World Champion Phillies Start 2009 At Home

World Champion Phillies Start 2009 At Home

World Champion Phillies Start 2009 At Home
by: Brad Diamond Sports

Program...

For sure, the Phillies have a stable organization from the front office down through the minor league chain. Manager Charlie Manuel has proven to be better than expected, as the team has rallied behind his style and player oriented approach. However, this past off-season, the club took a major hit when general manager Pat Gillick retired. Granted, his replacement, Ruben Amaro, Jr. is a rock solid person with an incredible work ethic, but he does not have the winning background illustrated by Gillick with teams like the Blue Jays and Orioles. Over the next two years we’ll find out just out talented Amaro maybe. For now, the Phillies start the season -1 in the program category.

Pitching…
Overall, top to bottom the staff is talented, but will miss bull-pen contributor lefty J.C. Romero who is on a 50 game suspension issued by MLB. In addition, the elbow tenderness bothering Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09) came full-circle when he left the team in March to have tests. Although they were negative, one can only wonder if the work horse of the staff was over used (227 innings) last year. Senior lefty Jamie Moyer is now 46 and hurls a clouded future to say the least. In fact, in his last outing over this weekend, the Pirates tagged the veteran for 7 runs, 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings of work. Seeing the game on Saturday it appeared Moyer was hanging his breaking pitches. Currently battling for a place in the rotation are veteran RHP Chan Ho Park (LA Dodgers) and lefty J. A. Happ a highly regarded Phillies farmhand. Also, the former surprise of the staff a short two years ago, Kyle Kendrick, is struggling and should start in AAA this time around. The back end of the bull-pen is in solid hands with Brad Lidge (1.95) and Ryan Madson (3.05). Still, I can’t trust the Phillies rotation that will include bulging Joe Blanton and the fiery Brett Myers to resurface as a consistent staff. By the way, Myers (10-13, 4.55) will open the season on Sunday for the Phillies. With all factors considered, Philadelphia garners a -1 in the pitching formula for the new season.

Lineup…
The one area of concern for this handicapper comes in left field as former starter Pat Burrell is now a Tampa Ray Devil Ray. The trade wins brought left handed hitting Raul Ibanez (.293) from the Seattle Mariners. He should develop in Philadelphia hitting wise with the short porches and a milder climate. RF Jason Werth (.273) did not arrive for spring training in good shape, but the Phillies surely need his right handed bat in a lineup that is overweight from the port side. The successful hip surgery for Chase Utley (.292) has the second baseman calling for his turn on opening day, if so, the NL should put out an alert. Last year, Utley (33, 104) came out smoking in April and May, allowing slow starter Ryan Howard (48, 146) to work out his hitting deficits. With a super middle, including Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, CF Shane Victorino (.293) and improved catcher Carlos Ruiz, the lineup continues to accrue a +3 margin heading into April. Remember, Dobbs, Stairs and the like are formidable bats off the bench too.

Projection…
If all the health and age issues were discernable we could earn some fast cash by betting the futures. However, the Phillies appear to have some real questions going into battle this season. No doubt, former GM Pat Gillick has left this club in good shape for many years, but at this writing, I believe you’ll see a very slow start for the Phillies which should give the Braves, Mets and Marlins room to shuffle the NL East. From the betting perspective look to go against Myers, Blanton and Moyer when their laying $1.30 or higher versus winning teams, home or away. Give the season about three weeks of research and then dive in for all its worth.

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