiliated Philadelphia in a Game 5 showdown in front of the Philly faithful. 

That said, whether Wigginton and Thome can fill the void at first base remains to be seen. The same goes for Mayberry in left and Galvis at second. Certainly the losses of Howard and Utley will be felt, especially early on. 

But the Phillies do not need another 100-win season. Nor do they need another NL East title. They don’t need to have the best starting staff in the majors (although they still do), and they don’t need to have the long-ball styled lineup they had in 2008. They need to win in October. They need to win the World Series. 

Or bust.

Published originally on Phan Blog

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Philadelphia Phillies All-Fan Favorite Team

November 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Through over a century of play and two World Series championships, the Phillies have had their fair share of athletes at each position. Many we remember. Some we forget. The ones we truly remember, however, are oftentimes the ones we love.

In Philadelphia, oftentimes, love for their athletes is hard to come by. That only serves to make these individuals even more unique and special.

Here is the All-Fan Favorite Team for the Phillies, highlighting the most popular players at each position.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Why Their NLDS Loss Was a Blessing in Disguise

October 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

As quickly as it began, it had ended.

The thrill and excitement of October baseball had barely lasted a week, and the Philadelphia Phillies found their record-breaking season rendered useless. 

But maybe behind the disappointment, disgust, humiliation and devastation that swept so quickly through the city is hope.

It’s now blatantly obvious this team is flawed. Maybe not in terms of starting pitching, or the ability to win games in the regular season (after all, they did win a franchise record 102 of them). But this team, now three years removed from a World Series, is not cut out for winning in the postseason. 

They’ve been able to dodge the “age” bullet for quite a while, but with an embarrassing three-hit performance in Game 5 of the NLDS, it was never so blatantly obvious that the lineup’s seniority was causing some problems. Can it be fixed? Maybe.

Rollins, who had the best series of any Phillies hitter, clearly must be re-signed. He continues to be what makes this team run, and although he is far removed from his 2007 MVP season, he remains an energetic force at the top of the lineup.

But after that, change is inevitable.

Placido Polanco, as consistent he may be when he’s healthy, seems to be consistently bad when he’s not. Unfortunately for Polly, his injuries seem to be hammering him more and more as he nears 40. 

Utley and Howard, whatever argument you may have, are not going anywhere. 

The spot in left is sure to prove to be a problem, especially at the beginning of next season. Will it be Mayberry? Brown? Or will Mayberry play first when Howard’s gone? It’s way too early to know, but some interesting questions await Ruben and Charlie come spring training.

The pitching is fine. That much is clear. They might not have gotten it done, but with a rotation that dominant, there’s nothing more you can do to improve them. The series did, however, show us the importance of Cole Hamels. His dominant start was one of the high points of the series for the Phillies, and signing the southpaw to an extension should be at the top of the Phillies’ priorities this offseason.

The Phillies should have won the World Series. On paper, they were the best. By far. But maybe, just maybe, losing early opened up the eyes of Amaro and his staff on what really needs to be done. We now know that change is necessary. And as ridiculous as it may seem, losing early may have been the only way to figure that out.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Ranking the 10 Best Rotations in Team History

September 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

As the Phillies wrap up their incredible and record-setting season, it’s time to take a look back at one of the most hyped pitching rotations in recent memory. After nearly 162 games, it’s clear that they’ve lived up to all realistic expectations, especially free-agent acquisition Cliff Lee.

But where do they rank among the other all-time Phillie greats? 

Here are the top 10 rotations in franchise history.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Oswalt vs Vance Worley for Postseason Rotation: It’s a No Brainer

September 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

The four-aced rotation, once heralded as one of the best of our generation, looks a little bit different than it did back in March and April.

One starter not included in the “Phantastic Four” has risen to prominence as one of the best pitchers on the entire team, ranking in some statistical categories alongside Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. His name is not Joe Blanton. It’s Vance Worley.

Worley has struck his rookie season with a force, dominating opposing lineups and piling up 11 wins and just two losses, all while maintaining a 2.85 ERA. 

The original, presumed fourth starter was, of course, former Astros‘ ace Roy Oswalt. But Oswalt has had his share of struggles this season, with that ever troublesome back causing some havoc earlier this year. 

With his division clinching victory last night, he lowered his ERA to 3.66 and upped his record to 8-9. These numbers are solid, no doubt, especially for a fourth starter. But with Worley’s sudden and unexpected breakout season, the question is being asked across the city… Who would you rather have on a postseason rotation: Oswalt or Worley?

Well, maybe the better question to ask is this: Who would you rather have come out of the bullpen? 

Both questions seem to counteract each other.

Oswalt, at this point in his career, might have limited value out of the ‘pen. Worley, at the age of 23, is likely to be a much more versatile and diversified pitcher, and is better suited for relief appearances.

But is it worth putting a guy, who—in all respects—is having a better season, in the bullpen where his use will be minimized? Under the circumstances, absolutely. 

Oswalt is not among the washed up mediocre talent that so heavily persists throughout the league on a year-to-year basis. He is just one year removed from one of the best second halves of a season from a Phillies pitcher in recent memory. His postseason starts were all spectacular, always giving the team an opportunity to win.

He’s been there before. He’s succeeded there before.

And to top it all off, the only hole in his extraordinary career is the lack of a championship. It’s the reason he wanted out of Houston and the reason he accepted a deal to the ever-maligned City of Brotherly Love. He has that extra motive that in turn gives him an edge when October rolls around.

That’s not to say that Worley doesn’t have equivalent passion, or the same drive that Oswalt has. But it’s a different passion, a different drive. One that does not have the pain and exertion of coming so close to winning a World Series, and coming up just short.

Experience is often underplayed. But when looking back at two Worley-prototypes of past years in Philadelphia, Kyle Kendrick and J.A. Happ, one will remember that their first postseason starts were disasters.

Both lasted just a few innings. Granted, Worley, in nearly all respects has put together a better rookie campaign than both Happ and Kendrick did. But there are several similarities and the comparison does cause some reservations when rushing to the conclusion of Worley over Oswalt.

On any other team, Worley has the talent and skill that is deserved of a spot on a postseason rotation. But not on this team. Not over Oswalt.   

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5 Philadelphia Phillies with the Most Swagger

September 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

With all of the success, accolades, and titles the Phillies have put together over the past few seasons, it’s a given that the team as a whole has obtained a certain sense of swagger and confidence in the way they play the game.

It’s not cockiness, per say, but an overall feeling and expectation of winning is most definitely a prevalent force in the clubhouse.

Here are the top five Phillies with the most swagger.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies Free Agent News: How Jered Weaver’s Extension Affects Cole Hamels

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

In terms of pure statistics, Cole Hamels and Jered Weaver are identical twins.

Both are in their sixth seasons in the majors, both sport similar ERAs (Hamels-3.38, Weaver-3.31), both have pitched just over 1,000 innings over their career, both are about the same age (Weaver is one year older) and both are currently among the best pitchers in their league. 

So as news broke last week that the Los Angeles Angels had struck a five-year, $85 million contract with their Cy Young-candidate ace Weaver, parallels were instantly drawn to the current predicament the Phillies find themselves in with Hamels, 

Hamels is currently in the final year of a three-year, $21.5 million contract, and has one year of arbitration remaining before he would, theoretically, become a free agent. 

The Phillies would obviously like to avoid a potential bidding-war for their 2008 World Series MVP, and this offseason (when several contracts come off the books) seems like the most logical option for doing so. 

But will the Phillies and Hamels come to agreement on a new deal? On the surface, Weaver’s contract seems like an extremely reasonable deal for both sides. But after putting together a substantial and impressive postseason resume, and becoming one of the best southpaws in the game, will he want to test the open market? 


As of now, a new contract isn’t even on Hamels’s mind, at least according to him. He said, 

“I just want to play. That’s why I have an agent. He’ll take care of the rest. If I go out and play and I’m comfortable, good things will happen. That’s all I can affect. It’s a situation where it’s your choice and when the time comes people make choices. I think I’m more focused on trying to win a World Series right now with these guys. That’s been the only thing on my mind this year.” 

As Hamels continues to play an extremely influential role in the starting rotation, on a team that continues to grow older, that role will only become more essential. With Weaver’s deal, the line has likely been drawn in the sand. 

A contract of similar stature seems rational for the Phillies, and lucrative enough for Hamels. But, as Hamels’ win count grows larger and larger, and the ERA gets smaller and smaller, the Phillies would do themselves a favor to get it done sooner rather than later.

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Philadelphia Phillies Trade Rumors: 5 Guys That Could Put Them over the Top

August 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Phillies are, no doubt, on pace to achieving their second consecutive league-leading season and subsequent home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

But the Phils know more than anybody that once entering the playoffs, it’s a whole new ballgame. While the team remains the clear favorite in the NL, there are improvements to be made.

With the waiver wire deadline quickly approaching, the Phillies organization has little time to decide on possible moves. Additionally, the moves they may wish to make are near impossible due to their status as the best team in baseball (in terms of record). Although, some players are available and have already made it through waivers and are available to the Phillies to make an offer for.

Like any team, the Phillies have holes. Whether or not those holes come back to haunt them in October is anybody’s guess.  

Here are the top five players that can put the Phillies over the top (if aren’t there yet anyway).

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Cliff Lee Trade Now Looks Genius

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

As Cliff Lee gracefully cruised through the Mets lineup last night, Ruben Amaro’s justification for bringing him back to the club continued to grow and grow. Lee is having yet another monster year on the mound, sporting a stellar 2.82 ERA and a league-leading five shutouts.

The day it happened, trading Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for a couple of prospects seemed like a catastrophic mistake. Looking back even today, it was a mistake. Amaro got his man in Halladay, but at what cost?

The pitcher that had led the team to its second World Series in a row, while putting together one of the best second-half performances by a pitcher in Phillies history, was gone. One ace was traded for another. Clearly, a few unproven prospects were not worth giving up an entire year of the potential Lee-Halladay tandem.

After nearly two years since the trade went down, that awful, unbearable, unthinkable trade has created what is now the best team in baseball.

Many critics scoffed at the Phillies’ offseason signing of Lee, wondering why the team even bothered trading him in the first place.

But, had Lee had a spot on last year’s roster, Amaro would never have even considered making a move for the Astros’ Roy Oswalt. Many were hesitant to part ways with fan-favorite J.A. Happ, but his 6.26 ERA in 2011 is enough to make the trade look like a flat-out steal.

Last year, Oswalt pitched well enough to put Lee’s departure on the backburner of the minds of Phillies fans everywhere. Even this year, Oswalt has the potential to be a key factor in the team’s quest in bringing another World Series back to Philadelphia.

In addition, the prospects the Phils received from Seattle continue to play a role in the minor league system, most notably reliever Phillippe Aumont. The 22-year-old right-hander has an impressive 2.55 ERA for both the Reading Phillies and Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs this season, and is well on his way to becoming a major league pitcher, possibly as early as next year.

In an offseason in which Scott Boras client Ryan Madson becomes a free agent, it’s comforting to know that, with Aumont, the profusion of young, talented relievers isn’t stopping with Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo and Michael Schwimer.

Of course nobody, including Amaro himself, could have predicted such a fortunate turn of events that followed from his rushed and convoluted three-way trade of Lee to the Mariners. It was, still is and will always be a mistake.

Amaro’s fixing of that mistake is stemmed largely from luck. But, in the end, what does it matter what luck had to do with it? Amaro managed to turn one of the biggest mistakes of his career into an afterthought of fans everywhere. 

Because of that, and that alone, he’s a genius.

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Philadelphia Phillies Send Arizona Diamondbacks Back To Earth

August 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

Tuesday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks were on top of the baseball world.

They had overcome a late lead against the best team in baseball in the Phillies and against the best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay. As expected, the loss caused a firestorm of attention across Philadelphia. How could a team like the Diamondbacks defeat our ace in such an impressive fashion? Was it Charlie Manuel’s fault? Should we be worried about an NLDS matchup against them now? These questions and questions like these, were raised, analyzed and re-analyzed endlessly after the game.

A few days after the loss, and the Diamondbacks have been hit by a strong dose of reality. It’s now blatantly obvious that they are still a ways off from competing with Philadelphia, a potential first round competitor.

After the first ninth inning blown lead of his Phillies career, Halladay handed the ball in Game 2 to Cliff Lee, who was able to defeat Arizona with a dominant pitching performance and an offensive outbreak that included nine runs. In the rubber-game, the Phillies won on timely hitting and yet another stellar showing from what has quickly become one of the best bullpens in the game.

The turnaround is a telling story of the very nature of this team. If they fail in one area, they come back and beat you in another. It’s a balance that teams strive to achieve, but rarely ever do.

Maybe Halladay was not himself on Tuesday. Maybe Manuel should have pulled him before he blew the game. Maybe it was Manuel’s fault.

But it was, in the end, just one loss. A small blip in an otherwise smooth path to greater triumphs and achievements.

At this point the Phillies should not be afraid of any team. Not the Giants, not the Braves and most certainly not the Diamondbacks.

Arizona is, undeniably, a good up-and-coming team with a bright future ahead of them. Manager Kirk Gibson has led his team to an incredible worst-to-first season, in which they continue to stave off the defending champion San Francisco Giants. They are good enough to beat anybody in the league, including Halladay and the Phillies.

However, they still remain in a different class of “good.” In fact, it’s an extremely different class of “good.” They simply do not have the players, abilities or experience to make a deep run during the postseason. Not this year, anyway. 

Of course, any team can lose in a short five game series in the playoffs. But the Phillies shouldn’t. They couldn’t. And if they are able to successfully recover from a surprising moment of failure, as they did in this series, they won’t.

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