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POP CULTURE CLASH

St. Louis Cardinals’ starting pitcher Chris Carpenter (2nd R) celebrates winning Game 5 of their MLB National League Divisional Series baseball playoff game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia Friday, October 7, 2011.

The 2011 Philadelphia Phillies season ended in total disappointment with a first round playoff loss to the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.  The 2012 Phillies season starts off with trepidation and concern as two major cogs in the Phillies machine are out with injuries, Ryan Howard who tore his achilles on the last out of the series against the Cardinals and Chase Utley who seems to have chronic knee problems every year.

The long 162 game baseball season starts Thursday April 5 for the Phillies as they start on the road in Pittsburgh against the Pirates.  Their opening day lineup should look like this:

Juan Pierre Lf

Placido Polanco 3b

Jimmy Rollins SS

Hunter Pence RF

Shane Victorino CF

Ty Wigginton 1B

Carlos Ruiz C

Freddy Galvis 2B

Roy Halladay P

I am going to be honest that Wigginton and Galvis in your everyday lineup to start the season is not ideal, but as long as the Phillies can tread water while Utley and Howard are back then they should be ok.  Howard always has a rough start to the year and ends the year hot, so if you hold him out until the middle of June it may benefit the Phillies in the long run.

The Phillies have made definite upgrades on the bench with eventual Hall of Famer and all around great guy Jim Thome, Wigginton, and Pierre who obviously the Phillies fill comfortable enough with getting significant playing time.  Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has said he would like to see Thome play once or twice a week in the field at first base and get around 200 at bats this season.  200 at bats seem like a lot to me and will have me real worried if he actually reaches that number.  Thome’s defense at first base, if he gets that many at bats may cost you more games than his bat can win.

Pitching has been the Phillies strength for the last few years and that is not going to change this year.  Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Vance Worley and Joe Blanton are the starting five and with one of baseball’s best closers in Jonathan Paplebon to close out games.  The real question is going to be the rest of the bullpen, Antonio Bastardo had a rough season last year, Jose Contreras and Michael Stutes are starting the season on the disabled list and the Phillies relied heavily on Stutes last year.  Hopefully with Halladay, Hamels and Lee the Phillies won’t need their middle relief to much but the other two games is where it concerns me.  If the middle relief can pitch well then the Phillies should be ok and should be celebrating their sixth consecutive National League East Division Title at the end of September.

Predictions:

Roy Halladay 20-5

Cliff Lee-18-8

Cole Hamels-20-7

Vance Worley-13-9

Joe Blanton-12-10

Jonathan Pablebon-40 Saves

Phillies Record 93-69 6th consecutive division title

Please feel free to contact me with your opinions and feelings on the Phillies season at chrisjpierce23@gmail.com


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