SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team as the 2010 season opens. Today:Philadelphia Phillies (2009: 93-69, National League champion).
STARTING PITCHING Cliff Lee anchored Philadelphia's rotation all season and was its lone bright spot in the World Series, but the Phillies traded him away to Seattle. In his place is Roy Halladay, acquired from Toronto, who is actually an upgrade over Lee. The rest of the rotation remains intact: Cole Hamels, perhaps second only to Jennie Finch among female pitchers, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ and Jamie Moyer. Moyer is ancient and can rarely hit the low 80s on the gun, but he can still give hitters problems with his location and old-man smell.
LINEUP Philadelphia's lineup could be better than ever. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are still in their prime, rightfielderJayson Werth gets better every year and new third baseman Placido Polancoshould be an upgrade on offense over the departed Pedro Feliz. Philadelphia's offense will put on quite a show. And even when they don't, there are always 300-pound Phillies fans to keep people entertained in the stands by puking on little girls.
BULLPEN Closer Brad Lidge had a 7.21 ERA last year and 11 blown saves. During the offseason he had two surgeries. And the job is still his. So awesome. (Oh, I'm not mentioning anyone else in Philadelphia's bullpen because, really what's the point? It doesn't matter what they do. Lidge makes sure of that.)
BENCH Ben Francisco and Greg Dobbs are solid off the bench. But, barring injury, the Phillies have a starting lineup that can be penciled in the same day after day after day. Which is good for manager Charlie Manuel. More in-game nap time that way.
OVERALL The Phillies are a lock to win the NL East and a good bet to reach the World Series again. That would make them the first NL team to win three-straight pennants since World War II. That team? The 1942-1944 St. Louis Cardinals, led by young, ace pitcher Jamie Moyer.