The Phillies in 2014?

In my “keeper” fantasy baseball league (I KNOW, nobody cares about your fantasy team — trust me, I’m going somewhere with this one), my fellow owners and I have to think not only about this year, but the years ahead.

For example, we have two annual prospect drafts of two rounds (although unlike the real world, we can trade draft picks) and unlimited “prospect” spots. So you can hop on someone like superubermegaprospect Bryce Harper (whom I traded for this offseason) and when he hits the bigs, keep him at a very low salary.

Anywho, all this preparation I’m doing for the upcoming season (yes, I’m the returning champ for the first time in 17 seasons) got me thinkin’ about my Phillies and their future.

Baseball America posts (for free) their analysis of each team’s minor league organization and top 10 prospects. But one of the fun things they do is try to project the 2014 lineup:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2011/2611043.html

Let’s discuss those 2014 Phillies, shall we? (Except for Manager, all other names are the BA predicted starters.)

 

MANAGER = Ryne Sandberg. This is MY prediction, based on nothing but unbelievably brilliant insight. And the fact that he’s the Phillies’ AAA manager this year, and Charlie Manuel probably will be hanging up his lineup-fillin’ pencil right about then.

CATCHER = Sebastian Valle is the guy that BA lists as the starter. And I defer to the guys like @phuturephillies on Twitter who are way into the Phils’ minors, as well as my top-secret fantasy resource (the founder’s name rhymes with Blon Blandler for those of you “in the know”) who has him as an 8D — meaning he’s an 8 out of 10 talent-wise, but right now a D (A being most likely to fulfill his potential) when it comes to hopefully developing.

1B = Ryan  Howard will be 35 in 2014. So he should still be solid and hitting bombs, although power hitters generally start to fade in their mid-30s. If he keeps himself in shape, he’ll be serviceable defensively and probably still hitting 30-40 HR. I’m wondering if he gets dealt somehow to the AL to become a DH by this point though.

2B = Chase Utley will be 36 in 2014. Another guy who will need to stay in shape, especially if he wants to stay in the physically demanding middle infield. He’d be the easy choice to slide to 1B if Howard was sent to DH-land.

3B = Placido Polanco will be 39 in 2014. I can’t imagine that he’ll be the everyday 3B. Gotta believe that there’s somebody in the low minors who will develop by then. If not, yikes. Or we go get David Wright as a free agent, as some bloggers/Twitterers have predicted. He’d better re-establish his value in 2011 for me to get on board with that.

SS = Jimmy Rollins will be 36 in 2014. But if 2011 is anything like 2010, Jimmy will be a backup or something else. Doubtful he’ll have the wheels/athleticism to stick there. BA mentions infield prospect Freddy Galvis as being the “best defensive infielder” and having the “best infield arm,” so I’m hopeful he develops with the bat and can take over by then.

LF = Jonathan Singleton is BA”s choice here. Which means that Jonny Boy, a 1B by trade, will have to make the transition to the outfield if Howard or Utley is at 1B. And with a developing bat like J-Sing (made that up myself, like it?) has, he’s a keeper.

CF = Shane Victorino will be 34 in 2014. Probably slower, probably still playing super-hard. But maybe more of a 4th OF at that point. Especially since the Phils have young speedster Jiwan James working his way up the ladder. BA has JJ listed as “best defensive outfielder,” “fastest baserunner” and “best athlete.”

RF = Dominic Brown will be peaking at that magical “age 27” year in 2014. Hopefully, the Phils don’t mess up with the kid in 2011 after a 2010 season in which he came up and mostly sat — which doesn’t exactly help you become a better player. (I should know — look up my college stats.)

FUN DOM BROWN FACT = His middle name is Larun.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/browndo01.shtml

Anyway, love me some Dom Brown. Especially in 2014.

 

STARTING PITCHING: This was pre-Cliff Lee signing, so BA had Halladay/Hamels/Oswalt/Brody Colvin/Jarred Cosart as the 2014 starting five. Quick hits:

Halladay = All hail King Leroy. He will only stop dominating when he WANTS to stop dominating. Yeah, he’ll be 37. But he’ll be pitching on pure genius, and will take whatever’s left physically and make it sing.

Hamels = He’ll be 34. No biggie. Most lefties age well, and hanging around Halladay/Oswalt/Cliffie should smarten him up and make him effective for many years.

Oswalt = Like the “other” Roy, he’ll be 37. Again, genius. No worries here.

Clifton Phifer Lee = Will clearly be in this spot at age 36. And likely dominating. (Jeez, this exercise is REALLY making me crazyexcited about 2010!)

Colvin/Cosart = BA has Cosart has having the “best fastball.” Always a good sign. Gotta believe that either of these kids (or both), would benefit from being around R2C2, the Fab Four, the Phab Phour, or whatever they end up being called.

BULLPEN: Probably one of the hardest things to predict, since most bullpens are very volatile. BA thinks Ryan Madson will be the closer, and many agree that’s where he’s headed. The cool thing is that with the starting spots locked up for at least a few years, the Phils could turn some of the good young arms they have into power relievers and really have a strong corps.

Anyway, all things considered, it will be interesting to see how things develop as the core of this team gets older. Most experts agree that the current prospects in the low minors will be ready to start taking over around 2013 or 2014, so this roster could be WAY different than it appears above.

This was Phun! (Sorry.)

Catcher Sebastian Valle
First Base Ryan Howard
Second Base Chase Utley
Third Base Placido Polanco
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins
Left Field Jonathan Singleton
Center Field Shane Victorino
Right Field Domonic Brown
No. 1 Starter Roy Halladay
No. 2 Starter Cole Hamels
No. 3 Starter Roy Oswalt
No. 4 Starter Brody Colvin
No. 5 Starter Jarred Cosart
Closer Ryan Madson

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

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!

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!)

LiveBlog: Phils/Dodgers, NLCS Game 5

10:39 p.m.: Too much in my head right now. Will get back to you tomorrow. PHILS RULE!

10:38 p.m.: Catch that pop-up, son, and here we go to the World Series!

10:35 p.m.: NOMAH!

10:34 p.m.: Victorino just plays him some centerfield. Two outs.

10:32 p.m.: C’mon Brad, get ‘er done. There’s an out, flyball to Victorino.

10:25 p.m.: Bottom 9, here comes Lidge.

10:24 p.m.: Ryan Howard’s swing is back. And it is sweet.

10:19 p.m.: We are an inning away.

10:04 p.m.: Blog break.

10:02 p.m.: Has everybody/anybody noticed Tim Allen in the 1st row behind home plate? I wonder if his agent called him: “Timmy, bubbeleh, I’m getting you some TV time. Here’s tickets to the Dodgers game.”

9:59 p.m.: I’m always freaked out when these DirecTV commercials have the same actor, just like 25 years later, “breaking the fourth wall” while re-enacting a scene from their movie. Craig T. Nelson’s “hair” just isn’t convincing.

9:55 p.m.: Shut up, Kent. It was a strike. You’re old and you suck and nobody likes you.

9:52 p.m.: Leaving Hamels in here with 1st and 2nd, 2 outs and Kent up in the bottom of the 7th. Hope you know what you’re doing, Uncle Cholly.

9:45 p.m.: Shane Victorino’s defense is still awesome. Great catch, thanks to great speed and instincts.

9:44 p.m.: Oh, by the way, Cole Hamels has been awesome.

9:43 p.m.: Shane Victorino’s defense is awesome.

9:42 p.m.: Eric Bruntlett’s beard is awesome.

9:38 p.m.: Read somebody writing today about how the Fox computer-generated strike zone is “showing up” the umpires and how lousy and inconsistent they are. I can’t wait for the day when umpiring is a computerized science.

9:36 p.m.: Here they are:

ShutUpTimMcCarver.com

BobFinnan.com/TimMcCarver/

9:33 p.m.: McCarver comparing a Presidential debate to a debate over balls and strikes between a ballplayer and an umpire. Meant to be slightly tongue-in-cheek, I’m sure, but just lame and stupid and unnecessary. Where is that IHateTimMcCarver Web site anyway?

9:33 p.m.: They’re replaying Rafael Furcal’s three errors, all in one inning. Wow.

9:32 p.m.: Oh, guess the debate is over. I’ll read a transcript tomorrow morning or something.

9:31 p.m.: Martin still in the game, behind the plate. Wonder if the ump will hold a grudge – he should.

9:29 p.m.: TOSS HIM! Russell Martin is arguing balls and strikes! That’s against the rules, son! He’s got to be ejected, umpire! I call Shenanigans!

9:26 p.m.: Big deal, Manny homers. He’s another one playing for a contract. It’s only a solo bomb. 5-1.

9:24 p.m.: Subjective journalism alerts: FOX desperately wanted L.A. to win this game. Tim McCarver is terrifically stupid. I loved how early on, one of the pitchers was about to throw, and McCarver says something like “here you’ve GOT to throw a curveball,” and the guy throws a 92 MPH fastball.

9:23 p.m.: Pat Burrell, playing for a new fat contract, makes a really good running catch. Phils up 5-0 in the bottom of the 6th. Is this some kind of weird dream?

One game away!

UPDATED THOUGHT: How the heck DO you pitch to Manny Ramirez???

After the Phillies’ thrilling victory over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS, I had a bunch of thoughts:

–Pat Gillick did make some really smart moves. Shane Victorino? Taken in the Rule 5 draft a few years back from – you guessed it – the Dodgers. Matt Stairs? They got him for a crappy lefthanded reliever in a deal that nobody noticed about a month ago.

–Shane Victorino continues to earn my platonic love by being Mr. Clutch. Good power for a little guy. He’s like Lenny Dykstra (circa 1993) without the disgusting chewing tobacco and steroids.

–Game 5 is on against the 3rd and final Presidential debate. Guess I’ll be missing out on the politics. However, I’m sure that CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CNBC, and whoever else will replay it. Or I’ll just YouTube the highlights.

–Hamels vs. Billingsley in Game 5. My man Cole is already a
legend; this could cement it.

–Holy Crap, it was 15 years ago that I stood in my college dorm room, wondering why Mitch Williams was still in the game, with that sick-to-my-stomach feeling that Joe Carter was going to take him downtown.

–IF we win, who would I rather play in the World Series? Even without Manny, Boston is a juggernaut, but they’ve looked kinda weak against Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay has a lot of great young talent, but would they be able to withstand the pressure of the World Series? TB’s manager, Joe Maddon, is supposed to be some kind of genius, so that might not be an issue.

Boston is an interesting story because former Phils manager Terry Francona is their skipper. The only other real Phils/Sox connection is Paul Byrd, who resides in Boston’s bullpen as a long reliever. J.C. Romero was a Red Sox, but that’s not much to build a rivalry.

I don’t think Tampa Bay holds a grudge over the Kevin Stocker-for-Bobby Abreu supreme ripoff trade that the Phillies did with TB years ago, and there’s no real connection other than Rays’ reliever Trever Miller pitching like 10 games for the Phillies 8 years ago.

The networks would probably love a BOS/PHI matchup because of the two major cities involved, but I think the more compelling series (and probably more winnable series for the Phillies) is TB/PHI.

“Subjective” Analysis: Phillies vs. Dodgers

Well, I was pretty dead-on with my Phils/Brewers blog. (Whodathunkit?)

So on we go to the National League Championship Series, facing the Los Angeles Dodgers – who incidentally are another of those teams that moved but kept the name, even though the name was used for a geographically-specific reason. (“Dodgers” had something to do with dodging trolleys in Brooklyn, the New Orleans Jazz made sense but not necessarily the Utah Jazz, etc.)

Anyway, here we go:

CATCHER

PHI: Carlos Ruiz/Chris Coste

LA: Russell Martin

ANALYSIS: Martin wins in a runaway landslide crush. He hits, he’s got power, he steals bases, he plays solid defense, and one of his middle names is Coltrane. Our boys lose this one to the DODGERS.

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FIRST BASE

PHI: Ryan Howard

LA: James Loney

ANALYSIS: Loney is a really good young player, but isn’t in the same league as Howard right now. PHILLIES get this one.

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SECOND BASE

PHI: Chase Utley

LA: Blake DeWitt (Jeff Kent?)

ANALYSIS: Even if you could somehow fuse Blake DeWitt and Jeff Kent together, you wouldn’t have half of Chase Utley. PHILLIES. (Of course, you’d have Bleff DeKent.)

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THIRD BASE

PHI: Pedro Feliz

LA: Casey Blake

ANALYSIS: Blake is a slightly better hitter, and I mean SLIGHTLY. Feliz is a much better defender. I’m feeling objective, so I’ll call this one a TIE. (Even though the Feliz/Greg Dobbs package is probably superior.)

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SHORTSTOP

PHI: Jimmy Rollins

LA: Rafael Furcal/Angel Berroa

ANALYSIS: If Furcal is at the top of his game, this is close. But he’s coming off a major injury, and I’m feeling subjective. I predict a PHILLIES win in this category for Jimmy, The Great Prognosticator.

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LEFT FIELD

PHI: Pat Burrell

LA: Manny Ramirez

ANALYSIS: Pat, I truly thank you for the two-homer day you had that helped defeat the Brewers. But I owned Manny Ramirez (fantasy-wise), and you, sir, are no Manny Ramirez. DODGERS get this one because Manny, in L.A., only batted .396 with 17 HR and 53 RBI in 53 games. Oh, and his OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) was over 1200, which is just plain sick.

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CENTER FIELD

PHI: Shane Victorino

LA: Matt Kemp

ANALYSIS: I root for Victorino. In fantasy, I own Kemp. And in reality, Kemp has more power and is probably a better hitter in general. Slight edge here to the DODGERS.

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RIGHT FIELD

PHI: Jayson Werth

LA: Andre Ethier

ANALYSIS: Werth showed off some big power with a couple homers in the NLDS, but Ethier is another great young Dodger outfielder who took his game up like 57 notches this year. He doesn’t run like Werth, but his on-base is an excellent .375. Another slight edge to the DODGERS.

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STARTING PITCHER

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

LA: Derek Lowe/Chad Billingsley/Hiroki Kuroda/Greg Maddux?

ANALYSIS: The Phillies’ starters did an unbelievable job (Hamels), a very good job (Myers), a solid job (Moyer), and an excellent job (Blanton) against the Brewers. The Dodgers’ starting pitching is a mixed bag: Lowe is the wily veteran who’s been there and back; Billingsley is the young power pitcher who was prone to walks as recently as last season (and kind of this season, with 80 BB); and Kuroda is the Japanese import (makes him sound like a car) who put up very solid numbers and is the kind of guy who kills the Phillies. I don’t know if Maddux is available, on the roster, or already back home in San Diego. If he’s there and somehow pitches, I’m sure he’ll shut down the Phillies with his mind-bending wizardry. Or they’ll pound him for seven runs.

All in all, I give a slight edge to the PHILLIES here.

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RELIEF PITCHER

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

LA: Takashi Saito/Jonathan Broxton/Joe Beimel/Cory Wade/Scott Proctor/Hong-Chih Kuo/Clayton Kershaw

ANALYSIS: Each team has some really good talent in the bullpen. And although Lidge is just plain dominant, he’s almost matched by the Saito/Broxton combination (Broxton should be an elite closer in a year or two). The Dodgers have some very good ERAs in Saito, (2.49), Beimel (2.02), Wade (2.27), Kuo (2.14) and some great strikeout arms in Saito (60K/47IP), Broxton (88K/69IP), Kuo (96K/80IP), and Kershaw (100K/107IP). Strikeout arms against a Phillies squad that likes to strike out = edge to the DODGERS. I just trust those last few names more than I trust Durbin/Condrey/Happ.

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BENCH

PHI: Greg Dobbs/Matt Stairs/Geoff Jenkins/Eric Bruntlett/So Taguchi/Coste (see Catchers above)

LA: Angel Berroa/Andruw Jones/Nomar Garciaparra/Delwyn Young/Chin-Lung Hu/Mark Sweeney

ANALYSIS: Seriously, this LA bench might be the worst bench in the history of benches – despite having (or because of?) huge names like Andruw and Nomar. PHILLIES in a runaway victory. If I’m Joe Torre, I pray every night that my lineup stays healthy.

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MANAGER

PHI: Charlie Manuel

LA: Joe Torre

ANALYSIS: Torre, hands-down. Both of these guys are loved by their teams, but Torre knows how to run a game and probably of more importance, has been to 674 World Series with the Yankees. DODGERS get the nod here.

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FINAL SCORE: Dodgers 5, Phillies 4, one tie.

Yikes, this will be a close one.

“Subjective” Analysis: Phillies vs. Brewers

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:

CATCHER

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.

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FIRST BASE

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

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SECOND BASE

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.

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THIRD BASE

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.

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SHORTSTOP

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.

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LEFT FIELD

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.

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CENTER FIELD

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.

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RIGHT FIELD
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.

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STARTING PITCHER

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.

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RELIEF PITCHER

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.

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BENCH

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!)

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MANAGER

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.

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FINAL SCORE: Phillies 8, Brewers 1, three ties.

Bring on the Cubs?