OK, tomorrow at some ridiculous time in the afternoon (hello? working people here?), my Phillies (92-70) will take on the Milwaukee Brewers (90-72) in Game 1 of their National League Divisional Series matchup.
Let’s go through the lineups and see who’s better:
PHI: Carlos Ruiz/Chris Coste
MIL: Jason Kendall
ANALYSIS: Ruiz’s bat was awful this year, but not much worse than the veteran Kendall. I don’t know if Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel would even think of putting the superior-hitting Coste in there…I doubt it. Call this one a TIE because neither side inspires confidence offensively or defensively.
PHI: Ryan Howard
MIL: Prince Fielder
ANALYSIS: Both incredibly powerful young men capable of hitting the ball a country mile. (Still not sure if that’s longer than a regular mile.) Fielder had the higher batting average and less strikeouts, but Howard crushed him in HR and RBI. Gotta say the PHILLIES have the advantage here
PHI: Chase Utley
MIL: Rickie Weeks
ANALYSIS: From a cursory glance, the only thing Weeks is better at statistically than Utley is stolen bases (by 5), and triples (by 3). Oh, and he had two more walks. Utley kills him in everything else, including defense. Advantage: PHILLIES.
PHI: Pedro Feliz
MIL: Bill Hall
ANALYSIS: Offensively, yeesh. Feliz gets the nod because Hall just imploded as a hitter, and Feliz has a bit more pop. Defensively, Feliz is WAY better. One more for the PHILLIES.
PHI: Jimmy Rollins
MIL: J.J. Hardy
ANALYSIS: Always tough to be objective when you “own” someone on your fantasy team. I have Hardy, who was stellar this year. But Rollins steals more, is more of a sparkplug for the offense, and is probably the better defender. Yet again, PHILLIES.
PHI: Pat Burrell
MIL: Ryan Braun
ANALYSIS: I still don’t know what to think of Pat the Bat. At times, he’s looked like an awesomely talented hitter; the rest of the time, he flails at pitches like he’s hammered on Jager-bombs. Braun is also awesomely talented, but hasn’t had the craptacular slumps that ol’ Patty has. Finally, the first true BREWERS advantage.
PHI: Shane Victorino
MIL: Mike Cameron
ANALYSIS: The Flyin’ Hawaiian does a little bit of everything – he’s got some pop, great speed, good arm, and his last name sounds like a nice dish at a quaint Italian restaurant. (I’ll have the Pollo Victorino with the red sauce, please.) Mike Cameron does three things well – hits for power, steals bases and plays great defense. However, his batting average has never been over .273 (career average = .250), he strikes out way too much and his on-base percentage is kind of meager (.331). This is a close one, but I’ve got to go with the PHILLIES here.
PHI: Jayson Werth
MIL: Corey Hart
ANALYSIS: Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Werth gets bonus points for having an extra “Y” in his name, and Hart gets bonus points for having the same name as the genius who brought us “I Wear My Sunglasses At Night.” Now that that’s taken care of, let’s get down to business. Each guy had a 20HR/20SB season, but Werth had a better batting average, MUCH better on-base percentage, and did it in 20 less games. I’m really intrigued to see what Werth will do with a full season next year. In the meantime, this one goes to the PHILLIES.
PHI: Cole Hamels/Brett Myers/Jamie Moyer/Joe Blanton
MIL: Yovani Gallardo/CC Sabathia/Jeff Suppan/Dave Bush (Ben Sheets is out – hurt)
ANALYSIS: Cole Hamels is just plain awesome, and I’ve blogged about him previously. Come to think of it, I just blogged about Moyer too. Myers is an enigma, putting aside his tumultuous and contemptible personal life. He totally sucked for the first chunk of the season, went to the minors, and came back to pitch great. He faltered near the end of the season, though. Blanton is a big roly-poly dude who keeps the ball down – which is helpful at Citizens Bank Park.
On the other side, Gallardo is one of those “who’s he?” young guys who always kill the Phillies. Sabathia is crazygood. The other guys are journeymen veterans who are serviceable at best (another kind of guy who kills the Phils).
Put it all together, and if Hamels and Sabathia cancel each other out, it’s actually pretty even. There may be a slight edge to the Phils in reality, but I’m going to have to go with a TIE.
PHI: Brad Lidge/Ryan Madson/J.C. Romero/Chad Durbin/Clay Condrey/J.A. Happ/Scott Eyre
MIL: Salomon Torres/Eric Gagne/David Riske/Carlos Villanueva/Brian Shouse/Seth McClung
ANALYSIS: NL Comeback Player of the Year Brad Lidge leads a very strong bullpen – one that is given a lot of credit for the Phils’ success in 2008. (In fact, it’s the Phils’ good bullpen and the Mets’ lousy one that probably made the difference in each team’s fate this year.) Torres had a torrid second half as closer, until the final month when he probably tired. The rest of the Milwaukee ‘pen is a mixed bag – not a lot of big strikeout arms, but they’ve been mostly solid. Still, if a Phillies starter goes seven, it’s Madson, Lidge and lights out. I’m not sure the Brew Crew can look at their bullpen with such confidence. The vote goes to the PHILLIES.
PHI: Greg Dobbs/Matt Stairs/Geoff Jenkins/Eric Bruntlett/So Taguchi/Coste (see Catchers above)
MIL: Craig Counsell/Gabe Kapler/Russell Branyan/Ray Durham/Joe Dillon
ANALYSIS: This one is too close to call, seriously. Dobbs and Kapler had great seasons off the bench, there are some other valuable pieces on each side (Jenkins’ and Stairs’ pop, Taguchi’s speed, Branyan’s pop, Durham’s and Counsell’s experience, etc.). Phils might have an advantage, but it’s slight, so I’ll call it a TIE in case I’m biased. (Ha!)
PHI: Charlie Manuel
MIL: Dale Sveum
ANALYSIS: Say what you (or I) will about Manuel being an inconsistent in-game manager or a could-be-better press conference-giver, he gets his boys to play hard, play well, and win ballgames. Hard to critique Sveum since he’s only been the manager for like a month – but all reports from trusted sources (ESPN) say that the players dig him. And he did guide them to the postseason, which is more that can be said for Jerry Manuel and his Mets. Still, experience and long-term results give the advantage here to the PHILLIES.
FINAL SCORE: Phillies 8, Brewers 1, three ties.
Bring on the Cubs?