I asked Whole Camels from The Good Phight, the SBN Phillies blog, a few questions, and he took time away from his lucrative Von Hayes bootleg jersey operation to answer them.
I can't lie to you, it's REALLY F***ING NEAT. I wasn't quite 3 years old when they won in 1980 so I have no memory of it. Just the long, awful slog of the mid-1980s through mid-2000s (minus 1993, sorry to type those Cursed Digits for your site).
To be able to see that Championship with your own eyeballs is just awesome.
Around mid September when it looked like the Phillies were well on their way to the postseason, I looked at the Giants as probably the most worthy opponent in a playoff matchup. The pitching is obviously there, and the bats probably only have to be just good enough to eke out a few runs. I doubt this series will have too many blowout games, if any.
I think the Phillies are a better team, but not by the orders of magnitude that way too many people seem to think. Playoff series are weird. The Giants are for real.
2. What was up with that weird stretch this summer in which the Phillies weren't scoring runs? Could you do that again?
The Phillies saw what can happen when you lock up a quickly aging core to long-term contracts. The players get dinged up and miss time, and since you're paying them so much in their decline phases for what they did in their arbitration-year peaks, you wind up running the likes of Wilson Valdez, Brian Schneider, and Cody Ransom out onto the field to soak up tons of important at-bats.
I really don't have any other explanation for "Slumpmas" as we began to call that awful stretch. They fired (read: sacrificed to BaseBa'al) hitting coach Milt Thompson, and the team seemed to improve under Greg Gross, but honestly, I don't think that had much to do with anything.
I give tons of credit to Ruben Amaro, Jr., for realizing that the offense was either going to improve or it wasn't, and he couldn't really fiddle with it at the trading deadline due to financial commitments. So he went and got Roy Oswalt instead. And it panned out!
3. It seems like J.C. Romero is your situational lefty out of the bullpen, and he's been pretty inconsistent this year. Are you worried about late-inning matchups, or will Ryan Madson, Jose Contreras, and Chad Durbin get those innings regardless if left-handed hitters are due up?
I kind of loathe the idea of LOOGY matchups unless your LOOGY is, like, really really good. J.C. Romero and Antonio Bastardo (likely to be included on NLCS roster) are the lefties in the 'pen, and both are pretty mediocre. However, Charlie Manuel's strategy has seemed to be "Get seven or eight innings out of the starters, and hand the ball to Madson and Brad Lidge," which has worked out. Put it another way: If I had to get a tough lefty hitter out, I'd rather Madson face him than Romero/Bastardo, and it seems like Charlie Manuel is with me.
4. Do you think that Jayson Werth has evolved into a better hitter this year? Also, a follow-up question: Do you think that Jayson Werth has evolved? Once he figures out how to make fire, he'll be unstoppable.
Werth has had such a bizarre season. His overall numbers have been fantastic but he's taken a ton of heat for his extremely and inexplicably poor "clutch" stats (.186/.353/.314 with RISP). While most of the enlightened fans realized that this was mostly a function of luck, much of the "hustle and heart" crew ran with it as an indication that Werth was pressing due to his impending free agency, and that he couldn't cope with the pressure.
Yes, a man who posted 1.361 and .996 OPSs in consecutive World Series is really peeing his pants with anxiety over whether he's going to get an $80 million deal, or a $100 million deal.
All that said, Werth's at-bats are awesome to watch, as he has an extremely patient approach and takes more pitches than anyone in baseball. It's also helluva fun to watch him crush a pitch with that ape-like swing.
He's been my favorite player on these recent teams. I grew a beard in his honor. I'll miss him.
5. What are the Phillies' plans for Tyson Gillies, Phillippe Aumont, and J.C. Ramirez this series? Are they going to make the roster? Ahem. I absolutely love those three guys right now, because the alternative scenario makes me incontinent. Do you have any regrets?
You know, with the benefit of hindsight, if I had the choice of Cliff Lee for 2010 only, or Roy Oswalt for 2010, 2011, and maybe 2012 at a manageable cost, I'd go with Oswalt. But unless Ruben Amaro is a clairvoyant, I don't think this was really a choice to be made, and I'm totally certain that Halladay/Lee/Hamels/Oswalt was not an option, either.
I was ambivalent about the Cliff Lee deal conceptually, and I don't hate those three prospects, but I wish that, assuming the trade was a necessary precursor to the Roy Halladay deal, Amaro had shopped around for slightly better prospects.
In other news, cocaine charges against Tyson Gillies have been dropped. HOORAY!