An open letter to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr.

OK, Rube. First off, congrats on the gig. You deserve it – you’ve paid your dues and you’re eminently qualified. (And heck, you worked at the Orleans 8 movie theater in northeast Philly, you REALLY deserve it.)

Let’s get down to business. I’m sure you’re going to make a lot of solid moves, re-signing key guys and such. But I have one major suggestion/request/plea (in two parts):

1–Let Pat Burrell go. It’s not that I don’t like him, or that his on-base percentage and relatively consistent homer totals aren’t good – they are. But he’s 32, he doesn’t run well or play the field well, and he’s probably going to demand $14 million or so for several years – and he probably won’t be “worth” that after the first two.

2–Trade for Matt Holliday. Whatever you need to give up from the minors, do it. He’ll step right into that really good outfield with Jayson Werth and Gold Glove-winner Shane Victorino – he’s 28, his on-base was actually much better than Burrell’s this year, and he even stole 28 bases. Sign him to a multi-year deal, and watch the homers fly between Utley/Holliday/Howard.

Thanks for your time, and good luck.

Your pal

Harley

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LiveBlog: World Series Game 5 (part two)

9:07 p.m.: Done for the night. Gone celebratin’.

9:05 p.m.: Oh yeah, I forgot…first sports championship (excluding the always awesome Philadelphia Wings in indoor lacrosse and surprising Philadelphia Soul in arena football) since 1983.

9:00 p.m.: Where were you when it happened? Blogging, sitting next to my beautiful wife. And loving every minute of it.

8:59 p.m.: THE PHILLIES ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS!!!

8:58 p.m.: THAT’S IT! WHIFFS HIM ON A SLIDER! SCREW NETIQUETTE, I’M GOING ALL CAPS!!!!!!!

8:58 p.m.: Hinske tries to hold, can’t. Strike two.

8:57 p.m.: Hinske fouls off the first pitch. If it was me, I would have been taking.

8:56 p.m.: LINE OUT TO WERTH IN RIGHT – TWO OUTS!!! Zobrist did everything he could, hit a laserbeam to right.

8:55 p.m.: Hinske on deck, he hit a massive homer a few days ago against us.

8:54 p.m.: Stolen base, Perez. Tying run at 2nd. Argh. Is it normal to taste gastric juices?

8:53 p.m.: Ben Zobrist is up. Solid player, had surprisingly good offensive year.

8:53 p.m.: Pinch runner Fernando Perez is lightning fast. Very hard to get a double play now.

8:51 p.m.: Dioner Navarro is a very good-hitting catcher. Strike one. Next pitch, swing and a miss. Base hit. Dang.

8:49 p.m.: Ball two. Here comes the next pitch, fouled off again. Got him lunging! Popped up! One out!

8:48 p.m.: Longoria. Strike one. Love that slider. Fouls one off, strike two. Misses low and away, that’s fine – waste pitch.

8:44 p.m.: Full count pitch to Howard…whiffs. Oy. Here we go. Lidge Time.

8:43 p.m.: That was cool camera work – you could see Price’s eyes glance over to first base as Utley took off for a stolen base.

8:41 p.m.: Utley walks. Time for Ryan Howard to step up and be a hero.

8:41 p.m.: I don’t think Utley has had a good swing tonight. C’mon, Chase.

8:39 p.m.: Ah, the Curse of Billy Penn, as explained by Chris Myers. (Not nearly as cool as the curse of Babe Ruth or the Billy Goat that the Cubs have.)

8:39 p.m.: Werth whiffs looking. NEVER on my team! Five laps!

8:38 p.m.: Werth looks a bit overmatched, although he led the majors in HR against lefties.

8:37 p.m.: Ah, here comes the old-timey footage of “the last time a Philly team won a championship.”

8:37 p.m.: Not sure J-Roll should have been swinging on 2-0, leading off against Price. He flies out to left.

8:36 p.m.: Ah, David Price pitching for TB. He will either be awesome or horrible.

8:35 p.m.: You know what? I am most decidedly NOT a PC. After years of working professionally on Apple products, but personally (at home) on PCs, I can safely say that Apples give you less problems, don’t have stupid drivers, and are generally more fun to use. Maybe I’ll do an Unpaid Endorsement one day soon.

8:32 p.m.: Pena flies out to Bruntlett. We are three outs away. Holy crap.

8:30 p.m.: Carlos Pena is dangerous AND due for a hit. C’mon, J.C. Get ‘er done. Just one more out.

8:29 p.m.: DOUBLE PLAY – 6-4-3, Rollins-Utley-Howard. YES! Thanks, B.J. Upton.

8:28 p.m.: Dammit, I didn’t want to be right. Crawford singles. And he can fly, so a stolen base isn’t out of the question. However, stealing on a lefty is, as I recall from many years ago, not easy.

8:27 p.m.: Carl Crawford is always a very dangerous hitter. I fear him, although Romero appears to be “on” tonight.

8:26 p.m.: Bruntlett and the Best Beard of 2008 stay in the game to play left for Burrell.

8:23 p.m.: Romero grounds out. Top 8th coming up.

8:22 p.m.: Iwamura makes a crazygood defensive play to rob Ruiz of a single, getting a force at second. The second basemen today (him and Utley) have both made some amazing plays – Utley on a hard grounder up the middle, faked to first, and gunned down the runner trying to score.

8:20 p.m.: Pedro Feliz singles in a run! To all the naysayers who said he couldn’t hit when the Phillies signed him before the season – those of you who I argued with – nyah nyah nyah! Phils up, 4-3!

8:18 p.m.: Victorino grounds out to the right side, runner gets to 3rd. Solid job, fundamental baseball by Shane.

8:15 p.m.: OK, here’s what you missed (me blogging about) so far…

–Geoff Jenkins is a maniac. I love him. He doubled and scored to send the Phils up 3-2.

–Ryan Madson struggled and gave up a bomb to Rocco Baldelli, 3-3.

–Burrell led off the 7th with a double and they pinch-ran for him.

And that’s where we are so far.

LiveBlog: World Series Game 5

10:20 p.m.: Game suspended until tomorrow. That’s our luck, Phils fans. See you tomorrow.

10:09 p.m.: This is why I don’t watch the TV news. Murder, corruption, lying politicians. I prefer to get my news in blog form. (Kidding. Well, kinda.)

10:01 p.m.: Well, Dallas weatherguy says he thinks game will be cancelled, since rain should continue for several hours.

9:50 p.m.: I’ll take a break, too. Be back when the game’s back…

9:47 p.m.: Oh, they’ll go to local news. Guess that’s OK.

9:45 p.m.: Instead of more Buck and McCarver, can’t they throw on another episode of ‘Til Death starring Brad Garrett and J.B. Smoove?

9:42 p.m.: Oy vay, Rain delay. Now what?

9:40 p.m.: It would be so nice to see a different commercial than the same 12 we’ve seen between every inning of every World Series game.

9:39 p.m.: Get there, Shane! YES! Line drive caught. Three outs.

9:37 p.m.: Pena does exactly that – RBI single to left. Argh. Ulcer begins to form.

9:36 p.m.: I think in this rain, you’d have to hit a ball just perfectly to get it out of the infield.

9:35 p.m.: Upton steals second to render McCarver and Buck’s point useless. Thanks, B.J.

9:32 p.m.: Oh, McCarver, and now Buck too, you’re so dumb. “It robs a team of its talent.” So the Phillies don’t have speed? Rollins? Victorino? Werth? Utley? You’re nimrods.

9:30 p.m.: B.J. Upton would like to have that sweeping curveball back. Never mind, as he legs out a tough ground ball for a single.

9:29 p.m.: Just so you know, I loaded up my gas tank this morning for $2.23/gallon. And it actually went down to $2.21/gallon this afternoon.

9:28 p.m.: Iwamura goes down looking. I think the strike zone gets bigger as the umpire gets wetter in this heavy rain.

9:25 p.m.: OK, what can I say about this Ryan Howard/Subway commercial?

1–If I had written this, I would never admit it publicly.

2–I would never have him rhyming. SO LAME.

3–I always love how they can’t wear team logos in spots like this.

9:23 p.m.: My beautiful wife is completely asleep next to me. She’s been working long hours at her job, so I’m trying to type quietly.

9:21 p.m.: Joan Jett rocks. But you knew that. And so does HP, which is why they use her tune in their commercial.

9:20 p.m.: Just so you know, if you and I were sitting at the game together, you could be getting this scintillating commentary for free and live in person. (OK, it’s free here anyway.)

9:19 p.m.: Ruiz pops out. Triple D’oh!

9:18 p.m.: Apparently, Grant Balfour touches 124 MPH on the radar gun.

9:17 p.m.: Feliz is swinging at everything. That’s not going to get it done. And he pops out to first. Double D’oh!

9:16 p.m.: I wouldn’t mind a double down the line by Pedro Feliz. Just saying.

9:15 p.m.: Shane Victorino pops out to left. One out. D’oh!

9:11 p.m.: They’re fixing the dirt on the mound. And they wonder why TV ratings for this Series have been some of the worst ever.

9:07 p.m.: That’s what’s weird about Burrell. He’ll hit for a decent average, pop 30 homers, knock in 100 runs, strike out 120 times and walk like 90 times, so his on-base percentage is usually quite good. But is he worth the $15 million/year or so that he’ll want in a new long-term contract? I guess somebody will pay it – I just wonder if it’ll be Philly.

9:06 p.m.: Burrell walks. Still 0 for 13, but we’ll let it slide.

9:05 p.m.: Pat’s 0 for 13 in the Series. Even the announcers are trying to reverse jinx him into getting a hit.

9:04 p.m.: The 3-2 to Burrell…fouled off. I’d like to take this moment to announce my deep and abiding love for Dos Equis beer.

9:01 p.m.: This is it. This is Pat Burrell’s moment. If he wants a big free-agent contract, he needs to do something special right here, right now.

9:00 p.m.: Does Kazmir dare throw a fastball to Howard? Well, if that was a heater, it was nowhere near the plate.

8:59 p.m.: The music that FOX uses during the “bumpers” sounds like it was composed for an awards show. I half-expect them to say “Welcome back to the 54th Annual People’s Globe Awards.”

8:57 p.m.: I would also REALLY appreciate another run or five, so I could breathe.

8:55 p.m.: As a former second baseman, I REALLY appreciate the amazing play Chase Utley just made.

8:54 p.m.: Top of the 5th. NICE pitch by Hamels to go ahead 0-2 on Bartlett.

8:53 p.m.: Oh Jimmy…couldn’t get that popup? At least you tried it with two hands…fundamentals!

8:51 p.m.: It’s 2-1, and it’s not nearly a big enough lead. Just hope Cole Hamels can keep it going.

8:49 p.m.: Chase Utley with the bases loaded, full count…grounded out. Darn!

LiveBlog: World Series Game 4

10:40 p.m.: I guess I really don’t remember much about the 1980 win. I don’t even know if I was watching, for Pete Rose’s sake. But thanks to the magic of the InterWebs, my views on this World Series will last for generations…until Keanu Reeves and the robot aliens destroy our planet.

10:39 p.m.: 2-2 again, Romero chews his gum…Baldelli whiffs! A 3-1 lead in the freaking World Series!

10:38 p.m.: 2-2 pitch…kids waving towels…Romero’s pitch…fouled off.

10:37 p.m.: Rocco Baldelli, huh. Not “Rocky” Baldelli. Some kind of weird irony that Rocco Baldelli could be the last out in the town where Rocky Balboa rules (fictionally).

10:36 p.m.: Bartlett goes down looking. Run a lap, son. Two outs, one to go.

10:35 p.m.: Bartlett – he’s a scrappy young infielder. Kind of like a young me. (Hold your laughter.)

10:34 p.m.: Ah, fielder’s choice. One out.

10:33 p.m.: Jeez, crappy error by Romero. Oh well, Philadelphians know nothing comes easy.

10:30 p.m.: 10-2 Phillies. What? No Lidge? Saving him, I guess. J.C. Romero is out there for the 9th. Guess it makes sense.

10:27 p.m.: We’re three outs from a 3-1 World Series lead. This is unbelievable.

10:25 p.m.: Ryan Howard. HUGE homer. Holy crap. Guess there won’t be too many more “choke”-related comments about him.

10:24 p.m.: It’s a magical night. And yet, I’m over at ESPN.com, reading their live blog, and I see Joe Maddon’s comments about Phillies fans:

Maddon’s only concern was with the treatment of his family members by the locals at Citizens Bank Park.

“If we could do something about that, throwing mustard packs at my granddaughter is not very cool. The other part about it I’m good with.”

And you wonder why I don’t always feel great when I claim to be a Philadelphia fan.

10:19 p.m.: Werth. Smack. Gone. There’s your insurance runs. 8-2, son.

10:17 p.m.: Rollins smokes a double. An insurance run or two would be nice…

10:02 p.m.: Not much has happened. Nice defensive play by Tampa Bay.

9:32 p.m.: Pat Burrell is slow, and he stinks. I will be glad to see him out of a Phillies uniform next year.

9:26 p.m.: Wow, McCarver just said something that was immediately proven true. Someone alert the Guinness people.

9:24 p.m.: 6-2 lead in the bottom of the 6th. Jayson Werth SMOKES a liner off the left-field wall for a double. YES!

9:21 p.m.: Joe Blanton f&*king rules. Great pitching and even the first homer by a pitcher since Jewish ace lefthander Ken Holtzman in 1974.

LiveBlog: World Series Game 3

12:48: I’m going to bed. It’s been a long night. But a good night!

12:47: Little chopper, going to be tough, Longoria can’t get it, Phils win!!! PHILS WIN!!!

12:47: Good eye, Ruiz takes outside. Count is 2-2.

12:45: Wow, that 96 MPH heater just blew by Ruiz.

12:44: Here we go, mi amigo Carlos. Bases loaded, no outs, bottom of the ninth. A run wins it.

12:42: So they’re going to walk Dobbs and have bases loaded with five infielders. If this works, Maddon is a genius. If it doesn’t, he’s a wackjob. Life is risk.

12:40: They intentionally walk Victorino. Maybe Maddon’ll do something weird here. Ah, maybe another intentional walk and a five-man infield. Sounds fun.

12:38: Holy Crap! Victorino tries to bunt, the pitch is wild, Bruntlett goes to second, bad throw to second gets away, Bruntlett gets to third with nobody out. He’s the winning run! LET’S GO!!!

12:37: I was kind of hoping that Maddon would make some really odd managerial move.

12:35: This Sprint “You want everything” romantic-movie-spoof is just horrible. It’s everything that’s wrong with television advertising. A bad, corny, cheesy premise and a big budget.

12:34: Bruntlett takes one for the team. Good job, son.

12:33: You know it’s a.m., so I’m not typing it any more.

12:32 a.m.: By the Beard of Bruntlett! C’mon, Eric!

12:31 a.m.: J.P. Howell still in there for Tampa? Not sure I like this move either.

12:29 a.m.: We need a hero. We could also use Bonnie Tyler singing “I Need A Hero.” Bottom of the 9th coming up.

12:28 a.m.: Buck messing with McCarver about his previous mistake (country of origin for Carlos Ruiz).

12:27 a.m.: Fans active now, waving those white towels (reminding me of surrender).

12:26 a.m.: Two down as Gross grounds out weakly to second.

12:24 a.m.: Heh heh. He just said “lefty on lefty.”

12:24 a.m.: OK, one out. Good job so far by Romero.

12:23 a.m.: I don’t like the way I feel about this game right now. And why are the fans not screaming? Is it too cold?

12:19 a.m.: Ryan Howard GOES DOWN LOOKING! Don’t these guys remember the FUNDAMENTALS??? Two strikes on you, and you SWING AT ANYTHING CLOSE! I can’t believe I’ve been reduced to using all caps. I’m tired and frustrated.

12:17 a.m.: Ryan Howard down in the count 0-2. Doesn’t look good.

12:16 a.m.: Some kind of crazy move, and Werth is picked off. Craptastic.

12:15 a.m.: Utley whiffs. Darnit! That pitch dropped off the table.

12:13 a.m.: Werth can fly for a tall dude. Steals second base, gets in scoring position with 0 outs.

12:09 a.m.: Utley Time. C’mon, Chase. Need a knock here.

12:08 a.m.: I have never stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Guess I’m a dummy.

12:05 a.m.: Werth walks! Werth walks! Werth walks!

12:05 a.m.: I like Jayson Werth. He has the potential to go 25HR/25SB next year.

12:02 a.m.: Another re-make. The Day The Earth Stood Still. Keanu plays another alien or quietly weird character. More importantly, are there no new ideas in Hollywood?

12:01 a.m.: Ah, good work, J.C. Romero. Crawford Danger averted.

11:59 p.m.: Coming up on 1:00 a.m. for my Eastern time zone family/friends. Wonder how many are hanging in there.

11:56 p.m.: WHY OH WHY did Ruiz bother throwing? Upton was going to beat that. Oy freakin’ vay. Error, tie game.

11:56 p.m.: Not sure if “Eva” is a super-insulting chant, Phils fans.

11:55 p.m.: Upton steals, Longoria needs a single to tie. Ugh.

11:55 p.m.: You went, Pena! Strikeout!

11:51 p.m.: And Upton’s younger brother Justin is supposed to be as talented or more talented. Yikes.

11:50 p.m.: Wow, Upton can fly. C’mon, Mad Dog, roll two (that’s “induce a double play” for you non-infielders).

11:48 p.m.: Madson has a tough job here. Let’s go, Mad Dog!

11:46 p.m.: “There’s one thing…we’re nudists.” And the guy lets them in the car. Did he put down a blanket or something? And why the heck doesn’t he just say “Oh, never mind” and leave the dumbass naked balloonists to find their own way home?

11:45 p.m.: Jimmy Rollins. Why don’t you bunt, Jimmy? Lay one down, get on base again.

11:44 p.m.: Geoff can’t get ‘er done. Oh well.

11:41 p.m.: Geoff Jenkins! I like this move.

11:40 p.m.: Will you be leaving work for a break to get your free Taco Bell taco?

11:39 p.m.: I guess I should be grateful they haven’t shown the Rocky statue or Art Museum steps. However, I’ll retract that statement if I could see McCarver tripping and falling all the way down the steps.

11:38 p.m.: One more shot of the Liberty Bell, and I will vomit. Y’know, there are other things in Philly besides the Liberty Bell and the corner where Geno’s and Pat’s Steaks are.

11:36 p.m.: Not that there’s anything wrong with all these armed forces folks singing “God Bless America,” but didn’t this job used to belong to professionals?

11:35 p.m.: YES! K’d him! Great job, Scott.

11:34 p.m.: OK, Scott, put him away here. More outs, faster game, less McCarver.

11:33 p.m.: I appreciate Scott’s “underbeard,” as I like to call it.

11:32 p.m.: C’mon, Scott. Good pitch to start. Excellent.

11:30 p.m.: The difference is Drinkability? No, there really isn’t much of a difference, and some made-up word isn’t helping.

11:29 p.m.: Oy, a walk. I hate walks. Go get ‘im, Cholly.

11:28 p.m.: OK, groundout RBI makes it 4-3. Darnit, another one-run lead. It’s not enough. (It’s never enough.)

11:26 p.m.:This Christie Brinkley DirecTV spot has run approximately 475 times tonight. Luckily, I will always love the “This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy” line.

11:24 p.m.: Take a bow, Jamie…great job. Bullpen time.

11:24 p.m.: Fantastic play by Howard there.

11:23 p.m.: If Gabe Gross hits a 3-run bomb off Moyer, I’m driving to DFW, flying to Philly, and taking over as Phillies manager for the rest of the Series.

11:22 p.m.: And now the Rays are proving me right, as they’re knocking Moyer around a bit.

11:21 p.m.: Getting back to Moyer being allowed to pitch the 7th…I think that’s one of those Charlie Manuel moves. He sticks with his guy, and I get it. But the Phils’ bullpen is awesome.

11:19 p.m.: It’s so weird, how hittable Moyer’s pitches look. I mean, I’ve hit in a batting cage with 80 MPH pitches coming at me. And I got as high as D-III ball.

11:17 p.m.: CRAWFORD WAS OUT AT FIRST! ANOTHER UMPIRING MISTAKE! BRING ON THE ROBOT UMPIRES!!!

11:16 p.m.: Whoa – Moyer comes back out for the 7th? Not sure I’d do that.

11:15 p.m.: He IS the most interesting man in the world. (I love the Dos Equis spots.)

11:12 p.m.: Me gusto Carlos Ruiz.

11:10 p.m.: They just showed submarine-style pitcher Chad Bradford warming up for Tampa Bay. I get that that particular motion is much easier on the arm – then why don’t starting pitchers ever use it? It’s always relievers – Kent Tekulve, Dan Quisenberry, etc.

11:09 p.m.: A shout-out to Jamie Moyer for some awesome pitching tonight. He did his job beautifully, holding the Rays to just one run in six innings. Not bad for an almost-46-year-old.

11:08 p.m.: Ryan Howard…BOMB! (Guess he WILL hit again.)

11:07 p.m.: On the replay, Utley’s bomb looked like it went to the seats that my friend Marty and I used to have.

11:06 p.m.: Oy, Ryan Howard. Will you ever hit again?

11:05 p.m.: Chase Utley…BOMB! 3-1.

Phils win Game 1!

–Chase Utley rules.

–Ryan Howard needs to sacrifice a chicken to Jobu to get the curse off his bat.

–10 of the last 11 teams to win Game 1 have gone on to win the Series.

–Cole Hamels rules, too.

–And so does Jayson Werth.

–Heck, even Ryan Madson.

–Brad Lidge does too.

–Technically, the Phils have the home-field advantage right now.
See you for Game 2!

Subjective Analysis: Phils/Rays in the WORLD SERIES.

Here it is. Could be another of the biggest moments in Philadelphia sports history, or just another colossal failure. (You’ll have to excuse me, Phillies fans have had their fill of futility. And yes, the alliteration is amazing.)

Once more into the Phray:

CATCHER

PHI: Carlos Ruiz

TB: Dioner Navarro

ANALYSIS: I’m especially biased on this, because I “owned” Navarro a few years back – BEFORE he began living up to his potential. (The guy’s only 24, I should have been easier on him.) Offensively, he is far superior to Ruiz. Defensively, they’re both pretty solid. Navarro and the RAYS get the edge here.

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FIRST BASE

PHI: Ryan Howard

TB: Carlos Pena

ANALYSIS: I have a feeling Howard will hit some BOMBS. Of course, at the two ballparks in question, many bombs are hit. Overall, these guys had kinda similar numbers…except for the Bombs, where Howard beats him handily. Howard gets the nod here for the PHILS.

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SECOND BASE

PHI: Chase Utley

TB: Akinori Iwamura

ANALYSIS: Although I love saying his name (or any other Japanese player’s name) out loud in a deep, booming voice, Iwamura just is not even close to the offensive force that Utley can be. Utley wins hands-down. Go PHILS.

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THIRD BASE

PHI: Pedro Feliz/Greg Dobbs

TB: Evan Longoria

ANALYSIS: I’d love to try to make the argument that the Feliz/Dobbs combo can almost equal Longoria, or that Longoria is due for a letdown. But I can’t. Advantage RAYS.

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SHORTSTOP

PHI: Jimmy Rollins

TB: Jason Bartlett

ANALYSIS: It was in this space of my Phils/Dodgers analysis that I picked Rollins over Furcal. Of course, I really didn’t foresee Furcal’s three errors in one inning that basically cost them the NLCS. Although Jimmy Rollins is a far better player, all the “experts” believe that Bartlett is the kind of guy who can/will make a crucial play or get a clutch hit to carry his team. Still, the PHILS have the edge here.

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LEFT FIELD

PHI: Pat Burrell

TB: Carl Crawford

ANALYSIS: CC wears my number (13), and he is one of the ultimate seven-tool players. (Not just the typical “five tools” that scouts love – Carl does it all and then some.) He was banged up near the end of the season, but he’s still better on many levels than Pat the Bat. RAYS win this one.

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CENTER FIELD

PHI: Shane Victorino

TB: B.J. Upton

ANALYSIS: Upton is also a seven-tool guy, whose power numbers this year were hurt by a lingering injury. But Victorino has had a magical ride the past month or so, and it’s hard to just say “Upton is superior.” He is, talent-wise, but when it comes to getting the j-o-b done, Shane-O-Vic is right there with him. Argh, this one hurts me physically, but Upton and the RAYS get the call here.

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RIGHT FIELD

PHI: Jayson Werth

TB: Rocco Baldelli/Gabe Gross

ANALYSIS: I’m a Werth-believer. I’m not Werth-y. I enjoy Werth-er’s Butterscotch Candies. (Enough!) I’ve got to take the 20/20 guy over a platoon including a guy battling a strange and awful disease (mitochondrial disorder?) and a guy whose offense doesn’t exactly scare people (.242 batting average with TB). Give this one to the PHILS.

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DESIGNATED HITTER

PHI: ??? (Dobbs, Jenkins, Stairs?)

TB: Willy Aybar/Cliff Floyd/Eric Hinske

ANALYSIS: Phils manager Charlie Manuel is not announcing his DH until the actual game, but it’ll likely be one of those guys above (or maybe Burrell, with Eric Bruntlett or Dobbs in left field). Aybar has been playing out of his mind for the past few weeks, and Floyd and Hinske are nice veteran role players who have some pop. This category has too many question marks, though, so I call it a TIE.

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STARTING PITCHER

PHI: Cole Hamels/Brett Myers/Jamie Moyer/Joe Blanton

TB: Scott Kazmir/Jamie Shields/Matt Garza/Andy Sonnanstine

ANALYSIS: The “experts” say Hamels is the best pitcher in the Series, and I agree. But I don’t agree with their assessments of the rest of these guys. They’re all over the Phils, saying they really have no depth beyond Hamels and that the Rays kids are flat-out awesome. Not taking anything away from them, they’re good and they faced tough competition all year in the AL East. I just think this matchup is closer than many might think – that there’s something to be said for Moyer’s experience and smarts, and Blanton’s ability to keep the ball down.

All that being said, I do have to give the Slight Edge to the RAYS.

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RELIEF PITCHER

PHI: Brad Lidge/Ryan Madson/J.C. Romero/Chad Durbin/Clay Condrey/J.A. Happ/Scott Eyre

TB: Troy Percival/Dan Wheeler/Trever Miller/J.P. Howell/Grant Balfour/Jason Hammel/David Price

ANALYSIS: Again, the “experts” are loving the fact that the Rays have three lefties, who will allegedly shut down the big lefty bats of Philly (Utley and Howard). And Price is this amazing wild card who will likely have an amazing career. But the Phillies’ bullpen has been and will be a great strength here, and deserves respect. PHILS get this one.

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BENCH

PHI: Greg Dobbs/Matt Stairs/Geoff Jenkins/Eric Bruntlett/So Taguchi/Chris Coste

TB: Floyd/Hinske/Aybar/Ben Zobrist/Jonny Gomes/Shawn Riggans/Fernando Perez

ANALYSIS: Dobbs is playing so well, there are people who want the Phils to let Burrell go away via free agency and play him every day in left. Stairs could be a great DH against righties (and so could Jenkins). But there is plenty of pop on the Rays bench, and some amazing speed in Perez. This one goes to the RAYS in a very close race.

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MANAGER

PHI: Charlie Manuel

TB: Joe Maddon

ANALYSIS: Uncle Cholly’s recently-passed mom is watching over this team, and he’s somehow managed to keep it all together and get to the Series. Maddon’s mom is watching from upstate Pennsylvania, and her boy is regarded as this kind of mad genius or rare intellectual who somehow completely inspires his young team. (Oh my, he drinks wine instead of beer! He reads books instead of magazines! Heavens to Murgatroyd!)

But seriously, this one is a TIE because each guy has done an amazing job this year, and Manuel’s occasional mistakes cancel out Maddon’s occasional crazy-looking moves (like a bases-loaded intentional walk).

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FINAL SCORE: Rays 6, Phillies 5, one tie.

FINAL ANALYSIS: I think it goes 6 or 7, and I think the RAYS win.

(P.S.: Reverse-jinx accomplished!)