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2009 Season Preview - National League East

Cole Hamels in spring training
The 2009 NL East will be the most exciting division in Major League Baseball, bar none. Last season the world watched as the Philadelphia Phillies, a team thought to be competing for a wild card spot at best, went on to win the division and eventually defeat the Tampa Bay Rays to bring a World Championship to the city of brotherly love. Despite their recent success, this off-season’s transactions have guaranteed one thing: a division title is anything but a guarantee for this 2009 Phillies team. New York Mets GM Omar Minaya went out and imported two flame throwing relievers, J.J Putz and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez. Atlanta Braves GM Frank Wren signed veteran sinkerballer Derek Lowe to anchor their rotation, and the Washington Nationals signed slugging first baseman/outfielder/Sabermetrics golden standard Adam Dunn to a two year deal. What does this mean? This means that the NL East will have 5 teams with a legitimate shot of finishing the year with a record over .500. If everything falls into place, 2009 should provide some intriguing late season baseball.

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Chase Utley - Out Four To Six Months

Chase Utley

Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley will rehabilitate from hip surgery for a significant amount of time.  How significant will be determined by what the surgeons see this week when Utley undergoes his surgery, but it’s pretty much a given that he will miss the beginning of the 2009 MLB season.  If the surgery relieves Utley of pain, a month won’t matter much for, arguably, the Phillies’ best player (with others arguing for former MVPs Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins).  It’s hard to choose who Philadelphia’s best player is, but considering Utley’s last four season averages (.305 BA; 28.8 HR; 103.5 RBI; 110.3 R; 13.5 SB) at a thin position, you’re not going to find stats like Utley’s, which makes him very valuable.  However, the Phils won’t have him to start, but they probably only care that he finishes the season with them… as late as late October 2009.

Fantasy Baseball Impact: Luckily, in fantasy baseball, there is such a thing as the disabled list in real baseball, which Utley will surely go on.  So, if you draft Utley, you can stash him on your team’s DL and wait for him to get back on the field and wreck havoc at the plate like he has been the past several seasons.  However, the question is, where do you draft Chase Utley?  Well, we’ll have to wait and see how long he’ll have to rehab, but depending on the size of your league, you will probably have to “stretch” for him in the second round, especially if he’ll only be out a month of the regular season.  If, worst case scenario, Utley doesn’t come back until June, somewhere in the late third/early fourth round sounds about right.  Crazy, isn’t it?  To grab a guy who could be out three months in the third or fourth round?  But, that’s how good Utley is.

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World Series Prediction: Tampa Bay Rays Over The Philadelphia Phillies

Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria

Now that the Boston Red Sox have gone back to Fenway Park, cleaned out their lockers, and settled in for a nice long 150 day vacation, let’s get down to hard cases. On paper, the Tampa Bay Rays - Philadelphia Phillies series might resemble a wash.  Starting pitching is about even; the Phils have a clear edge with Brad Lidge as their closer, but if the Rays activate Troy Percival, that edge gets considerably filed down. The Phils get the nod in power hitting and fielding; the Rays are better at small ball - hitting for average, base swipes, hit and run, and hitting in the clutch. All nice, neat and in a row, right?

Not so fast kemo sabe. Time for a reality check.

 

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NLCS Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers Vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard are ready to get it on

Hard fought series? Check. Scratching out runs? You bet. Clutch hitting and smart pitching? No question. The Philadelphia Phillies’ Cole Hamels goes tonight against Los Angeles Dodgers veteran pitcher Derek Lowe. Both posted 14 wins.  Lowe chalked up 11 losses while Hamels had 10. Both hurlers were pretty even in ERA, WHIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio. Look for a real pitchers duel. Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will probably break out of their NLDS slumps with timely hits while the Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez will be swinging a mighty bat throughout the series.

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National League Championship Predictions

Posted by Charles Mitri Categories:

Manny Ramirez In The Midst of Media

Just when you thought it was safe to take the mound again….

The Milwaukee Brewers are in a very deep 0-2 hole following a 5-2 shellacking at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark. The Philadelphia Phillies roughed up C.C. Sabathia for five runs in the second frame, spearheaded by centerfielder Shane Victorino who knocked a couple of two-baggers and a round-tripper, for four RBIs and even chipped in a couple of base swipes. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins went 2-for-4 with a walk.  Phillies closer Brad Lidge recorded his second save in as many days by pitching a scoreless ninth. Milwaukee scratched out single runs in the first and seventh innings, but somehow couldn’t get to Phils’ starter Brett Myers who spun seven masterful innings for two runs on two hits and three free-passes.

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