Tag Archives: Philadelphia Phillies

Random Thoughts Vol. 3

OH GOD THERE'S MORE?!?!

Beginning of the month, been watching a lot of sports… yep, it’s time for another round of random thoughts.

Fernando Torres has scored one goal since being acquired by Chelsea in January… one. I always pick the best teams to follow don’t I?

The Yankees wouldn’t trade for Ubaldo Jimenez due to concerns about his velocity. In a possible trade the Rockies would’ve wanted Ivan Nova as part of the deal… Jimenez hasn’t made it past the 5th inning in 3 of his 7 starts with the Indians, Nova hasn’t lost since June… I think Cashman got that one right.

Losing to a FCS school should be like relegation in soccer shouldn’t it? Hi Oregon State.

Me at 8:30 pm last Saturday of the Boise State-Georgia game: “those Georgia uniforms are hideous.”

Me 48 hours  while watching the Maryland-Miami game: “those are the worst uniforms I have ever seen.”

Nyjer Morgan called Albert Pujols “Alberta,” does he realize Pujols is 4 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than him?

Oregon State should probably leave this out of the recruiting package.

Baylor is mad that Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 and possibly breaking up the conference leaving them in football limbo. Somewhere Rice, TCU and SMU are uttering to themselves karma is a mother.

Wait a minute, Kevin Durant has tattoos?

At least David Garrard and Byron Leftwich have something in common to be mad about.

The way that analysts were criticizing his QB skills you would’ve swore Tim Tebow was black.

Appalachian wants to join the FBS… after getting drubbed 66-13 by Virginia Tech they should reconsider.

Tom Brady said he would welcome back Randy Moss with open arms. I’m not saying that’s in some way related to Chad Ochocinco… but I’m saying.

So if John Isner wins the U.S. Open is his career a bigger success than Andy Roddick’s?

Utah State almost beat Auburn, BYU beat Ole Miss, and Utah beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl years ago… maybe the SEC should stop playing teams from Utah.

Stephen Strasburg’s back, and he looks good.

(honestly it didn’t matter if the Nats lost that game or not, all that mattered was if Strasburg looked like he was the same pitcher he was before he left or not and he was. His movement and velocity were pretty darn good, he made everything look effortless and dominated a decent Dodgers lineup. If I’m the Nats and I look at a rotation with Strasburg, a rejuvenated Chien-Ming Wang, Jordan Zimmerman and John Lannon at bats like Ryan Zimmerman and Mike Morse then I’m feeling good about next year. that is if Jayson Werth can hit with that $18 million per year salary on his back.)

That Carlos Beltran deal isn’t working out so well for the Giants… shocker.

Who’s the next program to get stung by the NCAA? I’ll take South Carolina.

I’m still blinded by Maryland’s uniforms.

TIki Barber is shocked that no one threw him a bone this offseason. I mean who wouldn’t want a 36 year-old running back that hasn’t played in 5 years with tons of public baggage?

Ndamukong Suh is not dirty, he’s just playing football the way Deacon Jones would like.

It might be time for Tiger Woods to consider new career options.

This hasn't gone exactly as planned.

I will not talk about A.J. Burnett, I will not talk about A.J. Burnett, I will not talk about A.J. Burnett.

Aaron Rodgers called out Mark Sanchez for his GQ pictures. What can Sanchez respond with? Rodgers just won a Super Bowl he can say what he wants.

I think we might actually have a season without Brett Favre.

I have a feeling Luke Fickell might be more conservative than Jim Tressel.

By the way, how does Tressel get a six game suspension from the NFL for his NCAA violations?

(Goodell needs to keep college problems in college. Their penalties don’t transfer to the NFL. Tressel quit/ got fired by the Ohio State University so his 5 game suspension is pretty much obliterated. The fact that Tressel and Terrelle Pryor for that matter have carry over suspensions from college shows that maybe Goodell has too much power when it come to these disciplinary actions and should some of that power stripped. And it will be… in ten years with a new CBA. Good job NFLPA.)

Doesn’t it seem like Lance Briggs and the Bears have been beefing since 2006?

Apparently the NBA is making strides to getting a CBA done real soon. How does Wilson Chandler feel about that?

If the Philadelphia Phillies don’t win the World Series it would be a Greek tragedy.

I have a few choice words for how the Baltimore Orioles handled the makeup games with the New York Yankees and the results of those games. I can’t say them on this blog but I’ll let your mind wander.

After all of the controversy surrounding Ohio State this year how do three more players get suspended for taking benefits? I should’ve went to Ohio University.

I expected more from the Winnipeg Jets jerseys.

Mike Fisher you lucky son of a gun.

At least they weren’t Maryland’s.

(you know what’s even scarier than what we witnessed on Monday night? There are more than 12 color combinations that Under Armour has in store for this year. Under Armour is based in Baltimore, Maryland and I guess they are doing to the Terps what Nike did to the Oregon Ducks… except Oregon’s outfits look extremely cool. Oregon’s designs have flair and eye popping designs, Maryland’s are a horror show. There was way too much of the Maryland flag for any human being to take. A message to UA: emulation is the sincerest form of flattery but leave the flashy stuff to Oregon. By the way Maryland’s football team is going to make some noise this year and you should pay more attention to Danny O’Brian than his jersey.)

What Ana Ivonivic could’ve been.

Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly broke up… hide your girlfriends New York.

NHL training camps start this week…

That mean we’re a month a away from Rachel McAdams shots at Vancouver games and Carrie Underwood at Predators games.

God I love hockey.

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Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia

It's all smiles for Hunter Pence and the phans in Philly.

You know how much I hate the city of Boston as a New York fan. You know about the rivalries of the Bruins-Ranger, Yankees-Red Sox, Knicks-Celtics and the Pats-Jets, Giants conundrum. There is no Boston gear of any kind allowed in my house, if I see a Boston hat in my sight I might start a ruckus over it.

There is no other city that I hate more when it comes to athletic competition than Boston…

…that was until yesterday.

Ladies and gentlemen, the city of Philadelphia is about to eclipse my hatred of Boston. To say that Philadelphia made a splash in both baseball and football yesterday is an understatement. The Eagles and Phillies respectively got the best players available during NFL free agency and the MLB trade deadline.

The Phillies won the Hunter Pence sweepstakes by trading their top pitching and hitting prospects plus two other for Pence who the Phillies desperately needed in their lineup.

The Phillies are hitting .235 against lefties thanks to a lefty heavy lineup that isn’t producing many runs. Pence is hitting .295 against lefties and adds some right-handed pop to a lineup that except for Ryan Howard hasn’t had much power at all for this entire season.

Add that to the fact that Pence is only 28 years old and in each of the last four years his batting average, hits, and RBI have increased while his strikeouts have decreased. With Dominic Brown improving and Shane Victorino staying steady offensively and defensively the Phillies have set their outfield for the next few years and could get back to those high offensive numbers from a few years ago.

The move was in response to the San Francisco Giants acquisition of Carlos Beltran, which got rave reviews. However, the Pence deal is a better deal because Pence is younger, isn’t injury prone like Beltran and Pence is ascending in his career while Beltran is on the decline.

When you put that together with the fact that the Phillies rotation has been better than advertised (even without Roy Oswalt) and you would assume that the Phillies are now the team to beat.

Nmandi Asomugha can smile now, he's out of Oakland.

If Pence can revive that lineup by hitting behind Howard in the 5 hole in a hitters ballpark then the Phillies should win the NL East easily and have enough muscle to get by San Francisco in the NLCS and deal with any AL team in the World Series.

The Eagles acquisition was out of left field as well… no seriously it was out of nowhere.

Nmandi Asomugha was thought to be heading to the New York Jets to team with Darrelle Revis and form the most despicable secondary in the league. The Dallas Cowboys were also in the mix as were the Houston Texans. Notice not one mention of the Eagles.

Friday night the Eagles seemed to swoop in (pun intended) and steal Asomugha when the Jets offer fell through at the last second. Asomugha’s deal was the latest in a week of deals that made have made the Eagles the team to beat in not only the NFC, but maybe the NFL.

Asomugha joins Jason Babin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Vince Young in Philadelphia as the Eagles have made it obvious that they are gunning for a Super Bowl and nothing less.

With Asomugha, DRC and Asante Samuel the Eagles have a secondary that will make any QB feel uneasy throwing the ball into during the season. They have to be the early front-runners to win the NFC East as the Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys have made no moves to even attempt to counteract with the Eagles moves, and also who in the NFC in general can match the level of talent that the Eagles currently possess.

How good is it to be a Philly fan right now?

Your baseball team is tops in the MLB with the best rotation in the league and you just got a young, speedy and effective bat in Pence who should be a big piece for your franchise going towards the future.

Your football team just got one of the league’s best defensive backs who fits in perfectly with a revamped defense that along with Mike Vick and an explosive offense has everyone around the league talking Super Bowl.

Imagine if rumors from the offseason were true that the Flyers were interested in obtaining Steven Stamkos from the Lightning.

Philadelphia has had a hot summer and it looks like it’s going to continue to stay warm well into the fall in October and maybe even February.

It makes me mad just to even think about it. Who knows, it’s probably making the people of Boston mad as well.


How Sports Helped Us Get Through 9/11 To Today

As last night's display of patriotism in Philadelphia went on, it showed how no matter how hard you try you cant change our way of life.

I remember 9/11/01 and what it meant at the time.

All I was concerned with at the time was Jay-Z’s new album, the Yankees pennant chase and how poorly the Giants played the night before on Monday Night Football.

Nothing prepared me for the horrors of what would take place the next day or anyone else for that matter.

9/11 was the uneasiest day for anyone living in the continental United States at the time. The attacks made by the Al Qaeda terrorists were an attack on our way of life and were made to frighten us and prevent us from doing the daily things that we love to do.

I remember how everything on TV just stopped. There were no sitcom reruns, no reality show re-runs, and most importantly no sports.

Baseball had halted its season, which included Barry Bonds’ chase of Mark McGwire’s home run record and the NFL and College Football called off their weekly schedules giving us no relief from the sad, new reality that was setting in around us.

It dawned on me how important sports was to out landscape at that moment.

Were called fans for a reason, we’re fanatical about the teams that we follow to the point that it places us in a world that’s far away from reality for just a few hours. Think about how much most of us hate our jobs or get annoyed by certain things in our life and about how three hours of watching the Heat, Bulls, Lightning or anyone gives us a sense of relief whether its through the frustration of putting ourselves in the athletes shoes or the joy of having you team come out on top.

the attacks of 9/11/01 brought us all together in the face of a new threat.

Truthfully sports helped us all get through the tragedy of 9/11 more than anything else. We immersed ourselves in Bonds’ chase; we became amazed and gazed in awe as the Yankees somehow came back from deficits in three straight games to turn the World Series into a classic that’s still talked about today. We rode on the Patriots bandwagon and their “nobody believed in us” story all the way to the Super Bowl and fell in love with Tom Brady and he ultimately became a superstar.

The presence of sports helped us cope and deal with the seemingly new world that we were living in, but it also became a rallying call as a means to fight what Al Qaeda was trying to do to us.

Their plan was to put fear into our hearts and to prevent us from living our lives. Yet even as stadiums were put on high terror alerts the fans still came out in droves to support their favorite teams.

Fathers brought their families, friends came out to have a good time and watch their favorite athletes do their thing for 4 quarters or 3 periods and to help deal with the terrors of possible attacks by terrorists and from the anthrax scare that existed at the time.

The point was that even though they were trying change who we were and how we lived it wasn’t working.

Yesterday was a big reminder of just how far we’ve come from that day almost ten years ago.

In the 9th inning of a rivalry game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies, a buzz came over the stadium as fans let out loud cheers and raucous chants of U.S.A! U.S.A.! No the Phillies hadn’t scored and they weren’t even up to bat. Osama Bin Laden was killed by our troops in Pakistan after they found his hiding spot. As President Obama was confirming the news, Citizens Bank Park had erupted in a huge celebratory cheer. The man that spread hate and declared war on our way of living was dead.

Far be it for anyone to celebrate anyone’s death but we had a right to.

Ten years ago we had out family time, our recreation time, our night out with the fellas or our date night with our mates taken away by this man. And the threat that it would happen again was far too real. More than a cheer for his death, it was a cheer for our service men that hunted him for ten years and kept Al Qaeda at bay to preserve our way of life. It was Philadelphia’s and our way showing them our appreciation even though some cheers were taunts at Osama’s demise.

As troops fought for our freedom overseas, we fought the hate by continuing to go out and support our teams and have fun.

Is there still a threat of danger out there even though Osama is gone? Of course. He spread his message of hate to other people who will probably take a crack at damaging our way of life again. However, we as people and as fans have made our statement with our actions since then.

We as a culture don’t get scared. It’s not in our blood. We’ve become a nation of bravado and pride due to the music we listen to, the people we idolize, and the athletes that we watch on a daily basis.

We love the tough guys, the Brett Favre’s who never miss a day of work, the Daniel Carcillo’s who are tough as nails and will scrap with anyone, the Derrick Rose’s who drive down the lane knowing they’ll get hit but keep doing it again and again. That’s who we are. It doesn’t matter who tries to change that about us, it’s instilled in us. You may have gotten us to flee for a week, and we were weary when first began to return but once we came back, we stayed in our seats and cheered, and booed and had fun in ways that only we can.

We not only earned a victory in the execution of Osama Bin Laden, but we won the battle for our way of life here at home long before he met his end.

After I shed a few tears of relief and reflected on that horrible day ten years ago, I went to home and cranked Jay-Z’s Blueprint while I went nodded to sleep, the same as I did ten years ago. This sleep was much more relaxing and calming then the one that occurred after 9/11.

When I woke up today all I did was listen to Jay-Z, think about how Ivan Nova is improving as a starter and wonder how well the Giants draft picks will do once we get some football going again.

Just the status quo for me, thankfully nothing has changed that.


Baseball Preview Day 7: The Season Preview

The Giants begin their title defense.

The human arm was never meant to throw any object over 70 mph… it certainly wasn’t meant to do it over, and over, and over again 30-80 times a year for 10+ years.

Unfortunately for that theory grown men have been doing it for over 100 years in this little game we like to call baseball. And without pitching your chances of doing anything remotely impressive during the season will be as slim as Tim Lincecum.

Pitching is the most important part of the game of baseball. Teams with good pitching do better than teams without it. Sure you could score a lot of runs, win some games and it could be a bunch of fun. However, more than likely if you don’t have a decent two or three starters or a semi-decent bullpen then your season is over by the time the NFL heads into training camp (assuming of course that we have an NFL season this year.).

The old adage that good pitching beats good hitting is as solid as defense wins championships. Look at last year’s World Series for example; the Rangers for 11 years have been a team predicated on mashing the ball out of the yard and they do so at a great rate with Josh Hamilton and company. Yet after getting by Tampa Bay and the Yankees they had the pleasure of facing the best young staff in the Majors and they got smoked. Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner shut them down and brought home San Fran’s first baseball title and first pro sports title since Steve Young and the 95 49ers.

Before that the threesome of C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettite and A.J. Burnett limited the Philadelphia Phillies potent offense in 2009, and the Phillies did it to Tampa before that.

The Rangers, Phillies and Rays were all teams that scored a lot of runs and did it at a great rate. However, once Cole Hamels, C.C. and Lincecum started to locate, their runs were over.

How important is pitching? Teams trade away the farm for it and stockpile it as if a nuclear strike were happening and the only supplies you could use were toilet paper, water and a left-handed flame thrower.

Without C.C. Sabathia they Yankees dont win the 2009 World Series

The Angels were so desperate to make a run at the AL West last year that they traded a young gun in Joe Saunders for a proven ace in Dan Haren. The Red Sox shelled out 80 million dollars for John Lackey who is at best a number 3 starter. The Mets gave up 4 major leaguers and cash for Johan Santana. The Yankees wouldn’t get Santana because it would’ve meant parting with Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. The pitching market is like the drug market, its risky and more times than not you’ll get burned, but you got something good you feel on top of the world.

Pitching means everything. If St. Louis would’ve lost Colby Rasmus for the season you figure that Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols could step up. But losing Adam Wainwright knocks you out of the race for NL Central because he’s an ace on most teams but he’s your number 2 guy.

How have the Giants been able to overcome their offensive deficiencies and Barry Zito’s horrendous 7 year/$126 million dollar signing? Because, their front four have been spectacular and their bullpen was just as good.

Why didn’t the Padres win the NL West last year? Because they rode Mat Latos and had no other pitchers to back him up (that and their offense was terrible but Latos and the pen covered their tails until the last month of the year.).

It’s all due to pitching. As great as Albert Pujols is, Carpenter and Wainwright won that title in 2006. Ryan Howard is a stud, but the 08 Series belonged to Hamels. You can go back to the 90’s and the Twins, Jays and Marlins. Do they win those titles without Jack Morris, Dave Stewart and Livan Hernandez pitching lights out? Nope.

Which brings us to 2011 of course. The perennial favorites to win this year’s title are the Phillies. Why? Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels (and Joe Blanton.). That front four might be the best looking rotation in the history of the game on paper. 3 Cy Young’s, 2 rings and a lot of heat.

Philly’s acquisition of Lee made them the favorites for this year even as the Giants were still getting their names etched into their World Series trophy. Never mind that Chase Utley is banged up, and Ryan Howard has no protection in the lineup, if they score 2-3 runs a game then they’re fine.

Same for San Francisco, Atlanta and Oakland, yes the Oakland A’s have one of baseball’s best staffs with Dallas

That's Trevor Cahill, he's an A, get to know him.

Braden, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson at the top of the rotation. Combine them with a bullpen featuring Andrew Bailey and Brian Fuentes and the A’s could make a series run at the Rangers for the top spot out west.

So who really has the best staff in baseball this year and could go for it all in October? Well as always you have to start from the bottom and work your way up, so…

30. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (last year pitching rank 30th)

ROTATION: Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, James McDonald

James McDonald has a lot of hype and rightfully so after a pretty impressive second half last year. Unfortunately he and the Pirates are staring at another year in the NL Central basement.

29. KANSAS CITY ROYALS (LY: 29th)

ROTATION: Luke Hochevar, Jeff Francis, Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen

They traded away Zach Greinke and only have a 4-man rotation to start with. They have a boatload of talent in the minor leagues and they may be getting a lot of playing time this year.

28. CLEVELAND INDIANS (LY: 23RD)

ROTATION: Fausto Carmona, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, Mitch Talbot

Carmona rebounded from a rough 2009 with a decent 2010. However he’s going to need to do a lot more with this young and very raw rotation.

27. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (LY: 27TH)

If this is your ace, then your pitching needs work.

ROTATION: Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Chris Tillman.

The Orioles added Vladimir Guerrero and Mark Reynolds to their lineup, which means we’ll be seeing lots of 6,7 run games for the O’s. the downside is that they won’t be wins with a bad pen and an iffy rotation.

(side note: can we all be in agreement that Guthrie is not a number one starter? The O’s have been trotting him out there as such but he’s never won more than 11 games and has never finished over .500. just hand the reigns over to Brian Matusz and call it a day.

26. NEW YORK METS (LY: 7TH)

ROTATION: Mike Pelfrey, Jonathan Niese, R.A. Dickey, Chris Young, Chris Capuano

So, who here thinks Pelfrey and Dickey can replicate there seasons from last year, Niese can become a decent two before Santana returns and that Chris Young is finally healthy? Yeah me neither.

25. SAN DIEGO PADRES (2ND)

ROTATION: Mat Latos (DL), Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Aaron Harang, Dustin Moseley.

Who steps up in this rotation in Latos’s absence. Matter of fact who steps up when he’s back? While you like Richard as a number two after a pretty good campaign last year you have to be concerned that Stauffer and Moseley started 11 games total last year and that Harang has always been an up and down pitcher.

24. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (LY: 23RD)

ROTATION: Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch.

Youth, youth, youth. Drabek has been a hot commodity since he was first mentioned in the Halladay talks in 2009. Brett Cecil was a beast going 15-7 with a 4.22 ERA and Morrow and Romero have amazing stuff. If they can put it all together they’ll be really good, but an questionable bullpen with Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch leaves room for improvement.

23. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (LY:19TH)

ROTATION: LIVAN HERNANDEZ, JOHN LANNAN, JASON MARQUIS, JORDAN ZIMMERMAN, TOM GORZELANNY

I really like the arms in Washington even without Stephen Strasburg until next year. Zimmerman could be a stud and a viable number two and Livan is a consistent, innings eater who will fill in nicely as the ace of the staff until Strasburg heals from Tommy John surgery.

Also in case you haven’t noticed, the Nats have done some nice retooling in their lineup by adding Jayson Werth and I think this is the year that Ian Desmond breaks through at the top of the order. The Nats wont be in the playoff mix but they’ll be intriguing to watch.

22. HOUSTON ASTROS (LY:17TH)

ROTATION: Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ, Bud Norris, Nelson Figueroa

What I like: the front 3 of Myers, Rodriguez and Happ will give teams fits. I always liked Happ when he was a Phillie and he has a chance to be a top of the rotation guy in Houston.

What I don’t like: everything else. Figueroa as a starter? Norris who only relies on one pitch? And don’t get me started on Carlos Lee… lets just move on.

Hopefully the Cubs knew what they were doing.

21. CHICAGO CUBS (LY:21)

ROTATION: Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Carlos Zambrano, Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner

Garza and Zambrano, two head cases in the same rotation… 103 and counting.

20. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (LY:5TH)

ROTATION: Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse, Kyle McClellan

With Wainwright this is a top 10 rotation, without him they fall out of the NL Central race. Sad to say but unless Westbrook has a career year this is a wait til next year scenario.

(also, who would’ve thought that with all of the Pujols banter this offseason that Wainwright’s injury would be the ultimate doom to their year? Internally Pujols has to love this, because lets say he goes .340/45/140 and the Cardinals make the playoffs with a shoddy pitching staff. How does he not get his 30 mil a year deal?)

19. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (28TH)

ROTATION: Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders, Daniel Hudson, Barry Enright, Armando Gallaraga

Have you noticed that in the last year the D’Backs have fleeced the Yankees for Kennedy, the Angels for Saunders, the White Sox for Hudson who all looked better in ‘Zona than they did in their previous locations, and were able to suck the Orioles into Mark Reynolds? If Gallaraga goes 14-9 with a sub 4 ERA the Tigers will be kicking themselves in the teeth.

18. DETROIT TIGERS (LY:25TH)

ROTATION: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Brad Penny, Phil Coke

The “Yeah, but…” rotation of the decade. Scherzer and Porcello are young arms with experience, but can they be top of the rotation guys? Brad Penny has shown flashes, but his struggles in the last two years have outshined those flashes. Phil Coke… look he’s an ex-Yankee and I like him, but a starter… no.

17. NEW YORK YANKEES (LY:15TH)

ROTATION: Sabathia, Burnett, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova

Burnett's our number 2... lord help us.

You didn’t misread that, I have my Yankees at the bottom half of the Majors for pitching and overall this year.

You may think I’m crazy, nuts, going overboard even. The fact is that this team aint making the playoffs. Starting rotation, too many questions. Jeter leading off… not gonna work. Mark Teixeira trying to have a fast start, not gonna happen.

There are too many grey areas with this team to have faith in them. Will they win close to 90 games? Sure, why not? But contend? No way. For the first time in 15 Yankees fans will have to settle for wait til next year.

(and you can erase that top paragraph if Nova pitches as well as I think he will and this Manny Banuelos kid comes up and starts lighting it up in June. I’m realistic about this team, but I have lots of hope.)

16. TEXAS RANGERS (LY: 10TH)

ROTATION: C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando

Their best starter is also their best reliever. Their biggest mistake for this season is not starting Neftali Perez out of the gate. If Holland can figure it out finally and Lewis and Wilson recapture that postseason magic then they’ll be fine. However, it’s going to be hard when you’re not sneaking up on anyone and you’re no longer the underdog.

15. FLORIDA MARLINS (LY: 16TH)

ROTATION: Josh Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad, Anibal Sanchez

I’ve wanted to pick the Marlins to win this division for years. And right when they unload Uggla who hindered them defensively, pick up Vazquez who is a remarkably better National League pitcher than he is an American Leaguer, and have and awesome rotation that’s finally healthy, the Phillies get Lee and the Braves staff returns to its mid-90’s form. Good grief.

14. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (LY: 13TH)

ROTATION: Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Ted Lilli, Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Garland

Five innings eaters with good stuff takes you a long way. Except when Jonathan Broxton is your closer. If Broxton were Heath Bell then the Dodgers would be in the top 10 and contending for the World Series. But that’s not the case.

(by the way, this maybe Matt Kemp’s last season to get his head out of his rear and become the player he should become. Mr. Hollywood should be a .320/30/100 guy right now and should be the face of this team, but his bouts with laziness and love of the limelight are hindering him. One more year of this and its bye-bye la-la land for Kemp.)

13. SEATTLE MARINERS (LY: 9TH)

ROTATION: Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, Michael Pineda

King Felix meet Michael Pineda. Take him under your wing and lead him into good habits and guide him to his American League rookie of the year award. Then say bye to him when you’re traded after this season.

12. COLORADO ROCKIES (LY: 20TH)

If the Rockies want to contend, this guy has to step up.

ROTATION: Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge De La Rosa, Jason Hammel, Jhoulys Chacin, Esmil Rogers

Troy Tulowitzky could win MVP, Carlos Gonzalez could win the Triple Crown, the Rockies could make the World Series… and none of this will happen unless Jimenez slaps some consistency into De La Rosa and he becomes a reliable number two.

11. ANAHEIM ANGELS (LY: 14TH)

ROTATION: Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Scott Kazmir, Joel Piniero (DL)

I couldn’t tell you why, but I am not particularly thrilled with this Angels team. They have a great rotation, decent closer and a lineup that can produce 800 runs. But I just feel that this team is missing a piece. Maybe a speedster, a great reliever, something. Stay tuned.

10. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (LY: 26TH)

ROTATION: Yovani Gallardo, Zach Greinke (DL), Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson

As long as Greinke stays away from a basketball court this team will be dangerous. Prince Fielder in a contract year with Ryan Braun and Corey Hart will score a ton of runs, and Gallardo is the happiest man in baseball that he finally has some help in the rotation.

9. MINNESOTA TWINS (LY: 11TH)

ROTATION: Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker

More important for the Twins is that Joe Nathan returns after Tommy John surgery. More importantly Justin Morneau returns from a season ending concussion. As long as they don’t play the Yankees late in the year then they’re a AL contender.

(did you know the Yankees were taking a look at reacquiring Pavano this off-season? I want to know who smacked Cashman first after hearing that possibility a Steinbrenner or Jeter?)

8. CINCINNATI REDS (LY: 12TH)

ROTATION: Edinson Volquez, Jonny Cueto (DL) Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood, Mike Leake

Was last year a fluke? Hardly. They get Volquez at 100% and Aroldis Chapman for a whole year. Not to mention Joey Votto and Jay Bruce leading a highly potent offense. Only one question, who’s arm will Dusty blow out first? (I joke, I joke.)

7. BOSTON RED SOX (LY: 22ND)

If Beckett and Lackey don't return to form, you guys are going to be more than winded.

ROTATION: Jon Lester, John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matzsuzaka

The Red Sox can win the World Series if:

  • Josh Beckett’s back holds up
  • John Lackey proves he’s worth 80 million
  • Clay Buchholz proves last year was a glimpse into a promising future
  • They find someone to take Dice-K’s dead weight
  • Adrian Gonzalez is the real deal
  • Carl Crawford doesn’t descend into an oblivion
  • And if Daniel Bard becomes their closer and Jonathan Papelbon becomes Kansas City’s closer

Got it?

6. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (LY: 18TH)

ROTATION: Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Jake Peavy (DL), Edwin Jackson

I’m risking my sanity again on betting that the ChiSox wont blow up into a gelatinous mess and that Peavy regains his mojo along with Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko bopping home runs at will. I give it 3 months.

5. OAKLAND A’S (LY: 5TH)

ROTATION: Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy

I’d like to call this one the pick that will drive my buddy Scully up a wall. I’m putting a lot of faith into a team that will score like the Nashville Predators and is relying on Josh Willingham to do the offense’s heavy lifting.

But this rotation is a dream. Cahill was a dark horse Cy Young candidate last year, Braden is coming into his own after pitching a perfect game last year and Anderson is an innings eater with great stuff. It’s a less fragile version of the staff that they had in the early 90’s and one that can carry them to the ALCS. I really believe that.

4. TAMPA BAY RAYS (LY: 8TH)

ROTATION: David Price, James Shields, Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann

Risky pick that will drive Scully mad number two. But really, who’s going to hit that rotation? The Rays have more pitching than North Korea has nukes. One problem, their closer is Kyle Farnsworth…

And with that I’ll lead into this, I like the pickups of Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. Why? Because this team needed plate discipline and guys that could take pitches. This team strikes out so much that it’s mind-boggling. For all of their talent none of these guys can practice any patience. Now with Damon and Ramirez they get guys that can work counts, draw walks and extend at bats that will wear down pitchers.

3. ATLANTA BRAVES (LY: 3RD)

ROTATION: Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Braves are back to their stellar pitching ways with Hudson, Lowe and Hanson who might be a dark horse for the Cy Young.

What’s different is the guy in the dugout. For the first time since the 80’s Bobby Cox is not managing the Braves. Fredi Gonzalez takes over for one of the game’s winningest managers and the Braves most memorable personality.

What he leaves behind is a team that could be a World Series contender if things fall into place. Besides the starters the lineup gets a huge boost with the acquisition of Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward looks to improve on an impressive rookie season.

But the key is the rotation and bullpen, Jurrjens and Hanson are improving everyday and Hudson, though not an ace, is a quality start every time he goes out. However, if Lowe cant pitch consistently the Braves wont make it to September. Lowe is this staff’s most important cog because of his experience and ability to make enough pitches to extend his starts into the sixth and seventh innings. If he can’t do that then the bullpen will have a hard time closing games out even with Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill bringing the heat.

As Lowe goes, this team goes.

2. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (LY: 1ST)

Sick of us yet?

ROTATION: Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Zito

Best staff and bullpen in the game period. You cant, and wont score runs on them. Even with Brian Wilson on the shelf for a month Sergio Romo will be able to hold it down until he returns.

The concern is can they stand the heat being the defending champs? They have to deal with every team’s best shot all year long and have to consistently score runs, which is something that they struggled with last year.

However, the offense has more pop this year with Buster Posey playing a full season and Pablo Sandoval dropping 40 pounds. (plus Brandon Belt coming up sooner than later, write that down.).

Plus, this is the freaking Giants. They’re the most loose, free spirited team in the league. They got this.

1. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (LY: 6TH)

ROTATION: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt, Blanton

No Utley, no Lidge, no problem. The scariest rotation since the mid-90’s Braves. Have fun National League.

So with Philly as the number one pitching staff in the league then you’re thinking that I’m picking them to win the World Series… well not exactly.

They’ll make the Series, but Boston will win it. Why? Even with all of those concerns you feel like Boston will put it together. Beckett will be healthy, Buchholz will have a great follow up season and Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford will be spectacular. They tried the whole defense and pitching thing last year but decided to make their line up manlier and it will pay off.

The have enough pitching and their guys can pitch when it counts. I like the Phillies but I wonder if Hamels is all the way back mentally and how will Halladay pitch in big game situations because against the Giants last year it wasn’t well.

The Sox have those type of guys and they’re on a mission. After an abysmal 2010 the Sox are going for broke and don’t be surprised if they come up all roses.

Wow, I picked the Red Sox to win it all, I feel dirty.

You’re probably wondering, “wait a minute, if they don’t have the best pitchers how can they have the best team after your argument.” Because sometime it’s not how much pitching you have, but the right pitching. That’s baseball for ya.

AL EAST- RED SOX

AL CENTRAL- WHITE SOX

AL WEST- A’S

AL WILDCARD- RAYS

NL EAST- PHILLIES

NL CENTRAL- BREWERS

NL WEST- GIANTS

NL WILDCARD- BRAVES

ALCS- RED SOX- A’S

NLCS- PHILLIES- GIANTS

WORLD SERIES- RED SOX- PHILLIES

NL MVP- PRINCE FIELDER

NL CY YOUNG- ROY HALLADAY

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR- BRANDON BELT

NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR- RON ROENICKE

AL MVP- EVAN LONGORIA

AL CY YOUNG- JON LESTER

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR- MICHAEL PINEDA

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR- BOB GEREN


Baseball Preview Day 6: The Philly Phab Phour

Everything is sunny in Philadelphia.

We in sports have become obsessed with cliques, crews, Big 3’s and things like that. We marveled at how Miami was able to bring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together, we salivated over the possibility of Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson catching passes from Carson Palmer, and we marveled at how the Celtics brought Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce together.

 

This past winter, the Philadelphia Phillies trumped them all.

 

When Cliff Lee announced that he was signing with Philly Monday December 12th it sent shockwaves throughout baseball.

 

Lee was the coveted prize of the free agent market and the two teams that had the inside track on him were the Yankees (of course), and the team that traded for him the Texas Rangers. But when it flashed across most TV screen that he was going back to Philly (who traded him to get Roy Halladay) people began placing their bets for the 2011 season.

 

It was clear that at that point the Philadelphia Phillies were the favorites to win the World Series in 2011.

 

Pitching wins championships, and if that’s the case then why not hand them the trophy right now. The Phillies rotation is a who’s who of the best in the game on the mound in any situation.

 

Roy Halladay is the ace. A two-time CY Young winner with amazing control who is coming off of his best season ever going 21-10 with a 2.19 ERA and two no-hitters. Following him is Lee, arguably the best lefty in the game with a penchant for coming up big in big situations (ask the Yankees about that). Following him is Roy Oswalt who was trapped in Houston letting his powerful fastball and pinpoint consistency be overshadowed by the team’s recent downturn before the Phillies added him before last year’s trade deadline. Lastly there sits Cole Hamels. Hamels was once thought to be the future ace of the Phillies and proved it with a 2008 postseason to remember when he led Philly to its first World Series title since 1980. Hamels was the World Series MVP and was primed to start a gigantic run as one of baseball’s best lefties before a lackluster 09 kept him down. Last year saw Hamels get back on track with a sub 3 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP, not bad for your fourth starter. Oh yeah and there’s Joe Blanton… he’s got a ring too as the number 5 starter… no biggie.

In case you were wondering Joe Blanton is also in the Phillies rotation.

When looking at that rotation on paper its no wonder that everyone from the media, to the bloggers, to the casual fans began fawning over them even before pitchers and catchers reported.

 

This staff brings back memories of the mid-90’s Atlanta Braves with John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Steve Avery taking the hill and straight owning opponents.

 

However, its time to rain on Philly’s parade just a little.

 

As impressive as this staff is they might not even be the best staff in the National League, let alone baseball. Out west the San Francisco the Giants are the defending world champs with 4 of the best young arms in the game (and Barry Zito) and, oh by the way, they beat this same Philly team last October.

 

Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner are just as good and just a talented as Philly’s Phab Phour and they’ve proven it. The Giants are lying very low as possible title contenders and they have as much claim to throne as anyone.

 

Also Philly might want to take a look in its own division for some competition. The Atlanta Braves have their most potent staff in years with Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens and Brandon Beachy. With that rotation and the addition of Dan Uggla to the lineup Philadelphia wont just run away with the division like everyone expects.

For the first time in years the Phillies wont need to rely on Ryan Howard and the offense to do the heavy lifting.

Speaking of offense, can Philly score enough runs to win ball games? I know, I know, that sentence sounds foolish when talking about the Phillies because over the last few years they’ve been one of baseball’s best run producing machines.

 

However, Chase Utley is still banged up, without him in the lineup or Jayson Werth for that matter, Ryan Howard might put up career low numbers and Jimmy Rollins is coming off of back-to-back poor seasons. It sounds weird to say but what may hold Philadelphia back is their inability to produce enough runs to get victories for Halladay and company.

 

Taking all of this into consideration, Philly is still the team to beat. I’m sorry but there is nothing scarier than seeing Philly on your schedule and seeing a former World Series MVP, two former CY Young winners and one of baseball’s best power righties coming at you at any point during a series. It’s a murderers row of arms that if healthy can with 100+ games without breaking a sweat.

 

Let me ask you this; going into a series if you’re Cincinnati, Atlanta, San Fran or anyone, do you really think you can go to Philly, play games 1 & 2 against Halladay and Lee and get a split before coming home and facing Hamels and Oswalt? If you said yes then you’re a liar.

 

This staff was put together to intimidate and to win. One look at them and you walk into a clubhouse thinking please God let us get one hit. No other staff does that; no other team is like that.

 

Ever since Philly won the title in 2008, Ruben Amaro has made it a priority to stay on top and get back as much as possible. With the Lee acquisition to coincide with Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt, Amaro may have out done himself.

 

No matter the questions about the offense or the concern of the health of Brad Lidge, the Philadelphia Phillies are the World Series favorite backed by the baddest rotation in baseball. Miami might’ve gotten a lot of attention with their Big 3 but they got nothing on the Philly Phab Phour.


Pujols Should Realize His Legacy Is Worth More Than Money

Just because Pujols is worth 300 million dollars doesn't mean that he should get it.

I don’t think Albert Pujols is greedy, I think Pujols has every right to want to be the highest paid player in the game and in history. To put it plain and simple Pujols is the best player of this generation and in the last 50 years. His numbers rival legends, not just in the glamour categories of home runs and RBI, but in his low strikeout totals, high walks and on-base percentage. In an era of free swingers like Carlos Pena and Mark Reynolds he is the throwback to Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and the man he looks to pass as the greatest Cardinal of all-time Stan Musial.

He’s the most productive and most feared man in the game. His at-bats are methodical, his swings are calculated, and his results are on point. He’s what you want your kid to be like; patient, smart and powerful.

There’s competition in power but not in importance. I love Ryan Howard but he isn’t the hitter Pujols is. Adam Dunn matches his homeruns and walks, but towers him in strikeouts and isn’t close in average. Prince Fielder can drive in runs but isn’t the marketable player Pujols is and has attitude issues.

You can run them down the line, Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Morneau, Joey Votto… there are so many great first baseman in this generation, it reminds you of the shortstop revolution of the 90’s with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Omar Vizquel and Nomar Garciaparra to name a few.

You couldn’t go wrong with any of these guys at first because they all bring the wood and are the best players on their teams. However, none of them are Pujols. Pujols is the alpha dog of alpha dogs. He’s moved into the Michael Jordan class, he’s the guy that is the league MVP year after year unless someone else has a monster year and you feel bad for the guy because Pujols is so good (hi, Joey Votto). He’s the guy you want to be the cornerstone of your franchise. If there is a guy that deserves to be the highest paid player in the game it’s him.

Pujols trumps Howard's skill, but his deal should look similar to Howard's.

However, here’s the problem even though you, me, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak and Chairman William Dewitt Jr. know all of this to be true…

Pujols is delusional. He wants a 10 year, 300 million dollar deal at the age of 31 to man first base for the rest of his career. Um, no,

As a Yankees fan I’ve seen these types of deals and the problems that they cause down the road. We’re going to be paying A-Rod 27.5 million dollars a year until he’s 42 and his production is already in decline and he’s only 3 years into the deal. We won’t be able to move him and pretty soon we’ll have a left side of the infield that can only be DH’s.

The Cardinals see this as a problem in signing Pujols to such a long deal. The odds of him continuing his all-time pace of .320/40+/120+ is silly at his age.  Eventually he will fall off, and if he does, you don’t want to be paying him 30 million per year to watch him turn into Jason Giambi.

Pujols has to understand a few things about his situation; one, He plays in a mid-level market, two, this isn’t the early 2000’s were people shell out 120-180+ million dollar deals like hot cakes, three, does he really think he expects us to believe that these talks are done until next year and four, he risks hurting his legacy.

St. Louis is not New York, Boston or Los Angeles; the money has a limit in smaller markets and has to be used carefully. The Cardinals needed to get Pujols help in the lineup and they did that with Matt Holliday. Eventually they’ll need to sign Adam Wainwright to a long term deal, giving Pujols 300 million would hinder them in the long run and with The Reds and Brewers getting stronger and stronger with their moves the Cardinals need to keep pace.

Then there’s the issue of money. Pujols is worth 300 million dollars but St. Louis would be stupid to give it to him as well as ten years. The model for the deal that Pujols should be found in what was given to Ryan Howard last year. The Phillies were criticized for bidding against themselves in giving Howard the 5 year, 125 million deal, that they gave him most said that they were merely bidding against themselves and that if he’s worth 25 million then what’s Pujols worth?

However, the Phillies did a smart thing with the Howard deal. They knew potentially in free agency Howard would have asked for a longer deal for the same amount and it would’ve drawn interest from teams like the Dodgers, Angels and others. The Phillies would’ve faced losing Howard because there was no way the Phillies would have given him 7+ years and close to 200 million dollars, so they did the smart thing by making him the highest paid player for only 5 years. That way he gets his money and by the time he’s only capable of being a DH (not like he isn’t already. Sorry Ryan, I love you but defensively you’re middle of the road and that’s being nice.) The Phillies won’t have to worry about it.

The reasonable deal for Pujols is 6 years and 180 million. He gets his money and the length is reasonable for the Cardinals to work with. The problem is that you know the Angels, Dodgers; maybe the Braves will offer more money and years and put the Cardinals in a bind. Then the Cardinals will be forced to make a decision that could cripple their finances.

With that said, for Pujols to say that he won’t talk with the Cardinals until the end of next season is highly

Pujols can move past Stan Musial as the greatest Cardinal in the franchises storied history.

laughable. If he gets the money that he feels is reasonable Pujols will sign in May, June or July. Talks are always ongoing, why do you think Carmelo Anthony is still considering signing with the Nuggets even though he’s made it clear he won’t? It’s a combination of leverage and leaving your options open.

Lastly Pujols need to be the highest player in league history could hurt his legacy in the sense of the damage that he could do that could prevent him from being the greatest Cardinal of all-time.

Behind the Yankees the Cardinals are the leagues other flagship franchise (no not the Dodgers, Cubs, or Red Sox). They are the only other franchise with double digit World Series championships (10). They have arguably the greatest pitcher (Bob Gibson) and shortstop (Ozzie Smith) in the hall of fame. Stan Musial is arguably one of the greatest hitters of all-time and recent received the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama yesterday… and Pujols could move past all of these guys into history with the leagues second greatest franchise.

He’s going to break countless records, win about four more MVP’s, get to 600 homeruns, 3000 hits and do it all in a Cardinals jersey. He’s their version of Derek Jeter, the face of the franchise now and possibly forever until another young kid comes along and put up the same numbers. What he should realize is that in some cases legacy is more than money. Fans don’t care about the money, they care about you. You represent them, their franchise, and their pride. Fans will talk about Pujols with great joy for years after he’s gone about his presence at the plate, his play in the field and his leadership. All of this matters to the people that pay top dollar everyday to watch you play especially when you’re in contention for a title yearly.

Pujols chase for the crown of the highest paid player could alienate that, especially if drives him away from St. Louis. It changes him forever, he goes from the greatest player ever to another greedy athlete with great numbers but who didn’t respect the game. Already with his self-imposed deadline passing media relations have reached out to see if the Yankees, with their deep pockets, will make a play for Pujols even though they are comfortable with Teixeira at first.

The game doesn’t need that. Cardinals fans don’t either. Pujols needs to get realistic and see the big picture for what it’s worth. 300 million dollars isn’t worth hurting your legacy even if you deserve it. Hopefully Pujols makes the right decision for him and baseball and doesn’t let the prize of being the wealthiest player in league history hurt becoming what matters most. He should be a Cardinal until he hangs em up; no amount of money is worth staining your legacy.


The Unlikely Timeline Of The Cliff Lee Saga

He's baaaack!

Here’s a timeline of what happened on Monday night after watching the New York Giants beat up the Minnesota Vikings:

11:37- the first headline on the ESPN score bar is that the Yankees were officially out of the running for Cliff Lee. Honestly I was happy. You probably think I’m the biggest dope in the world for writing that but let me explain; the Yankees have too many contracts that guarantee too much to guys who will be pushing 40 and won’t be producing the same stats as they did when they signed their deals.

A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixiera, Jorge Posada. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are all signed past the age of 37 and all will be making more than 16 million a season… yep you read that correctly, 3 of our 4 main infielders will be making 20 million plus while staring retirement in the face.

If we would’ve signed Lee to that 6 year, 138 million dollar deal it would’ve been another bad contract that we would’ve had to deal with down the line.

The thing is with this free agency class its so thin that guys like Lee and Carl Crawford are getting way too much money for their services and you wonder if they’re worth it (I didn’t mention Jayson Werth for the simple fact that Hellen Keller knows he got way too much money).

While Crawford is great on bases and in the outfield was 142 million really necessary for a guy whose career high in homers is 19, RBI is 90, a guy that has a career .296 average and a .337 on base percentage?

And in the case of Cliff Lee here’s some facts for you; he’s 32 years old with a lifetime 3.85 ERA. As great as he was with Texas in the playoffs he was 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA. I mean the guy is good but he’s not the superstar stud that his contract and hype are making him out to be… with that said…

12:02- ESPN reports that Cliff Lee has reaches an agreement with the Philadelphia Phillies.

12:05- the following exchange takes place between me and my buddy D.J. who used to play baseball at OSU…

Me- um… The phillies got Cliff Lee
DJ- it doesn’t matter they don’t have enough offense

(5 minutes later)

Me- dude the phillies got Cliff lee, they winning the World Series.
DJ- no they’re not. Their lineup is weak. Who’s gonna score runs for them?

(5 minutes later)

Me- dude the phillies got Cliff Lee
(at this point we’ve both had one too many shots and it becomes clear to him that I won’t shut up about the phillies impending world championship)

For everything that I just said about the Yankees not signing Lee an downplaying his importance as a pitcher, the last team that needed Lee was Philadelphia.

Look at their rotation for next year; Roy Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels and whoever they decide to throw in there as the fifth starter.

And to think, these 3 weren't enough.

Thats arguably the best pitcher righty and lefty in the game with a horse like Oswalt and a former World Series MVP in Hamels as your top four pitchers in your rotation, this makes Miami’s big three look like a walk in the park.

This makes Philly the early front runner for the World Series in 2011. No team comes close to that kind of rotation, not even the pitcher happy San Francisco Giants. Four out of five days a week the Phils are sending out a win in the making. So what they lost Werth to free agency, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are still there and Dominic Brown is waiting in the wings to become their next offensive threat in the outfield.

All they need is two to three runs a game tops with this staff and they’ll be fine. In the NL East the only possible competition could be the Atlanta Braves but their offensive output could be a huge problem. The Reds, Giants and possibly Rockies could challenge them for the crown but I don’t see that happening.

Most importantly for the Lee himself was the comfort level in returning to Philly. It’s no secret how much he loved it there and was disappointed when he was traded last winter. As much as he loved Texas and was enjoying how much the Yankees were throwing at him, Philadelphia still has his heart, which led to him turning down an extra two years and 40 million from the Yankees. In the end it wasn’t about money it was about comfort and happiness and Lee is getting both.

12:40pm yesterday- I texted my boy Scully to congratulate him on his impending world title and to tell him I’m giving up on baseball this year. He reminded me that he still thinks the Giants have a better rotation in his opinion and that the Phillies still have to replace the bat of Werth.

That’s cool, unfortunately that’s hard to believe when staring Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels and now Lee. This is the team to beat at the current moment whether you agree with me or not. It’s the best collection of pitching put together in a long time and no one, not me, my buddies or even ESPN saw it coming. 2011 is going to be a long year for the other 29 teams in baseball. Oh well, at least the New York Giants are 9-4.