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An Analysis of the Phillies Acquisition of Hunter Pence

Yesterday, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. cemented himself as one of the greatest GMs in Philadelphia history with the acquisition of former Astros right fielder Hunter Pence.

Since taking over for former GM Pat Gillick, each July has produced a top tier non-rental talent for the Phillies.

Last year it was Roy Oswalt, the year before Cliff Lee, and now this season Hunter Pence.

With the acquisition of Pence, the Phillies—on paper—have one of the most beautiful team makeups I’ve witnessed since the Oakland A’s of the late ’80s and early ’90s.

They have pitching in their four aces and a surprisingly effective bullpen.

They have speed in Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Pence, Dominic Brown and John Mayberry.

They have power with Howard, Utley, Pence, Rollins and Ibanez.

And the team already has the fewest errors committed defensively in the majors to this point in the 2011 season.

What Pence brings to the Phillies is invaluable.

When I think of a ballplayer like Pence, I compare his grittiness, work ethic and love of the game to that of Chase Utley’s.

In my mind, the acquisition of Pence gives the Phillies virtually a second Chase Utley—only from the right side of the dish with a rifle arm in right field.

There was no other deal for Philadelphia to make that could have improved the overall everyday ability of the ball club.

Sure, it would be great if they were able to nab another bullpen piece, but the team’s offense clearly needed an upgrade and with this move the Phillies plugged every offensive need they had with the acquisition of Pence.

Prior to the trade, I was a little concerned Pence might not be happy in Philadelphia because he seemed so happy and comfortable in Houston.

Pence going four for his last 31 at-bats concerned me.

After hearing his remarks following the trade, my disposition has changed—it seems Pence is genuinely excited to play for a great team and to get out of an organization clearly in a rebuilding phase.

With Polanco coming off the DL, Lidge pitching effectively from the bullpen and the arrival of Pence, the trade San Francisco made to acquire Beltran seems a whole lot less scary than it did for that one day in Philadelphia fan’s minds.

More to come in a few days after watching this revamped lineup.

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New 2011 Philadelphia Phillies Starting Rotation Predictions

Looking at the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation is something everyone will be doing all season. Why?

Because they could be the best starting rotation ever assembled.

What makes one say that?

Well let’s take a look at each one.

Roy Halladay: good old No. 34 happens to be turning 34 years old this May, yet is still ranked as the No. 1 starting pitcher in all Major League Baseball.

And he is—the 2010 Cy Young Award in his cabinet proves it. The five consecutive seasons of 220-plus innings proves it. The 19 career shutouts and 58 career complete games prove it. At 34 years old by seasons end, this year could be Doc’s greatest masterpiece. My prediction: 24-6, 1.85 ERA, 250-plus innings pitched,

Cliff Lee: No. 33, ironically turning 33 years old this season in August. Ranked the No. 5 best starting pitcher in all baseball. Ninety-five—what’s that mean? That’s how many walks Lee has surrendered since the beginning of the 2008 season. That’s an average of just under 32 walks a season. Has a 7-2 cumulative postseason record with a 2.13 ERA. My prediction: 21-8, 2.40 ERA, 220-plus innings pitched.

Roy Oswalt: No. 44 turns 34 years old this August. Two 20-win campaigns under his belt and a 5-1 cumulative record in the playoffs with a 3.39 lifetime playoff ERA. Oswalt still seems to have plenty left in the tank, and he could have one of his finest seasons this year although I doubt he will duplicate his 20-win campaigns. He is perfect to pitch after Halladay and Lee. My prediction: 18-12, 2.85 ERA, 220-plus innings pitched.

Cole Hamels: No. 35 turns 28 this December. This is the guy in the rotation to watch. The youngest of the bunch, entering his sixth season, Hamels has really learned to pitch. He’s also learned how to go about his business from watching Halladay last year and Lee in 2009.

I pity teams facing these four in row in a four-game set. My prediction: Hamels will be the best left-hander in baseball this season, going 22-5 with a 2.30 ERA, and 220-plus innings pitched.

Joe Blanton: No. 36 will be 31 years old this December. Blanton has yet to record 200 innings a season while in a Philadelphia uniform. He’s done it twice in his career with Oakland and look for him to do it this season. Pitching behind the four aces make predicting what type of season he will have the most difficult.

His over-the-top arm angle and pitching style make him the perfect contrast to hitters from each of the four aces. The biggest obstacle for Blanton will be the first inning. Once through that, if he’s got a lead he’s likely to hold it. My prediction: 15-10, 4.10 Era, 200-plus innings pitched.

Yup, if you kept count, that’s 100 wins and 41 losses I’m predicting for this starting rotation alone. I don’t believe the bullpen will have too many decisions to figure in this year—precisely 21 if my predictions come true. Say the bullpen goes 10-11 this season, that would give the Phillies a 110-win season.

The offense will heavily affect this. It doesn’t matter how good the starting pitching is; if you don’t score a run you can’t win the game. The Phillies should have no problem with that. But that’s another story.

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Phillies vs. Giants Recap

Scoring five runs in the eighth inning Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Phillies won the first of a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants.

The rally in the eighth inning was started by Shane Victorino with a single. He then would steal second base one pitch before Mike Sweeney drew a walk.

Raul Ibanez then singled to right field before Carlos Ruiz smacked a double down the left-field line to plate Victorino and Sweeney.

Ross Gload, making his first appearance since injuring his groin, then grounded out on the first pitch by new Giants pitcher Ramon Ramirez.

Jimmy Rollins then singled to score Ibanez.

Then a balk was issued to Ramirez scoring Ruiz and advancing Rollins to second base.

San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy was promptly ejected for arguing the call.

Utley reaches first base on a throwing error by Giants second baseman Mike Fontenot and advanced to second base on the play as Rollins easily scored.

The Phillies would not score again in the inning but did manage to bat around.

Roy Oswalt pitched seven innings for his second win as a Philadelphia Phillie.

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Here Come the Philadelphia Phillies…Again!

On Thursday, the Philadlephia Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. completed yet another trade deadline blockbuster which may put the team back on top of the NL East in short order.

With the aquisition of former Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt, it’s arguable the Phillies now boast the best top 3 starting rotation in the National League.

The injury bug has decimated the Phillies throughout season, with only a handful of games being played using the club’s top starting lineup.

In spring training, starter Joe Blanton and closer Brad Lidge suffered injuries.

Once the season got underway, it didn’t take Jimmy Rollins long to strain a calf in a pregame warm up.

Placido Polanco got hit in the elbow in a game against the Atlanta Braves a few weeks later and ultimately landed on the 15-day DL in June.

Late in April, Ryan Madson got frustrated with his performance in San Fransisco and broke his toe kicking a chair.

As players returned to health, the starting lineup saw more setbacks.

Chase Utley broke his thumb trying to stretch a single into a double and Jamie Moyer hurt his pitching arm a short time later.

The latest casualty is center fielder Shane Victorino, who suffered a strained side muscle a few days ago.

Despite all the injuries, the Phillies have continued to go out and play hard everyday.

With a mediocre June, the club found themselves sitting in third place behind Atlanta and the New York Mets.

Since a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds before the All-Star break Philadelphia has a 13-6 record including the current eight-game winning streak.

Even with all the injuries and setbacks, Philadelphia has played well enough to get within 2.5 games of the NL East leading Atlanta Braves.

Since Charlie Manuel became the Phillies manager, the club has earned the reputation of being an excellent second half team.

With this in mind, Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. decided Thursday to throw down his cards and deal for Roy Oswalt.

With three top starters in Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, the Phillies may have all the pieces in place to capture a third consecutive National League Championship.

Chase Utley and Shane Victorino are scheduled to come off the disabled list in three weeks.

The Phillies should, barring any other injuries, finally be at full strength just in time for September.

Stay tuned Philadelphia, here comes the Phillies- again!

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