Phillies (8-11) v. Pittsburgh Pirates (10-8)
Monday- 7:05 - Jon Pettibone v. AJ Burnett
Tuesday - 7:05 - OGP v. Jeff Locke
Wednesday - 7:05 - Oh No, It's Roy v. Wandy Rodriguez
Thursday - 1:05 - Cliff Lee v. James McDonald
So, I'm driving in to work this morning, thinking about this series, and for the first time in many years I believe the Pirates may be the best team in the state. So, I figured instead of a typical preview of the Buccos, I'd compare them with the Phillies at each position and see who gets the edge.
Starting Pitching - This is where the Phillies have the biggest advantage. Hamels and Lee are better than anything the Pirates have. But right now we don't know what's going on with Roy Halladay. Given his performance over the last year and a half, he's basically a 3rd starter. The Pirates, have a legit #2 in AJ Burnett and two #2/#3 starters in Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald. Unfortunately for the Buccos, Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton are both out and Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are still in the minor leagues so they have to go with Jeff Locke and Jon Sanchez. So, in summary, the Phillies currently hold a solid edge in starting pitching.
Bullpen - The Phillies have proven studs in Mike Adams and Jon Papelbon. But Bastardo and Aumont have been good so far, giving up zero earned in 11 innings. The problem is Horst, Valdez and Durbin, who have all been atrocious.. As for the closer, Pirates closer Jason Grilli hasn't given up a run yet in 9 appearances. Bullpen mates Mark Melancon, Justin Wilson, Jeanmar Gomez, and Tony Watson have combined for only 7 earned runs in 41+ innings. I give the Pirates the slight edge because they don't have the garbage arms that the Phillies keep sticking out there.
First Base - Advantage Pirates. Garrett Jones is currently a better hit than Ryan Howard. Deal with it. Maybe Howard will get back to pre-Achilles injury form, but that time has yet to come.
Second Base - Advantage Phillies. Chase Utley is the Phillies best player. Neil Walker is good. Utley is an All Star.
Shortstop - Advantage Phillies. Clint Barmes had two big hits yesterday to help beat the Braves, but he's still only hitting .130. Brutal to watch at the plate on most days.
Third Base - Advantage Phillies. Pedro Alvarez goes through hot streaks. Very, very hot streaks. He'll hit 5-7 homers a week 2-3 times a year. During the other times, he's horrible. He's currently hitting .125. Michael Young could hit .125 left handed.
Corner Outfield - Advantage Pirates. Starling Marte and Travis Snider get the edge over John Mayberry and Domonic Brown/ Brown and Snider are similar in that they never lived up to the hype. Mayberry is a solid 4th outfielder. The edge goes to the Pirates because of Marte, who still has potential and in a short time in the majors, has played very well.
[speaking of comparing the Phillies and Pirates, is Domonic Brown the Phillies version of Chad Hermansen?]
Centerfield - Advantage Pirates. The only 'no doubt about it' category for the Pirates. Cutch is a stud...
Cather - Advantage Pirates. The Pirates take this one only because Chooch is a doper.
Manager - Advantage Pirates. Hurdle seems to get the most out of his team. Manuel seems to meander about and mumble 'words of wisdom' about things like 'hittin weather.' The Pirates also seem to play with more energy, urgency and enthusiasm. That's very subjective so take that with a grain of salt.
Conclusion - Despite my 'gut feeling,' and mainly because of the starting pitching, the Phillies still seem to be the bettter team. On paper, that is...