Back In The Game
While his teammates took the high road, Rollins predictably could not resist jumping into the fray and responded to Beltran's comments. Of course it is understandable since Beltran specifically mentioned Rollins in his quote.
"Carlos is a quiet guy," he said. "It's good that he spoke up. He needs to be a vocal leader for them. To that I have two things to say. One: There are four other teams in this (NL East) division that want to make sure that doesn't happen. And, two: Has anyone ever heard of plagiarism?"
He is correct that Beltran needs to be a vocal leader. However, the rest is just nonsensical. There are four other teams trying to prevent the Phillies as well negating the presence of the other three in equation and now he is suggesting he invented the bold claim on top of everything. Interesting.
"I think Omar (Minaya) did a great job of getting a good pitcher and not having to give up his best prospects," Rollins said. "But (Santana) can only pitch one game at a time."
Then, turning once again to the Phillies, he offered this year's even loftier prediction.
"We can win 100 games," Rollins said. "I'll say that right here. Why? Look what happened last year. We lost Chase (Utley) for five weeks. We lost Ryan for three weeks. We expected (Jon) Lieber and (Freddy) Garcia to be part of our rotation and they hardly pitched for us. All those things went wrong and still we won 89 games."
100 games? That is akin to Kramer claiming Paul O'Neil will hit three homers for that little hospitalized kid in exchange for that Yankee signed birthday card. Really though, that is just a silly thing to say. Bill Madden said it just fine and I feel no reason to try and say it any other way.
The latter will likely depend on the arms. Rollins believes in the Phillies' pitching, which was a work in progress last season after injuries felled Garcia and Lieber, and Adam Eaton, who was supposed to be the No. 3 starter, flopped. Brett Myers has been moved from the closer to the No. 2 slot in the rotation behind Cole Hamels and replaced by Brad Lidge, who pitched himself out of the closer role in Houston twice in each of the past two seasons. The rest of the rotation is 45-year-old Jamie Moyer, second-year righty Kyle Kendrick, who has to prove last year's 10-4, 3.87 ERA season was authentic, and possibly even old friend Kris Benson, who signed on as a non-roster player last week. Ancient and achy Tom Gordon remains the set-up man.
The Phillies offense is not quite as good as everyone believes, but they are very good. Just not great and all that much better than the Braves and the Mets. However, no one is contesting their hitting is the problem. Their pitching is going to be their downfall. Now I'll be the first to admit they were not as bad as they seemed in 2007 despite their ERA. Their ERA+ was 97 while the Mets ERA+ was 100. Basically, they were both completely average.
However, the Mets did add Santana, get a full year of Pedro, and stand to have a deeper bullpen in 2008 than 2007. They significantly improved their pitching. Not marginally, but significantly. Actually significantly does not even cover it. Pedro replaces Glavine and Santana replaces.....no one. Just a straight up addition which is good for about eight wins over what they got out of Lawrence, Vargas, Park, etc., etc.
Moving Myers into the rotation while adding Lidge certainly adds some wins, but the back end could very well be horrific. Kendrick has a lot to prove, Eaton has not been league average since the millennium nor has he pitched over 162 since 2004, Moyer is decent, but not when he is your third best pitcher, and Kris Benson is quite a question mark. I have no specific problems with any of those things being a question if you have one or two slots with three slam dunks, but the Phillies have one slam dunk.
If the Phillies do win 100 games, they could quite possibly be the 100 win team with the worst staff in the history of 100 game winners.
Dan-E (Miami Beach): so now that we've established jeter and h.ramirez as the worst defensively, who's the best not named troy tulowitzki? how big is the gap between tulo and the next guy?
Keith Law: Tulo's got company up there. Reyes is outstanding. Everett is as good as Tulo, as long as we're just talking leather. Same for McDonald and Tony Pena. The thing with Tulo and Reyes is that they actually hit, too.
Alexander (AZ): Who is the team to beat in the national league this year?
Keith Law: Mets, then Cubs.
Basically, not your D-Backs man.
The Cubs are a very good team with very good pitching. They owned the 2nd lowest starter ERA in 2007 and the 3rd lowest bullpen ERA. It is even more impressive when you factor in they do not pitch in an environment particularly welcoming to pitchers.
They had the highest team ERA+ in the NL and that was with Carlos Zambrano having his worst season since 2002. There is room for growth between him, Sean Marshall, and Rich Hill. Their offense is not terribly great, but the addition of Fukudome will help and this team is certainly a well balanced one founded on pitching.
The D-Backs are not far behind though. They posted a 114 ERA+, which was one behind the Cubbies, and added Dan Haren and will get more from Randy Johnson. Their OPS+ was significantly lower as a team and I tend to favor the Cubs over the D-Backs. However, the D-Backs are still right there for me. One sleeper team for me (could they be a sleeper if they are already a favorite?) is the Dodgers. They have good pitching, a good bullpen, and a significant offensive potential. If Torre does the right thing, the team could be Kemp, Martin, Jones, Ethier, LaRoche, Furcal, Kent, and Loney.
It is not wise to rely on young kids to all be great at the same time, but I really like their young guys and expect them to produce if given a shot. They were lacking pop last season, but Jones can still knock 30 out, Kemp has 30 homer power, Martin has 20 homer power, Kent is still a 20 homer guy, Loney is a 20 homer guy, and LaRoche has 20 homer power. Slow and steady baby....if things click with them early, I will revisit my list from the other day and shift the Dodgers ahead of the Cubs.
I'm glad he recouped most of his jewelry after it was stolen and they found out who did it, but he might want to consider selling some of that stuff and saving for a rainy day.
Waits, the Mets' Minor League pitching coordinator, said Niese "would stand out if he were right-handed."
That is good stuff and he is a legit prospect for sure, but now we need to see a nice low 3.00 ERA in AA this year to see him make that next leap.
Kunz and Parnell also were impressive and while Niese really should not see any meaningful innings this spring, Parnell and Kunz should be used liberally.
"It didn't surprise me that they traded me," Milledge said. "I was surprised where I went. I didn't think I would be in the same division. You would rather see the Mets trade their best prospect [to a non-division team]."
Good times. I think he will do quite well for them this season. Luckily the Nationals are not a threat so he really will not be able to do much damage, but he will enjoy hot dogging this year against the Mets.
On the other side of the coin, David's comments about the fights was quite interesting. This is the new look Mets where maybe they stop being so PC and safe and lay it out there. If they do, 100 wins will most assuredly not be in the W column next the Phillies, but the Mets. If the Mets can keep up their intensity for the duration of the season and get some health out of their front four, look out.
I guess teams will try and ink their players before year two versus year three or four these days because the incentive for these kids to sign is getting pretty low unless they are terrified of injury.
"I love Jimmy Rollins, I love [Brett] Myers, I love everybody ... but I would love to beat the [snot] out of them on the field," Martinez said.
We'll see who buzzes who in the batter's box first. When it happens, it will not be pretty.
Labels: mets vs. phillies