It’s time once again for the ever annoying inter-league play and the first stop in the National League for the Red Sox just so happens to be the new home of the alter-ego maniac, Jonathan Papelbon and the Philadelphia Phillies. Papelbon is at it again making waves on the radio about Boston, calling them “the other city.” Whether he’s doing it to spark a rivalry for the weekend or he’s still sour over the lack of offer that came his way from the Red Sox, someone should tell Paps to focus on baseball and getting his Phillies out of the NL East cellar.
Just how is Papelbon fitting in with his new rabid fan base? Well we asked Ethan from the Philadelphia Fansided network, That Ball’s Outta Here and he informed us that Cinco Ocho has become a fan favorite. We also discussed other things about the Phillies, like the possibility of the team becoming a seller if they don’t improve their position in the standings and who just might be available. I also asked him if he thought a Kevin Youkilis trade would happen and whether the Phillies should consider it. You might be surprised by his answer. Enjoy.
1. The Phillies are playing .500 baseball with a plethora of injuries and roughly ¾ of the season remains. Yet we hear talk that the Phillies could be sellers this summer, almost as though they’re giving up on the year. Is this accurate and what are your thoughts on this?
All the talk about the Phillies being sellers is a product of a few factors. The poor start to the year has been a shock to everyone, and many fans have been quick to push the panic button. Ruben Amaro said it’s a possibility if the team struggles into July, but that was more of a wake up call posed to the team. The most intriguing aspect is the pending free agency of Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels. The team is still far apart in talks with both players, and could be floating their names out for leverage or just in case negotiations break down completely.
2. If they do become a seller, which names should we look for to be available and what’s the price tag going to be?
If doomsday does come and the team decides to hold a player yard sale my three names to watch would be Hamels, Victorino, and Blanton.
Blanton would be the most likely to go, as he has been dangled by Amaro already this offseason. He’s a solid 4th starter and would command a low prospect or two.
Victorino woul likely require more, a la the Carlos Beltran trade last summer. There is no clear heir apparent yet in CF for the Phillies, but they seem reluctant to give the 32 year old more than 3 years.
Hamels being traded is a no win for the Phillies. It would be a PR nightmare for the team, and it would be difficult to get value back in a trade. It would take a lot for the Phillies to even consider a deal. I would say something a long the lines of CC to Milwaukee, but the odds of any deal are 100-1.
3. The Phillies were said to have one of the best rotations in baseball with Halladay, Lee, Worley et al. Why is this club sitting at .500 given the talent they have on the mound?
If you’re wondering why the team has struggled so much look no further than the lineup. They are missing Utley and Howard, but the rest of their Vets have yet to step up aside from Carlos Ruiz. Hunter Pence has shown some power but his OBP is barely above .300. The lineup as a whole has been afflicted with impatience. Not enough players get on base to get a big inning going, and without their power threats the bats have been largely silent.
4. Jonathan Papelbon did his best to get Philly fans on his side when he opened his mouth comparing fans Philly to Boston fans. Many Red Sox fans were peeved at him and the best way for him to back it up is on the field. He’s been pretty good so far. Has he lived up to the hype and are Phillies fans pleased with him? Was he worth the $44 million?
Papelbon has been great for the Phillies, on and off the field. He’s lived up to expectations, but may never live up to the $$ he got. Most fans saw the length and dollars as too much, but the GM is taking the heat for that. It will be fun to see Papelbon pitch against his old friends in the Sox clubhouse. Knowing him, don’t be surprised to see plenty of chin music either.
5. Who do you think the Phillies should target for infield help and does Kevin Youkilis make sense in your opinion?
Kevin Youkillis makes sense for two reasons . He gets on base, and he plays third. As bad as the team needs an on-base machine like him, the last thing they need is another broken down infielder in his thirties. The team would no doubt be smitten to get their hands on a player like Middlebrooks, but it would take a lot more than Joe Blanton for that to happen.
6. Briefly compare the starting pitching match ups and who has the edge in each?
Game 1: Hamels v Bard
I have to give the edge to Cole on this one. No knock against Bard, but there are very few pitchers who are on fire like Hamels right now. He’s piling up a lot of K’s, and is finally getting some run support as evidenced by his 5 wins.
Game 2 Blanton v Lester
Blanton has been very reliable this year, but Lester looked lights out his last time out. Given his pedigree and the Phillies rough go against lefty starters Lester is my pick in this one.
Game3: Lee v Beckett
This matchup is interesting as it features two pitchers who are actually familiar with their inter league rival. Beckett has faced the Phillies countless times dating back to his days in Florida, and the same is true for Lee when he was in the AL. Since there aren’t a lot of great golf courses available to Beckett I foresee a pitchers dual with a lot of strikeouts. Call it a push, but I like the Phil’s chances of getting under his skin.