Inside the Mind of a Devoted Phillies Phan: Thoughts Going into the 2012 Season

Sunday February 19th, 2012


Christina Angelos (Guest Writer – MLB reports): 

FAVORITE MOMENT

One strike away; nothing-and-two, the count to Hinske. Fans on the their feet; rally towels are being waved. Brad Lidge stretches. The 0-2 pitch — swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball! Brad Lidge does it again, and stays perfect for the 2008 season! 48-for-48 in save opportunities, and let the city celebrate! Don’t let the 48-hour wait diminish the euphoria of this moment, and the celebration. And it has been 28 years since the Phillies have enjoyed a World Championship; 25 years in this city that a team that has enjoyed a World Championship, and the fans are ready to celebrate. What a night! ~ Harry Kalas, Phillies broadcaster

After nearly 50 hours had passed since the first pitch of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, the Phillies finished off the Rays in an elimination game. Brad Lidge remained perfect all season and closed out the final game with a strikeout. The Phillies earned their second championship in their franchise history and the first championship since 1983.

I waited 19 years for this kind of happiness and joy. And when it happened, I had no words. I’ve seen the good and bad things in my life, but just once, I had absolutely no words. No words. Nothing could match the excitement I felt at that moment. Nothing.  I am glad to know I have seen a championship once and hoping for more.

That’s why we follow baseball. That’s why we engage so much effort in such an endeavor. Sometimes it rewards us. And October 29, 2008, I was rewarded. We were all rewarded. We were champions. Champions of baseball.

Easily the greatest moment.

 

WHY BASEBALL?

Baseball is my favorite sports. You can ask anyone who knows me. Some may say I know more than themselves do. I grew up watching baseball more than any sports. It’s a part of me. I love the mysterious that surrounds it. You just do not know what will happen. Will the batter hit a home run? Will the batter strikeout? What will the next pitch be? The clutch hits. The home runs. It’s everything. I love it. 

HAMELS:  DOES HE STAY?

Recently, the Philadelphia Phillies and Cole Hamels inked a one year deal worth $15 million for 2012.

Hamels just turned 28 years old. He has several factors in his favor: He’s a left-handed pitcher entering his prime, has been incredibly successful in his six-year major league career, and has stayed fairly injury-free.

Hamels is 74-54 with a 3.39 lifetime ERA to go with a pair of All-Star selections, an NLCS MVP award, and a World Series MVP. He is coming off his best year ever, having gone 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA and career bests in complete games (3), WHIP (0.986), walks per nine innings (1.8), home runs per nine innings (0.8), and strikeout to walk ratio (4.41).

I believe it could go either way as the whole Cole Hamels contract situation gets complicated, whether he stays or goes. It all depends on how much Hamels is worth. Whatever his worth may be, can the Phillies afford it?

Recently, Hamels’ agent mentioned Hamels will not take a Weaver-type deal or a discount. That leads me to believe Hamels is looking for either Cliff Lee or C.C. Sabathia-type contract, which would be worth at least $120M. If you talk to other Phillies fans, we really wouldn’t mind if Hamels breaks the bank because he deserves to get paid, whether it may be in Philly or another destination. We know a big payday is coming for the homegrown star.

On the business side of things, I doubt the Phillies will not be able to keep Hamels, even after selling out 200+ games. The Phillies may not be able to pay Hamels, especially since they will also still need to pay Shane Victorino and/or Hunter Pence. Victorino will likely be looking for something in the range of $50-$60 million and Pence could get close to $50-$100 million himself. If Hamels gets $125 million or more, that’s close to $300 million the Phillies will have to pay for just three players in total contracts. That’s an outrageous amount of money. Chase Utley still gets $15 million this year and next, so if the Phillies pay Victorino and Hamels for 2013, the team conceivably could be spending close to $150 million of their payroll on nine players – Howard, Utley, Rollins, Victorino, Pence, Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and Papelbon. This means Hamels could definitely walk.

I have mixed emotions whether Hamels stays or goes. I felt the same way about Jimmy Rollins possibly leaving. You never know what is going to happen in free agency. You do not even know if the player could be traded. I guess you can say I am attached to players and thinking about how different the team could be without a certain player that has been with the organization from the start.  It wouldn’t shock me if Hamels gets paid to be pitching in red pinstripes from 2013 and beyond. But it will shock me if Cole Hamels is traded during this season. Only time will tell on what kind of moves Amaro wants to make.  

PAPELBON:  WILL HE SUCCEED?

When I heard the Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon I had mixed emotions.  Just days before it was rumored that the Phillies were hours away from a four-year, $44 million dollar contract with Ryan Madson, a deal that was fair for both camps. Hearing we signed Papelbon out of nowhere to a four-year $50 million dollar contract, officially $50,000,058, took me by surprise. My first reaction was that $50 million is a ton of money for a closer. And while $50 million may seem like a lot of money, the Phillies haven’t had a consistent 9th inning option since Brad Lidge’s perfect season in 2008. 

I believe Papelbon will succeed in Philadelphia.  Papelbon has never been on the DL and has appeared in 59 games or more in 6 straight seasons. That workload can take a major toll on the arm of a closer. Yet, Papelbon has not seen any slowing down or loss in velocity; his average velocity of his fastball in 2011 was 94.8 mph. Over 2009-2011 season, Papelbon had an averaged 30-35 saves, with 14 blown saves. He is third on the list with most active save only behind Brian Wilson and Mariano Rivera. His name is being mentioned next to Mariano Rivera in comparisons. You can tell Papelbon will be mentioned one day in Hall of Fame discussions.

Over the course of his time with the Phillies, there is a good chance his fastball will decline in velocity, and he will have to continue developing as an all-around pitcher rather than just being a flame thrower.  However, having a regular go-to guy in the closer role will take the pressure off the coaching staff and the rest of the bullpen including the rookies. This way, the rest of our bullpen will know their role and be able to prepare for that and be much more effective.

I’m sure there will be thousands of Phillies’ fans wearing red Papelbon t-shirt/jerseys on opening day come April. It will be interesting to see if his time in Philadelphia will be a love affair or a complete debacle.

HOW FAR WILL THE PHILLIES GO IN THE PLAYOFFS?

The Phillies earned 102 victories in 2011, the most in the majors and in the franchise’s history.

For the last two years, the Phillies were supposed to at least find themselves in the World Series, if not winning it all. Two years in a row, they disappointed themselves, their teammates, the front office and their fans. They will enter the 2012 season as the favorites again.

The problem the Phillies have had is keeping their top veterans healthy, whom are all in their 30’s right now. Let me tell you this, Phillies have won 199 games in 2 years without Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Ryan Howard, Ryan Madson, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez and Chase Utley missed extensive time in the last two seasons.  Now they’ll have to do without Ryan Howard until May as he recovers from left Achilles surgery.  If you really think age matters, then go ask the New York Yankees. Their average age was 33.6 during their 2009 championship. I am not here to talk about the regular season.

On the other hand, I believe playoffs are about being healthy, having clutch hits and being one of the hottest teams. I don’t know what it really means to go into the playoffs with momentum. It could provide some sort of advantage or it could be completely meaningless.

Remember, two of the strongest points of the 2008 championship season were the bullpen and the bench. With our bullpen additions, a deep bench, a much improved rotation from 2008 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley), great defense, and a reliable batting order, the team is well-balanced going into the season.

None of this should have much effect on the Phillies’ playoff chances especially not with their rotation, and the addition of Jonathan Papelbon at the back-end of the bullpen. Don’t forget there could be another wildcard spot this season. It is very likely the Phillies will stretch their consecutive post-season appearances streak to six.

But going deep into October is another question, and they really will need everyone to be healthy and have a high level season. If not, you’ll see them adding another bat mid-season before the trade deadline.  After all, the Phillies have been trending in the wrong direction in the post-season since winning the 2008 World Series: Losing the 2009 World Series, the 2010 NLCS and 2011 NLDS.

***About today’s writer:  Christina Angelos (no relation to Peter) grew up as life- long avid Phillies fan in Center City (which is downtown Philadelphia), a place where she still calls home. Christina is a long-time season ticket holder. She has played softball, specifically shortstop. She is also a fan of the Sixers, Eagles, and Flyers. She has been a Pre-K teacher about 2 years; however, her passion is to write about sports, generally about baseball. In addition, she writes for a Phillies blog. You can check her out at:  http://philliedelphia.com. This is the place to be if you need recaps, interviews with players, etc.  You may see her tweet Jimmy Rollins, Vance Worley and have conversations about basically anything. So, if you want to reach her and talk about baseball: feel free to give her a tweet (@xochristinaxo). Go Phillies!***

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Posted on February 19, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I Actually LOVED This Piece.
    Anyone Who Can Write THIS WAY About OUR GREAT GAME…
    …Yeah…
    …That Person IS A TRUE FAN…
    …Or In Your Case PHAN!!!
    hehehe
    That’s A Great Posting, Sir!
    Love It LOVE IT!
    -BRADLEY

  2. Haha Thanks.

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