2008 State Of The Nation Address – Phillies Nation

2008 State Of The Nation Address

Good evening, fans, respected colleagues and officials. I would like to begin tonight by saying the state of the Phillies Nation is strong. Well, actually, strong to an extent, like a tire without its capacity in air. You know it’ll ride, and probably ride the whole way, but there’s always that feeling the tire will blow completely, stalling you on the road, wondering why you didn’t just fill that damn tire previously.

Of course, we must recognize the feats of our 2007 brand, a team that defied expectation (or did they?) and captured the hearts and minds of Philadelphia, and the United States of America. Standout players such as Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Aaron Rowand and National League Most Valuable Player Jimmy Rollins stood side-by-side with sturdy role players such as Jayson Werth, Greg Dobbs, Tadahito Iguchi, Kyle Lohse and JC Romero.

Together, the 2007 Phillies were able to dethrone the New York Mets in the National League East, and bring solidarity back to our wary division.

We must remember our 2007 Phillies, but we must also look ahead to 2008, a year that we believe could be a special year. Not just a year in which the team can win the division, but a year in which they can go all the way to the World Series and win the World Championship.

This offseason, the Phillies lost a few cogs of that 2007 team. Aaron Rowand has left for San Francisco. Abraham Nunez is now in Milwaukee. Tadahito Iguchi will man the fields for San Diego. Michael Bourn and Geoff Geary will be in Houston. Rod Barajas will play in Toronto, God Bless Him. But for what they lost, they stepped up and matched it with men such as Geoff Jenkins, So Taguchi, Eric Bruntlett, Chad Durbin and most of all, Brad Lidge.

So as we look into 2008, we must see that the Phillies look stronger than in 2007, and seem poised to defend their National League Eastern Division championship.

Thank you.

And now, the dissenters will give their rebuttal:

We must remember, however, that the Phillies received career seasons from Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Rowand, maybe even Pat Burrell, and JC Romero. They also got very lucky with Kyle Kendrick, who got out of enough jams to win 10 games for the team. And the luck continued with re-treads such as Dobbs, Werth, Iguchi and Lohse. To be blunt, the Phillies of 2008 were a lot like the Phillies of 1993: They caught fire at the right time.

Lest we forget, the Phillies took advantage of the greatest collapse in modern sports history. The Mets lost the division. They’re still the better team. They have a potent offense, a strong bench with veteran role players, a formidable rotation and bullpen, and guess what – they may have Johan Santana leading the whole wagon in 2008. How can the Phillies compete with that? You think a Wild Card would be in order? Wait until the Phillies tussle with Los Angeles, Colorado, Chicago and Atlanta. This team is destined for a downfall of epic proportions.

Heck, it’s not as if the offseason moves made the Phillies an instant contender for the World Series. Geoff Jenkins should change his middle name to Tappan with the amount of cold air he blows forth. Eric Bruntlett can’t hit. Brad Lidge is a gigantic question mark. And Chad Durbin? Vic Darensbourg? What is this – the 2010 panel for “Baseball Tonight?”

Do we really think we’re going to get another big year from that offense, along with improvements from a static pitching staff? Did they improve? They got Brad Lidge, but they gave up Geoff Geary (a serviceable sixth inning guy) and Kyle Lohse (a No. 4 starter). Tom Gordon is a year older. Jamie Moyer is almost 50. JC Romero isn’t completely consistent. Heck, what do we know about Kyle Kendrick? Can we really be positive about the pitching staff going into 2008?

We can laud the 2007 Phillies all we want, but the fact remains: If the 2008 Phillies want to win 100 games, the National League East – whatever – they’ll need a gigantic improvement from the mound while remaining a top-five offense. I can’t see that happening.

Thank you.

And now, the assenters will give their rebuttal:

Ah, but this is the National League! Last year not one team eclipsed 90 wins, so all is not lost. Does any National League team look like a runaway to lock up a division? Arizona’s offense is – ahem – snakebitten, the Dodgers’ youth could bite them far more than the Phillies, the Padres can’t hit worth a lick, the Cubs are a time bomb every time they take the field, the Brewers lack any real force outside of Ben Sheets, the Braves are starting Project Youth, and the Mets actually regressed from last year’s choking team.

To put this bluntly: When comparing the Phils to the NL, “favorite” is definitely an option.

Even if the Phillies offense regresses a bit (which it may), they’ll still remain one of the league’s best. And yes, the pitching has to get better. It can’t get worse. Adam Eaton- if he’s not healthy- will not infect the team 30 times like he did last season. We don’t have bad options such as Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber. We know what we’re getting from Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, even Jamie Moyer. And the bullpen is much more improved from the start of last season. Now we have a full back end with Brad Lidge, Tom Gordon, Ryan Madson and JC Romero. Statistically, that’s one of the best in all of baseball!

Sure there are some unknowns – such as Durbin, the final bullpen spot and Eaton – but no team, absolutely no team is without unknowns. Look at the 2007 Red Sox. JD Drew was a disaster for them, but they found hope in Jacoby Ellsbury. Manny Ramirez had an off year, heck, Daisuke Matsuzaka wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. But they found positivity in spare parts, and they were the best team in baseball all season.

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. Having the best team on January 27 doesn’t make you World Champions. Every team will change its roster between March 31 and September 1, and multiple times. The Phillies will find their spare parts, whether it’s through the arm of Carlos Carrasco, the bat or Jason Jaramillo or the glove of Brandon Watson. Give this team time. And right now, as we stand, the top-20 players on the 2008 Phillies surpass the top-20 players of possibly every National League team.

The state of the Phillies is strong. Give them time.

Thank you.

So, where do you fall?

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  1. Pingback: baseball » 2008 State Of The Nation Address

  2. NateB

    January 28, 2008 at 3:29 am

    The Phillies look good on paper (definitely one of the top contending teams in the NL), but with Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley leading the way- this team is way more than numbers on paper- it has heart. There are so many intangibles that the Phils have going for them. It’s obvious that they’re all friends, they like their manager, and they’re having a good time out there in the field. That’s why they always come from behind and get “lucky” breaks with Kendrick, Lohse, Iguchi, etc… that’s not luck- it’s called vision, and it happens when a team has good chemistry and truly believe in themselves. The Phils already know they’re going to the playoffs again this year, it’s just a matter of how far this time.

  3. TacoBellLover

    January 28, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    I definitely agree with you NateB! Is there any other team in professional sports that is as cohesive as this team? The game in Colorado last year when they ran out and helped the grounds crew demonstrated the unity of the core of this team. I don’t know that I believe in Karma, but if I ever did and was trying to prove it I would point to that event and the Mets collapse. Also, I would not be at all surprised to see Pat Burrell have a huge year! I think he’s going to help this team fire on all cylinders this year from right out of the gate to the final game of the season. I think he emerged as a team leader and positive attitude in the clubhouse during the second half of last year. I expect him to pick right back up this year where he left off last year.

  4. bob

    January 28, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    There was a good article in ESPN the other day that talked about the importance of getting as many starts out of your strongest starting pitchers as possible. For the offensively potent phillies, this means that they need simply serviceable, but workhorselike efforts from their 3-4-5 starters: Kendrick, Moyer, Mathieson.

    I am not worried about the loss of Bourn, Iguichi, Nunez, and Barajas although I am a little worried about the overall impact of losing Rowand, who has been a consistent presence in the clubhouse and on the field for the past several years.

    That said, the phillies offense should still be potent. Almost 70% of the day-to-day lineup will be the same with Rollins, Vic, Utley, Howard and Burrell. As long as Feliz, Jenkins, Werth, Dobbs, Ruiz and Coste collectively work to turn the lineup over, the phils should be fine. Here’s to hoping Golson learns a better approach at the plate, stops striking out at such a high rate, and makes it to Philly in August.

    The bullpen looks to be a strength as long as it remains injury-free, stable and isn’t overworked because of ineffective starting pitching. Getting into the routine of closing out games with a 7-8-9 combo of Madson, Gordon, Romero and Lidge is more than serviceable. What a difference a year makes.

    As for the starting pitching, Myers and Hamels will hopefully stay healthy. Otherwise, it won’t matter how good the offense or the bullpen is; it’ll be a long year. That said, the Phils went into last year with a “strong” rotation of Myers, Hamels, Moyer, Garcia, Lieber and Eaton, and only ended up using Moyer and Hamels while somewhat holding their own. That’s pretty lucky and a testament to a houdini-esque smoke-and-mirrors act. Unfortunately, the two pitchers that were serviceable, Lieber and Lohse both left. Trying to keep one of the two might have been more prudent given how weak the starting pitching market is.

  5. Free Sports Picks

    February 1, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Very True Bob…

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