Tuesday, March 31, 2009

House Cleaning & Pirates WTF?!

The Phillies are beginning to do some house cleaning with the release of Marcus Giles and the minor league assignments of John Mayberry Jr., Carlos Carrasco, Jason Ellison, Pablo Ozuna, and Mike Koplove. This is on the heels of the Ronny Paulino trade, so the 25-man roster that will be heading north is sorting itself out.

That leaves Miguel Cairo still fighting for the righthanded bench bat slot, but remember Jenkins and Stairs are still employed by the Phillies. There's talk that since the Phils don't need a 5th starter until April 20th, they could go with an 11 man pitching staff until then, thus opening up a roster spot for Cairo. Gary Majewski remains in the relief mix, but the final bullpen spot is expected to be taken by newly acquired lefty Jack Taschner (although he does have an option remaining), as it looks to be Happ winning the 5th spot in the rotation with Ho Park heading to relief. Pitcher and Rule 5 pick Bobby Mosebach is still in camp, but it's very unlikely the Phils would keep him on the 25-man roster all season, nor should they.

Worth Reading: Jayson Stark takes a look at the new era of Moneyball and names Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Cole Hamels to the "All-Money Player Team", Chase Utley to the "All Pay-Per-View Team", Jimmy Rollins to the "All-Chapter 11 Team", Miguel Cairo, Jamie Moyer, and Matt Stairs to the "Most Traded Stocks" team, Jason Donald to the "All-Futures Market Team", and Jayson Werth and Citizens Back Park to the "All-Moneyball-Name Team".

WTF Pittsburgh?!:
As if the Pirates haven't already sucked long enough (16 straight years with a losing record), they're taking measures to ensure sucking even longer. They've become so accustomed to sucking they don't even know how to exist without sucking. Hence the opening of negotiations with Jack Wilson on a contract extension. Wilson is a burden to the team, and they should have traded him one the many opportunities that were presented over the past couple seasons. But no, Jack remains a Bucco, a high-paid one at that, but doesn't really do anything to help them win aside from playing decent defense. Wilson is set to make $7.25M this season and has an option for $8.4M in 2010. Why the hell does Pittsburgh need an aging shortstop with a career line of: .269/.312/.375? No wonder this franchise is in the shitter.

Another crazy story of a different ilk is the Jose Tabata saga. The 20 year old is apparently married to a lunatic, kidnapping, fake pregnancy selling 43 year old woman. Seriously, WTF?! From the MLB article- In addition to the kidnapping charges against his wife, Tabata has also learned this week of other unknowns truths about her. Tabata did not have knowledge of his wife's conviction for fraud, arson and theft in 1999 and her subsequent 33 months in jail. He would have been 11 at the time of those crimes. That's soap opera worthy right there.


Monday, March 30, 2009

New 2009 Intro Music

A few of the Phillies batters have decided to change their into music for this season. WSBGM's was lucky enough to learn of these changes ahead of time.

Pedro Feliz - The freeswinging Feliz doesn't want a base on balls. He wants a three run homer and he's willing to sacrifice a few dozen double-plays to get one. And you don't hit homers by taking pitches. So, Feliz will stroll to the plate this year to "Walk" by Pantera.

"...Walk. What did you say?
...Walk. Are you talking to me?"

Chase Utley - From "Boo F You" to "WFC," Utley doesn't want to hear your opinions on foul language. And he'll let you know with every at-bat as "Censorshit" by the Ramones will be played.

"Hey hey all you all you senator's wives
Better take a good look at your own lives
Before you go preach to me
Your definition of obscenity"

Jimmy Rollins - "Team to beat." "100 wins." That's cool, but now the Phils are WFC and Rollins doesn't have to do any talking anymore. He can just point to the ring. Rollins' intro music this season will be "Nothing to Prove" by New York punk band H2O.

"Me and all my friends we got nothing to prove, nothing to lose."

Ryan Howard - Howard signed a nice new contract. He can hit homers. But the fielding...is still a question. So this year, Howard's theme song will be a unique take on a Beatles classic, "Can't Buy Me Glove".

"I'll hit you a three run homer my friend if it makes you feel alright
I'll knock you in from third my friend if it makes you feel alright
But I don't care too much for money, cause money can't buy me glove."

Shane Victorino - As thefightins.com and their terrific t-shirt designs have documented, the Flyin' Hawaiian has a knack for giving a great interview. This year though, he can let is intro music do the talking for him, as he will come out to "No Questions Asked" by Fleetwood Mac.

"Night after night
No questions asked"


Sunday, March 29, 2009

One More Week

It's been the longest spring training in the history of Major League Baseball and I for one am ready for it to come to an end so that Phillies can begin their quest of repeating as World Series champions. One more week is all we have to put up with of meaningless stats, scores, and win/loss totals. Next Sunday night on April 5th the season begins with the Philadelphia Phillies and Brett Myers taking on the Atlanta Braves and Derek Lowe. I wish I had a remote like Adam Sandler in Click, so I could just fast-forward through this week.

WSBGM's Phantasy League 3:
(1st Round Draft Results)
1. Bumpin' Utleys- Hanley Ramirez
2. Yuengling Lagers- Manny Ramirez
3. Dickie's Thongs- Albert Pujols
4. Grand Pappies- Jimmy Rollins
5. Scotty Baseball- Jose Reyes
6. Asheboro A$$holes- David Wright
7. David Wrong- Grady Sizemore
8. Burrell Priapism- Ryan Howard
9. Dick Allen Thumpers- Miguel Cabrera
10. The Mulholland 45's- Chase Utley
11. Prystline- Ryan Braun
12. Hoochie Cooches- Evan Longoria
13. Stairs' Ass Hammers- Josh Hamilton
14. Jimmy Rollers 09- Ian Kinsler
15. World F'in Champs- Mark Teixeria
16. Chase Utley's Hip- Justin Morneau

Looks like the Phils beat the Mets again, 3 picks to 2. For those of you that don't know what priapism is, consider yourself now informed. Isn't it beautiful how David Wright was selected right before David Wrong got to pick?


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Paulino Out, Taschner In

Ronny Paulino already gone? Everyone's favorite 33 year old rookie, Chris Coste, has secured the backup catching gig, which left Ron-Paul without a job. Just like Kris Benson the season before him, Paulino will never officially be considered a Phucco, as he only saw MLB time with the Buccos, but never the Phils. But where did he go? To the San Francisco Giants for all of 3 nanoseconds, then to the Florida Marlins. The Phils got a trash reliever in Jack Taschner, and he'll surely be surrendering crucial runs by mid-April, and I'll be calling for his head...or at least his pitching arm.

Taschner has pitched for the San Francisco Treats for the past 4 seasons, posting a career line of: 8-4 record, 178 gm, 140 ip, 73 bb, 123 k, 5.01 era, 1.57 whip. Unlike Rolaids, that does not spell "relief". He's a lefty, but lefties kill him: .288 average, .758 OPS. For all the good Amaro has done, this is definitely not part of it. Bad trade.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Phillies Phlashback Phriday: 5 Horses

Pictured from left to right- Tommy Greene, Curt Schilling, Danny Jackson, Terry Mulholland, and Ben Rivera.

I found this gem at a Phillies forum called Back She Goes and I knew I had to share it with all of you. This bodacious poster was of the 1993 Phils rotation, and between the 5 of them they racked up a record of 69-40 with 1019.7 innings pitched and 712 k's. That's an average of over 200+ innings per pitcher, unheard nowadays. Gotta love the baseballs in the holsters, cowboy hats, and the triple belt system Mulholland's got going on. This is seriously the coolest thing I've seen since a Vanilla Ice video.

*Sully Baseball has put together a team of players developed within the organization and one of players brought in from the outside for the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates.

*WSBGM's Phantasy Baseball draft is tomorrow at 10 am. Get ready to be dominated!

*Tomorrow is also WSBGM's 3rd birthday. Damn, we're getting old.

*Sorry about the Vanilla Ice video, had to.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Phillies 2009 Promotions - Part 2

So Taguchi Bat Day - Bat day is always one of the best giveaways of the season. This season though, the Phil might have made a mistake. On July 24th, all fans 14 and under will receive a So Taguchi Model Louisville Slugger. This bat, modeled after the one Taguchi used all season long, has a tapered black handle but no barrel. When asked about using a bat with no barrel, Taguchi said, "Bat light. Easy to swing. Get through strike zone very quick. I get around on fastball. And I never break bat...so I have that going for me, which is nice."

Utley Soap-on-a-Rope - The majority of fans had no problem with potty-mouthed Chase Utley's premeditated spontaneous act of impulsive vulgarity. Then there are a minority of stupid fucks concernced citizens that wrote complaints such as, "Is there no platform that is sacred anymore?" or "How am I to explain such profanity to my child?" Hopefully all of these rightous morons show up August 20th against the D-backs when the Phils will hand out a "Chase Utley Soap-on-a-Rope" to all fans. So much soap will be handed out, all of the mouths in the Delaware Valley will be able to be washed out.

Greg Dobbs Pinch-Hit Sweepstakes - Last season, Greg Dobbs broke the single season Phillies record for most pinch hits in a season. But Dobb's subsitition capabilities are not limited to the field, and he's going to prove it to one lucky fan. The winner of a random drawing during the Braves game on August 28th will receive the "pinch hit" services of Greg Dobbs for one day next offseason. Does the wife want to go shopping for new furniture during an Eagles game? It it your anniversary but you'd rather sit at home, watch an old John Wayne movie, eat Doritos and get drunk? Is your wife going into labor and you don't really need to see that again? If you are the lucky winner, you can pick up the phone, tell Dobbs to loosen up and sit back and enjoy a pounder of Old Milwaukee as he takes care of all the crap you don't want to do that day. [Disclaimer: The Phillies assume no responsability if your wife likes Greg Dobbs better than you.]

Brett Myers Tattoo Removal Kit - I know there are some of you out there running around with bad tattoos - a tribal armband, a ladybug on your foot, a butterfly anywhere, any form of tramp stamp, an ex-wife's name or like Brett, a tribal wristband. But you're in luck, on September 3rd against the Giants, the Phillies will be handing out a "Brett Myers Tattoo Removal Kit" to all fans over 12 with a bad tattoo. The kit includes one gallon of "removal juice" (bleach), four sheets of "scrubbing pads" (low grit sandpaper), triple antibiotic ointment and three days worth of Advil.

Bobby Cox Talking Bottle Opener - On September 28th against the Astros, all fans 21 and over or with a college ID will receive the "Bobby Cox Talking Bottle Opener." Why would the Phils give away a product with the manager of a rival team on it? It's because when this bottle opener is used to crack open a cold one, it plays an audio clip from one of the most amusing and relatively common occurances of a Phillies-Braves game - Bobby Cox getting thrown out of the game. The following is a transcript of the audio clip:

Umpire - Ball four
Cox - That's a f****** strike.
Umpire - Enough Cox.
Cox - You're a f****** moron.
Umpire - That's it. You're outta here.
Cox - F*** you! I'm going home to domestically abuse my spouse.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Phillies 2009 Promotions - Part 1

Rafael Furcal No-Web Glove - In honor of Furcal's defensive prowess during last year's NLCS, the Phillies will be giving away a glove modeled after the one he used against the Phils. As you can see in the picture, Furcal's glove differs from most in that it lacks the webbing. With this glove that will be given away on April 17th in a game against the Padres, kids all over the Delaware Valley can easily recreate the fifth inning of Game 5 of last year's NLCS.

TJ Simers Feminine Hygiene Day - Sports announcers/writers/bloggers rarely get their own product line. Harry Carey had a personalized set of whiskey bottles. The Phils gave away Bill Conlin oversized Hawaiian t-shirts a few years ago. Marv Albert once had a sponsorship for a brand of whips and leather jumpsuits. But that is about it. Until now. Inspired by Mr. Simers' ridiculous, ignorant, and uneducated "articles" in the LA Times last season, the Phils will hand out some Simers Model Summer's Eve to all fans April 28th against the Nationals. It's pretty self explanatory.

Ruben Amaro 8-Ball - So you want to be a GM, eh? Here's your chance to practice at home. On May 3rd against the Mets, all fans will receive the "Ruben Amaro Magic 8 Ball" With this magical tool, all of your GM-oriented questions are answered. Some helpful hints that will be found in this product are "Don't Offer Arbitration,"Offer Arbitration," "Overpay For A Leftfielder," "Give Millions To A Senior Citizen," and "Beats Me, Call Pat Gillick And Ask Him."

Kerwin Danley Umpire Kit Night - All fans 14 and under attending the May 14th game against the Marlins will receive an umpire kit inspired by the inept playoff performance of umpire Kerwin Danley. The kit will contain one pair of solid black "Ray Charles" glasses, one blind guy cane, and a dog on a leash.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's Going On?

Quick recap of what's going on in the Phillies world.

*Curt Schilling officially announced his retirement yesterday on his blog 38 Pitches. Now the debate of whether he's a hall-of-famer begins.

*Kyle Kendrick, Lou Marson, and Jason Donald have all been optioned to the minors. Donald was the only one of that group making a positive impression this spring, but some Triple A schooling will be good for him.

*Cole Hamels 4th starter? Well, not really, but he may be ready to go by the 4th game of the season.

*Ultimate fighting, Cold Stone Creamery owning relief pitcher Rudy Seanez reportedly turned down an offer to return to the Phils this season. He's said to have interest from some other teams, but he's mulling retirement.

*Miguel Cairo (batting .286 with 3 hr) and Marcus Giles (batting .182) are still fighting for a bench job. However, that would mean either Geoff Jenkins or Matt Stairs would have to be traded or released (both not likely).

*The Phils helped out 5th starter hopeful JA Happ yesterday by supplying 8 runs to defeat the Yankees 8-3. Happ went 5 innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned), 5 hits, and 3 walks. Condrey, Eyre, and Lidge followed him in relief working scoreless innings.

*For what it's worth (and probably not much), Eric Bruntlett is batting .340 this spring with a .971 OPS, 12 r, 6 dbl, 1 hr, 6 hr, 10 bb, and 6 sb.

*Cole Hamels pitches in a minor league game today and the other 5th starter hopeful Chan Ho Park goes against the Blue Jays.

*Rumor- righthanded batting, utility infielder Jeff Baker is out of option with the Colorado Rockies and they're looking to swap him for pitching. Ken Rosenthal lists the Phils and Kyle Kendrick as a possible match. Baker is 27 years old and can play 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and OF. Career line: .262/.319/.468 over 219 games and 4 seasons with the Rox.

*We Should Be GM's has made it through the first round of the "Best Sports Blog Name Tourney" and voting for round 2 begins today. Vote for us!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Back to the Minors

Does a 1-3 record through 4 games over 14.2 innings pitched with a 9.20 era while allowing 2.18 runners per inning to reach base sound like a viable 5th starter to you? If your answers is no, then you're in agreement with the Phillies decision to send Kyle Kendrick back to the minors. If you're answer is yes, you must be an Adam Eaton fan.

The competition for the 5th spot is now down to JA Happ and Chan Ho Park.


Phunny Phillies Commercials

The Charlie Manuel Bobblehead:

Myers and Victorino screwing around:

Funny Foam Finger:

Some random dude for AT&T:

Reading Phillies Screwball:


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Moyer's Assault on the Record Books

While snooping around the Baseball-Reference Leaders this morning, I noticed Jamie Moyer is working his way up in many categories of the record books (some good, some bad). Grand Pappy is 46 years old after all and has pitched 22 seasons, so it's only natural that his name is littered among the all-time pitching greats.

(Ranked in Top 100)
Wins- 48th/246
Losses- 60th/185
Games Started- 24th/584
Innings- 55th/3746.7
Strikeouts- 46th/2248
Walks- 81st/1074
Hits Allowed- 46th/3876
Homeruns Allowed- 5th/464
Hit Batters- 26th/128

Some of Moyer's teammates have joined him in the Top 100 of some categories. Chan Ho Park has hit 130 batters, which ranks him 22nd all-time. Ho Park is also ranked 47th in career earnings with $81,756,945 (that's just wrong). Closer Brad Lidge ranks 56th with a 164 saves. Chase Utley has the 54th best slugging percentage with .526 and 64th ranked OPS with .901.

Active former-Phils that are in the Top 100 of the record books: Bobby Abreu, Scott Rolen, Jim Thome, Aaron Rowand, Tom Gordon, and Billy Wagner.

Interesting Tid-Bit: Only 13 players have ever pitched in 1000+ games and 6 of them have been employed by the Phillies (Dan Plesac, Mike Timlin, Kent Tekulve, Jose Mesa, Roberto Hernandez, and Mike Jackson).


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Phillies in April's Maxim Magazine

I was flipping through the pages of April's edition of Maxim magazine and came across an advertisement for EAS MyoPlex (Energy*Athletics*Strength), which claims to "refuel and build lean muscle". The face of the advertisement was none other than WFC second baseman Chase Utley. I just hope this chocolaty creamy nutrition shake doesn't contain any of the shit that got JC Romero suspended for 50 games. Chutley even has his own EAS webpage.

Maxim also has its "2009 Baseball Preview" featuring a Q&A with Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard in the "Return of the Fat Man", Chase Utley in the "Second Coming of the Second Baseman", "The Curious Case of Jamie Moyer", and Hamels and Utley both members of the "All-Maxim Team 2009".

*Don't forget to vote for us in the "Best Sports Blog Tourney" at Zoner Sports. We are holding on by a slim margin. Voting for the 1st round ends Sunday.

*More Hardball wants to know who has the hottest fans in Major League Baseball. It's the playoffs and the Phils are pitted against the Cubbies.

*Check out these pimpin' jerseys the Phils will be rockin' Opening Night.

*Great news for the Phillies, the Mets are going to send a tee out to "pitch" every 5th day.

*Scott Rolen doesn't want anyone to know, but he was indeed rooting for the Phils in the World Series. I still hate the whiny bawl-baby pissy-pants.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama Talks Baseball With WSBGM's

Since there isn't much else going on these days, President Obama has been making many special appearances lately. He was on ESPN breaking down the March Madness brackets. And last night he was on Jay Leno's show talking about economies and bowling and such. Since he's been doing so many entertainment guest spots, we reached out to the President and requested an interview. Luckily, we were given a brief phone interview with the commander-in-chief. Here's how things went.

WSBGM's: Mr. President, what do you think of Adam Eaton's time with the Phillies?

: It was like Special Olympics, or something.

: Ouch. That's a pretty rough assessment. It was bad though. Speaking of bad, did you see Game 5 of the NLCS last season when Rafael Furcal had two errors in one inning?

: It was like Special Olympics, or something.

: No, it was actually the NLCS. So Taguchi pinch hit in that game.

: It was like Special Olympics, or something.

: He did ground out to second, but I don't think anyone measured his IQ...anyway, are you throwing out the first pitch anywhere this year?

: I have been practicing.

: Great. You threw the first pitch at a White Sox game last year, right?

: It was like Special Olympics, or something.

: Don't be so hard on yourself, chief. Last question, have you ever read our blog, "We Should Be GM's."

: It was like Special Olympics, or something.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Phillies Roundtable Discussion: Preseason Edition

WSBGM's has gathered some of the phinest minds in the phlogsphere for a Phillies roundtable discussion about the upcoming season. There will also be an All-Star break and Postseason edition.

Purple= Jason Weitzel of BeerLeaguer
Orange= Meech.one of The Fightins
Black= Carson of WSBGM's
Red = Doc of Balls, Sticks, & Stuff
Blue= Corey of WSBGM's
Green= Erik Grissom of Phillies Flow

1. Who is the single most important offensive player?
JW- I'm tempted to list Jimmy Rollins here, but I'm going with the bigman. Power is at such a premium, and as we saw last season with the huge gap in home run and RBI totals, Ryan Howard stands alone in this department. Certainly J-Roll and Chase Utley are vital components and supply way more offense than is expected out of their positions, but Howard, as cleanup hitter in a World Championship lineup, is obviously very special.

Meech- Not to completely bitch out on answering the question, but I really don't think there is *one* offensive Phillie who is more important than the rest. Last year, they all went through their fair share of slumping (including Utley's 0-for-24 funk in mid July) and there was always someone else to pick up the slack. BUT, gun to my head, I'm gonna go with Big Brown.

Carson- Jimmy Rollins. Ryan Howard can be a one man juggernaut at times, but if the Phils want to have a consistent offensive attack, then it starts with the man atop the lineup, which is J-Roll. There's a saying, "As Jimmy goes, so do the Phillies", and from my observations over the past decade I believe this to be true. He has pop in his bat, is great on the base paths, and seems to jump start the offense.

Doc- Jimmy Rollins. When he's got his quick bat going and running the bases well, he sets up the big guys later in the lineup. His off year last year was one reason the offense was down slightly. It's amazing to think that he had an off year, yet they won the World Series anyway.

Corey- If I have to pick one, I would say Ryan Howard. No one can replace his power potential and he can carry the team for weeks at a time during his hot streaks.

EG- Jimmy Rollins. Coming off a weak 2008, the Phils need him getting the offense going again at the top of the lineup. Werth is a strong second, though, given how left-handed the Phils will be in '09.

2. Who means more to the Phillies- Cole Hamels or Brad Lidge?
JW- On the whole, I'd say Lidge meant more to the season than Hamels did, but in the post-season, obviously you see what an ace like Hamels can do for you. This is a very difficult choice. I know what happens to teams when they don't have a good closer; they go nowhere. So for this exercise, and realizing Lidge probably won't replicate 2008, I'm still going to go with Lidge's saves over Hamels' wins, realizing Hamels was screwed out of a number of wins because of an ineffective offense.

Meech- Cole Hamels, and it's not even close. No disrespect to Lidge, but I think closers are overrated in general. Besides, I'll always take the guy who is capable of pitching 250+ innings with a sub-3.00 ERA over the guy who does similar in 80 innings.

Carson- Hollywood Hamels. Hamels has truly become the staff ace and is primed for a huge season. He always sets his goal at 20 wins, and if healthy I believe he can achieve that this season. However, just imagine if Lights Out Lidge would have blown 4-5 saves like a typical closer does over the course of a season, and suddenly we're not even in the playoffs let alone World Series champs.

Doc- As the roster is presently composed, I would say King Cole. If Lidge were to go down, you could use Ryan Madson, closer by committee, or some other way of patching it together. But if Hamels were to go down, where else are you going to get someone to fill all of his innings at a 3.30 ERA or so? You're not. As a matter of fact, Hamels is my biggest concern going into the year, given all the innings he pitched last season and post-season.

Corey- Hamels. A number one starter is extremely more valuable than a number one closer. It's not even close.

EG- The Phils wouldn't have won the World Series last year without either of them, but Hamels is more important just because he gives them so many more innings.

3. What player can we expect bigger things from this season?
JW- How about Chooch? He was a pathetic hitter last season, so one can only hope for some improvement there. Ruiz is a guy who needs to sit once in a while. That's why they brought in Paulino. Hopefully they can give him occasional breaks to keep him fresh. He fell into several miserable slumps last season, and had they had a better backup, Manuel would have been able to sit him more.

Meech- I'd have to go with Young James. I think he suffered through a little bit of MVP hangover last year and never really got going. I wouldn't be surprised if his run total of 76 last year is almost doubled.

Carson- Carlos Ruiz. The man hit at every level of the minors (.275 avg/.750 OPS), so I'm counting on a return to the .250ish area with an OPS around .700. This would been a boon to the bottom of the lineup.

Doc- A lot of players. One of the interesting thing about last year's team was that a lot of the position players had off years and yet they still won the World Series. The case could be made that the big three of Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard all had down years and I expect all of them to bounce back a bit.

Corey- Pedro Feliz. Most people want to talk about how Chase Utley's hip affected his numbers, but Pedro's back injury limited him as well. I'm not expecting an average over .260, but I am expecting 20-25 homers and 70-80 RBIs.

EG- Joe Blanton. Aside from giving the Phillies more than 13 starts in 2009, I think the starts will also be better.

4. What player is most likely to disappoint?
JW- This doesn't jive from what everyone has come to expect from a contract year, but doesn't Brett Myers always figure out a way to disappoint us? He was good for a month and a half last and the rest of the time he was wretched. He hasn't won back the trust of this individual. Offensively, I'd go with Raul Ibanez because of his age and the way veterans seem to struggle, especially coming from low-pressure situations. Also have to figure that if Ibanez bats sixth, those RBI chances will not be there.

Meech- Unfortunately, I'm going with Jamie Moyer. As much as it pains me to say it, he's the one guy where I get the feeling things could fall apart at any minute. He's old, man. And everyone just takes it for granted that he's gonna win 15 games and show up every fifth day.

Carson- Scott Eyre. With JC out, Eyre becomes the "reliable" lefty, but the problem is he hasn't been all that reliable over his career. Lefthanded batters have a lifetime .242 avgerage and .723 OPS against him. He was fine in his limited role late last season, but for the first 50 games of the season he's going to be handling more crucial situations, and that scares me.

Doc- Carlos Ruiz. His defensive skills will be fine, he'll do just as well in that regard as last year. However, I think he has a really, really slow bat and I honestly think his offense will be similar to last year's, which is a disappointment.

Corey- Raul Ibanez. Not having Burrell around is already a disappointment. This guy can go .285-25-90 and I'm still going to be disappointed that Burrell is in Tampa.

EG- Lidge and Durbin, but mostly just the bullpen in general. Lidge and Durbin were unbelievable last year, Lidge especially. I don't think it's reasonable to expect near perfection from them again.

5. Predict the biggest surprise of the 2009 season.
JW- Ryan Howard will bat over .300 again and actually start hot for once.

Meech- Joe Blanton. I'm gonna go ahead and pencil him in for 16 wins and 35 homers.

Carson- Jayson Werth hits righties enough to remain in the everyday lineup to collect 500+ at bats and a 30-30 season (homeruns/steals).

Doc- Nationally, the biggest surprise will be that the Phillies will outpace the Mets again. Once again, everyone seems to be picking the Mets ahead of the Phillies. I just don't buy it.

Corey- Charlie Manuel's secret life as a transvestite hooker is uncovered when Howard Eskin is arrested trying to pick him up from a corner somewhere in Kensington.

EG- Jamie Moyer retires before the end of the year.

6. Biggest concern heading into the 2009 season.
JW- The lefty situation in the bullpen, since Scott Eyre is the only one. Eyre was called on for one or two outs last season, but now it's possible that's he'll be asked to work complete innings or even two innings depending on the situation. There will be a domino effect from that. Guys like Chan Ho Park or Clay Condrey will be asked to handle jobs they probably shouldn't handle. I'm not expecting the 2007-2008version of J.C. Romero when he returns, either.

Meech- I'm concerned about the 3-4-5 hitters all being left-handed, but even more so the lack of left-handers in the bullpen. Scott Eyre? Eh. He's okay I guess, but game #51 can't come soon enough.

Carson- Health. Utley's hip, Feliz's back, Ruiz's neck, Werth's many minor dings, Lidge's sore arm, Hamel's ridiculous amount of innings logged arm/elbow, Rollins' back, Durbin's forearm tightness, Moyer's age...very worrisome.

Doc- I already mentioned it above, but it's Cole Hamels health. His innings jumped quite a bit from 2007 to 2008. Honestly, if you told me we'd get 180 innings out of him this year I'd take it. I also think that is about what we will get.

Corey- I have two. 1) Hips. In particular, Utley's healing in time for opening day and Moyer's not breaking at some point during the season. 2) Charlie Manuel. He was more than competent last season and I'm worried it may be a "Flowers for Algernon" type of progression.

EG- I don't think the bullpen can repeat its amazing performance from last year. I don't think it's a question of if they come down this season, only a question of by how much. I think the Phils are going to need to score more runs in 2009 if they're going to overcome it.

7. Honest opinion of how Raul Ibanez will fill Pat Burrell's void.
JW- They'll cancel each other out. Ibanez will be a better defender and runner and hit for higher average, while the power numbers and production against lefthanders will suffer.

Meech- I will completely ignore your asterisk because it's impossible for me to set my heterosexual love for Pat aside. Raul Ibanez couldn't fill Pat Burrell's void unless he impregnates 1/3 of all Philadelphia women under the age of 25 while simultaneously swatting 30 homers and driving in 100 runs. And that ain't happening.

Carson- There will be plenty of fans that simply won't be able to let Pat Burrell go, and therefore will be unable to fully appreciate what Ibanez brings to the team. I see him being a consistent bat in the middle of the lineup that will help the offense and be able to remain in games and not be lifted for pinch runners and defensive replacements.

Doc- Overall, Ibanez is a more complete and more consistent player. I think he'll do well. I also think that just a little too much is made about how left-handed heavy he makes the Phillies lineup. Sure, it theoretically makes the team weaker against lefties, but right-handed pitchers make up 75% or so of the league.

Corey- How will Ibanez replace the younger, cheaper, righthandeder, World Series winninger, Philly legend Pat Burrell? Not very well.

EG- I think he'll be significantly worse offensively and significantly better defensively. The Phillies are going to miss Burrell's big bat from the right-hand side of the plate. I'd be thrilled if Ibanez can match his AL home run and RBI numbers from the past few years, but I'd guess he will be off that pace. I think we will notice a big improvement defensively and Ibanez will get to far more balls than Burrell did (and play the whole game, which will be nice to see).

8. What prospect will mean the most to the Phils by season's end?
JW- Probably Happ, since he's the only one with an unobstructed path to the majors. It's too tough to forecast any of the other openings that may occur between now and the end of the season. Happ is the closest to the majors. Frankly, the fifth starter position could have easily been billed as his job to lose headed into spring training.

Meech- I have no friggin idea. Although it wouldn't shock me if they move Carlos Carrasco if the offer is sweet enough. It probably won't be anyone major, though. The team isn't really in the position to be taking on any more salary.

Carson- JA Happ. He's a strikeout pitcher (minors: 528.2 ip/545 k), so even in trouble he has the ability to miss bats. If awarded the 5th starter spot, I think we can expect 10-12 wins and an era between 4-4.25.

Doc- If you still consider J.A. Happ a prospect I would think he'll contribute in a big way. Otherwise, Lou Marson. I wouldn't be surprised if he starts around 30 to 40 games this year.

Corey- Carlos Carrasco. I've been listening to hype on this guy for years and the Phils have an open rotation spot. He needs to fill that spot at some point this year.

EG- John Mayberry. I think the problems the Phillies have with so few quality right-handed hitters won't take long to expose. It could be a disaster if Werth gets hurt, but even if he doesn't I think Mayberry will get a chance to contribute before the end of the year.

9. Predict the Phils record, NL East finish, and playoffs (if they make it in).
JW- Nah. I'll save this for Beerleaguer.

Meech- I'll say the Phillies finish 94-68 and win the NL East by a good 5 games. Then they'll lose to the wild card Marlins in the NLCS. Hey, I don't like the sound of it either, but the Marlins win the World Series every six years. It's cosmic, there's nothing you or I can do about it.

Carson- 95-67, lose in the World Series (repeating is so difficult). I think the offense has the ability to produce much better this season, and the pitching will remain solid.

Doc- 90-72, good for first in the division and a decent run in the playoffs. The odds are against them that they will repeat as World Champs, but then again, there aren't many World F. Champions that bring back such a good core group of players the next year.

Corey- 92-70, first in NL East, lose in NLCS to the Pirates.

EG- 89-73. Win the NL East. Lose the NLCS to the Cubs.