The Philadelphia Phillies are in a class by themselves, and in 2011 should win their second World Series in four seasons.
I (Evander) start with the starters: Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are the southpaws. Lee has proved himself one of the top pitchers. There are the two Roys (a form of king in French if anyone asks), “Doc” Halliday and Oswalt. “Officer” Joe Blanton (a favorite joke of broadcaster Howie Rose, which New York Baby Boomers will immediately get: it’s otherwise not worth explaining) rounds out the starting staff.
I’m in awe of this group, arguably the best starting pitching since the incredible Atlanta Braves teams of the 1990s, and reminiscent of the New York Mets of the late-1960s and Baltimore Orioles of the mid-1960s. With second-baseman Chase Utley on the DL (see earlier blog, cricket aficionados), the Phillies do lose plenty of guts and quality, as Utley is one of the fiercest competitors in Major League Baseball. But Jimmy Rollins wants badly to rebound at shortstop and Ryan Howard is always clutch at first base. Domonic Brown, when healthy, is supposed to be the real deal for the outfield, and Charlie Manuel is a steady managerial presence.
Although the Atlanta Braves are up-and-coming and the Florida Marlins are that and more (they get my nod for the Wild Card), the Phillies might well run away with the National League East, and no one would be surprised.