Saturday, February 24, 2007

Phils Notes from Athlon Sports and my rant on the start of the season!

One of the best things I like about the Spring Training season is the bountiful supply of MLB fantasy guides, baseball preview magazines, and books that are available at the local bookstores. During the past few seasons I've participated in fantasy MLB baseball leagues and it's always lots of fun to keep up with your favorite players and all the players around the league for that matter.

I've picked up my fresh copy of the 2007 Athlon Sports Baseball preview magazine tonight. It is full of info and stats and other news that you can use to increase your knowledge about what is going on in baseball at this moment. This is Athlon's 40th season of making these guides available for people to read. It features some cool articles about the Phillies, with depth charts and some nice commentaries on the Phils and all the teams for that matter. My copy features the Mets, David Wright on the cover and overlooking that obvious oversight that Ryan Howard should have been on the cover, I none the less plunked down my $6.99 for the copy and here's some of what I found inside. (I also like the CBS Sportsline edition of the MLB Fantasy preview magazine as well for anyone out there looking for a great individual player fantasy guide)

Athlon picks the Mets to repeat as the NL East Champions. The Phillies are picked to come in second place, but they are the pick for the NL Wildcard winner. Athlon picks the LA Dodgers over the NY Mets for the NLCS and a NY Yankee vs. LA Dodger World Series. I don't like either of those picks myself for the World Series or the NLCS, but that is who they like. I predict the NY Yankees to sink again and fold up like an expensive house of cards that they are. I like Abreu still though, in my opinion he is the most underrated superstar in MLB, even though he still takes home a nice fat paycheck! I think pitching will fail the Mets as they sink to second in the NL East. I like the Phillies to win the division for the first time since 1993. That said I like the Mets for the Wild Card. The Phillies have finished second in the division for the past three seasons despite the call from Phils ownership all three years that "This will be the year."

Pat Gillick deserves great kudos for putting this bunch together as a team for 2007. He brought us a mix of old and new. Some of the kudos go to prior Phils GM Ed Wade, for the Utley, Howard and Hamels homegrown Phils stars though. All of this goes together like a fine recipe for success in '07 for the Phils. All of this pending the health of the team of course. The long season of 162 games will have it's share of injuries and win streaks that is for sure. If the Phillies can stay healthy, the stage is set for them to make the playoffs for the first time in ... dare I say... 13 years! Wow, the Phillies faithful or phaithful (to put it more like a Phillies pundit) are a loyal bunch. Never mind the booing of their own players and the harsh criticism that is thrown at their own players throughout the season by some of the more vocal fans, this season should leave all the Phils fans more satisfied that is for sure.

Back to Athlon Sports 2007 MLB preview for a moment. They point to Tom Gordon as the reason that the Phils may have the roughest time at winning games consistently. I personally wish they would have went out and got a marquee closer over the winter but I guess we'll have to see on this one. Athlon also sours on Freddie Garcia as they call him a 'sell' recommendation in fantasy team player selections. They contradict themselves though in the same preview also calling Garcia on the the best pitchers in the NL. So how can Athlon say that about Garcia and then tell readers not to pick him in their fantasy team? Go figure.

Athlon also has a nice few statistician entries for each team. The Phils were interesting, noting that 63 is the number of times Pat Burell watched a called third strike last year. I am predicting that Pat the Bat will improve on the and hope he would cut that down by a third or better. There is nothing I hate worse than watching a called third strike against a Phillie batter! How about this stat, 5 is the number of games Wes Helms started at third base for the Marlins last year. Athlon doesn't tell you at what base he did start in the other games, but I looked it up myself and he played in 24 games at third but only started 5 of them. This of course is because the job for the Marlins is handled at third by the young 23 year old phenom, Miguel Cabrera. Wes only had 2 errors at third base though in those games, Cabrera had 17 Errors in 157 games at third last year for the Marlins. Other places Helms played for the Marlins was: 1st Base - 42 games started in '06 and 88 games played overall at first ( no errors in those 88 games at first base ) and the other spot Helms played was left field for a cup of coffee with only 2 innings of one game at that position.

More posts to come in the coming days as Spring Training continues. Of course more podcasts, or netcasts as well to listen to with Phillies Sports Talk Now! The Podcast -the next one slated for Thursday, March 1st that coinsides with the start of the Phillies Spring Training schedule in Florida.

Rich Baxter / Philly Sports Talk Now!

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