The Three Biggest Concerns – Phillies Nation

The Three Biggest Concerns

That time of the year is quickly approaching, folks.  Pitchers and catchers report in just two days.  On paper, the 2010 Phillies look better than they did at this point in 2009.  The lineup is set, the bench is improved, but there are still a few question marks headed into spring training. 

It’s unsure how Placido Polanco will transition to third base.  It’s also unknown who will be the left-handed specialist if J.C Romero is not ready by the beginning of the season.  But here are the three biggest concerns headed into spring training:

Brad Lidge

By now, we know his 2009 numbers — an earned run average over seven and eleven blown saves.  He had one of the worst seasons as a closer, ever.   Lidge had two surgeries this off-season, and his status for Opening Day is unknown.

Lidge may not be ready by the start of the season, but he should not miss a significant amount of time.  In the occasions that Lidge had an off year, he followed it up with a decent year.  If the pattern continues, Lidge is due for a good season.

Cole Hamels

Last year, Hamels pitched average  for a major league pitcher.  For Cole Hamels, it was a subpar season.  As the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP, Hamels had plenty of off-season distractions last off-season.  It’ll be interesting to hear how Hamels prepared for the 2010 season.  Hopefully, he had more time to focus, but the biggest concern is improving his curveball.

Hamels’ curveball problems were easily noticed in last year’s division series.  If Hamels is unable to improve his curveball, he should immedietly switch to a slider or cut-fastball.  As a two-pitch pitcher, it is important for Hamels to develop a third pitch.  Adding another pitch will make him that much scarier of a pitcher.

Jamie Moyer 

Ruben Amaro Jr. already proclaimed that the fifth spot in the rotation is Moyer’s to lose.  However, Moyer had multiple surgeries and health problems this off-season.  The 47-year old remains optimistic that he’ll be ready to pitch this spring, and was also open to the idea of pitching in 2011!

If Moyer does not win the fifth starter’s job, it’ll be interesting to see who wins it: Kyle Kendrick? Andrew Carpenter? Or somebody else?



  1. Red McNertney

    February 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I think “THE FIFTH STARTER” is a bigger concern than Moyer. Will Kendrick be able to fill the role. I just do not see Moyer making much of a contribution next year. I hope I am wrong because I love to root for the gutsy guy, but we must be realistic. Hopefully Lidge can come back and Hamels can regain the magic.

  2. Georgie

    February 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I’m less concerned about the fifth starter, that will work itself out, I think. Doubtful it will be Moyer, but you never know.

    Lidge and Hamels, on the other hand, are cause for great concern, at least until we know what we’re getting. I’m afraid we’re pretty much screwed if one or both of them don’t live up to expectations. We should know pretty early into the season if Cole has returned to form, he should be ready to prove something to himself, the team, and the fans. If he doesn’t come into ST with that attitude, then I will begin to question his commitment to the game.

    After last season, Lidge’s mental, as well as physical, well-being are in question, and since he probably won’t be ready until the season has started, our closer situation will be a wild card for a while. Let’s just hope he’s got it all together by the time he comes back.

    All that being said, the Phillies are going to be FUN, FUN, FUN to watch, and we’re very lucky to have such a great team to call our own.

    Here’s to no more snow, an early spring, and WFC2010!

  3. Ryan S

    February 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I’m certain that Brad Lidge had THE worst season ever recorded by a closer. Most closers who are that bad don’t close for the entire season. The shear fact that Charlie Manual “stuck by his guy” only helped solidifying Brad Lidge’s 2009 campaign as the worst season ever recorded by a closer.

  4. George

    February 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Manuel had little choice except to “stick by his guy.” Madson couldn’t seem to do the job, Romero wasn’t available, etc. etc.

    This year there are some backups, though not particularly excellent ones. Lidge is still “the guy,” but trouble may not be as much of an issue.

  5. Fish

    February 15, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Lidge’s season last year was……shall we say…. Blowpacolipse?

    I worry about the rotation in general. Hamels needs to bounce back, but Blanton had a great year (for him) last year…..can he duplicate that? Happ is a sophomore and the league will adjust to him. How will he adjust? Those are bigger concerns to me.

    BTW, I’m going out on a limb and predicting that KK has a huge year for the Phils in the #5 slot.

  6. Chuck

    February 15, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    If Jamie Moyer is “open to the idea of pitching in 2011″…he’d better be open to doing it somewhere else…

    Unless Moyer has an UNBELIEVABLE season…this will be his last as a Phillie.

    I hope he goes out and has a good year…helps the Phils win…I’ll be rooting for him to contribute wherever he can.

  7. shag beta sigma delta

    February 15, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    I have slight concern with Hamels, but I really think he will be better mentally prepared this year. IMO that is what his problem was last year, when he gave up a hit or did not get a call, or someone made an error, he imploded, unlike 08 where he did not seemed phased by mistakes. I think he felt he would show up and pitch a shut out every time. He is still a young guy, and we will know early on if he learned from 09 and I think Doc will help a lot with him.
    For me the only real concern with Lidge is his health. If he waits until he is truly physically ready to pitch I think he will be fine. I just hope he does not rush back to prove something. Also mentally I think keeping his closer job all year despite having a really bad year will help him. He knows he does not have to look over his shoulder, and he has proven he can come back mentally after getting rocked, look at 07 he lost his job as a closer in Houston and did not pitch well, but he came over to the Phillies and was perfect. Not that I expect that of him in 10, but I do not see a 7 era or 11 blown saves this year.
    5th starter does it really matter? I mean look at what we used last year, and if Moyer is it and wins 12 games again isn’t that good enough or a #5 guy. Look at Carpenter, Bastardo, Lopez, they all pitched well in their first starts, maybe none of them would pitch well for 15-20 starts, but I think it proved you can piece together that #5 spot and it will not hurt your team.

  8. George

    February 15, 2010 at 5:59 pm


    Don’t worry too much about Blanton. 2009 was not his best year. He had some really good ones with Oakland, too, winning as many as 16 games. There’s no reason to think he can’t duplicate 2009.

  9. PhxPhilly

    February 15, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    As alluded to in the comments my biggest concerns are more general but same theme:

    1) CLOSER: Lidge has the job but may not start the season. Madson just seems to be risky as a closer and solid as a set-up guy. Can Baez handle to job? Romero seems to have the guts but he can walk the bases loaded then try to find a way out of the inning. What about Mathieson?

    2) ROTATION (Middle): Everyone assumes Halladay will be great and Moyer/5th starter terrible. Probably a reasonable assumption but the middle of the rotation, mostly Happ, will be critical. With an unknown bullpen, if Hamels, Blanton, and Happ cannot pitch 6 good innings the bullpen will be on life support in a hurry. And an injury at the top of the rotation means Blanton moves to #2, unproven Happ to #3 and Moyer to #4. That is the scary part for me.

    3) REST: The core team players are over 30 and have played extra games for 3 straight seasons. I really hope Charlie gives each starter 4 to 5 games off each month. Dobbs and Francisco are quality backups and need at-bats to stay fresh.
    Francisco can fill in at all three OF positions so he should start at least twice a week. Dobbs can play 3B or 1B with Polanco moving to 2B when needed. The only real poor backup is Castro for Rollins.
    With Victorino able to bat at the top of the order the #7 hitter would be either Dobbs or Francisco on most nights. They have to be as good as Feliz last season, right?

  10. Allentown Fan

    February 15, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    If Hammels doesn’t produce this year, the Lee trade is a bust. Hope it doesn’t come to that. Everyone will be rethinking that trade!

  11. Badfinger

    February 16, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Hamels is about my least-worrying concern heading into this season. I’d probably rank Chase Utley suddenly retiring mid-season above Hamels “bouncing back”. If the team ever scored their season average in runs for him he’d all of a sudden be ‘great’ because along with incredible k/9, k:bb, WHIP, xFIP, and ERA numbers he’d magically have 20 wins and people would be quiet.

  12. Evelyn

    February 16, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Allentown fan is right–the lee trade hinges on the production of cole. I adore Jaime Moyer and believe that his intelligence can continue to leave bats flying at his 80mph changeup. Lidge will bounce back, he was just too good in 08 to continue to suck this bad

  13. NJ

    February 16, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Isn’t the biggest concern whether we’ll be able to survive the loss of Brett Myers…?

    I know… Made me laugh too

  14. bfo_33

    February 16, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Quick – name the 5th starter on any baseball team besides the Phils. Name the 4th starter. The 5th spot on the Phils is a topic of interest and debate, but certainly not concern. It’s Moyer spot to lose, but there are cheap alternatives already in the system if he doesn’t have it.
    Lidge is a legitimate concern, but the pen looks deeper than last year, should be able to survive if he has to sit for a bit and heal up (physically or mentally).
    I expect that Cole learned a few things in the past year, plus didn’t have as many off-season distractions, should come in prepared. Pitching after Doc is going to be a huge advantage for him, even if his stuff is only average.
    The NL East may be the worst division in baseball (short of the AL central, anyway). We shouldn’t need a career year from anyone to get to the playoffs – if all play to their career average, the race will be over by Sept (but we’re looking for more than a playoff birth). Hopefully, with a deeper bench, Charlie will be able to give the starting 8 more rest (at least 3 games/month).
    Go Phils.

  15. WFC010

    February 16, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Don’t laugh about Myers, he’d be really handy to have right now…

  16. The Dipsy

    February 16, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Worst division? The Braves are gonna win a lot of games this year. Their pitching is better than ours and they are GONNA sign an outfielder to put in that slot. Jurjjens may win the Cy Young. He’s a stud.

    The Dipsy

  17. George

    February 16, 2010 at 8:55 am

    I’ll agree with The Dipsy here. The NL East is not the worst division, and it’s a lot better this year than last. The Braves have a good rotation–although Jurjjens is scheduled for a precautionary MRI–the Mets can’t possibly have the injuries they did last year, Florida always seems to put a decent team on the field, and the Nats have made gigantic improvements.

    Myers would only be handy if he had a brain transplant and if his fastball hadn’t slowed in the past few years.

  18. Chuck

    February 16, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Of all the other teams in the NL East…the Braves scare me the most…if anybody thinks that they won’t be a factor in the division….look again.

  19. Brooks

    February 16, 2010 at 9:25 am

    The cold facts are that the Phils won the NL WITHOUT a certified closer. Without a secure #2 (Happ became my reliable #2) and without Jamie Moyer for a part of the season.
    The Phils pitching is NOT the reason they lost the WS, it was the shutdown of the hitting machine.
    I do believe however, the number 1 concern to me is the closer
    #2 Hamels (these 2 are very close in importance)
    #3 What will Jimmy Rollins do?

    I am not at all concerned about the 5th starting spot on the rotation. It may be Moyer, Kendrick, who knows, Carpenter or Mathiason might get a shot.

    Keeping healthy is actually the #1 concern!

  20. Chuck

    February 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Myers may be “handy’ right now…but he wore out his welcome in the clubhouse.

    Maybe the move to Houston will help him to grow up a little.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a decent year for the Astros..he has something to prove…and the change of scenery will do him good.

  21. bfo_33

    February 16, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Take the Phils out and what division is worse? Atlanta – traded away ace, ace in training having an MRI. Hudson is solid, but beatable, a good # 2. Derek Lowe is a 0.500 pitcher who gets rattled in big spots. And? Offense – The Pitt kid is decent, SS, McCann, Melky will do well. Chipper will be lucky to play 100 games. They didn’t score runs last year, don’t expect them to this year. They have a shot at the wild card.
    The Mets: 1st base? 2nd base? Reyes hasn’t played for a year, and hamstring injuries often never come back (see Griffey). Not good for a guy who depends on speed. Wright looked lost at the plate and in the field the 2nd half of last year, will he come back?. Bay will punish bad pitching, have nice stats, but won’t contribute much. When will Beltran be back, and what will he have? Fire Marshall Bill will have a nice April, then settle in to the Mendoza line. None of their catchers are suitable for anything but back-up roles – can’t hit, bad defensively. They’ll give up more steals than any other team in the league, post .200/.250/.350 at the plate. If Santana is healthy, he’s a legit ace. After that, they don’t have a starter who can throw strikes. You don’t need a closer when you’re down by 4. The Fish have talent, but can’t put it together. The Nats are the Nats.
    AL East has three legit teams, and Balt has some talent, will win it’s share of games. The AL central is comparably bad. AL West – Rangers and Sea are better, LAA seems to find a way. Oak is bad. NL Central – Cards, Brewers, not much else (comparable to the NL East). NL West – Rockies look good, Dodgers have no pitching, but a good offense, will hang in there, Diamondbacks are like Balt, overmatched, but will win some games, Padres are terrible. My rank, worst to best:
    AL Central Twins
    NL East Phils
    NL Central Cards,
    AL West Sea
    NL West Rockies
    AL East Yanks
    Brewers, Dodgers, and Braves will battle for the WC, braves fade by mid sept. Al Wild card will be a battle between LAA, Tex, and Bos, with the Rays hanging in.

    Of course, someone will drop off a cliff (injury or age), others will put up career numbers. Going off career average of players, the NL East is a bad division after the Phils. Money back guarentee on predictions.

  22. bfo_33

    February 16, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Forgot about the Giants in the West – I think they’ll keep it interesting also, but not enough offense, will fade by Sept, a shot at the wildcard.
    I’m not saying to pack it in because the season is over. The Phils have a frustrating tendency to lose focus when they get too far up, then turn it back on when someone gets close. We’re not going to clinch in Aug, but I don’t see a team that will be within 5 games any part of Sept.
    There are only two positions in the east that the Phils don’t have the best player: 3rd base – Zimmerman, Wright; and SS – Ramirez (although I think I’d stay with Jimmy due to defense and attitude), maybe McCann over Carlos, but Phils have an edge with Schneider at back-up. Pitching – K-Rod at closer, but the Phils win out matching our top 4 starters over any else’s (Atl a close second, Marlins in the discussion).
    Maybe I’m too dumb to be concerned, but I’m glad we’re in the NL East.

  23. Chuck

    February 16, 2010 at 11:06 am

    So it’s like I said….we need to the MOST concerned about the Braves…and yes…the Marlins somehow always seems to give us fits.

    All said…the Phils will most likely win the division handily….let’s just not get too, too comfortable BEFORE Spring Training even starts.

  24. Philly Texan

    February 16, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Atlanta may well take a step back this year.

    I agree, they’ll be good, but maybe not as good as last year. They traded Vasquez, who was probably their best pitcher in the second half.

    And they lost both their bullpen guys: Soriano and Gonzalez. Those guys were lights out last year, and now they have Billy Wagner, who, I believe, is 67 years old. Hard to see him holding up for the whole season.

    Still have a great rotation, though Lowe may be on the decline. But overall their pitching won’t be as good, and I’m not sure they can score enough runs. Will Chipper and Damon stay healthy?

    Lots of talent. But the Braves have way more questions marks than the Phils.

    The Marlins still scare me the most. They might have a better rotation than the Braves this year. If that team ever develops a decent bullpen, they’ll be scary.

  25. Art

    February 16, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I believe that there were too many distractions in the bullpen last year. Everyone thought that they were stars due to the MLB Network show The Bullpen. Maybe without TV cameras following them around for the first half of the season, they can concentrate on the job at hand, study film, and be ready to pitch mentally when they are summoned from the bullpen. My thoughts are that this show hurt the team more than any hitters that they faced.

  26. WFC010

    February 16, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I think Nationals will do better than they are expected to, and the Mets have a solid shot of finishing 3rd or 4th. But the Nationals have definitely improved a lot more than the Mets this offseason, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish ahead of the Mets.

  27. Don M

    February 16, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Braves now have a better offense, probably better OF defense… and now they have Escobar.. and pitchers- Jurrgens and Hanson with more experience than last year … a returning Tim Hudson too

    I think the Braves are a playoff team

  28. Don M

    February 16, 2010 at 11:36 am

    The Mets, when healthy.. will have Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Bay …. We don’t fear them as much as season’s past.. mostly because we are now the “gold standard” in the NL East

    but they wont be as bad as they were last year.. which was due mostly to injury

  29. Don M

    February 16, 2010 at 11:44 am

    professional athletes have TV cameras around all day anyway.. local sports channels, their website production crews, etc … I don’t think the MLB cameras had anything to do with guys battling injury the year after a long-playoff run and extended season

  30. Philly Texan

    February 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    How do the Braves have a better offense?

    I’ll grant you that Melky is an upgrade in the outfield. But Chipper was healthy most of last year, which is no given this time around. And they had big seasons from Diaz and Prado.

    Escobar is a head case who may make the all star team as to fall into Cox’s dog house and get benched

    Also: look at the bullpen. They’re counting on Wagner and Saito — two 40 year olds who pitched a COMBINED 70 games last year. That’s a huge drop off from last season, when Soriano and Gonzalez were among the best in the business. And we think the Phils bullpen has question marks……

    With that offense and that bullpen, they might blow a lot of leads this year and lose close games. They won 86 last season Not sure they’ll be much better than that.

  31. Bob in Bucks

    February 16, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    I am not worried about the fifth starter. This is always a question mark and they pulled it off last year.
    Actually closer is not really an issue. We won the NL pennant without a closer last year and I simply don’t believe it is possible to be as bad this year. Even an average guy would do better and they won’t wait as long so I see closer as an upgrade over 2009.
    The real question is the hot and cold hitting streaks. Ibanez and Utley in the spring and Howard in August and September is too choppy. I don’t think it will happen but more plate discipline and situational hitting is what the Phillies need (do you hear me JRoll, Victorino and yes Howard?

    I know streaks are part of the game but hitting to the right side of the infield with a runner on second is not brain surgery. Advancing runners will provide for a lower run total but more wins. Adjusting your approach with two strikes is not hard to do. Choke up and make contact and reduce the strikeouts. So much for my dream!

  32. Don M

    February 16, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Last year they had McCann, Garret Anderson, and Chipper all banged-up at the same time

    McCann got his eye situation figured out.. They’ll have a full season with Nate McLouth in CF …. Melky Cabrera is a defensive upgrade in LF over Garrett Anderson (and in my opinion, he’s an offensive upgrade too)

    Matt Diaz, now with some experience should be a better hitter, but is already a lifetime .310

    Yunel Escobar … in 2.5 pro seasons, he’s a .301 hitter, with some power that should reach its peak soon, and could make him a 20 HR hitter

    Troy Glaus.. if healthy could be a valuable 6th-7th hitter for them

    Martin Prado.. a utility player that also hits .300

    Omar Infante.. light hitting, but solid all-around.. not sure who plays 2b for them this year?

    but basically a lineup of:
    McLouth, Escobar, McCann, Chipper, Matt Diaz, Melky Cabrera, Troy Glaus, Infante, Pitcher

    is pretty good on paper

    … … …
    Kawakami has moved to bullpen, and could be very effective in a Chan Ho Park. once through the lineup role

    Wagner and Saito aren’t young.. but they’ve been in pressure situations and I expect they’ll be tough on our Left-hand heavy lineup

    I expect the Braves to win between 85-90 this year

  33. Chuck

    February 16, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    90 wins from the Braves and they could be a wild card team….and in the playoffs….who knows..

    The lineup you mention DOES look very impressive….on paper…

    I like ours better.

    Damn…this snow is pissing me off!! Can’t wait for this season to start already!!!!!!

  34. Matt M

    February 16, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Atlanta isn’t going to eve be a threat this year. They can’t hit, they have huge questions in the back of the bullpen where they are depending on Wagner and Saito, two 39+ year old relievers, while they have a great 1-2 with Jurrjens and Hanson, and I’m not convinced that Hudson, 35 coming off of major elbow surgery, and Lowe who looked every bit of his 36 years in ’09 will be better than Happ, who will have a slight regression, and Blanton.

    The team that people are going to have to look out for is Florida.

  35. Chuck

    February 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Here’s the thing…one or two players…on any team…can either have a great year…as expected

    OR…they could falter…have an off year…

    And that can swing a divisional race..

    Atlanta LOOKS good on paper…sure there are question marks..

    But if some of those question marks turn out to be unfounded..for example, Wagner …then the Braves are that much better…and more of a contender..

    On the flip side…if Wagner totally sucks…then that’s that fewer wins that the Braves can count on.

    That’s why you can’t count the Braves out at all.

  36. Don M

    February 16, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    In my opinion.. the Marlins have a young, free-swinging lineup .. that COULD be very dangerous.. but looks to be very streaky

    Their bullpen is worse than the Braves, because the Braves “old” players.. give them experience

    The Marlins rotation to STUD Josh Johnson.. and then a bunch of guys that remind me of Brett Myers . . .loads of upside, inability to keep things in the strike-zone effectively .. and inability to stay healthy

  37. Chuck

    February 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Right…but if a team like the Marlins were to catch lightning in a bottle…then things get interesting..

    It always seems like there’s a team each year that’s like that…a total surprise…or a team that OVER achieves.

  38. WFC010

    February 16, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Don M said:

    “In my opinion.. the Marlins have a young, free-swinging lineup .. that COULD be very dangerous.. but looks to be very streaky”

    Yes, but many of our Phillies guys are rather streaky as well.

    That said, I still think the Phillies are definitely a better overall team than the Marlins…but I wouldn’t underestimate them either.

  39. Don M

    February 16, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Phillies are streaky.. with a proven ability to perform …

    The Marlins are still counting on guys like Cameron Maybin to breakout, and they rely greatly on Dan Uggla … who is as close to Pat Burrell as you can get

    If everything works out, they could be good.. but I can’t see them finished ahead of the Phillies or Braves in the NL EAST

    the new thing i’m reading is everyone picking the REDS as the sexy pick in 2010 . .. . in my opinion, they’ll suck again

  40. Chuck

    February 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I see more and more guys wearing Reds hats….what??…are they the new “America’s team” or something??

  41. Don M

    February 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    no but people like them as an exciting team.. potential to have 4 good young pitchers.. and with Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips..

    they’ll win some games, but they won’t challange for a playoff spot

  42. Brooks

    February 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I just saw Cal Ripken on Fox News. One of his new ventures is working with Topps Cards and the promotion is putting exceptional ($$$$) cards randomly into packs being sold. 1 pack in 6 is supposed to have a special edition card and the random inserts would be cards like his rookie card, Mantle’s rookie card (bringing over $20,000) and more.

  43. Don M

    February 16, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    if its a re-print of a rookie card … how can it be worth that much money?

    Baseball card collecting is dead ..

    my Mark McGwire rookie card isn’t worth shpit

  44. Chuck

    February 16, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    hahahahaha…I’ve got one of those McGwire cards too…the one in his USA the time it was one of those cards that you just “held onto”…That really worked out well..

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