Several times a week I'm asked for my predicition on how this season will end for the Phillies. It happens on radio shows, on television, via email, and occasionally while I am waiting in line for a Hoagie. Two months ago, I would provide an answer and pretend like I knew what I was talking about. Now, however, I happily admit that I have no bleeping idea. A couple of weeks ago, I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, the Phillies offense was what it was, and that things were not going to get better, and that even the overachieving pitching staff wouldn't be able to overcome the deficiencies the team had displayed at the plate.
I thought this after the Dodgers swept the Phillies, and Mets took a 2.5 game lead in the National League East.
But then the Padres series started, and for whatever reason I got the feeling that this team was not, in fact, finished. I remember sitting in the dugout at Petco Park for the first game against San Diego and being amazed at how loose the players and coaches seemed. They were coming off a four game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, had fallen as far out of first place as they'd been in quite some time, yet had an air about them. I was talking to one of the Phillies PR people and I told him that I had a feeling they were about to go on a run. Seven out of the next 10, I said. Turns out it was nine of 11.
So now its time for the Mets, and I was just asked 45 minutes ago what I think, and to be very honest, I have no clue whatsoever. If somebody binded my hands behind my back and walked me to the edge of the Ben Franklin Bridge and forced me to make a prediction under threat of my life, I would say that the Phils and Mets will split, that the offense will jump all over Pedro tonight -- he's due for a stinker -- and then get shut down by Santana tomorrow night. And then on Thursday as they fly out to Chicago everything will be back where it began.
But don't take that to the bank by any means.
I appeared on Daily News Live yesterday and had the chance to speak with Fox's Ken Rosenthal, who is always pretty plugged in when it comes to the Phillies. One topic he broached was the possibility of trading Ryan Howard in the offseason. He didn't say the Phillies were likley going to make a deal, or even that they should make a deal. Just that they "could explore" the possibility. Now, a lot of things could happen in the offseason. The state of New Jersey could break off into the ocean and we could all have beach front property by this time next year. But a lot of what Ken said makes sense: Howard could command upwards of $14 million next season. From a contract standpoint, his trade value will creep downward as he grows closer to free agency. And he has obviously struggled this season.
That said, the Phillies have in many ways built this team around guys like Howard, at least from a marketing standpoint. Yeah, he has struggled this season. But he is also among the league leaders in home runs and RBIs, and if he can accomplish that in a year in which he is hitting under .230, there's no reason to think he won't continue to do it for the forseeable future. This guy has a chance to put up some record home run and RBI numbers, and I'm sure a lot of people would like to see him do it in a Phillies uniform.
What do I think? I think its way too early to even be talking about any of this. Lets see what happens over this next month, first.