Wednesday, June 18, 2008

When New Yorkers Say Nice Things About the Phillies, Run For It.

I love the Phillies. They are, bar none, the most exciting team to watch in the National League this year. When that offense gets going, forget it - they're going to mash, and mash, and mash. They play good defense, they've got cannon arms in right and center, their bullpen has been mostly lights out (excuse Tom Gordon of late), and their starting pitching has been at the very least, consistent. New York sports talk radio hosts are talking about them as a potential World Series team, and mentioning about how they could be about to go run and hide in the weaker-than-expected AL East.

But I can't help thinking they're not quite that good.

They feast on mediocre pitching. At the plate, their approach is Red Sox/Yankees lite. Be patient, wear out the other team's starters, and then beat the living hell out of the soft underbelly of the bullpen. It's a great strategy...if you can maintain it. The problem is, against good pitching, the Phillies can't. They get behind, and they press, and they chase, and they strike out a lot instead. Take another look at last year's playoff loss to the Rockies and you'll see it. And if they get to the playoffs, they're going to see good pitching. Maybe against the Cubs, maybe against the Diamondbacks with Haren and Webb and Johnson. The point is, they'll run up against it, and their weakness at the plate will be exposed. At the same time, their starting pitching is mediocre, and as Joe Sheehan at BP pointed out, their bullpen can't possibly be this good all year long. And their starting pitching just isn't that good. The Manny Ramirezes of the world salivate at the thought of standing in against guys like Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton in October, soft-tossers who can be waited out until they're forced to throw their sub-optimal fastballs right down Broadway.

And Broadway is often one swing of the bat from Lansdowne Street.

So I'll enjoy watching the Phillies this year. But I don't think they're going to win it all, more's the pity.
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