2009 Philadelphia Phillies Team Preview

2009 Philadelphia Phillies Team Preview

by Badger of Predictem.com

It was just over three months ago when the Philadelphia Phillies
became the envy of everyone in Major League Baseball, winning the
2008 World Series title with a 4-3 victory in Game 5 over the Tampa
Bay Rays. With pitchers and catchers set to report to Spring Training
in a week, the Phillies will open the 2009 season with the target
squarely aimed at their backs.

Philadelphia ended last year with a 92-70 record and a three-game margin over the New York Mets for the National League East crown.
They took down the Milwaukee Brewers in four games in the best-of-
five series in the opening round of the playoffs, and then eliminated
the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games in the best-of-seven series for
the National League Pennant.

By losing just three games in the playoffs the Phillies not only earned their second World Series title in team history, but it also
put them in lead position to be right in the thick of things during
the 2009 campaign.

2009 World Series Odds 10-to-1
2009 NL Pennant Odds 5-to-1
2009 NL East Division Odds 1.5-to-1

(All of the listed odds are those currently offered at Sportsbook.com)

The 2009 version of the Phillies will have a familiar look to it, as just about every major piece of the puzzle returns to the team to try and pick up right where they left off.

Offense The Phillies have only one major change to their everyday
lineup, as they allowed leftfielder Pat Burrell walk away from the
only organization hes ever played for during free agency in the
offseason. Burrell, who hit 33 homeruns and drove in 86 runs during
the regular season, came up big for the Phillies in the first two
rounds of the playoffs last year only to disappear during the World
Series where he hit .071 with one hit and one RBI.

The Phillies will replace Burrell with Raul Ibanez, a free agent
pickup from the Seattle Mariners. Ibanez (.293, 23 HR, 110 RBI)
should be a great replacement, and is actually a better all-around
player than Burrell. The Phillies also have Geoff Jenkins and Matt
Stairs as fourth and fifth outfielders off the bench as well.

The other major issue the Phillies will have to deal with at the
start of the season is the health of All-Star second baseman Chase
Utley. Utley had hip surgery soon after the World Series, and was
originally slated to return to the lineup sometime in late May, but
early reports out of Philly have him progressing ahead of schedule.
The Phillies will try to make due with infielder Eric Bruntlett in
the short term, although there are rumors they may also try to sign
Nomar Garciaparra into the mix as well. They also extended a Spring
Training invitation to Marcus Giles, the former Atlanta Braves and
San Diego Padre second baseman who spent last year out of baseball

Pitching Lefty Cole Hamels emerged as the ace of the staff last year in the playoffs, giving the Phillies a legit No. 1 starter to
match up against any team in the league. The Phillies also brought
back wily vet Jamie Moyer to toss changeups and softer changeups
every fifth day. Between Hamels and Moyer will be Brett Myers and Joe
Blanton, who was 4-0 with a 4.20 ERA in the 13 starts he made with
the Phillies after coming over in a deadline deal with the Oakland
As. The fifth starters job will be a competition between incumbent
Kyle Kendrick (11-9, 5.49), Adam Eaton (4-8, 5.80) and prospect
Carlos Carrasco.

Bullpen The Phillies bullpen had the best ERA (3.21) in the National League, and the second-best tally in all of baseball behind
the Toronto Blue Jays. Closer Brad Lidge rebounded nicely last season
after some rough times in Houston, earning all 41 of his regular
season saves without a single blown save. Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin
return as the right-handed set-up men, but the Phillies will have to
find a way to replace J.C. Romero as the left-handed set-up man for
Lidge. Romero was suspended for 50 games to start this season for
failing a drug test after the World Series. Scott Eyre, a late season
pickup from the Cubs, is the most likely candidate for the job until
Romero returns.

Gambling Review/Preview

The Phillies were one of 14 teams last year to finish the regular
season in the plus column as far as money statistics are concerned.
They ended +406 overall (-132 home, +538 road), with a really bad
-1051 tally on the runline money. They also played toward the under
in most games, as the over-under totals ended the season 73-83.

Betting on games Brett Myers started was especially detrimental to
your bankroll, as Myers went 12-18 for the year, normally as a big
favorite, only to lose money at a -1165 clip. Moyer was the Phillies
best starter to wager on, as the Phillies won 22 of the 33 games he
started which paid out +1021 overall.

With most of the team back in tact, its hard to believe that oddsmakers at BetOnline have listed the Phillies to 10 to 1 odds to repeat as champions. The chances of a repeat are slim, but at
10-to-1, it could be worth a 20-spot as a shot in the dark.

The Phillies arent even the favorite in the NL or even the NL East
for that matter. At 5-to-1 to win the NL pennant, the Phillies are
behind the Mets and Cubs. But the best future odds may just be the NL
East Division odds. At 1.5-to-1, you could throw a few dollars at
that bet and bank on another late-season Mets collapse.