LIfe should have been good. Last year's blog on 2010 was close to prophetic. I hope I am wrong with what i am about to write, but here it goes:
PItching:The pitching staff is flush. All this nonsense about Hamels and Lee getting roughed up is nothing. They will be fine and the bullpen looks good as well. Madesen is focused because he is playing for his big payday and as a free agent he will impress as the set up man. The only real question is "Lights On/Lights Out Lidge--That's where the pitching staff has to keep the pressure off the bullpen. The only concern I have is where the starters are eking out a one run victory and Lidge has to pull out the one inning or even two out save (if Danys can be somewhat effective). This scenario assumes that the line-up, given its injuries and sudden trending down due to aging of the core will be the norm not the exception.
Hitting:jason Werth cashed in and left town leaving a huge void that may be covered by a platoon of Mayberry/Francisco. Ibanez will be covered by these two or even in platoon with Brown (when/if he returns). Bottom line--none of these guys hits for the same power as Werth, though they may not strike out as much either. Chase Utley reminds me of Don Mattingly, a great player whose career was stifled by unfortunate injuries and had to retire early. I realize its only March, but I'm not counting on Utley this year--that knee sounds arthritic and the Phillies brass (i.e., Amaro) are downplaying the injury or not responding. They are already at their max salary up against the salary tax and they have little or room to bring in other players. Rollins is an enigma and is 32 playing out the string, Ryan Howard is still struggling against off-speed pitching and he is 31. Chooch Ruiz had a career year and can not be expected to repeat a .300 season. I think Victorino will do better than last year's .250, and Polanco at 36 years young has a lame elbow again. Wow, we are in trouble.
Prediction: the Fightins' have enough to stave off Atlanta for the Eastern Division, But I don't think they make the World Series this year, even with the stud Pitching. The line-up is just too suspect and lame knees (Utley), previously operated on inflamed elbows (Polanco), 40 year old starting left fielders (Ibanez), 31 year old sluggers (Howard), just doesn't sound like the nucleus you should hang your hopes on. I love the Phillies and I truly hope I am wrong, but the line-up and the salary requirements mean we will probably go into battle with what we have. Anything beyond the East is a gift in 2011