Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Pennant! Redux!

There is an old baseball saying that “pitching and defense win championships”. Well, the Philadelphia Phillies managed to prove that hitting an absolute ton also works too.

Every time you looked up the Phillies weren’t flirting with “crooked numbers” per inning- but rather threatening to score double digits through six, seven innings. Last year’s outfit was sort of a lighter version of the early Jeter Yankees- a good offense and a rock-solid bullpen that reduced games to six inning affairs. This year, the Phillies should hand out helmets to the fans in the outfield- as balls rocket out with alacrity (outside of Lee, the Phillies ERA is close to five).

Again, this is Charlie’s great post-season (so far). He’s managed his limited pitching options pretty brilliantly- have you noticed he has identified a mid-game go to guy in Chad Durbin? Those three, four outs Durbin has quietly been providing solve a third of the mysterious nine outs you need to get nightly from the ‘pen. Park, Madson, Eyre, all have issues- but Charlie has managed to introduce them into games where their limitations are hidden. And he has used the extra roster spot to carry Happ and Blanton as emergency, mostly effective, options.

Add in a Dodger outfit that lacked serious starting pitching- a season up for grabs and here come Padilla?- and no sustained offense that approaches the terror the Phillies middle does. As Conlin wrote yesterday:
Rollins . . . Victorino . . . Utley . . . Howard . . . Werth . . . Say them loud enough and it's almost like begging for mercy.
In the end, the Phillies are easy to love because we’ve seen this core group- Victorino, Werth, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Ruiz, Madson, Hamels, etc.- grow up together, rather than be imported in here as mercenaries. Only Ibanez is a large role-player and key free agent pay-day acquisition. Not that the Phillies aren’t a ridiculously well-paid collective, but we’ve seen the disappointment and evolution. I sppose someday we’ll see the regression- compensated by the dazzling October nights this group has provided again and again.

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