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Monday, February 9, 2009

The Philadelphia Phillies Are Brilliant

It would appear that the chastity belts have been removed from the purse strings of the Phillies ownership. For years the mentality of being a second-rate team in a small market has weighed down the thinking that paying for players with a higher quality of potential and talent can lead to a championship. And what do you know? This past off season has been one of the most productive the Phillies have ever had. They resigned every player that was arbitration eligible. The one big piece of the World Series team who was eligible for free agency, Pat Burrell, was allow to leave but was replaced by a player who could be just as effective as a hitter, and probably a bit better in the field. Otherwise, the likes of Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, and ace Cole Hamels will help lead the Phils back to the post season.

Now in recent events, the Phillies have made their most brilliant move to date. They have locked up Ryan Howard, perhaps the most prolific power hitter (Albert Pujols noted) in the past decade. What he has done in his short career is unparalleled by any Phillie. Signing Howard to a three year, 54 million dollar contract was the best thing they could do for both sides. I have previously written about what has gone on between the two parties and while I am not shocked that they got a deal done, I am a bit surprised that it seems that Ryan shortchanged himself on the back end of the deal. The contract calls for 15 million dollars this year, 19 next year, and 20 the third year, which by then could be a real bargain if he continues the way he has. It also forgoes the next few years of arbitration which only created an environment of contention and allows Ryan to focus on getting prepared for the upcoming season. A happy Howard is a vital piece to repeating last year's performance, especially with the prospect of Chase Utley missing the beginning of the season

Now it seems that the team is in place for a run at defending its championship. With the only real questions being the fifth starter and J.C. Romero's temporary replacement, Ruben Amaro Jr. and Charlie Manuel should not only be set up this year, but perhaps the next three, just as long as they are able to find the pitching they need. They have Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer for one more year. After that they'll need to replace one or both. It could be through the promotion of JA Happ or Carlos Carrasco, both of whom are vying for the 5th starter spot this year, and we shall see how they work out in spring training. The Phils also have some trade bait to dangle if need be. Jason Donald performed well on the Olympic squad as well as the Arizona Fall League and could even make the big league roster if Utley isn't ready for opening day. But for the time being, instead of getting to far ahead of ourselves, let's focus on this year.

This year the Phillies division got a little better, through the Mets addition of K-Rod and the Braves picking up Derek Lowe. That being said, there is still no reason the Phillies should finish anywhere but in first place. The Mets gained nobody that can instill any heart into a ballclub that has collapsed in September the past two years and Atlanta's lineup couldn't be picked out by the players' own mothers. From the lead-off man, down to the last guy off the bench, Philly's offense remains unmatched in the National League East. Pitching is a bit more comparable from team to team, but the Phillies are in a position to where they can outscore their opponents when they need to, taking some of the pressure off the starters and allowing them to go after the hitters as they see fit. So if there are any doubters/haters out there that Philadelphia will be position to grab the pennant again come to grips with it now ‘cause it's gonna happen.

Oh yeah, to all those A-Rod fans. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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