Opinion

Opinion: After One Week, What Have We Learned?

Consider this your Spring Training week one recap:

  • The Phillies went 3-3 in week one, with strong pitching performances early and strong offense late.
  • Fight For Fifth: Each pitcher took some licks, and each looked good for a spin. So far, no clear favorite.
  • Second Base Battle: Might be a bench bat battle since Utley is making big progress. Pablo Ozuna is your early favorite.
  • Making heads turn: John Mayberry Jr., Jeremy Slayden, Mike Koplove
  • Where are you?: Brad Lidge, Jayson Werth, Chris Coste

So your theme for spring 2009? A whole lot of nothing new.

So Lidge hasn’t pitched and Werth barely hit. That’s okay, it’s early. And nobody has handed JA Happ the fifth-starter role. That’s okay, it’s early. But what about Jason Donald? Can he make the team?

Didn’t you hear me?

Yes, it’s March 3, which means there is still a month before we can set our 25-man rosters and prepare ourselves for a long marathon of a title defense (or as Jimmy Rollins is saying: title offense). Currently there are a few battles that will be decided in the coming weeks, and while everyone seems as if they’re performing to a moderate level, that won’t be the case by the time the decisions come down. Moreover, we won’t know about Pedro Feliz’s opening night status until closer to that night, which would change the dynamics of the infield battle tremendously. And we won’t know about Kyle Kendrick’s ability to beat a lineup until he actually faces a good amount of big hitters a couple times in one game. That won’t happen for at least a week.

If I can make hasty decisions, it’s that John Mayberry Jr. makes the team as an important right-handed bench bat, and if Feliz can’t make the opener, I like Pablo Ozuna to platoon with Greg Dobbs. And I’ll take Kendrick to be fifth starter with Chan Ho Park and Gary Majewski joining the bullpen. But really, those predictions, after one week? I’m not locking them in at all.

What’s best is the Phils aren’t terribly hurt. Lidge will loosen up by late March; Werth will find his groove soon enough. Utley is rehabbing at a swift rate; Feliz, while an unknown, is at least replaceable for a small while. Everyone else looks and is playing healthy. I’m excited about Jimmy Rollins’ abilities for 2009, Shane Victorino’s potential superstar year and more solid work from Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer. Hopefully those things can be retained for April 5. If we’re lucky, they will.

The Phillies resemble a championship club yet again, but that’s after one week of spring baseball. Call me when the Phils play a week of May baseball. No, forget that. Call me when they play a week of August baseball. They’ll be in the race at that point.

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