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Category Archives: Scott Rolen

Misunderstood: Scott Rolen Left a Lasting Impression On Philadelphia

Scott Rolen in his days with the Phillies. (AP Photo)

Perhaps it was the clashing of personalities with manager Larry Bowa. Or maybe it was the comment made by front office member Dallas Green. Or maybe it was the desire to win that ended it all in Philadelphia.

Whatever the reason was, Scott Rolen wanted out in 2002.

For the next decade, Philadelphia fans would boo their once-lauded All-Star, Gold-Glove third baseman, yell obscenities at him and watch him go on to hav a successful career without Philadelphia. Why? Because they were hurt.

But maybe the fans were booing the wrong guy.

Rolen turned down a massive contract extension during the 2002 season, saying that it wasn’t money but the Phillies front office didn’t have an aggressive approach to building a winning team.

Fans got scared that the best position player in their team history since Mike Schmidt, another third baseman, was about to jump ship for greener pastures.

And it happened.

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Cozart’s 9th Inning Homer Leads Reds Past Phillies

Reds 5, Phillies 4
WP – Jonathan Broxton (3-3, 3.02)
LP – Jonathan Papelbon (3-5, 2.86)
SV – Aroldis Chapman (30)

PHILADELPHIA — It was Cincinnati that prevailed in the see-saw game.

A Zack Cozart solo home run to lead off the top of the 9th spoiled not one, but two comeback attempts by the Phillies. The bomb gave Cincinnati a 5-4 win over the Phillies Tuesday night on Hunter Pence bobblehead night.

It also erased a good outing by Cliff Lee, who couldn’t do all the work by himself and it eventually caught up to him in the 7th. While holding a 1-0 lead and already near the century mark in pitches heading into the 7th, Lee couldn’t finish the inning, giving up three runs in the inning.

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Revisiting the Rolen Trade

Scott Rolen was drafted in 1993 as a can’t miss prospect.  He was supposed to be the next great Phillies third baseman, and etch his name right next to Mike Schmidt in Philadelphia lore.

However, it didn’t turn out as planned.  This summer will mark a decade since the player who was supposed to save the Phillies franchise was traded.

Let’s take a trip back to 2002. Heading into the season, Scott Rolen was a three time Gold Glover in his first five full seasons with the club and won the Rookie of the Year in 1997.

2001 was Rolen’s first season with the Phillies that they finished over .500 after failing to post more than 77 wins in any of his previous seasons. It seemed like Rolen was going to be a key part of the Phillies revival.

However, he rejected a 10-year, $140 million contract offer from the Phillies in the offseason and instead signed a one-year, $8.6 million deal.

Rolen criticized management for failing to have a commitment to winning. He also butted heads with manager Larry Bowa. Despite these issues, he made the All-Star team for the first time in his career.

But he was still unhappy. He requested a trade, and on July 29, 2002, the unthinkable happened. The Phillies’ best player, all-star franchise player was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.

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Bruce’d ego: Madson blows up in 9th

Ryan Madson has the mind of a closer. Too bad he lost the mentality of a middle reliever in the process.

Madson loaded the bases and handed the game over to Cincinnati in the 9th inning as the Reds won, 6-3.

Raul Ibanez has continued his incredible hot run since snapping is 0-for-35 slump. His three hits have improved him to .380 (27-for-71) with seven doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs since the slump busted.

Ibanez’s 2nd-inning double to follow up Ryan Howard’s lead off double tied the score at one. After Carlos Ruiz moved him over to third, Domonic Brown drove him in with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1. It was the first RBI of the season for Brown.

Chase Utley joined Brown for a season first. He singled in the 3rd but failed to get an RBI out of it when Jimmy Rollins was gunned down at the plate. Read more of this post

Faceoff: Who should we thank?

Question: Was Pat Gillick responsible for the Phillies current success as a franchise and perenial power in Major League Baseball?

Writer Brian Jacobs decided challenge the rest of the Faceoff competitors with this question and John Russo, reeling from his loss to Christian Hetrick, wanted to get himself in the win column.

Brian: Yes.

The Philadelphia Phillies formed a new brand of baseball in the city of Philadelphia during the 2000’s. In 2005, Pat Gillick joined the front office, and the Phillies took off from there.

Former general manager of the Phillies, Ed Wade, brought in the big bat of Jim Thome to go along with the new stadium, Citizens Bank Park, in 2004. Most Phillies fans wouldn’t hesitate to smash Wade and those horrific seasons under his watch, but a small portion of credit should be given to him.

Former Phils GM and HOFer Pat Gillick helped bring a championship to Philadelphia for the first time in 25 years and the first World Series in 28 years.

With Gillick at the helm and new scenery, the fans had a taste of something they were deprived of for years, which was change. Are the Phillies going become a winning team? What are our expectations now? Those were the questions, asked by fans of the club during this time of change.

Gillick’s first big move was trading Jim Thome and cash to the Chicago White Sox for Aaron Rowand and two prospects. Thome’s time in Philadelphia was somewhat symbolic. It was almost as if his stay in the city was simply used as a jolt of electricity that the city was in need of.

Along with the players on the field and the front office, Gillick created a feeling of hope and positive expectations for Phillies fans to bask in. The Phillies were no longer going to accept defeat. They were finally sick of seeing the Atlanta Braves at the top of the division.

Once again, a few pats on the back should be given to Ed Wade. Gillick inherited the future stars, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, whom Wade had drafted. Gillick then brought over the rule-five selection, Shane Victorino, along with the battered bat of Jayson Werth. We all know how that turned out. Gillick looked like a genius and he wasn’t done.

The Phillies finally entered the post-season, but failed to get past the Colorado Rockies in the National League Division Series. In the offseason, Gillick made a trade with the man he had replace, Ed Wade, who was, and still is with the Houston Astros organization. In came Brad Lidge and his soon-to-be perfect season. Thanks again, Ed Wade.

The Phillies went on to win the World Series in 2008 and they’ve been knocking on the door ever since.

A lot of times, players receive most of the credit for a successful season. General managers sometimes get slighted, but I have a feeling that Pat Gillick and his master plan, as the Philadelphia Phillies’ general manager will find a way into the hearts of fans if it hasn’t already.

John: No.

Three huge things have factored into the recent success of the Philadelphia Phillies before Pat Gillick even stepped in as GM: the farm system, Scott Rolen and the new stadium.

I’ll attack the more logical reason first. The Phillies farm system was teeming with talent. Before Gillick was GM, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels were playing minor league ball. They had Pat Burrell, Brett Myers and Jimmy Rollins already up on the Phils.

But you will bring up Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth being acquired along with Pedro Feliz and Brad Lidge. Werth and Victorino were diamonds in the rough. It was a complete shot in the dark on whether or not they would make an impact.

But Rolen may actually have been the catalyst in David Montgomery and the rest of the office relinquishing their tight grip on their wallets. When offered a 10-year, $140 million contract to stay with the Phillies, arguably for life, Rolen turned it down because of squabbles in the front office because they showed no interest in winning.

Not only has Chase Utley cememted himself as the greatest Phillies second baseman of all time but he may find himself in Cooperstown one day.

Rolen was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for three scrubs and Placido Polanco, who gave way to Utley three years later and returned to the Phillies in 2010. Only months after the trade did the Phillies front office get it. They signed first baseman Jim Thome and third baseman David Bell to replace Rolen on the field and in the line up. They also traded back-up catcher Johnny Estrada for Braves starter Kevin Millwood, who threw a no-hitter during his tenure with the Phillies.

It didn’t stop there as the Phillies finally sought external help, signing players like Pedro Feliz, Adam Eaton and Freddy Garcia (don’t laugh, they were supposed to be big improvements at the time), Jamie Moyer and traded for Brad Lidge.

But the money didn’t grow on trees. In 2004, the Phillies moved into their current stadium, Citizens Bank Park. Their lowest attendance since the stadium opened was 75% capacity. And with a division win in 2007, a World Series win in 2008, a NL Pennant in 2009 and another division win and league’s best record in 2010, the Phillies are selling out games and have seen  their payroll sky rocket from under $58 million in 2002 to $170 in 2011.

Gillick was a fantastic GM but the right pieces were there before he became the GM in 2005. All he did was do some minor tweaking and turn the Phillies into World Champions, finishing the job started four years before he was signed.


Season Preview: NL Central

Cincinnati Reds

Expectations: Aroldis Chapman throw a 373 MPH fastball.
Key addition: Edgar Renteria
Key loss: Orlando Cabrera
Projected record: 92-70
Summary: The Cincinnati Reds were among one of the biggest surprises in baseball. In 2010, the young Reds overtook the reigning NL Central champion Cardinals and made their first postseason appearance since 1995. They have a very talented young core in 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce. Sprinkle in veterans like Scott Rolen and Edgar Renteria and they should be back on top of the Central division. Their starting rotation is very strong and is full of veterans. Youngster flamethrowers Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto help anchor the ship. Bronson Arroyo and Travis Wood should help bring stability and gives them a very deep rotation. The Reds should get a challenge from Prince Fielder and the Brewers but no Wainwright for the Cardinals makes this division race a little less intriguing.

Milwaukee Brewers

Expectations: The franchise folds as they realize they can’t move on without Cutter Dystra.
Key Addition: Zack Greinke
Key Loss: Alcides Escobar
Projected Record: 87-75
Summary: The Milwaukee Brewers finished with a record of 77-85 last season but made significant moves in the offseason. After Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke was considered the runner-up prize for many teams and the Brewers landed him. They parted with a few prospects and Alcides Escobar to obtain Greinke. Greinke brings over a boatload of talent. His career numbers are 60-67 but most of that is the product of playing on a bad team. In 2009, he boasted an ERA of 2.16 and could do more of the same in the competitive NL Central. The Brewers also added outfielder Nyjer Morgan in a trade. Morgan brings over a ton of talent and a bad rap. He is famous for charging Marlins’ pitcher Chris Volstad and plowing over catchers. Morgan will challenge Carlos Gomez for the centerfield job and can provide speed at the top of the Brewers’ lineup. They have a lot to be proud of heading into this season and should contend with the Reds for the division crown.

St. Louis Cardinals

Expectations: They amputate Wainwright’s arm and find him a new one and he wins the Cy Young.
Key Addition: Lance Berkman
Key Loss: Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery)
Projected Record: 83-79
Summary: The Cardinals finished second place in the Central last season and were hoping to take back the crown. But that became a little more difficult within the last month. With Adam Wainwright slated to miss the entire with Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals rotation will certainly be a lot weaker. Aside from Chris Carpenter, their starting rotation is very weak, especially when you compare it to some of the rotations around the National League. Behind Carpenter, they have Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia. Westbrook was acquired from the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline last season and signed a two-year extension. Westbrook went 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA with the Cardinals in the second half last season. Garcia had a very good rookie campaign and could be the #2 starter in the rotation. He went 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA. The young Garcia certainly has great stuff but the loss of Wainwright will just be too much. You’re replacing a Cy-Young award winner which is not easy to do. They did add Lance Berkman who should bring some more pop to their lineup. Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday should be among the most talented duos in baseball and Berkman could definitely add 60-70 RBIs to the club. But in the end, the pitching just won’t be strong enough. The Cardinals should be competitive but the other teams in the Central are very good and have made significant strides this offseason.

Chicago Cubs
Expectations: Steve Bartman is finally able to show his face in the city of Chicago again.
Key Addition: Matt Garza
Key Loss: Derrek Lee
Projected Record: 80-82

Summary: The Chicago Cubs are coming off a not-so-impressive season in which they finished in fifth place. They turned around and pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire pitcher Matt Garza. Garza will help to anchor a solid Cubs rotation that also includes Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster. Garza was 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 2010 for a first place Tampa Bay Rays team. They also let aging first baseman Derrek Lee walk in free agency. They signed another former Ray in first baseman Carlos Pena. Pena is a career .241 hitter and brings some much-needed power to the Cubs lineup. In the past four seasons, Pena has hit 144 home runs and knocked in 407 RBIs. If Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez can be solid contributors along with Pena, the Cubs could stay alive in the Central. However I just don’t think they have enough offense to keep up.

Houston Astros
Expectations: Ed Wade trades with a team other than the Phillies.
Key Addition: Clint Barmes
Key Loss: Matt Lindstrom
Projected Record: 72-86
Summary: For the first time in eight years, the Astros Opening Day starter won’t be Roy Oswalt. It will be Brett Myers. Perhaps that says it all about this Houston Astros team. Their starting rotation is very weak and will be led by the former Phillies hot head. Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ are both very solid but don’t strike fear into opponents. Their offense can be very good at times. Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence should combine to hit around 50 home runs and knock in 175-200 runs. Michael Bourn does a great job setting the table for the Astros. He led the National League with 52 stolen bases and also scored 84 runs last year. Their infield may hurt them this season though. Their best infielder is Bill Hall. Yes Bill Hall. The youth movement in the infield features Chris Johnson at third base, Angel Sanchez at shortstop, and Brett Wallace at first base. There isn’t much major league experience there and I think there will be some growing pains this season.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Expectations: What expectations? It’s the Pirates.
Key Addition: Lyle Overbay
Key Loss: Zach Duke
Projected Record: 67-95
Summary: The Pittsburgh Pirates begin every season thinking that this year will be better than the previous one. I actually hold that to be true. Well at least by Pirates standards. While this team is very far away from being anywhere close to a successful franchise, I think they will be better this year. Their infield is very solid and should generate some excitement. They added Lyle Overbay at first base which allows Garrett Jones to move to right field. Overbay adds some nice pop to the Bucs’ lineup. Youngsters Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker will turn some heads this season. Alvarez will get to start the year with the big club and could hit 25 home runs for a struggling Pirates team. Walker hit well last season and ended up with a .281 average. He will likely be hitting third in the Pirates lineup and could hit between 75-90 RBIs before the year is through. Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, and Jones round out a very talented outfield. Former Brave Matt Diaz will be coming off the bench. The rotation as usual, is the downfall of the team. Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, and Ross Ohlendorf will be the top three starters for the Pirates. It’s safe to say that the Pirates could actually be decent one day if they got some good pitching.

2010 Moment: #7 Hot as Cole

With the fist pump, Cole Hamels celebrates his five-hit shut out of the Reds to seal the NLDS. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter in game one of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds. Roy Oswalt followed up with a less-than-stellar performance in which the Phillies bull pen out-pitched Cincy’s in game two.

With the Phillies holding a 2-0 series lead, it was up to Cole Hamels to shut the door on Cincinnati in their home park.

Hamels kept loose that day. He went to the bar and watched some football that Sunday. In fact, a couple of Reds fans sent over two shots of tequila to try and throw the left-hander off his game. But the attempt was intercepted by two Phillies fans, who downed the shots and let Hamels stay focused.

If only Hamels had taken those shots. Hamels allowed five hits and struck out nine in a complete game shut out of the Reds, 2-0, lifting the Phillies to their third straight NLCS.

It was one of the Hamels’ finest starts in his career. He blew through the Reds line up, which put together the best offensive season in the National League. In the series, the Phillies pitchers held the Reds to only 11 hits, a division series record held by the New York Yankees in 1998.

The Phillies got another unearned run in the first inning. After singles by Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard to put runners on the corners, Jayson Werth hit a ground ball that was fielded by Orlando Cabrera and thrown wide to let Polanco score. Chase Utley then hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to give the Phils a 2-0 lead and all they would need for Hamels.

The ninth inning was a test for Hamels. And he aced it (pun intended). Brandon Phillips led-off with a single but Joey Votto, who hit 37 homers and drove in 113 runs in the regular season, hit into a double play. And in fitting fashion, Scott Rolen, who couldn’t hit the ball all series, struck out to end the game.

*moment submitted by @MattyTets on Twitter.
Top 10
10. Chooch’s walk-off HR against St. Louis
9. Taser bro
8. Moyer’s CG/SHO

Victorino Snags Only GG for Phils

Shane Victorino is the first Phillie to take home hardware his off season, winning his third career Rawlings Gold Glove Award today. Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, and Carlos Ruiz were all considerations for their positions but failed to take home the hardware.

Former Phil, Scott Rolen, won his eighth career award and his firs as a member of Cincy and first since 2006. Rolen won four with the Phils and three with the Cardinals.

Luck Goes A Long Way

 

Reds right fielder Jay Bruce makes a costly error on a ball hit by the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins as the Phils took a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning. Philadelphia went on to win, 7-4, and take a 2-0 lead in the NLDS. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Good teams will capitalize on the mistakes of their opponents. The Phils did just that with their bizarre 7-4 come-from-behind win on Friday to give them a 2-0 series lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS.

 

In a game filled with errors, the Reds four cost them a lot more than the Phillies’ two. The two-run fifth and three-run seventh killed Cincinnati, who gift-wrapped game two.

Bronson Arroyo was fantastic in his 5 1/3 innings of work. He gave up three runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks while striking out two.

Arroyo would put runners on base but after that, would shut the door. It was only until his defense sprung a few leaks that it prevented Arroyo from finishing innings.

After both Arroyo and Roy Oswalt were done after the fifth inning and with Cincy holding a 4-2 lead, one would think the Reds, who boasted one of the best bull pen’s in the game, would win when matched up against the Phils pen, which struggled at times this season.

In the fifth with the Reds up 4-0, Raul Ibanez led-off and worked a bases loaded count before ripping a single into right. After Carlos Ruiz flew out and Domonic Brown grounded into a force, the Phils offense – or the Reds defense – went to work.

The Phils loaded the bases after Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco reached on fielding errors by Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen. Chase Utley then ripped a two-run single to make it a 4-2 game.

The Reds bull pen coughed up another runs in the sixth innings when both Ruiz and Ben Francisco were hit by Arthur Rhodes and Logan Ondrusek to load the bases again. Victorino was then walked by Ondrusek to bring a run, making it a 4-3 game.

The defense took over for the mistakes in the seventh. With fireballer Aroldis Chapman on the mound, Utley led-off and was grazed on the hand by a 102 MPH fastball.

Ryan Howard was looked like a fool at the plate by Chapman. But Jayson Werth reached on a fielder’s choice in which Utley was safe at second.

Jimmy Rollins then came up and looped a soft liner to right in which Jay Bruce seemed to have it for out number two. But he “lost it in the lights” as Utley and Werth scored to give the Phils a 5-4 lead.

They added another run in the inning to make it 6-4 and got one more in the eighth before Brad Lidge pitched a strong ninth for his first save of the 2010 post season and 13th straight in the playoffs dating back to 2008.

Oswalt didn’t fare too well in his start, giving up four runs, three earned, in five innings pitched including solo homers to Phillips and Bruce, the former leading off the game.

Cole Hamels will take the hill on Sunday for game three at 7:07 PM. He dominates the Reds in their own park and the Phils will look to sweep Cincy.

WP: Contreras. LP: Chapman. S: Lidge

Boxscore.

NLDS Preview: Phillies vs. Reds

Phillies 97-65; 1st in NL East                                  Reds: 91-71; 1st in NL Central

Pitching Probables
Game 1: Edinson Volquez (4-3, 4.31) vs. Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44)
Game 2: Bronson Arroyo (17-10, 3.88) vs. Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.76)
Game 3: Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06) vs. Johnny Cueto (12-7, 3.64)
Game 4*: TBA
Game 5*: TBA

Broadcast
Game 1: Wednesday, Oct. 7 – 5:00, TBS
Game 2: Friday, Oct. 9 – 6:00, TBS
Game 3: Sunday, Oct. 11 – TBA
Game 4*: Monday, Oct. 12 – TBA
Game 5*: Wed, Oct. 14 – TBA

Three Phillies to Watch
Roy Halladay: After a decade in Toronto, Doc will finally reach the post season and will do so as the ace of the Phillies, a team that has been in the playoffs each of the last three years, winning the World Series in 2008 and losing in the World Series in 2009. Halladay was 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA during the regular season. His nine complete games and four shut outs led the majors along with his 250.1 innings pitched. He is the front runner for the NL Cy Young.

Chase Utley: Surprisingly, he’s going to be the key to the Phils offense this series. The left-handed hitter will be facing three right-handers in the Reds rotation, maybe four. Utley was hurt most of the season but finished off very strong, hitting .323 with five homers and 22 RBIs in the month of September. Utley has the ability to change a series, using his five homers in the World Series last year as an example.

Carlos Ruiz: Ruiz is as clutch a hitter as the Phillies have had in the past two World Series runs. Chooch had a career year, leading the team in hitting with a .302 average and had multiple go-ahead, game-tying and winning, and walk-off hits for the Phils this season. With a tied or one-run game this series, Chooch could be trusted to deliver with a clutch hit. He also is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball and calls a very good game for all three of the Phils aces.

Three Reds to Watch
Joey Votto: Votto should be the NL MVP, finishing in the top three in average, homers, RBIs, and OPS (.324/37/113/1.024). There isn’t much more to say about the 27-year-old, who led the Reds to there first post season since 1995. He’s challenging division rival Albert Pujols for the best first baseman in the NL, who put up similarly scary stats as well. If the Reds want to win their first title in 20 years, it rests solely on the broad shoulders of Votto.

Scott Rolen: The former Phillie is playing the team that drafted him for the first time ever in the post season. Rolen enjoys playing against his former team, hitting a career .333 with four homers and 30 RBIs in 162 career at-bats His trips to Philly guarantee a good booing from the home crowd in which he still admits to loving. His 20 homers were the highest he’s hit and his 83 RBIs were the most he’s driven in since 2006, showing his back is much better than the past few years in which he’s been hurt.

Jonny Gomes: Gomes is the five-hitter in Cincy’s dangerous three-four-five. Protecting Rolen in the order, Gomes hit .266 with 18 homers and 86 RBIs. He’s their weakest fielding outfielder though with the lowest percentage of the three in the outfield. But he’s there for the bat and that’s what makes him such a dangerous and valuable part of the Reds offense.

Starters
Phillies: The Phillies boast one of the best hitting line ups from the lead-off spot through the eight-hole. Towards the end of the season, Shane Victorino has stepped up nicely as the lead-off man and should continue to be the guy who jump starts the offense in the NLDS.

Batting in the two-spot is Placido Polanco. Polanco was an immediate improvement offensively, filling a very large whole left by Pedro Feliz, not because Feliz was ever good but because Feliz was so bad, he was often a sure out.

The three-four-five is the best in baseball with Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth. Utley is Utley. Howard was fourth in the majors with 108 RBIs while hitting .278 with 31 homers. Werth tears it up in the postseason and will look to make as much noise as possible heading into a money-fueled off season.

Raul Ibanez, Jimmy Rollins, and Ruiz round out the starting eight. All have the ability to come up with the clutch hit, especially Chooch aka Senior Octobre.

Reds: The Reds boasted the top offensive team in the NL with a team average of .272. Their 188 home runs and 761 RBIs also led the NL, giving them the team Triple Crown.

Votto, Gomes, Rolen, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips round out an offense that can be very scary. Bruce finished second on the team in homers with 25. He also hit .281 and drove in 70 runs. Phillips is the lead-off man and spark plug for the Reds while scoring 100 runs as the team scored an NL leading 790 runs.

Orlando Cabrera can still play good baseball, even at his age. Defensively, he’s still one of the best second basemen in the game. Drew Stubbs is turning into one of the better young hitters in the majors and has enjoyed a nice season with Cincy, hitting .255 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs.

Rotation
Phillies: The Big Three is going to be the story for the Phils. Roy Oswalt has been a man on a mission since joining the Phils, seeing his ERA drop 0.70 since the trade. Only one other time in his career was he in the post season, losing to the White Sox in the 2005 World Series. Cole Hamels has the most postseason experience of the Big Three. He has pitched in all three of the Phils past post season efforts and was the MVP of the 2008 World Series.

Reds: In a surprise move, Cincy is throwing Edinson Volquez on the hill in  game one against Doc. Then their ace, Bronson Arroyo will take on Oswalt in game two. Arroyo has been their best pitcher, posting a 17-10 record and 3.88 ERA. He leads the team with two complete games while Johnny Cueto, the game three starter, has the team’s only complete game shut out. Mike Leake enjoyed a great rookie season and it will be interesting to see if he pitches game four.

Bullpen
Phillies: This is Philadelphia’s lone weak link, unless they can get seven innings out of their starters which is very likely every start. Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge are back to being the lights-out back two-inning tandem they were in 2008 when they closed out 48 of 48 games together. The middle of the pen is where it gets shaky. J.C. Romero is the left-handed specialist for the Phils, a very scary thought.

The weakness of the pen and shortness of this series may allow the Phils to actually carry a larger bench and a smaller pen. With Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick, the other two starters available to pitch in the pen, they can give up a roster spot to another bat, likely carrying 11 pitchers and 14 hitters.

Reds: Arthur Rhodes is their closer. To Phils fans, that’s no threat at all and is in fact rather hilarious. But don’t let his tenure in Philly fool you. Rhodes has a 2.55 ERA in 55 innings pitched this season, acting as Cincy’s ace in the pen.

The closer for Cincy though is Francisco Cordero. Cordero may have saved 40 games but he blew eight of them. He’s not a scary closer at all if you’re the Phillies. Reds fans, though, sit at the edge of their seats when he’s in. And with the ninth-inning antics the Phils are so used to, I’d be worried too.

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