Early National Picks: Phillies Not Favored – Phillies Nation

Early National Picks: Phillies Not Favored

I predicted the Phillies are in great shape to defend their world championship.

Most people, however, don’t believe this is true.

Last season the Braves were on everyone’s mind. This season the 72-win Braves are again picked by many to finish above the 92-win Phillies; meanwhile, almost all experts love the Mets’ chances to finally take back the National League East.

Two of Beyond the Box Score’s writers have the Phillies winning the East. Three, however, think the Braves will overtake the Phils and push them to third place. Explanation from Graham Goldbeck:

Early injury to Cole Hamels does not bode well, his large workload increase last year may already be showing. I think the Braves rotation has made enormous strides, more on the Lowe side than the Vazquez side (a player can only underachieve his FIP for so long before something is just up). The Mets are just the most solid team all around and since they’ve held the divisional lead in Sept. two years running now, third time should be the charm right?

I understand the concern about Hamels, but didn’t Johan Santana have the exact same concerns a week before Hamels? Yes the Braves improved with Lowe, but is he (and Vazquez) enough to push them from 72 to approximately 88 wins? And the Mets are not the “most solid team all around.” Sorry. They have glaring holes (outfield, rotation, middle relief) that the Phils don’t have.

At CBS Sportsline two of the four writers like the Phillies in the East, while the other two like the Mets. Three have the Phillies in the playoffs, but none say pennant. For what it’s worth, three of the four writers think it’s finally the Cubs’ year to win the whole thing.

And at SI.com, four of their 13 writers like the Phillies. All other nine? Mets. At least 12 of the 13 think the Phillies will make the playoffs (12 of the 13 writers like either the Phils or Mets to take the Wild Card). Two of their writers like the Phillies in the National League.

So yes, after winning two consecutive division championships, an NL pennant and a world championship, the Phillies are … yet again … solid underdogs.

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  1. Gavin

    April 3, 2009 at 11:54 am

    IMO, keep picking the Mets. This team is already self motivated, but nothing should piss them off more than to beat the Mets 2 years in a row, win the WS and still have the Mets picked to beat them. We are better in the underdog role anyway.

    Keep picking the Mutts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  2. ryan

    April 3, 2009 at 11:57 am

    how are the mets the most solid team? what is that guy smoking. the mets have a ton of holes. their starting pitching is awful after santana. they are counting on huge years from john maine, mike pelfrey, and oliver perez. i wouldn’t expect anything at all from those three. also, who are their corner outfielders? they’re a joke. also, watching JJ putz this spring reminds me of Freddy Garcia circa 2007 spring training with the phils. his arm is falling off. i wouldn’t expect him to last the season. and with the angels working him into the ground last year, the same could easily be true for K-rod.

  3. Richie

    April 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Good!! Who cares what anyone else thinks…see if they would like to join us in unveiling our “World Ph***kin Champions” banner on Sunday? We will be serving plenty of “hater” ade for them.

  4. Don M

    April 3, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Well you have to look at the upside that both Carlos Delgado and Livan Hernandez have..

    I read that Cole Hamels has nothing but downside from here out..

    so clearly, these guys know what they are talking about.

    they are ASS CLOWNS.

  5. CT

    April 3, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    i’m fine with the media still pegging the Phillies as underdogs. i think they do their best and thrive when they have to scrap it out. it’s how they got here in the first place.

  6. psujoe

    April 3, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Yawn. The ubs are gerat on paper, that’s it. I’m worried aout Moyer, but Happ is more than an able replacement if need be. It’s all good.

  7. mike

    April 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    To be fair you have to think the mets are better with that bullpen, The atlanta braves I don’t see that one, they can’t field terrible infield, decent hitting, but what bullpen do they have, and two starters in lowe and vasquez who don ‘t scare anyone.

  8. Griffin

    April 3, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    The Braves still have a lot of questions. Is Chipper healthy? Can Francoeur rebound? Is Jordan Schafer any good? How do you get by with a 1B that doesn’t hit 15 HRs? Are Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano healthy?

    I think the Mets and the Phillies are the class of the division with Atlanta solidly in third place and the Marlins pitching threatening to keep them around .500, and for what it’s worth, the Nats should be a bit better this year.

  9. Don M

    April 3, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Sheffield to the Mets?

    Looks like it, according to reports on mlbtraderumors… he could get playing time in either Corner OF spot.. I’m guessing he’ll replace Church in the lineup, Murphy would move to RF? and Sheff in Left

  10. Justin

    April 3, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I love it the Mets are overpaying to make up for all their misgivings i would love them to sign Sheff, and see it not work out, they are going no where and if all the rumors about Sheff being a cancer are real i’m glad he can go to NY and make a mess of what little clubhouse chemistry they have.

  11. Ryan

    April 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Let them pick the Mets..We are the defending champs..and no one can take that away….The Mets have hugh holes..and Why everybody thinks the Mets Bullpen is good now is sadly mistaken…They got TWO players for their Bullpen..K-rod..Who will lose velocity on his fastball..(he already was as the year moved on, hence his effectiveness and save totals fell as the year moved on) is very injury prone…He has had injuries in the past..and I see the mets trying to ride him too much and blowing his arm out…JJ Putz..Hmmm 2008? His stuff is completely different from 2007…He suffered the major injury last year and if he pitches anything like he has in the WBC/Spring Training, he will get booed out of New York Uncontrollably…Why Livan Hernandez over Tim Redding? Tim Redding DOMINATES the NL East…Look for yourselves…Mets Outfield? Carried by Concussed Ryan Church, Carlos Beltrans bad knees, and promising Daniel Murphy…2B? Castillo hahaha…Catcher lacks a bat like the phils….Mets are Overrated every year to be favorites to win the whole damn thing

  12. Jason B.

    April 3, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Are they serious about the Braves finishing ahead of us? Why, because they got Derek Lowe? Not exactally a top tier guy in my book… and on the downswing at that. As far as the Mets are concerned, I have gotten really used to the national guys kissing the behind of the New York organizations that it just doesn’t bother me anymore. Sure, ok, the Mets are gonna win the division…whatever. What happened the last 2 years? K-Rod is an upgrade, other than that, the bull pen is still mediocre at best. Putz is the most overrated arm in the National League. I place the bet now… Lidge has more saves and less blown saves than K-Rod this season.

  13. Mark

    April 3, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Can your blog make a bet with some of these writers that if they’re wrong, every daily reader of your blog gets to kick them in the balls? It’s only fair being that they write off Philadelphia sports organizations every year in any sport.

    I like it in a way but also take it as a slight insult. Where’s the respect we deserve?

  14. Griffin

    April 3, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Sheffield to the Mets? That’s a great signing, no risk and he’s better than Tatis or Nick Evans. I can see him teeing off on Scot Eyre. Crap.

  15. BurrGundy

    April 3, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    The Phils have much better luck when they are underdogs. I am glad “The Experts” think they are underdogs. Hey, the Mets were favorites the past two years and look what happened.

  16. Travis

    April 3, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Even though we’re world champs, the pressure is again building on the mets. Another thing is how the heck are mets solid all around. Their outfield got holes, 2nd base has holes, depth after santana. man, the mets acquire 3 guys to help their bullpen and all of a sudden there world champions? ya right. its not 3guy or 1man team. the whole frickin team gotta work. Mets should be better than last year but still.

  17. Chuck P

    April 3, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I’ll take that bet, Mark… with my steel-toed boots laced up and ready to go.

    I just don’t get it… the Mets lost four of their best relievers and added two good relievers (both injury prone) and two awful ones. Sean Green had a 4.67 ERA playing in cavernous Seattle. The other guys are SLOP. They’re putting a lot of pressure on two guys… the NY media pressure can be a terrible thing. Say what you want, K-Fraud is not an upgrade over a healthy Billy Wagner. Wagner was phenomenal in the early going last season and where did that get them? Chasing us at the all-star break. They’re an average defensive team… they have holes (LF, RF, 2B, C) and we’ve been better than them for the past two seasons. Let them say what they want, we are still the team to beat.

  18. Don M

    April 3, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    The experts are always right, last year in the World Series, the Angels beat the Cubs, didn’t they??

    Oh I mean the Cubs beat the RedSox..

    Did the Dodgers beat the Angels?..

    I get confused when all the experts give us their EXPERT opinions all the time..

    I know for a fact though that the Dodgers beat the Phillies in the NLCS because most of the ESPN guys picked the Dodgers, so that has to be correct..

  19. Travis

    April 3, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Fox Sports Aram Tolegian has mets first, phils second, braves third, marlins 4th and nats 5th.
    His take on Phillies “Cole Hamels’ elbow, the fifth starter’s job and Chase Utley’s hip — those are the issues that keep us from calling for a Phillies repeat in the East. It’s just hard to imagine that the same magic that carried the rotation after Hamels last season isn’t likely to be there in ’09. Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton and whoever holds down the fifth starter’s job? Sorry, but that’s not a rotation you can bank on. In fact, it might be fourth best in the division. The Phils can still hit, and adding Raul Ibanez stabilizes the offense in a way Pat Burrell never could. Projected wins: 88-92.”

    His take on Mets “Yes, they’re actually going to pull it off … finish the job … whatever you want to call it. What did in the Mets last season was their terrible bullpen. That problem is now more than solved with J.J. Putz setting up Francisco Rodriguez. You can expect both to put up great numbers in their first NL go ’round. Especially K-Rod. Keeping Johan Santana healthy is the biggest thing the Mets have to worry about. The rotation after Johan is a concern, but chances are the Mets add an arm before the deadline. Projected wins: 90-94.”

  20. Don M

    April 3, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I’ve never even heard of half of the “experts” either.. guys that are writers, and probably got picked-on by the guys on their high school’s baseball team.

  21. SheaGoodbye

    April 3, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Ryan if you are going to break down the Mets at least do a little research. Saying the Mets starting pitching is “awful” after Santana is a pretty ridiculous statement. Just look at the numbers from last year. And Tim Redding is out indefinitely with an injury — hence Livan Hernandez.

    And Chuck, please name these “four of their best relievers.” As you should know as a Phils fan, no Met reliever from last year should have “best” anywhere near his name.

    All this said, I really wish more people would pick the Phils as the favorite as they clearly deserve it and it would be nice for the Mets to assume the underdog role.

  22. Travis

    April 3, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Fox Ken Rosenthal puts the mets into the “On the edge” division and says this about them. “J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez will fortify the bullpen, but the rotation beyond Johan Santana could be a problem before September.” He puts the phillies into the national league champion division and says this about them. “The health of Cole Hamels is the key to the NL. If the left-hander pitches 200 innings, the Phillies should repeat. If not, the race becomes wide-open.” He sees the rays as world champions. Poll on fox sports most likely to return to series and 64% says phils compared to 36% rays. I truly believe that the rays will be a great team now and in the future but after that long run in october and november, the rays and their young guys will fall back to earth but will still be competitive and maybe make the playoffs.

  23. Travis

    April 3, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Espn on picks on phils. 3em picked to finish 1st, 1guy picked 2nd and other 3rd. Sunday is when espn experts predict who will win it all.

  24. Travis

    April 3, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    WBC effect again. Ichiro on 15 day disabled list

  25. Chuck P

    April 3, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Billy Wagner 45 g, 2.30 ERA, 183 ERA + (best among relievers)
    Joe Smith 82 g, 3.55 ERA, 118 ERA + (3rd best among relievers)
    Scott Schoenweis 73 g, 3.34 ERA, 126 ERA + (2nd among relievers)
    Duaner Sanchez 66 g, 4.32 ERA, 97 ERA + (5th)

    If the Mets starters can get late into games on a regular basis, their bullpen will be able to handle the grind. If not, I see that bullpen being the problem again. Joe Smith was pretty good… Schoenweis was serviceable. Wagner’s injury hurt but we were still in first while he was around. Besides Putz and K-Rod, the guys you got are no better than what you had and most of your starters still average less than 6 innings so it’s going to take more than two relievers.

  26. Don M

    April 3, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    ESPN’s 2008 Predictions: (March 30, 2008)

    11-of-19 had BOTH teams in World Series that turned out which NEITHER even made the playoffs. (Tigers or Indians beating the Mets was the most popular pick)

    Mets, Indians, Tigers, D-Backs, Braves, Mariners!, were among the favorites..

    A total of 6 guys had the Phillies making the Playoffs.
    A total of ZERO had the Rays making the Playoffs.

    Jayson Stark picked 2-of-8 Playoff Teams correctly, RedSox and Cubs.
    Peter Gammons picked 3-of-8 Playoff Teams correctly, RedSox, Cubs, Angels.
    Buster Olney picked 2-of-8 (RedSox, Cubs)
    Tim Kurjian picked 5-of-8 (RedSox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Phillies)


  27. Griffin

    April 3, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I can’t believe Scott Schoenweiss had a 3.34 ERA. I had to look that one up and it’s true! I thought it would have been at least 5.00

  28. Brett

    April 3, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Duaner Sanchez made the Phillies look like they were hitting off of a tee every time he pitched against them. J.J. Putz is done, watching him pitch in the WBC was offensive to all baseball fans everywhere, and K-Rod is another overrated typical New York player. Stats are meaningless without the intangibles, but the Phillies have both. Phils win 94 games, Mets 90, Marlins 88, then Braves and Nats.

  29. SheaGoodbye

    April 3, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I love how K-Rod is “another overrated typical New York player” before he’s even thrown a pitch with the Mets…

    And the Mets cut Duaner Sanchez about a month ago so I’m not sure why his name is even being brought up. You guys are missing the point — the sportswriters are just pointing out that the Mets bullpen is much improved from the end of last season when they blew all of those games and subsequently a playoff spot. If you can’t see that I’m not sure what to tell you.

  30. SheaGoodbye

    April 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I love how K-Rod is “another overrated typical New York player” before he’s even thrown a pitch with the Mets. So he wasn’t overrated with the Angels but now he’s overrated because he’s now in New York?

    And the Mets cut Duaner Sanchez about a month ago so I’m not sure why his name is even being brought up. You guys are missing the point — the sportswriters are just pointing out that the Mets bullpen is much improved from the end of last season when they blew all of those games and subsequently a playoff spot. If you can’t see that I’m not sure what to tell you.

  31. estrada

    April 3, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    let’s be honest, the mets are good, there are no doubts about it. again, let’s be honost, the phillies are good. now, both teams are really good, prob the best in the nl (you can put hte cubbies and dodgers with the best also)…i think it’s a pretty good bet that all 4 will make the playoffs.

    now, predictions are meaningless…people picked the braves last year, mets this year, and in 06, i can’t remember but i’m sure it wasn’t the mets for the division. so who cares who picks what?

    in the end, the mets and phils will prob BOTH be in the playoffs. that’s what matters.

  32. Grrrumpy Miner

    April 3, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    SNY and SI’s Jon Heyman reporting Mets get Gary Sheffield.Mets ONLY responsible for 400 Grand for him.I’m not really sold on him as of yet….however a 4th outfielder and experience on the bench should help the Amazins a lot.SURE his Avg and Offense has caught up to him and a .178 Avg in S/T.But anyway good luck gary on your potential final shot.

  33. Don M

    April 3, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    8 blown saves is pretty good..

    Saves are one of the easiest stats to pick up in baseball.. a closer has like a 70% sucess rate based on the odds.. up to a 3 run lead, starting the inning with nobody on base, etc.. and he still managed to collect 8 blown saves.

    Maybe his “stuff” is great, who knows.. but there are a bunch of guys i’d rather have closing for my team than K-Rod.. Putz might even be on that list

  34. Don M

    April 3, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    He’ll get booed like crazy when they come here.. that is exactly what the Mets need though, another aging veteran to play a corner OF spot.. It worked so well with Moises Alou

  35. SheaGoodbye

    April 3, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Don M don’t worry he’s going to get booed like crazy at Citi Field too unless he gets off to a very hot start. This move is not popular with Mets fans at all.

  36. Chuck P

    April 3, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Shea… you’re missing the point… Duaner was actually one of your better relievers and that’s why he was brought up. He was awful against the Phillies but he pitched in 66 games. Someone is going to have to fill those innings. Right now, that someone is either Feliciano (ERA 4.05), Sean Green (4.67 ERA… in Seattle) and/or any one of the three relievers with less than 30 games pitched in 2008.

  37. estrada

    April 3, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Chuck P. I think met fans know more about who was better and who wasn’t. Duaner was not getting it done at the end of last season and during spring he was getting shelled.

  38. SheaGoodbye

    April 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I loved Duaner in 2006 but after his car accident at the All-Star break he’s never been the same. And Estrada is right he could barely throw in Spring Training. Saying the Mets bullpen is going to suffer because he’s gone is a big stretch. If that were the case then why would they cut him? You’re acting like he signed as a free agent elsewhere.

  39. Keith

    April 3, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Good!! No need to look here. We’ll see all those “geniuses” in October.

  40. TJ

    April 3, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Tim Kurkjian is the only “expert” I like for a baseball insight outside of Gammons.

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