We were contacted by Phillies blog "That Ball's Outta Here" to do a Q&A, and you can read our answers to the Cubs questions over at their site. Ethan was kind enough to answer a few questions of our own about the Phillies
1. What can the Phillies do to improve their offense?
Watching a few Tom Emansky hitting videos might help the club out (they are the instructional videos that get results! -ed). Everyone, including the players, is waiting for Utley and Howard to swoop in and rescue the damsel in distress that is the lineup. The problem is that even if Utley and Howard resemble something close to their former selves, Rollins and Victorino need to be spark plugs at the top of the order. This team could use a big exhale, myself included, and try to remember it's only May.
2. Better top three in the rotation – Current Phillies or 1990s Braves?
This one will be debated for years to come. Obviously the career lines aren't shut for the Phillies three, but there is plenty to judge the two rotations against one another. My favorite comparison is between Maddux and Halladay. No one could paint the corners like the Mad Dog but Halladay is no slouch either. On pure stuff it's a wash and the separation between Hamels/Lee and Glavine/Smoltz isn't any bigger. Right now I give the edge to the Braves trifecta (hear me out) because they have more rings (ed note – didn't the Braves win just one WS?). Can someone please figure out a good simulation for this?
3. What do you think about your GM? The rotation gets all the headlines, but the rest of the team got old in a hurry. Also, the Ryan Howard Extension: terrible idea or the most terrible idea?
Ruben Amaro inherited a great team from Pat Gillick, but that's the only thing he got from Pat. The excitement of putting together the Big Four, Three, or however many you include has overshadowed many of the problems elsewhere on the roster. Howard's extension, which started this year, has to be the worst move. The moolah he's given out to retain players has put them in a pretty pickle with Cole Hamels contract negotiations. He's not the worst GM in the league by many means but he's no rocket scientist either.
4. The east is easily the toughest division in the NL this year, given your rotation, the Marlins garish new stadium spending spree, and the Braves doing Braves things (building boringly good teams). However, I think the Nationals might be the best team in the division. How do you think the division shakes out this year? Do you think the Nats have a chance at winning it, or at least grabbing a wild card spot?
I can't speak for my counterparts but I love having a competitive division. Sure, it was nice steamrolling the Nats, Marlins, and Mets the past few years but winning adds to all the rivalries. The one Brewing between the Nats and Phillies is the most intriguing after Hamels's plunking of Bryce Harper. They are for real, but the Braves and Marlins are still teams to watch out for. If I were a betting man I would pick the Braves to win the division with the Phillies and Nats in the wild card. Who wouldn't want to see a one game playoff with Halladay vs Strasburg on the hill?
5. What is Joe Blanton thinking in this picture?
"Why did they schedule this press conference during lunch?"
Thanks again to Ethan, Justin, and That Ball's Outta Here.