Jan
27

The Phillies and the state of New York baseball

By

As the Hot Stove League rounds third and heads for home, the Yankees are again in everyone’s crosshairs. With the World Series trophy once again ensconced in the Bronx, the Yankees are baseball team’s to beat, and as AL teams gear up to take on the champions, the runners-up have their eyes on them too.

During his first press conference of the year, the svelte-looking Charlie Manuel, manager of the NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies, spoke about the Yankees. First, he spoke about losing to the Yanks in November:

“If you go back and look and followed us playing the Rockies and the Dodgers, we played real good. We didn’t really play as good as we can against the Yankees. It might have been because of their bullpen and their pitching. We ran into a situation in the World Series with how it went, the Yankees were a well-balanced team with their offense. At the end, Rivera did what he’s been doing all these years. We can play better and we can pitch better offensively and defensively. I felt like in the ones they beat us, they were like a step ahead of us. We were always chasing them and trying to catch up. They were always ahead of us … It was who got the breaks and they got the good breaks. We can beat them. At the end of the World Series last year when I talked to our team, I told them that I feel like we owe the Yankees one … They got us.”

Later, he spoke again about facing the Yankees and beating them the next time around. “We can play with the Yankees. We could have beaten the Yankees but we didn’t,” he said. “That give us more determination and everything. We definitely want to get back to the World Series. I know that. I know we want to go back to the World Series and win it. It’s hard to go two years in a row to win the World Series. We got there but didn’t get it done. This year, we’re going to key on that. We’re going to keep our same philosophy.”

As we sit here on the edge of February, it’s not a stretch to imagine an October rematch between the Yankees and the Phillies. With Javier Vazquez aboard to beef up the rotation and Curtis Granderson patrolling the outfield, the Yankees have more depth from the get-go and are becoming younger in the field while maintaining their prodigious offensive output. The Red Sox have put together a defensive-minded team that should score runs, and they have the pitching to compete; the Mariners are the prohibitive favorites in the West; but the Yanks remain the American League’s team to beat.

In the National League, the Phillies are the clear-cut pre-season favorites. They will enjoy a full season of work from Roy Halladay and have a solid rotation behind him. Perhaps the Cardinals could unseat them; perhaps everything could go just right for the Marlins; perhaps the Rockies have the pieces to regain their 2007 NL title. As the Yankees are in the AL, though, the Phillies should be primed for a wire-to-wire run at their third consecutive National League crown.

As the Yankees and Phillies remain baseball’s crown jewels heading into 2010, I can’t help but think about the Mets, a historical rival to both teams and a rival to neither right now. In an e-mail to me and Joe last night, Mike expressed his condolences for Mets’ fans. In the face of their worst finish since 1993 and their second highest loss total since 1993, Omar Minaya and the Mets have basically stood pat. Their biggest move came when Jason Bay signed with them for too many years and too many dollars, and their loudest recent splash involved a move that netted them an outfielder who can’t hit, can’t field and hasn’t flashed much power lately.

It’s true that some of the Mets’ 2009 failures stemmed from bad luck. The team was not equipped to handle the injuries that befell them. But at the same time, they’re heading into 2010 with Fernando Nieve as their fifth starter and Omir Santos as their starting catcher. Bengie Molina saved the team from themselves, but they couldn’t find a league average innings eater type such as Jon Garland to shore up a shaky rotation.

I don’t root against the Mets. I have nothing against the Flushing Faithful, and I believe the city benefits with two competitive baseball teams fighting it out for a playoff spot and media attention. But as the Mets reach a recent nadir, I’m glad to be a Yankee fan. I’m glad to see Brian Cashman actively working to improve the team and generally knowing what does and does not work. If the stars align properly, the Yankees and Phillies should be back in the World Series, and as long as Omar Minaya is in charge in Queens, the Mets will be at home watching.

152 Comments»

  1. Big Juan says:

    I like the Rockies in the NL this year. Quite a bit.

  2. Reggie C. says:

    Both CMW & Erik Bedard remain homeless. Minaya could probably sign both even with the payroll restrictions the Mets aren’t admitting but that are obviously in place.

  3. Rose says:

    I don’t really see anybody that can compete with the Phillies in the NL. While the Yankees are a much better team, I feel that there are more teams in the AL that are able to sneak their way into the big dance than in the NL. The Phillies are stacked for many years with an AL offense and pretty good pitching to boot.

  4. Tom Zig says:

    Charlie Manuel makes it seem like the Yankees hoodwinked him.

  5. Esteban says:

    Word. I don’t get it when Yankees fans hate the Mets or Mets fans hate the Yankees. I’m a Yankees fan because I’m from NY and my dad is a Yankees fan, not because the Yankees are a more virtuous team or because they win a lot. I don’t really see the Yankees and Mets as rivals. It’s good for NY when both teams are good.

  6. Let's Talk About Tex Baby says:

    With Oliver Perez and John Maine already in their rotation the Mets need a constant more than they need another maybe like Wang or Bedard. Jarrod Washburn’s still out there and he’d probably benefit a lot from pitching in the NL at CitiField.

  7. You know who the Mets should sign?

    http://www.almostathletes.com/.....gurine.jpg (safe)

    He can read the defense. That’s gotta be worth something.

  8. Jeremy says:

    They should have signed some combination of Marquis, Davis, Garland and Piniero. None of these guys is great, but the Mets could really benefit from some league-average starters to fill out their rotation.

  9. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Unless the Mets are trading for a good starting pitcher which I don’t think they can do without making a hole somewhere else, they aren’t going anywhere.

  10. Juke Early says:

    Yes, Charlie, the Phillies do owe the NYY one. And the Yankees aim to collect on it too. BTW how you liking that @#%&*!ed up Wx in VA this Winter? I know – it blows worse than Boston!

    Mets need a left side of the infield, a real number 2 starter & a healthy Beltran. And a new GM, not necessarily in that order.

    BTW – that is some moniker Archimedes Torquemada! a waterboard rack would likely be a Hellish invention…

  11. Riddering says:

    Manuel: And we’d have gotten away with the World Series, if it wasn’t for the Yankees’ darn pitching and timely hitting!

  12. A.D. says:

    So what are we looking at for 2010 mets opening day line-up?

    Reyes SS
    Castillo 2B
    Wright 3B
    Bay LF
    Francoeur RF
    Pagan CF
    Murphey 1B
    Santos C
    Pitcher?

  13. bexarama says:

    The focus on the Yankees by like every manager is kind of weird. I know we’re World Champions (WOOOO!!!!) and just generally awesome, but I’ve heard Scioscia, Gardenhire, Francona, and now Manuel saying things about how they need to/are able to handle the Yankees. Scioscia’s bizarre “I don’t care if they spend $350M, we have the team to beat them” rant tops ‘em all. Hey Mike, we spent “only” $200M in 2009 and beat the Angels in the ALCS – and the Angels (at least on paper) were much stronger last year.

    • bexarama says:

      Also, these managers (Francona aside, I guess) should worry about their own divisions…

    • Rose says:

      In all fairness to these managers…they are asked about the Yankees constantly. It’s not as though they are constantly bringing up the Yankees because they can’t stand all of the talk about them…they are generally being asked about the Yankees in an interview or something and they are responding as they should “I think we can beat them.” What kind of manager would you be if you answered a question about a team saying “they’re much better than us…we’re just going to play and see what happens…”

  14. dalelama says:

    My concern for the Yanks in the next World Series (yes I only consider the season a success if they win it all as I am spoiled)is they lost two of their four most clutch hitters and replaced them with two players who have a history of underperforming in the World Series…as it stands now we will be seeing more Brett “Watch the Third Srike Go By” Gardner who had a perfect .000 triple slash against the Phillies…Posada, Swisher, Cano, and Teixeira all have a history of serious World Series under performance…while Jeter and Rodriguez historically perform close to their season averages in the “Big Dance”, Matsui and Damon were the only two starters from last year’s team and this year’s batch of projected starters who have performed better in the Series than the regular season…so my biggest concern is we crush up until the World Series and then afterwards curse the fact we let two big time gamers loose…fortunately we got rid of Melky who fell on the “Dance” floor also.

    • Tom Zig says:

      Matsui sucked in the ALCS though

    • My concern for the Yanks in the next World Series… is they lost two of their four most clutch hitters and replaced them with two players who have a history of underperforming in the World Series

      False.

      We lost two clutch players and replaced them with two players who DON’T have a history in the World Series. Johnson and Granderson are not clutch nor are they non-clutch. They’re unknown entities. Impossible to tell yet.

      They do have youth and excellent regular season track records on their side, though.

      Oh, and mixing in a hard return or a paragraph wouldn’t hurt, you know.

    • bexarama says:

      Derek Jeter, 2000 WS: .409/.480/.864/1.344
      Derek Jeter, 2001 WS: .148/.179/.259/.438

      Almost like players go through hot and cold streaks, hmmm.

      • bexarama says:

        Or rather, you can’t say Teixeira, Cano, and Swisher have “a history” of serious underperformance in the WS based on a sample size of 1.

      • Joe says:

        Derek Jeter, 2001 WS: .148/.179/.259/.438

        Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling say hi. Nobody hit in that World Series, it was a miracle it went 7 games.

        And no I have no shame making excuses for Jeter.

        • bexarama says:

          Yeah, the minute I posted that I was like “durrr, in 2000 he was facing Mets pitching and in 2001 he was facing Johnson/Schilling” (didn’t the Yankees have the lowest batting average, ever, in a 7-game series in 2001? And it was under .200?). So really, it’s the SSS thing more.

          • bexarama says:

            Yeah, not to go too off-topic, but NYY batting in the 2001 World Series:
            .183/.240/.288/.528

            ARI pitching:
            1.94 ERA, 63 K, 16 BB, 0.892 WHIP
            65 IP, and Johnson and Schilling pitched 38.2 of those innings o_O

            LOL how were we two outs away from winning that?!

    • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis says:

      nick johnson 03 world series:

      17 abs

      curtis granderson 06 world series:

      21 abs

      teixeira: 22 ws abs
      swisher: 15 ws abs
      cano: 22 ws abs

      posada: was the balls in the 98 ws, meh in 99, bad in 00 and 01 and 03, and meh in 09.

      he is the only one with any sample size worth looking at and even that is only 95 abs

      please. your points lack substance. you have brought shame to the real dhalai lama

    • Rose says:

      Well we couldn’t have kept Damon and Matsui forever anyway. We would have had to look for alternatives at some point…and quite frankly, Granderson and Nick Johnson (at DH) is A-OK in my book for replacements at the moment. Oh yeah, and the addition of Javy Vasquez too.

      Granderson, Johnson, and Vasquez > Matsui, Damon, and Melky

      Especially when you realize Granderson, Johnson, and Vasquez are in their prime…Matsui has time bomb knees, Damon is closing in on his decline, and Melky’s 09 season has a good chance of being the best of his career.

    • Jeremy says:

      Swisher, Cano and Teixeira have played in exactly one WS among them (2009), so they have no real WS “history” to speak of.

      And if we learned anything from 2009, it’s that if a player can succeed in the regular season, he can succeed in the playoffs too.

      • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis says:

        And if we learned anything from 2009, it’s also that if a player can succeed in the regular season, he can fail utterly and miserably in one series of the playoffs and then greatly succeed in the next round of the playoffs too.

        like dalelama’s clutch boy matsui

        • dalelama says:

          BA OBP SLG OPS
          .389 .463 .750 1.213

          World Series Godzilla !!!

          • jsbrendog officially approves signing Fernando Tatis says:

            reading comprehension fail.

            he can fail utterly and miserably in one series of the playoffs and then greatly succeed in the next round of the playoffs too.

            matsui in alds and alcs = garbage

            matsui in ws = amazing.

            nto to mention he doesnt have a history of overachieving in the ws because he was welll below average in 03. so now, he has 1 great performance, and one below average but meh.

            posada, one of your “failures” has in his first 2 ws appearances, 98 and 99 one amazing one and one below avg meh one. so, when matsui has been to 1-4 more ws and has continued to be at least meh then we can talk.

    • Big Juan says:

      If you’re going to judge Gardner on his performance in the World Series after coming back from an injury and not having regular at-bats at any point the rest of the season…

      Well it’s just not smart.

    • Bo says:

      it’s hilarious watching people try to defend Gardners bat.

      keep it comin’

  15. steve s says:

    Hating the Mets is all about schadenfreude and not the results of a hot rivalry as the Mets would have to win a lot more than twice in 48 years to rival the Yanks. Any Yankee fan who listens to Gary Cohen’s Yankee hate rants from time to time will have no problem justifying their hatred of all things Metropolitan. By the way, most Met fans will tell you that its Yankee fans they hate most of all so taking pleasure at the Met woes is some hate coming right back at them!

  16. Steve B. says:

    In 1996, the Atlanta Braves tried to repeat as World Champions, but the Yankees backslapped them in six games….

    In 2009, the Philidelphia Phillies tried to repeat as World Champions, but the Yankees backslapped them in six games…

    How dare another team try to repeat as World Champions in the face of the Yankees !! (except in 1976 ;))

    • Steve B. says:

      Forgot to mention the 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers and the 1958 Milwaukee Braves, who also TRIED to repeat as World Champions…but again both teams were denied by the New York Yankees.

      • bexarama says:

        During the WS I think they mentioned that 11 National League teams have tried to repeat as champions, and 8 times they faced the Yankees. Wow. They didn’t mention how many of those guys lost to the Yankees, though, and my facts could be off.

        • Steve B. says:

          Forget to mention the 1922 New York Giants, who were denied by the New York Yankees in 1923.

          AND the 1942 St. Louis Cardinals, who were denied by the New York Yankees in 1943….

          So that’s 1923, 1943, 1956, 1958, 1996, and 2009, where the Yankees denied the previous World Champion a repeat.

          Nice..

  17. MannyNYbasebalL says:

    By no means am i trying to say that Omar is an elite GM but can you really place the full blame on him when he has to ask for permission from the Wilpons to sneeze?
    The Wilpons have to be up there with the Dolans as some of the worst owners in sports. Omar gets handcuffed by Jeff Wilpon in even the smallest moves, maybe if he had the freedom a GM deserves the Mets would be seeing a little more success.

  18. Bo says:

    The biggest move of the yr and the one that will cost the Phillies the title is trading Lee for prospects.

    When the combo of Lee/Halladay would have all but guaranteed them a WS appearance and a great shot at ring #2 for this group.

    That mistakeis further enhanced with them signing Blanton to the same contract lee got.

  19. [...] Benjamin Kabak at River Ave. Blues in a post entitled “The Phillies and the state of New York baseball” puts it this way… [...]

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