Phillies: Best Case, Worst Case
Notice anything new? Yes, I did get a haircut, thanks for noticing! But I was talking about the blog. If you direct your attention upwards, you’ll notice a navigation bar for the ESPN Sweetspot network. I encourage you to use that throughout the season to keep tabs on the other teams around Major League Baseball — I know I will.
As part of the Sweetspot expanding from 8 to 18 members today, ESPN has asked us to post a short “Best Case, Worst Case” for our respective teams. I encourage you to post your own “Best Case, Worst Case” in the comments below.
The best case is actually a very realistic case. The Phillies have had one of the best training staffs in baseball exemplified by their winning the Baseball Prospectus Dick Martin award last year. So long as the team can stay healthy — and despite the woes of Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero, and Joe Blanton, they probably will — the Phillies are the heavy favorite to return to the World Series. We all know the Phillies will hit, they just need to keep their arms healthy.
It can all unravel for the Phillies if their bullpen becomes a mess, and there’s a chance it will. Both closer Brad Lidge and lefty J.C. Romero will not be ready for Opening Day, and the team is desperate for a left-hander in the bullpen. They auditioned Sergio Escalona and Mike Zagurski and passed on them two weeks before the end of spring training. Antonio Bastardo won the spot by default but he is no sure thing. Furthermore, Ryan Madson was not effective filling in for Lidge in the ninth inning last year, and there’s no guarantee that he will be in 2010 despite his electric fastball and whiff-inducing change-up. The bullpen is the biggest question mark for the Phillies this year.