To give us a little preview of the upcoming LDS, I traded questions and answers with Whole Camels of The Good Phight. His answers are below. My answers will be up on their site at some point - unless they are too scared to hear my truth!
1. During the off-season, Ruben Amaro traded for Roy Halladay. During the regular season he traded for Roy Oswalt. Did he not realize that Jonathan Broxton's middle name is Roy? What were your initial thoughts on giving up Cliff Lee and then replacing him with Halladay? What do you think of it now (if your feelings have changed)?
The Good Phight: There are so many moving parts that it's hard to give an overall "good" or "bad" evaluation. I think trading Cliff Lee away was a mistake, and I'm not sure I buy that Ruben Amaro, Jr. is The Amazing Kreskin of baseball, making that trade knowing that Roy Oswalt would be available mid-season, and knowing that he'd pitch to a sub-2.00 ERA over the last two months of the year. Amaro was under fire from all sides back in late July when the team was 48-46 and in third place, and Cliff Lee was owning the American League. Which brings us to question 2... (also, Broxton is a fat, gutless turd and the Phillies broke him).
2. Obviously Amaro knew the Phillies would be facing the Reds in the playoffs, which is why he traded for Oswalt, who is 23-3 with a 2.81 ERA in his career against the Reds. The Phillies went 41-18 with a 3.14 ERA after the trade. What has he meant to the team and is there any chance he'd voluntarily sit out of the playoffs?
TGP: Huge, absolutely huge, not just for the regular season in 2010 and 2011, but the playoffs as well, where rotation depth takes a back seat to top of the rotation quality.
Oswalt is susceptible to bulldozer-based playoff payouts. Do with this information what you will.
3. If there has been a downside to the Phillies year this year, it's been the injuries. I know Jimmy Rollins is still hurting. Anyone else playing gimpy? What have the injuries shown you about the bench? Who are the first guys we'd expect to see off the bench?
TGP: Placido Polanco has had a wonky left elbow, basically all season, and had a cortisone shot last week. He's due for surgery upon the conclusion of the season. Catcher Carlos Ruiz took a Tim Hudson fastball off his left elbow in Game 162 but will likely be ready for Game One. Lefty "specialist" J.C. Romero has been having back problems, but if Romero is pitching, the Phillies are probably in some measure of trouble anyway.
The first right-handed batter of the bench is Ben Francisco, and the first lefty will be Ross Gload. It's probably the strongest Phillies bench during their recent run of postseason appearances, probably due to the regular at-bats.
4. The Phillies have had a potent lineup for years. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins. All great players. But Carlos Ruiz? WTF?
TGP: Ruiz has just been hitting all season like he's hit in the past few Octobers (career postseason: .303/.420/.485 in 119 PAs). Sure, he benefits from batting eighth most of the time, and getting pitched around a lot, but he still deserves tons of credit for actually taking those pitches and drawing those walks. Not every eight hole hitter does as well.
Still, this all does kind of scream "Career Year," although I don't doubt he can be a strong offensive contributor going forward.
5. What would you say is the biggest weakness for the Phillies? Please give me a detailed plan of how the Reds should exploit it.
TGP: Ice Beam and five missiles. Enter password JUSTIN BAILEY ------ ------.
Failing that, make the Phillies starters throw lots of pitches and get to the so-so middle relievers. Breaking pitches low-and-away to Ryan Howard. Edge shaving gel for Jayson Werth.
Or just let Johnny Cueto kick everyone in the head.
6. It sounds like most Phillies fans are confident that this is their year and most of the national media has them in the NLCS, if not World Series (with good reason). I don't have a question. I just hope that comes back to bite you all in the ass.
TGP: You know, when I explain (sincerely!) that the Phillies aren't a slam dunk, the Reds are a legitimately very good team, etc., I'm either shouted down for being disloyal (Phillies fans) or accused of being disingenuous (Reds). I definitely think the Phillies are the better team, but I don't think the gulf between them and the Reds is so broad and deep that a Reds victory would be unfathomable. People don't like the acknowledge the crapshoot, random nature of the MLB postseason, which is what makes it so damned fun.
Thanks to Whole Camels. I hope your team enjoys their last three games of the season!