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Archive for March, 2008

2008 Season Preview: Inside The New York Mets

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, March 28, 2008 09:43 PM Comments: 8

They’re the team we hate. We can’t stand these bums, their old stadium, their illiterate fans and their over-the-top city. We have gritty, down-and-dirty Bruce Springsteen; they have showman, posing Billy Joel. They are the New York Mets.

But hey, they are good. We all know that. Last season we showed we were a game better, beating them out in one of baseball’s most storied collapse/comebacks. But 2008 is a new year, folks, and those bums from Queens are ready for us.

I did a Q&A with maybe the most informed of all Met followers: Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog, who took time out of his busy pre-Opening Day schedule to give us the dish on the Mets rotation, their “house of cards” lineup and if they really are the new Team to Beat.

We all know Johan Santana is good for 20 wins and an ERA hovering around 3.00. And we’ve heard Pedro Martinez looks good this spring. How good will they look this year?

I expect both of them to look great — assuming they remain healthy.

Martinez, or “Picasso,” as he’s starting to be called by some Mets fans, has shown he can be successful regardless of velocity. In fact, the softer he tends to pitch, the more creative he becomes. Santana is Santana, who’ll get to face the seventh, eighth and ninth hitters in the National League, most of whom have never seen him before. He should do well enough to contend for a Cy Young award.

However, as a Mets fan, what I am most excited about is that these Martinez and Santana, combined with John Maine and Oliver Perez, should act as a pretty reliable firewall against any major losing streaks.

Out of David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, whose loss would be the most harrowing for the Mets?

Reyes, no doubt. Frankly, the team’s entire offense is a house of cards built directly on top of Reyes. End of story.

You’ve said you’d rather see Orlando Hernandez pitch as fifth starter as long as he’s healthy. When should Mike Pelfrey take over the job, and what happens if he struggles in AAA?

Pelfrey should take over the job when he learns to pitch with some attitude, aggression and ego. I mean, in the last year, he’s been given three opportunities to take over the final spot in the rotation and he has fumbled the ball each time. If he can’t get it together to take hold of the job, how is he going to find the guts to strike out Ryan Howard with the bases loaded in a big game in September, you know what I mean? He’s got a world of potential, but until he learns to generate a little fire, he is always going to lose out to the Orlando Hernandez’s of the world.

What’s your take on Fernando Tatis — who has played all of 56 games since 2003 — getting the last hitting spot on the roster over the younger Ruben Gotay?

I am very disappointed to see Gotay go, especially to the Braves. I see Gotay in the same way I saw Melvin Mora, who the Mets traded in 2000 for Mike Bordick. This is not to say Gotay will be as good as Mora once was, it’s just that, like Mora, Gotay can hit in his sleep, but plays defense like he is sleeping, and so I expect the Mets to regret cutting him loose once day, because he is very good hitter.

I’m confused by Tatis. The team will tell you that Tatis is better suited for their roster right now than Gotay, because Tatis can hit lefties and can play the outfield, i.e., he is more versatile. The thing is, he doesn’t hit lefties any better than he hits righties, because he can barely hit at all. Also, I can play outfield. I mean, I can stand out there. It doesn’t mean I’ll be good at it. The same can sort of be said for Tatis, who’ll be fine as the 25th man on the roster. Gotay would have been better, though.

Throw it down right now: Are the Mets going to be the Team to Beat after all is said and done this season?

Sure, why not, though I expect the Phillies to win a lot of games, and I actually worry about the Braves as much as any other team in the league. I think the beauty of the NL East right now is that there is not just one really good team. I’d love to see an exciting, fun, dramatic pennant race, so I hope they’re all the teams to beat, with the Mets winning one more game then the rest.

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2008 Season Preview: American League West

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, March 28, 2008 08:18 PM Comments: 0

The AL West is the abused cousin of the league. OK, bad metaphor. But the division has two clear-cut good teams and two not so good. I don’t like how Anaheim stacks up against Seattle, who for some reason, I see as a runaway favorite. They have a balanced lineup and great pitching. Batters up, Great Northwest.

AL West

1. Seattle Mariners
I’m laying it down — the Mariners will run away with the AL this regular season. The offense is the same, middle-of-the-road group. Ichiro has another year or two left in the tank, as does Jose Vidro. If Raul Ibanez and Adrian Beltre can put together big seasons again, this team is strong. They’re solid top to bottom and carry a so-so- bench. The strength is the rotation, with addition Erik Bedard joining ready-to-break Felix Hernandez. Carlos Silva isn’t a bad addition and should win double-digit games. JJ Putz was the best closer in baseball last season; that could change, but he’ll still be good. The bullpen is a little suspect, but not enough to do them in. A big-time 1-2 coupled with a heavy offense in a bad division makes them the best of the AL.
Predicted Finish: 99-63

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
I just don’t see it with the Angels. They added Torii Hunter to join Vladimir Guerrero, and that’s enough to drive home Chone Figgins 110 times. Gary Matthews, while having a surreal 2006, should be better than 2007 this time around. The bench is fine and should make up for a tough bottom of the order. But around Vlad, Torii and Chone isn’t enough to compete with bigger offenses. John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar are out for a while, and that bodes poorly. They’ll need Jered Weaver to pick up the slack; if he does, they could drop into the playoffs. The bullpen isn’t bad, but if you take out Francisco Rodriguez, it has no gusto.
Predicted Finish: 87-75

3. Texas Rangers
The most faceless team in the AL for a decade now, the Rangers are the same as ever. It’s a good lineup — Ian Kinsler is a nice 2B option, while Michael Young is always solid. Hank Blalock is poised for a bounce-back year. Watch Josh Hamilton swat balls like Zeus. 40 HR is not out of the question. Pitching is not a strong suit. Led by former Phillies (Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla), expect mediocrity to reign. The bullpen is led by new closer CJ Wilson, who is as good as counterpart Joaquin Benoit. Both are OK. Overall, it’s a good offense and a horrible staff. Not the best mix in the American League.
Predicted Finish: 75-87

4. Oakland Athletics
The A’s dumped Dan Haren and might drop Joe Blanton. Meanwhle, the offense is without personality. Jack Cust is a big hitter but more AAA than A’s. Kurt Suzuki is the one to watch — has a top bat and can rake doubles. Injuries plague this group, ask Bobby Crosby. They’ll have good pitching, as always, and look for Rich Harden to have a great return in 2008. There’ll be another big pitching star — maybe Justin Duchscherer. Get ready for Gio Gonzalez mania. The bullpen is Huston Street — who blows more than he saves — and two old Red Sox retreads: Foulke and Embree. Nothing good here. They’ll lose enough this year; next year they’re going to be well improved.
Predicted Finish: 72-90

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2008 Season Preview: American League East

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, March 28, 2008 06:15 PM Comments: 0

It’s Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East. We know that. We wish it would stop. Frankly, though, these teams are good, but in 2008, I smell a surprise. Get ready for some alarming thoughts.

AL East

1. New York Yankees
Many are saying the Yanks don’t have the juice to win the division in 2008 — I beg to differ. Alex Rodriguez is all-solar system, the best hitter since Willie Mays. Look for a big year from young stud Melky Cabrera. The older guys (Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon) will get theirs, and so will Bobby Abreu. Robinson Cano is clearly the next-best thing after Utley. The pitching staff is wide open with a teetering Chien-Ming Wang, but Andy Pettite will be good yet again. Youngsters Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy will become studs sooner than later. The bullpen is tight — Mariano Rivera is a year left in the tank; Joba Chamberlain is the real deal; LaTroy Hawkins will be a solid lefty setup man. This team is built for 2008 success.
Predicted Finish: 95-67

2. Boston Red Sox
Don’t believe the hype — injuries and holes in pitching are expansive. Offensively they look nice, but relying on late-season studs Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia could be costly. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz will remain elite. Mike Lowell signed a nice contract to stay on board, but numbers won’t match ’07. The bottom of the order is a black hole. Josh Beckett is fine, but the rest of the rotation is lingering stale — Jon Lester is a nice story but a No. 4 at best; Tim Wakefield is running out of juice. It’s a solid bullpen with Jon Papelbon at the helm, so there shouldn’t be an issue there. But they look more in transition than their Eastern rivals; this year smells of let down.
Predicted Finish: 88-74

3. Toronto Blue Jays
Always the ugly bridesmaid, never the top bridesmaid. The Blue Jays have a solid lineup, a very good pitching staff and a workable bullpen, but nothing is great enough to overtake their divisional foes. Between Alex Rios, Vernon Wells, Frank Thomas and Lyle Overbay, they’ll produce runs, but not enough to match the big boys around them. Pitching is nice — a healthy Roy Halladay and AJ Burnett will join Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch for the AL’s top rotation. Questions abound in the ‘pen: Is BJ Ryan healthy? How good is Jeremy Accardo? What about the middle relief? Good, always good, but not good enough.
Predicted Finish: 85-77

4. Tampa Bay Rays
New name, same result. But this is a nice, young team. A gambler puts them in third place. Get ready for Evan Longoria to appear; until then, it’s BJ Upton leading a “hope I don’t let them down” Carlos Pena. Carl Crawford is OK but fast as ever. The bottom of the order isn’t strong. Pitching is strong. Scott Kazmir remains a top-flite starter, and he’ll join James Shields and Matt Garza to create a formidable 1-2-3. The bullpen isn’t great, with aging Troy Percival at the closer role backed by the one-shot wonder Al Reyes. It’s a promising team, and you should like them, but they won’t hit the mark quite yet.
Predicted Finish: 79-83

5. Baltimore Orioles
Put bluntly, this isn’t a good team. The offense features standout Nick Markakis, who will put up great numbers, but besides him, it’s age (Melvin Mora, Kevin Millar) and mediocrity (Luke Scott, Aubrey Huff). Adam Jones is one to watch. The rotation is stacked with nothingness, especially with Steve Trachsel showcased at the four spot. George Sherrill anchors a forgettable bullpen that will probably lose some games, but not the bulk. This team just doesn’t have the horses. The future could be bright, but right now, enjoy the Nationals instead.
Predicted Finish: 61-101

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Phillies Claim RHP Lahey, IF Woodward

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, March 28, 2008 04:42 PM Comments: 9

The Phillies today claimed RHP Tim Lahey off waivers. They also grabbed IF Chris Woodward.

To make room, they outrighted Chris Snelling, Ray Olmedo and JD Durbin to AAA Lehigh Valley. (I suppose Durbin wasn’t waived, or he wasn’t taken by anybody.)

Lahey, 26, wasn’t terrible ascending the ranks to AAA Rochester last year. His K/9 rate diminished considerably each season while in the Twins farm system. He was picked up first in the Rule V draft by the Rays, then sold to the Cubs. This spring with Chicago, he went 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in 11 innings. He walked eight and struck out seven. He started strong then fizzled, making him vulnerable to the cut.

Lahey is just another righty arm that the Phils hope will make sense early on in the season. With Snelling going to Lehigh Valley, Wes Helms becomes the final hitter (for now), and Lahey joins the bullpen as the 25th man. He’ll likely be given an audition until Francisco Rosario is ready to return.

Woodward, 31, is a veteran who was in camp with the Yankees. He tried to make better on his .199 clip in 2007. Career, he is a .243 hitter with 33 home runs and 186 RBI. He obviously didn’t make the Yankees.

Woodward will probably start the season in Lehigh Valley, as Eric Bruntlett is blocking his path. But he offers an option if Helms gets traded. He also gives Lehigh Valley another passable bat.

The current 25-man roster, as it stands:

Carlos Ruiz
Chris Coste
Ryan Howard
Chase Utley
Pedro Feliz
Jimmy Rollins
Eric Bruntlett
Wes Helms
Greg Dobbs
Pat Burrell
Shane Victorino
Geoff Jenkins
Jayson Werth
So Taguchi

Cole Hamels
Brett Myers
Jamie Moyer
Kyle Kendrick
Adam Eaton
Chad Durbin
Tim Lahey
Clay Condrey
Ryan Madson
JC Romero
Tom Gordon

We’re waiting on where Woodward goes; that will determine Helms’ fate, as well.

To be frank, I don’t understand either of these moves. If anything, we need a good, veteran arm for the bullpen, not this Rule V junk. And Woodward is coming into a position of strength. Infield is not the priority.

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2008 Season Preview: American League Central

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, March 28, 2008 04:15 PM Comments: 1

Welcome to the American League, or “Baseball’s Superfriends.” Yes, the AL has been the dominant league for the past decade or so, and there’s a simple reason: Offense. Six of the top-eight offenses were AL offenses, while only the cellar dwellers in the AL Central were in the bottom-10 of the league.

That trend will likely continue in 2008, especially with faces such as Miguel Cabrera’s in AL parks.

We’ll start there. A lot of people are picking the Tigers to win the division, but balance is the key. Pitching overcomes all in the very end, and the Indians have the horses.

AL Central

1. Cleveland Indians
Winning the AL Central was no small feat for the Indians. 2006 was a horrible year, but the Tribe stayed intact and rebounded tremendously to an ALCS bid. Their offense is solid, starting with Grady Sizemore. A bounce-back year for Travis Hafner should couple with big-hitting Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko for big numbers. The bench, however, is thin. But pitching is no concern: CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona make up the AL’s best 1-2 punch, and the back end is good enough to win in the AL. The bullpen has plenty of options, including lights out setup man Rafael Betancourt. This well-rounded, younger team will trump the Tigers by a hair for the division crown.
Predicted Finish: 94-68

2. Detroit Tigers
After missing out on the playoffs in 2007, the Tigers are gambling on the present. They grabbed Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in a trade with the Marlins, while also nabbing run-scoring machine Edgar Renteria from Atlanta. These additions will boost an offense that was already third in the majors in 2007. Their pitching staff is cloudy, especially with a bullpen that has injured pieces (Joel Zumaya) and uncertain setup men (Jason Grilli, Bobby Seay) behind a shaky closer (Todd Jones). The offense will win the Tigers a bunch of games, and in the AL, the pitching should be OK enough to walk Motown back to the playoffs.
Predicted Finish: 92-70

3. Minnesota Twins
Losing Johan Santana means the Twins are in full rebuilding mode. But they’ve been rebuilding for a year already, so look for improvements. Delmon Young is a huge talent and will contribute immediately in a lineup with the scary Justin Morneau and steady Joe Mauer. The pitching staff is full of question marks, but nothing horrendous. Boof Bonser is a strikeout machine; Scott Baker could be a top-30 pitcher; Livan Hernandez has always been a good third or fourth option. Francisco Liriano’s return will be huge. Division-best bullpen is led by Joe Nathan and backed by the great Pat Neshek. A game or two over .500 is what the doctor will order.
Predicted Finish: 83-79

4. Chicago White Sox
2007 was a year the White Sox and their fans wanted to forget. A bad, home run happy offense brought this team to a 72-90 clip. They’re not that bad, but they’re not good. The offense may not hit for average, but they’ll win some games. Nick Swisher, Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome are the boppers. A pitching staff led by the two-faced Mark Buehrle and Javier Vazquez isn’t great, so they’ll need surprise contributions from former Phillie Gavin Floyd in the fifth spot. A par bullpen is led by the always tough Bobby Jenks. They’re old in the bullpen, which could cost them. Their best bet is .500; more likely, they’re a few games behind.
Predicted Finish: 78-84

5. Kansas City Royals
Perennial cellar dwellers have done nothing to climb out of it in 2008. The good, young offense is still a year from being competitive, but Billy Butler and Alex Gordon are close. Underwhelming Jose Guillen is the cleanup guy in a below-average order. Gil Meche is an average ace pitcher, and Zack Greinke should be effective, but nothing really seems to be good here. Joakim Soria is a closer who won’t get too many chances to get saves, but he’ll be effective. They’re a year away, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished close to .500.
Predicted Finish: 76-86

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2008 Season Preview: Inside The Washington Nationals

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, March 28, 2008 11:03 AM Comments: 0

In the National League East, people will have you believe there’s a strict line dividing the Phillies, Mets and Braves and the Marlins and Nationals. This belief is kind of true. Last season the top three teams averaged 87 wins, while the Marlins and Nats averaged 72. For much of the season they posed no threat to the teams atthe top.

However, the winds will blow. The Marlins are a very young team that has promise for the future and the Nationals mix youth and experience with good managing. Plus they’re opening Nationals Park this season, and teams that open new parks always seem to have a kick in their step.

I did a Q&A with Chris Needham of Capitol Punishment, a Washington Nationals blog, about the Nats’ 2008 campaign. A lot of good stuff was covered, and he really shot straight. Thanks, Chris, and readers, enjoy:

I felt the Nationals got the better of the Lastings Milledge deal. What do you expect out of Milledge, and has his notorious freewheeling personality been an issue at all?

Manny Acta is terrific at focusing on what players do well, not what they don’t do. Everyone with the Nats has basically laughed off most of the criticism of Milledge, chalking it up to his youth. He’s got a fresh start, and a new chance, free of pressure, to show why just a year or two ago the Mets wouldn’t have traded him for anyone.

As far as on the field, he’s Acta’s guy in CF. Something like .280/.350/.470 with 20 homers and 20 steals wouldn’t surprise me.

Speaking of outfielders with off-the-field issues, Elijah Dukes — what’s your prediction: enormous talent or enormous headache in 2008?

The second he becomes an enormous headache — if everything the team is saying is to be believed — he’s a free agent, so …

They’ve done very well in separating him from some of his old problems, and giving him a support network. They have a staff member whose long job is to be his shadow, following him, and staying with him, keeping him in the right direction. So far so good. But ya never know.

It seems as if this question comes up every spring: Is this the year Ryan Zimmerman breaks out to become a top-5 third baseman?

He’s got a chance. The glove is definitely there. Had he not had an immobile, stone-handed first baseman, he’d be wearing a Gold Glove already. He took a step back offensively last year, but it looked like he was trying to carry the team at times last year — tough stuff for a kid. With a deeper lineup, I think he’ll feel less pressure to produce, and can relax and not feel like he has to hit a three-run double every time he comes to the plate.

He’s got a pretty good swing for RFK, but getting him out of there’s likely to turn a few of those doubles into homers. And if he can improve his pitch recognition to a level above where he was in 2006, he’s a pretty good candidate to have a breakout season.

Are you surprised Odalis Perez went from non-roster invitee to Opening Day starter?

We had an NRI be an All-Star last year, so it’s nothing new. And with this pitching staff, nothing really surprises me. Really, flip a coin. Does “Jason Bergmann: Opening Day Starter” sound any better? It’s a mish-mash staff, and Acta’s going to have his work cut out for him, even if there’s reason to hope that one or more of these guys might one day be something useful.

The starting rotation has had plenty of issues so far, from Shawn Hill’s forearm injury to the Perez saga to John Patterson’s exit. As constructed now, how effective can this rotation be?

You could’ve said the same thing last year, too. Acta minimized the impact of the starting rotation, by turning the game over the bullpen early and often. It’s not a good rotation, but it hasn’t been a good one for a few years. The bright side is that the players who’ll fill in for injury or ineffectiveness are honest-to-god prospects (even if their upside is 3rd starter) instead of retreads like Jason Simontacchi or Mike Bacsik, like last season.

Joel Hanrahan has had a lights-out spring since moving to the bullpen. What role does he play in 2008? Could he develop into a key back-end player or will he come back to the rotation sooner?

I think his days as a starter are over. I don’t like to make much of spring training stats, but, man I’m encouraged. Hanrahan has always been a hard thrower, but he’s had no control of his pitches. By moving him to the pen, he can forget about trying to develop a third pitch, he gains a few MPH on his already hard stuff, and he can focus on repeating his delivery and getting a consistent motion over a few pitches, instead of trying to pace himself over 100. The end results appears to be that the Nats have found themselves a relief ace.

His role early in the season is going to be the bridge reliever, coming in in the fifth and sixth innings and turning the game over the setup guys. Sounds like a waste of his talent, but as I said, Acta turns the game over to the pen early anyway, so his job is to basically continue what the starting pitcher was doing. He won’t be so much a mop-up man, as a setup guy just a few innings early.

Is it fair to expect the same solid numbers from the back end of the bullpen (Jesus Colome, Jon Rauch, Saul Rivera, Chad Cordero) again?

You didn’t even mention Luis Ayala! Until I see otherwise, I’m going to assume they can keep it up. The only great concerns I have with the pen are the innings that Rivera and Rauch have pitched over the last two seasons, and Cordero (a pretty strong flyballer) moving to the new park. It’s a deep bullpen that pitches fairly well… I can think of a team or two to the north in this division that’d kill to have one of our back-end guys or three!

Does top prospect Chris Marrero find himself in the Majors by the end of 2008? When would you like to see him in D.C. everyday?

I’d be surprised if he made it that early. He’s still just 19 years old, though he certainly could progress even more rapidly. The problem is that he’s basically a first baseman at this point, a position that the Nats are loaded at. With (GM Jim) Bowden, there’s always a chance of a trade. But Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson are both under contract through 2009, and the tail end of that season is probably the earliest we could expect to see Marrero.

The day he was drafted, the Nats’ scouting director compared him to Pat Burrell. That comparison has certainly held up offensively and defensively. Same guy, just with fewer boos!

I’m psyched about Nationals Park, and I’d like to get down there this season. Let’s say attendance is strong this season — does that give the Lerners incentive to start spending money like their major NL East counterparts?

Ah, the great debate! The Nationals should be on a revenue level with the Phillies. Will they have a corresponding payroll to match? I’m a bit skeptical given some of the things they’ve said and done, but there are plenty of people who think they’ll bump up the payroll once the team is closer to contending. Regardless of what has (or hasn’t) happened on the major-league level, their financial commitment to the minor leagues has been tremendous, and done much to reshape what was once the worst farm system in the majors into one that’s solidly in the middle of the pack, and trending toward the elite.

Nobody is talking about the Nationals when predicting the top of the NL East, and there’s obvious reasons. But is there any way the Nats could make a surprise challenge to the Phillies, Mets and Braves? And what is your optimistic win total for 2008?

Sure. If Dukes breaks out, Kearns hits 30 homers, Zimmerman turns into an MVP, Guzman hits like last season, Felipe Lopez turns back into an All-Star, Pena hits 40 homers, Shawn Hill stays healthy and pitches 180 innings, John Lannan (I can hear you booing) breaks out, Tim Redding pitches like the future ace he once was … get the picture?

All of them won’t happen. But a few of them could. A few of them happen, and the Nats are looking at .500. And as we’ve seen, if you’re .500 in the NL, you’re in a pennant race. If you forced me to make a realistic guess, I’d say 72-75 wins or so.

Regardless, with the new park and the potential on the roster, it’s going to be a fun season. Hopefully we won’t help you guys out as much as we did down the stretch last year. I think all you guys owe us one!

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Starting Today: 2008 Season Preview

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, March 28, 2008 09:53 AM Comments: 0

Spring is over — well, spring as in the Florida version of it. Actual spring is just beginning, but forget the details, spring training and all that jazz has finished.

Tonight the Phillies play the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park. Cole Hamels pitches for the Phils. Yesterday Adam Eaton and Tom Gordon got rocked against the Tigers in the Grapefruit League finale. That’s not what you want — not those guys.

The tune ups in frigid Philadelphia begin today, and after two of them, the Phils will head to Allentown for a big inter-franchise game against AAA Lehigh Valley. The season proper begins Monday.

Starting today, I’ll be giving you Phillies Nation’s 2008 Season Preview. Today and tomorrow I’ll look at the Major Leagues. I’ve been talking to bloggers representing all of our NL East rivals, and I’ll have previews of those teams. I’ll also provide my season preview for baseball, excluding our Phillies.

Sunday I’ll look at the Phillies — will they repeat or flounder?

Check back in throughout the day for more of our 2008 Season Preview.

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Check Out: Q&A At Mets Prospectus

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, March 27, 2008 08:47 PM Comments: 0

Just a quick note — I did a Phillies Q&A over at Mets Prospectus. In it I answer questions about Brad Lidge, who the team MVP is and the future of Carlos Carrasco, among other things. I may have been too optimistic with my starting rotation answer, but meh, I am an optimistic guy.

Thanks to MP’s Charlie Ilardi for the opportunity.

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Blackley Is Back: Giants Reject, Lefty Rejoins

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, March 27, 2008 02:41 PM Comments: 2

According to Chris Girandola of MLB.com, Rule V draft pick Travis Blackley was rejected by the San Francisco Giants. He chose to return to the Phillies, and has been assigned to AAA Lehigh Valley.

Good news. I like Blackley and I hope he regains his control in the pressure-less International League. Maybe he becomes an important bullpen or rotation cog by mid-season.

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Myers Confident In Rotation

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, March 27, 2008 11:59 AM Comments: 7

Good stuff from Randy Miller today. He talked to Brett Myers about the state of the Phillies starting rotation:

“It’s probably the best in the National League. That’s my opinion, and nobody is going to care about my opinion.”

Myers can definitely say he could be the best pitcher in the National League, well, if you look at his spring statistics. He and Cole Hamels form a fantastic 1-2 combination. After them, however, it’s anyone’s guess. We can’t say Kyle Kendrick will automatically duplicate his 2007 success, and Jamie Moyer is only getting older. Then there’s Adam Eaton. No explanation necessary.

I’m glad Brett’s putting his mouth out there — he’s been very outspoken this spring, a true leader. I just hope he’s somewhat correct about where the five-man group stands.

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