For the first time in my life, I’d be shocked if the Phillies didn’t make the World Series. I mean, they’ve won the past 2 pennants with the same basic core group of players they’ve got right now. But what happens when they get there?
The way I see it, the Phillies have two main rivals for the division: the Braves and Mets. Once they get out of the division, I’d say that last year’s three other playoff teams (Rockies, Cardinals, and Dodgers) are a threat in the National League playoffs. Honestly, the Giants and Cubs might make a push for the pennant, but they’re so dysfunctional that I seriously doubt the likelihood of such an occurrence.
In the American League, the Yankees and Red Sox stand head and shoulders above everyone else, with the Rays, Mariners, and Angels in the second tier of contenders. Nothing good’s going to come out of the Central, trust me. Of course, now that I’ve said that, we can all bank on a Twins-Giants World Series next November.
So that makes 10 teams in all. The Phillies, if they’re going to win the World Series this fall, will have to make it through some combination of those teams. With all the wheeling and dealing going on, who out of those teams has gotten better, compared to last season, and who has gotten worse?
In short, how well and truly screwed are the Phillies heading into next fall?
Now, this is going to be an extremely unscientific analysis. Originally, I was just going to consider major acquisitions and departures (the Yankees lose Melky Cabrera and Johnny Damon but pick up Javier Vazquez and Curtis Granderson, for instance), and compare WAR from 2009 and the CHONE projections in 2010 (available on FanGraphs), but I figure, why not make this an 11-part series? So I’ll put together a 25-man roster for each of these 11 teams (or, more accurately, outsource it to India, where our Phrontiertern, Vikram, will do it for 10 cents on the dollar), total up the 2009 WAR and the 2010 CHONE-predicted WAR, and get back to you with the list, the totals, and some brief analysis.
I realize that rosters haven’t been finalized, and that each team will probably field at least one player that none of us has ever heard of, but I hope that it will just give an impression of where we stand.
Finally, FEEL FREE TO COMMENT. The whole point of this experiment is to start irrational screaming matches, so if you think something’s way off, speak up fachrissake.
That is all. See you, most likely tomorrow, with part I: The Atlanta Braves.