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Phillies Off-Season Action: Who’s Here, Who’s Not

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      Placido Polanco           Roy Halladay         Cliff Lee

After blogging straight through from the inception of this blog in April, 2006 through the end of the 2009 World Series, I decided to take some time off with the end of the Series on November 4.

While resting from blogging, I did try to keep on top of the Phillies’ frenetic off-season action leading up to the recent vintage “Mother of Blockbuster Deals” — where super-star pitcher Roy Halladay was acquired from the  Toronto Blue Jays for 3 top prospects while trading last year’s ace and post-season undefeated lefthander Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for 3 Mariner top prospects.  Phillies fans, who had fond visions of a monster Halladay/Lee top of the rotation had those dreams dashed.  But more about the Halladay/Lee moves in a subsequent post.  But for now, here is a pretty comprehensive list of reports following the ebb and flow of the Halladay/Lee Deal:

To begin, it appears that the Phils have parted ways with erstwhile starter/ reliever Brett Myers and let reliever Clay Condrey go to free agency. 

They signed free agent infielder Placido Polanco, who incidently preceded current incumbent Chase Utley at 2nd base.  Polanco  played some 3rd base during his stay with the Phillies and the consensus is that the Phils acquired an important cog here.  In my estimation, Polanco’s offensive stats reflect an offensive upgrade over Pedro Feliz at 3rd base.  Their respective 2009 offensive production in homers and RBIs are close to even, although career-wise Polanco averages more games played per season than Feliz while striking out less and drawing more walks.  Polanco’s career batting average is 50 points higher than Feliz and is  although, career-wise Feliz has 45 homers more than Polanco.  Defensively, they are both on a par.  I like the flexibility of Polanco in the lineup availing the Phillies consisted small-ball possibilities as well as the power of Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Utley and Jayson Werth.

The Phils also signed utility players Ross Gload and Juan Castro as well as  Brian Schneider to spell 1st string starting catcher Carlos Ruiz.

The top 4 of Phillies starting rotation shapes up at this early point as Halladay as the ace with lefthander Cole Hamels followed by Joe Blanton or young 2009 Rookie of the Year contender lefthander J.A. Happ, depending on manager Charlie Manuel’s preference as to the #3 and #4 spots.  It appears that ageless lefthander Jamie Moyer, youngster Kyle Kendrick and possibly Chan Ho Park battling for the 5th spot.  Here’s hoping that Hamels is able to comeback to his 2008 form which won him MVP in both the NLCS and the World Series and that Halladay’s work ethic has a positive rub-off on the rest of the pitching staff.

Consensus has it that Moyer has the edge due to the size of his contract and so it may well be that Kendrick and Park may again join Ryan Madson, a hopefully healthy and straight J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, closer Brad Lidge and some young hopefuls. 

The big challenge for the Phils will be ascertaining of Lidge is able to return to something approximating his 2008 form rather than his disastrous 2009 and making an insurance move to spell him should he again falter.  A steady, consistent bullpen, with Halladay completing games often enough to keep the ‘pen rested spells a 100 win season and a sure 4th straight trip to the post-season.  Go Phillies!

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