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Philadelphia Phillies: 2011 World Series Favorites Are Overrated

The Philadelphia Phillies are the solid favorite with Las Vegas oddsmakers to win the 2011 World Series.

But they might be overrated. 

The Phillies have a star-studded starting pitching rotation and a lot of big names but might not be quite as good as everyone thinks.



Age is a Problem


The Phillies are an older team with a number of players past their prime.  One of those players, Chase Utley, is probably going to start the season on the disabled list as he has a knee injury that may keep him out for quite some time.

Utley is 32 years old but actually looks older than that. His body has been injury-prone, and he isn’t even ready for this season yet.  History has shown that very few players as old as Utley play a full season at second base, but Utley is not the only older player in the Phillies’ lineup. 

Look at these numbers.  Utely is 32, Ryan Howard is 31, Carlos Ruiz is 32, Jimmy Rollins is 32, Placido Polanco is 35 and Raul Ibanez is 38. 

Even the replacement for Utley, Wilson Valdez is 32 years old, and we haven’t even mentioned the supposedly invincible starting rotation. 

Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt are 33 while Cliff Lee is 32.  Do you really think that those three can go a full season without getting hurt?  It seems extremely unlikely. 

In fact, since 1901 there have only been four instances where a team’s trio of starting pitchers that old have made it through a season injury free.  And it has happened only once in the past 17 years.



Paper Phillies


You hear the term “paper tigers” all the time.  Could it be that we end up referring to this team as “paper Phillies”?

Philadelphia looks great on paper as the rotation of Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Cole Hamels is very good.  Joe Blanton is the fifth starter and he is definitely serviceable. 

The Phillies have big names like Howard, Utley and Rollins and a solid bullpen led by closer Brad Lidge.  It all looks good on paper, but injuries can affect even the best team.  Philadelphia has already lost one of their best players.

The Phillies are the 2-1 favorites to win the World Series, but at that price, they are overrated and no guarantee to win it all in 2011.

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Why Adam Wainwright’s Injury Won’t Derail the St. Louis Cardinals’ Season

When you heard about the season-ending injury to St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, you probably immediately wrote off the Cardinals as a World Series contender this year.

You wouldn’t be alone, as many people, including oddsmakers, have pretty much discounted the chances for St. Louis this season without their top pitcher.

That might be a mistake.

Whether you like Tony La Russa as a manager or think he is overrated, there is no denying that La Russa can motivate a team. There is really nothing that La Russa likes more than a challenge and he may turn this season into a crusade for winning without Wainwright.

Do you remember what happened in 2002 with the Cardinals? They won the National League Central even though they had to use 14 starting pitchers that season because of injuries and the death of Darryl Kile.

La Russa motivated his team to win for Kile and the Cardinals surprised everyone. It could happen again in 2011.



Wainwright’s Numbers


There is no question that Adam Wainwright is a great pitcher. He won 20 games for the Cardinals last season and had an ERA of 2.42. There is no replacing Wainwright, but even a great pitcher is worth only about an extra six wins per season over an average pitcher. Six wins is a lot, though, and the Cardinals will need to find an above average replacement.



The Division


There is one thing that could help the Cardinals chances this season and that is their division.

The National League Central is a good division, but it is not great. The Cincinnati Reds won it last year, but they are no powerhouse. Everyone loves the Milwaukee Brewers and the changes they made, but the Brewers were not even a .500 team last season. The Cubs always get attention, but when have the Cubs ever won anything?

And don’t forget that the Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates are in this division, and they are both terrible.



Talented Roster


The Cardinals still have a lot of talent, led by the best player in the game today, first baseman Albert Pujols. They have a solid starting lineup led by Pujols and Matt Holliday and their pitching is still good.

They also have four good starters in Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse. If Kyle McClellan takes over as the fifth starter and pitches as well as he did out of the bullpen, then the Cardinals will be just fine.

You may not want to write off the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 just yet.

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