2011 National League East Previews: Phillies
28 February 2011
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Today’s focus: Philadelphia Phillies
2010 Record 97-65 1st Place NL East, Best Record in MLB. Lost to Giants in NLCS
The Phillies off season can be summed up with two words: CLIFF LEE. Ruben Amaro Jr and the Phillies shocked the baseball universe when they emerged as the “Mystery Team” swooping in to sign Lee for fewer years and dollars than the Yankees and Rangers were reported to have offered. The Phils have assembled easily the best pitching rotation in baseball, and on paper, the best in the past 20 years.
While the rotation alone should be enough to capture a fifth straight NL East crown, how far they go into October will depend on their increasingly enigmatic (and more left handed) offense. The Phils starting eight seems just as capable on any given night to put up 10 runs as they are to go into a tail spin as seen in the series in New York last May where they were shut out for the three game series. Former MVPs Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are both coming off down seasons, but they are not alone, as all 8 starters save the ever underrated Carlos Ruiz will be looking to bounce back offensively. The Phillies had much more R-L balance when they won it all in 2008 so manager Charlie Manuel will have his work cut out for him shuffling his lineup to makeup for the loss of Jason Werth who signed a lucrative FA contract with the division rival Nationals. Top prospect Domonic Brown will likely start in a platoon in RF and the Phillies will hope he hones his 5 tools that made him untouchable in recent trades.
Notable Losses: Jason Werth, Jamie Moyer, Greg Dobbs, Chad Durbin
Notable Pickups: Cliff Lee
Bottom line, the Phillies should easily win the NL East but that isn’t enough anymore for this franchise, only another ring will erase the bad taste by last years disappointing loss to the eventual champion Giants. To get it, they need to get the big bats off their proverbial shoulder.
Prediction: 101-61 NL Champions