January 17, 2005

Football helps writers achieve clarity

It's all football, all the time, and that's just what the doctor ordered for the baseball soul. The break allows for a clearer, unadulterated look on how baseball will shake down in 2005.

A funny thing happens between now and then each year, meaning, the beginning of the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl.

In a matter of weeks, the baseball world will have stepped back to reassess which teams have the best chance to win with renewed perspective. Buzz-worthy signings aren't as buzz-worthy with the passage of time. All the pieces will have settled into place. The hypotheticals get washed away; each team will go forward with what they have, not what they could have.

I find opinions will often change during this time, between now and then. Fans and media will separate contenders from pretenders. Pundits will chime in with "dark horse" picks; hyping teams nobody even talked about just weeks before.

In the NL East, everyone's talking about the Mets, but in a few weeks, I believe that will change.

Predicting the predictions
The Phillies aren't going to be favored to win the NL East this year, and that's a good thing. No more t-shirts, and hopefully, no more passive approach. This isn't going to just fall in their laps.

The Mets and Braves will get most of the votes, but the Phils will get a share of buzz votes, along with the Florida Marlins. Of all the teams in the division, the Phils and Fish look most similar to last season, with the exception of a few new arms. The Phils and Fish were good teams last year. Playing half the season at home in front of fans will help the Nationals. And with the moves Atlanta and NY made, I'm positive this will be the most highly-contested division in baseball.

Ed Wade outdoes Mets with Adams signing
One reason I'm not entirely sold on the Mets is they haven't addressed their bullpen a little bit. The signings of Pedro and Beltran have masked the fact that their bullpen, aside from Looper and Dejean, is thin, and quite frankly, Minaya's other moves haven't made much sense either. I think Pedro will help them next year, but in four years – no way. I'd list Kris Benson as one of the more overpaid free agents this winter, and is Piazza really going to be their catcher?

It would be pretty stupid if the Mets mashed the ball all over the place but lost because the bullpen couldn't nail it down. That's something the Phillies won't have to worry about. Call Terry Adams what you will, but I'd take Phils pen any day of the week, and I wonder whether others will start noticing the same details when forming clearer opinions for 2005.

Happy to have you: Second-year Phillies reliever Tim Worrell hasn't been talked about all winter, but when April comes, fans will appreciate having his steady arm in the bullpen.


At 11:17 AM, Blogger el123chico said...

i have a feeling the mets will be the chic pic this year, but when you look at it, they spent a ton of money a few years ago and actually fell in the standings. adams may add another arm to the bullpen, but until the phils prove they actually have pitchers who can successfully throw in the new ballpark i'm not putting any faith in them.

i think all baseball experts will rightly pick the braves to win again this year, adding hudson (or was it mulder, i always confure the 2) was a coup.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Jason Weitzel said...

You would have to be a complete idiot to ever count out the Braves, who might be my pick to win the division. I still haven't made up my mind though.

I liked the Mets better a week ago, but since then I've been looking at their pen. They got Heredia from the Yankees, but his ERA was 6.-something. Dejean is a good arm, but the Phillies have a bunch of good arms back there.

The Adams signing is a lot more interesting than people think. Here's another guy that can go two-three innings. Could the Phillies be positioning themselves for moving Madson to the rotation if one of the other guys (Myers) falls flat?

I hope not. Madson in long relief was a thing of beauty last season. That, and J-Roll's emergence at the top of the lineup were my two favorite stories last season.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger el123chico said...

but i am a complete idiot...

i see what you're saying about the adams signing. he's played here before and i guess he feels he can handle the "philly pressure". he also could come in and give some spot starts, in case the phils starters have health trouble like they did last year.


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