Philadelphia: If everybody had been healthy, they still would’ve been overrated. Win all the divisions you want – eventually an unreliable closer will cost you too much to survive it. Now he’s hurt, and his heir presumptive is so incapable of stepping up that his manager and general manager have publicly expressed their doubts about him. There’s the outfield, already a problem spot before Domonic Brown was hurt (Raul Ibanez is its power – he hit 16 homers last year). And most disastrous of all, deranging everything from the infield defense to the entire batting order, is the combination injury/enigma of Chase Utley. I’ll repeat what I wrote here in my Fantasy Notes last week: everything I heard from everybody I know connected to the Phillies says that Utley’s options are season-ending knee surgery, or virtually-season-ending rehab. Either way, offensively the Phillies are reduced to Ryan Howard with very little line-up protection, the hustle and skill of Shane Victorino, and lord-knows-what from Jimmy Rollins. The Phillies are not contenders. Oh yeah – nice rotation. Unfortunately it’s like living in a mansion with no furniture.As of the games played on July 23, 2011, the Phillies are five games ahead of the Braves for 1st place in the NL East, 10 games ahead of Arizona for a playoff spot, and are on pace to end the season with over 100 wins.
The Phillies offense may not be the world-beating offense it was in 2007, but baseball is as much about preventing runs as it is scoring runs. The Phillies have been excellent at preventing runs, and are not completely terrible at scoring them. Thus, you have the best team in baseball through July 23.
I wonder if Keith Olbermann believes the Phillies are contenders now.......
(h/t to Tug Haines on Twitter)