This year’s 2010 Phillies season looks promising yet has me worried. Our award-winning players have the potential to bring many things to the plate this year, but will they? We were inches away from victory during the World Series last year. We have said goodbye to a few of our prized components but have also welcomed some great talent to this year’s roster.
The 2009 season definitely had its ups and downs. Harry Kalas, broadcasterer extraordinaire, passed away on April 13, which was a tragedy in itself. We also had to say goodbye to players like Cliff Lee. With a short but sweet career with the Phillies, Lee was traded to the Seattle Mariners in December. Lee had seven wins, a 0.68 ERA and was the first pitcher since 1903 to pitch a complete game during a World Series and have more than 10 strike-outs and no walks. Lee was an incredible asset to the Phillies and even caused fans to scream “unbeLEEvable” whenever he came to the mound.
Now that Lee has gone to Seattle we have an opening in our bullpen just in time for two of our other pitchers, Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero, to recover from their off-season injuries. Romero injured his elbow while Lidge injured his elbow and knee. Despite their setbacks, both pitchers are currently throwing and practicing but there is no guarantee they will be ready for Opening Day, April 5, in Washington.
I would love to see Romero’s left-hand pitch come spring, but I am not as excited to see Lidge step on the mound. In the 2009 regular season Lidge earned his career-low record of 0-8. After losing every game he relieved, Lidge was then called out of the bullpen during Game 4 of the World Series against their opponent, New York Yankees. During this game Lidge practically handed the Yankees their 7-4 win by giving up three runs in the ninth inning.
Lidge’s statistics from last season are an utter embarrassment to the Phillies and their fans. How is it possible for our reliever who previously won the World Series last season to earn an ERA of 27.00? I’m hoping that Lidge can come off his injury and return with the talent and mindset he once had. But Lidge isn’t the only pitcher during the 2009 season who slacked off.
Hamels, who also led us to victory during the previous season, really surprised me last season. After signing a 3-year, $20.5 million contract, Hamels began last season by leaving spring training early and publicly admitting he wasn’t prepared for the season. During the 2009 regular season, Hamels posted his worst ERA of his career to this point with a record of 10-11.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take Hamel’s 10 wins over Lidge’s none any day, but comparing this year’s stats against Hamels’ previous years has got Phillies “phans” panicking. During the 2007 season Hamels posted a record of 15 wins and five losses. Then during the 2008 season had 14 wins and 10 losses. Although Hamels is not in the same boat as Lidge he is definitely on his way there if he doesn’t shape up.
Charlie Manuel has already reported their “everyday eight” to MLB.com. The starters include first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Chase Utley, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, third baseman Placido Polanco, catcher Carlos Ruiz, left fielder Raul Ibanez, center fielder Shane Victorino and right fielder Jayson Werth. Manuel also reported that the Phillies rotation will be made up of catcher Brian Schneider, infielder Greg Dobbs, outfielder Ben Fransisco, outfielder Ross Gload and infielder Juan Castro.
The only thing different about this year’s “everyday eight” is third baseman, Placido Polanco. Polanco has replaced Pedro Feliz by returning to the Phillies after signing a 3-year, $18 million contract.
I believe Polanco will be extremely beneficial to our team for several reasons. One is that he played 95 games for the Phillies from 2002 to 2005. I think this will play to our advantage due to the familiarity with the team, coaches and fans. Polanco has also won two Gold Golves and had a .337 batting average while he played at Citizens Bank Park. Although I enjoyed watching Feliz play, I would say that the decision to trade him for Polanco was a no-brainer.
Another talent the Phillies are welcoming to the team is right-handed pitcher Roy Halladay. Halladay has had fantastic records in his previous seasons including a 22-7 season in 2003, 20-11 season in 2008 and a 17-10 record during last season. While playing for Toronto, Halladay was named “Blue Jays Pitcher of the Year” for nine consecutive years and has also received the Cy Young. I can’t wait to see Halladay in 2010’s rotation. I think he is going to play beautifully with our team and help bring us back to being the World Champions.
So, with all of this being said, I have to admit I still have high hopes for the 2010 season. I feel as though we have lost some great players but have gained some big talent and I can’t wait to see how all the players, new and old, are going to form as one team.
To watch the Phillies return to the World Series with vengeance would be amazing. If they accomplish this feat they would be the first National League team to play three consecutive World Series games since the three-year Cardinals streak from 1942 to 1944. This season officially begins with spring training on Feb. 17 in Florida. and with an away opening day on April 5 in Washington.
Whether this upcoming season leads to a victory or not, with a team like the Phillies, it will always be an exceptional experience to take the journey with them. 2010, here we come, Let’s Go Phillies!