Brand spankin' new Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez wasted no time acclimating himself to the Phillies-Mets rivalry.
"Of course, we're going to try to win the division," he said during a conference call today. "Of course, we're going to be the front-runner. Of course, we're going to be the team to beat. I don't want there to be a controversy or the other ballclubs in that division to take it personally or take it in a bad way. If they ask me, 'Oh, which ballclub is going to win the National League East?' It's going to be the Mets. Easy question."
This calls for Jimmy Rollins, right?
But I do think this back and forth between the Phillies and Mets makes this rivalry more interesting and entertaining. And that's good for baseball. Rollins, of course, started things when he correctly called the Phillies the team to beat in the National League East in 2007. Carlos Beltran predicted the Mets the team to beat in 2008, but the Mets faded again down the stretch. Or as Cole Hamels might say, the Mets choked. K-Rod will have to back up his words in 2009. With an improved bullpen, it should be a little easier to do.