Yo! Welcome to Philly where we love our teams until they inevitably lose every year. Then we pelt them with profanity.... Okay, I don't know this to actually be the truth. I've never been to Philly, I don't even know anybody from Philly, but I'm doing this preview anyway. Another guy not from Philly who doesn't appear to understand the plight of their fans is Jimmy Rollins. He must have not watched any Philly sports for the past twenty years or so because he claimed during the offseason that the Phillies are the "team to beat". Bold statement. It takes a man who has not been pelted with batteries to say something like that. Somehow a man with absolutely zero post-season at-bats in his career thinks it would be a good idea to run his mouth. The confidence is nice, but he needs back it up. Let's just say they better win the World Series before Rollins makes any Campbells Soup commercials with his mom.
Elsewhere, the questions (stop me if you've heard this) are basically the holes in the lineup and the starting pitching. More specifically, the problem with the Phillies lineup is the Phillies outfield. After they got rid of Abreu they're looking at Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell and Shane Victorino. Nobody expects Rowand to hit and Victorino had a pitiful .760 OPS last year in his first real season in the bigs. Pat Burrell has the honorable distinction of being one of my "sleeper" late round picks in our fantasy draft last week. Of course ever since then all I've read is how he's complete shit. The Harball Times preview today asserted without question that he only only has "40 good swings a season". Ummm, is that possible? I feel like I need a Bull Durham speech right now. Ugh.
And, don't let me forget to mention Freddy Garcia. That's right, the big fella came over from the Chi Sox after what really was a reasonably good season. 17 wins? How do they let that go? Hopefully it wasn't for the money. For the record, Garcia will make $10 million this year while Eric Milton is making $9 million. Big sigh. Beyond that, I kind of like the Cole Hamels/Brett Myers combo and Jamie Moyer might need a walker to get out to the mound, but he will probably still give you innings (over six per start last year). Plus, I hope he gets on base occasionally. I love the idea of watching a 44 year old pitcher who spent 10 years in the AL run the bases.
Well, there you have it. Another flawed team in the National League. But, they have some young talent and some vets holding it together. Will they hit? Yeah some. Will they get pitching? Yeah, enough. So, I'm taking them to win the division. I just think they've got the tools to sustain winning throughout the season. Maybe Jimmy Rollins won't have to eat his words after all.