Phillies: What If…Everything Went Right?

Thanks to my constant suckage at fantasy baseball, I’m used to rebuilding — and recognizing the signs that it’s time to rebuild.

But I’ll do that blog post later. This one is about how the Phillies could potentially win the National League East.

It’ll take some minor miracles, but here we go (in order of likelihood):

1) The healthy return of Roy Halladay. If Doc comes back fine, the Big Three starting pitchers can keep the team in games and allow the bats to do their work. (This one is pretty obvious.)

2) Improvements in the bullpen. Whether we’re talking about these guys buckling down and getting the job done…or Ruben Amaro, Jr.  buckling down and doing his job to find some solid middle relief arms via the trade market or free agency.   

3) The healthy return of Ryan Howard. If the Big Man comes back healthy and does his thing, that is a huge boost to the lineup (clearly). He and Hunter Pence make a solid lefty-righty RBI combo and take the pressure off Ty Wigginton and John Mayberry, who most likely will perform better with slightly less playing time.

4) The healthy return of Freddy Galvis. If the offense is good enough, they can bury him in the 8 spot in the lineup and enjoy his defensive wizardry.

5) The healthy return of Chase Utley. Good Heavens, we’re stretching now. The mysterious knees of Mr. Utley are a conundrum, an enigma shrouded in a mystery of riddles. But if he came back and gave the team a couple solid months of offense? Wow.


Take a look at the 2008 lineup, rotation and numbers here. While there is no way the 2012 team can pile up the offensive numbers of the 2008 version. But good health and solid performances from the returning DLers could go a long way.

Rotation-wise, 2012 should destroy the 2008 version. And if you’re telling me that the Madson/Durbin/Condrey/Romero/Seanez bullpen combination can’t somehow be duplicated, then I’m not sure I want to watch any more baseball this year. (Papelbon should be very good, if not Lidge-esque.)

So it’s all about health and RAJ making a good move or two. (Or the coaches getting the current bullpen guys to pitch better.) 

And if it all goes according to plan and the Phillies climb back into contention, the medical staff will be the real MVP.

Tim Wakefield: When Life Throws A Curveball, Learn The Knuckleball

I’ve learned a few things in my life. The second- and third-most important lessons, of course, are “never get involved in a land war in Asia” and “never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.” (Thanks, Vizzini.)

But the most important lesson is: “Life WILL throw you curveballs. It’s how you deal with them that dictates your happiness and success.” (You can use that if you want, just give me the credit or my lawyers will get you.)

Which leads me to Tim Wakefield, who retired from professional baseball today.

Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1988, he was actually a first baseman. But because his skills with the bat were not Major League caliber, he gave pitching a shot by learning to throw a knuckleball — a highly difficult pitch to master (since it’s nearly impossible to control where it goes). Heck, he got so good at it, his picture is on the Wiki page.

Wakefield rose through the ranks to reach “The Show” and stay there. And for 19 years, he baffled hitters (and often, his catchers) with the fluttering pitch that few others have thrown with long-term success.

He finished his career with 200 wins, 2,156 strikeouts and more than $55 million in career earnings. (Info courtesy his page at

All this from a guy who was good enough to reach the minor leagues as a position player, but not good enough (as a hitter) to make the leap to the big leagues.

So when you’re told you’re not good enough, or you encounter an obstacle that you think will ruin your life…remember Tim Wakefield. And do whatever the equivalent of “learning the knuckleball” is to your life.

(Bet you didn’t think I’d get all “personal development-y” on you. Not normally my style.)

I wrote all this because (as you might have read here in other posts) life has thrown my family and I more than our fair share of knee-buckling, 12-to-6 curveballs that stopped us in our tracks. Health issues, layoffs, you name it. But I/we learned to adjust, adapt and go on to find our happiness.

Your turn, kid. Get in the game, and be ready for the curveball — because it’s comin’.