BLOOD IN THE WATER: TBOH’s Ass-Kicking, Gunslinging, Shark Infested 2010 Phillies Preview

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PART THREE

Roy Halladay (17-10, 2.79 ERA, 32 G)

What’s going to happen?  Roy’s going to come out of the dugout in a Phillies uniform and not delete the Nationals on Opening Day?  The man led the AL in complete games (Nine.  Nine!) and shutouts (Four!). Anything I could say here about consistency and dominance and guys doing their jobs would be worthless.  The guy showed up at 7am for his first three hour workouts of the day during Spring Training.  He doesn’t talk to people when he’s pitching.  He’s a priest to the game.  If an SI Cover curse came shrieking toward him, all Doc would need to do is give it a quick glance to leave it in a puddle of its own curse-piss.

Roy Halladay is Roy Halladay, and while you can’t expect anybody to be perfect… well, I’m going to.  And I’ll be the first one to complain when he suffers a loss early in the season.  Because this is That Balls Outta Here, and I am totally classless.

Cliff Lee

I’m reminded of that Simpsons episode where Homer’s trying to buy a gun and is forced to face the simple reality that he just can’t have what he wants very badly.

“If I had my gun, I’d kill you.”

“Yeah, well, you don’t.”

Cole Hamels  (10-11, 4.32 ERA, 32 G)

Out of context or not, Cole sparked some totally unneeded drama in the playoffs last year, no thanks to Brett Myers, who has thankfully been taken out behind the shed and shot.  Blame it on the shitty pre-2009 workout regiment, blame it on the World Series MVP title going to his skinny, hair-filled head; point is, 2010 is the season he (and we) need to be concerned about.

And apparently, he did:  reports indicated that he was already working out in Clearwater under the scrutiny of both Ruben Amaro and Rich Dubee (the latter trying to add another pitch to his arsenal).  There’s no reason to doubt Cole could be the “2” in the “1-2” starting rotation punch we thought we had lost when Cliff Lee peaced out to Seattle.

J.A. Happ (12-4, 2.93 ERA, 35 G)

Well, the smoke cleared and J.A. was still wearing a Phillies uniform, so you can’t say Ruben Amaro flicked off all the young talent in his roster-squeezing to sign names like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.  And J.A.’s a hell of a get; he wasn’t a Rookie of the Year candidate just because he knows some cool stories about baseball.

Joe Blanton (12-8, 4.05 ERA, 31 G)

All right, Joe.  Pressure’s on.  You’ve got job security and some proven consistency, but this slot in the rotation is what broke our backs in the World Series.  When only one of your starting pitchers can beat the Yankees, it’s a little hard to win four of seven under the gun.  So what we need from Blanton, and that goes for everybody, is to… be better at baseball than he was last year.  Big Joe’s got this innate ability to put the team on his back and traipse through 6-7 innings like a champ.

Problem is, there was a stretch where he wasn’t getting any run support.  When he was getting run support, his pitching began to falter.  It was a case of the Phillies lineup and Joe failing to sync up in any real meaningful way.  If we could get some of Joe’s patented stability and accuracy, and make use of it, he’ll have an ever better 2010.

Then again, Big Joe took a big from a poison apple and strained his oblique, leaving him out of commission for the first few weeks of the season.  Getting over an injury is, while not a major issue, still an additional hurdle to get over at the start of the year.  Will Blanton adapt accordingly?  Yup.  Because he’s Joe Blanton, and he’s just going to throw the ball.

Jamie Moyer (12-10, 4.94 ERA, 30 G)

As much as you see stacked against Jamie, he keeps showing up.

Because my age is in front of my name, and because that’s all some people talk about—’He’s not supposed to be doing this’—that kind of fuels the fire. Not to be disrespectful to people, but I want to show you that I can.”

Jamie, just for that, you got a few free passes for some poor outings free of chastising on this blog.  I know that means a lot to you.

But, truth be told, he wasn’t always the best guy we handed the ball to last year.  At least when he was starting, anyway.  I seem to remember him showing a great first inning, but never being able to hold anybody scoreless for four or five solid innings.  The other team was just going to score.  It was going to happen.  Somehow, I doubt three surgeries and another offseason getting stiffer could have helped all that.

Then again, he’s instantly back in the running for facing statements about his age with a straight middle finger.  That’s just wily.  I’d give a wily pitcher the ball any day.  Once.

Kyle Kendrick (3-1, 3.42 ERA, 9 G)

And after all that, Kendrick’s probably going to wind up starting anyway.

Even getting Rich Dubee to compliment him sent out some positive first impressions.  And without Brett Myers around to trick him into moving to Japan, he’ll be able to focus on actually pitching.

It’s been a Moyer-Kendrick race for this fifth rotation spot since day one, with other names thrown in just to make things interesting (Jose Contreras, Antonio Bastardo, Ryan Vogelsong, Drew Carpenter).  But the stroke of genius here was when Kyle Kendrick began stalking Roy Halladay, inquiring as to when he showed up in the morning, and then coincidentally being at the park too; seducing him into being his workout partner… disturbing fixations aside, he’s going to get something out of it, and with Roy Halladay as the unicorn in his dreams, there’s not a lot of it that could be bad.

BULLPEN

Brad Lidge (7.21 ERA, 58.2 IP, 31 SV, 61 K)

Writing about Brad here feels like running into an ex-girlfriend and having to pretend I haven’t been bad mouthing her to all of our mutual friends for the past few months.  “Hey!  You look good.  How’ve you… what?  No, of course I didn’t call you a ‘dick-snorting scorpion woman.’”

We all know Brad went from perfect to “WTF?!” in the blink of an offseason.  Coming off surgery and a confidence boost, all we can do is remain optimistic that the dominant Brad Lidge who dropped to his knees in celebration two Octobers ago will make his return.  Nobody wants to see this blog full of endless bitching again, but, you know… stop giving me reasons.

J.C. Romero (2.70 ERA, 16.2 IP, 0 SV, 12 K)

Drug accusations.  Debilitating injuries.  Punching a man in the neck.  J.C.’s had some turbulent times, and yeah, not all of them are not his fault.  And now, like Lidge, he won’t even be able to play Opening Day.  Apparently, he’s coming along quicker than Brad, but his speed is still “rebounding.”

It doesn’t really matter, the point is, Romero won’t be there, and what’s important is that he will be back.  Should the bullpen falter without two of its main components, the return of Lidge and Romero could be a much-needed boost to morale.  Unless, and let’s not pretend we aren’t thinking it, they suck.  Which they might.

Come on, J.C.

Ryan Madson (3.26 ERA, 77.1 IP, 10 SV, 78 K)

Ryan Madson 2010, step one:  Show up Opening Day and don’t be Brad Lidge.

He’s the closer to start things off this year, assuming Brad Lidge will know better than to rush himself off the DL in order to be available Opening Day.  He’s not one of the team’s louder presences, but he stood in the same spot that Lidge stood in last year and fared (six blown saves, opposed to Lidge’s 11) somewhat better.

Of course, the press has called him everything from “… solid as can be at set-up…” to “… the most oblivious man in a focused Phillies camp…” because Madson apparently mistook Roy Halladay for Kyle Kendrick.

Chad Durbin (4.39 ERA, 69.2 IP, 62 K)

The Phillies avoided arbitration with Durbin because he’s a solid reliever who can go a couple of innings if he has to, thanks to being groomed as a starter.  Now, he and Cole Hamels are “posing challenges” to Roy Halladay about who can get to the park first in the mornings.  Heh, heh.  Okay, settle down.

The important thing is, he can even close should the need arise.  It’s like putting “bilingual” on your resume at this point.  Everybody’s got to have a potential to get the last three outs in this bullpen.

Jose Contreras (4.92 ERA, 131.2 IP, 106 K)

Is he a starter?  Late reliever?  He’s made it clear himself that he doesn’t care; he’ll wear the Phanatic costume if the Phillies ask him.

The truth is, he’s stepping in for the departed Chan Ho Park, who said he wanted to start with the Phillies, and they said no, and he said fine I’ll go somewhere else, and they said fine go, and he did, and now he’s a Yankee, and he’s saying he wishes he was a Phillie.  But by the time this little saga had unwound itself, the Phils had gone out and snared Contreras and Baez for any job Park could have done.  Charlie Manuel also said Contreras was a guy who would want the ball, and power through minor injuries.

Contreras’ less than sexy outing against the Astros recently has upset Rich Dubee, which is always dangerous, but in a questionable choice of words, Dubee admitted that he wasn’t prepared to kill himself.

Oh.  Good?

“Let’s hope Park doesn’t get confused about which locker room to use,” says Dan Levy of The Sporting Blog, who apparently thinks Chan Ho Park is an ignorant dumbass.

Danys Baez (4.02 ERA, 71.2 IP, 40 K)

The other arm of the late inning crisis mode squad, Baez had a lower ERA than Contreras, but also pitched a lot less in general.  Regardless, both relievers pitched for the Cuban National team before defecting.  Like Contreras, Manuel called Baez a pitcher who “will never turn down the ball,” and “mentally tough.”  Baez will be a big part of deepening our options at the ass-end of games, or keeping the damage maintained should things fall apart.

In conclusion, there are not a lot of articles that mention one of these two but not the other.  They might as well be sharing Baseball Reference pages.

Antonio Bastardo (6.46 ERA, 23.2 IP, 19 K)

Oh, hey, we need a lefty.  Whoops.

WIth J.C. getting his oil changed, Bastardo is a young buck being called in to fill these holes left behind by the crippled.  And he’s going to be a precious commodity, given that left hand of his.  Like Contreras, his skill was questioned in his latest outing against the Astros, though he was said to be a lot less shaky than Jose.

With a bit of major league experience under his belt, Bastardo has proven himself capable, but at this point, there’s not a lot of options left.  The money’s gone and so are some of the more important arms (for now).  All we can do now is give Bastardo the ball and hope he can do pleasurable things with it.

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Tags: Antonio Bastardo Brad Lidge Chad Durbin Cole Hamels Danys Baez J.C. Romero Jamie Moyer Joe Blanton Jose Contreras Kyle Kendrick Rich Dubee Roy Halladay Ryan Madson

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