And, because I was 40 minutes late to work on Monday, here is the conclusion to my relentless line of questioning of myself.
7. Which version of some of our flakier players will show up?
There’s an unnamed sequence that comes to life when Phillies who have been good start sucking, and vice versa. Raul Ibanez’s season went a little something like this, from a fan’s point of view:
“YEAH RAUL YEAH.”
“This is his first All-Star game ever and he’s 37!”
“All right, all right, he got the run in.”
“Ah–aww. All right. Nice try.”
“What the hell is he swinging at?”
“DAMN IT RAUL DAMN IT.”
*Sound of beer being thrown at television*
I’d also like to point out that initial frustrations are targetted at fellow fans. We turn to each other and question a players’ motives, effort, or thought process, at varying sound levels. We’re not MAD, per se, but disappointed in how things turned out on that particular play.
But then… when things get all “Burrell-ed” up… the accusations get a bit more heated and, here’s the best part, directed at the player, instead of each other. “What the hell is he swinging at?” becomes “$11 MILLION, BURRELL!!!!”
Okay, anyway. I would say, off the top of my head, that the guys who failed to show for part/all of the 2009 season were Brad Lidge, Cole Hamels, and Raul Ibanez. I honestly have faith in Cole and Brad. Cole knows he didn’t work hard enough in the offseason and sort of de-evolved into a crappy version of himself for awhile. He’s apparently remedying that, with the help of Ruben Amaro and Rich Dubee.
Brad had surgery and is hopefully using the time off to bolster that shattered confidence of his. Those are both repairable things; not easily repairable, but definitely doable within the offseason.
Raul, though… god love him. He had a better year than the other two, in the context of their respectively different roles on the team, but there was some inarguable flatlining in the second half of the year. Is it his age? Did the Phils make a mistake signing a more than one-year deal with the 37-year-old outfielder? Was his red hot first half a fluke? It didn’t feel like one when it was happening. I’m going to say we’ll see at least one awesome half for Raul again this year, though which half it is remains a mystery.
8. What the hell’s going on with Jayson Werth’s contract, now?
Something about Jason Bay’s new contract with the Mets? It’s a good one? Probably similar to the one that Jayson’s going to want when his current contract is up? And the Phillies won’t have the money? And with Dominic Brown waiting in the wings it would make more sense to let Werth go than hurl dollars and dollars at him until he deems it good enough?
Yeah, I think that’s it. Damn.
9. How much better are our division rivals?
Mets got Bay. Braves got Melky Cabrera. Marlins are trying to kick Dan Uggla off the back of the truck.
Better. They’re all better. Or, they have the potential to all be better. Even the Nationals, with their Ivan Rodriguez and their Stephen Strasburg, are better, but that was somewhat unavoidable.
To be fair, the Mets weren’t even bad last year, just predominantly and perpetually wounded. While they missed out on John Lackey and have no one to supplement Johann Santana, just being normal is an upgrade to the “exploding car with everybody trapped inside” that was their 2009 season. Even with Bay, though, I personally don’t believe the Mets have a strong chance at catching us, even if they want to stick Carlos Delgado back in there.
The Marlins, while still unable to trade Dan Uggla, have ROY Chris Coghlan and Hanley Ramirez, but lack valuable experienced players. They are competitive, but are going to need those three empty starting rotation slots filled with competitive pitching if they want a shot at penetrating the playoffs. You could say the same thing about the Phils, though. Except our slots are in the bullpen.
Aaaaaand the Braves. Melky Cabrera and Troy Glaus are grabbing their tomahawks in 2010. Which is nice. But Melky’s not a ball-crushing beast and Glaus barely played in 2009. He’s talented and capable, but also could easily trip and fall into a pile of bones. Starting pitching is weakened with the loss of Javier Vazquez, but Tommy Hanson was up there with J.A. Happ (And obviously, Coghlan) for the NL ROY. Like the Mets… “if healthy” applies heavily, both to the new acquisition Glaus and the late-in-career bullpen starring Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito.
My conclusion is that this year will be more competitive for the NL East than 2008, and much more than 2009. We’ll have to see who suffers what freak injury when Spring Training starts. The Phils recognized their weak spots and have made moves to address them. Now, of course, the money’s gone, and we have to assume that Ruben’s got Charlie needs to make it work. In a division where everybody’s revamping to beat us, dumbest thing we could do is make assumptions.
10. When’s that NL Champs ’09 hat I ordered from MLB.com going to get here?
Seriously. Going on a week now.
UPDATE: It came today. Doesn’t fit.