It’s Monday, so you know what that means! Double Play time between Mark Hock and myself. Today we will debate whether the Philadelphia Phillies will rebound to contend in the NL East, who should should close for the New York Yankees, and are the Minnesota Twins the worst team in baseball?
Will the Philadelphia Phillies Rebound and Contend in the NL East?
BL: It’s unfortunate that Mark and I decided to discuss this before Sunday Night’s game, where we saw Washington Nationals‘ outfielder Jayson Werth break his wrist. If it wasn’t for that injury or the multiple injuries the Nationals have to deal with, I would say the division is theirs, with the Philadelphia Phillies in the rearview mirror. Now, with this injury, I really don’t know how I feel about the Philadelphia Phillies.
I definitely don’t think they are the favorite as many others have proclaimed. If the Nationals can’t stay afloat, I will gladly take the Atlanta Braves over the Philadelphia Phillies. Roy Halladay’s strikeout numbers are down, Cliff Lee has injury concerns, and the omnious uncertainity of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard scare me too much to think the Philadelphia Phillies will rebound this season.
MH: There’s no doubt that the Philadelphia Phillies have the pitching. The big question mark is whether they’ll hit enough to take advantage of their fantastic rotation.
Hunter Pence, Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco aren’t going to continue being outhit by Juan Pierre. They have to start hitting. Even with their skills declining, they’re not this bad. The Philadelphia Phillies have Domonic Brown down on the farm, and he has the potential to be one of their best players. Calling him up would make a huge impact, and give them a shot at competing with the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves.
Chase Utley is starting his rehab, and having him back will be a tremendous boost to the lineup. It could be a while before Utley or Ryan Howard comes back, so in the meantime the Phillies are going to have to be creative. But they can make a comeback, and this team isn’t out of the race yet.
Who Should Close for the New York Yankees?
BL: I’m conceding the fact that David Robertson is better than Rafael Soriano. I don’t even think that’s the debate, but I think Soriano should close games for the Yankees. I know this thinking sounds bizarre, but I believe you should use your best pitcher in the highest leverage situations. So if that’s in the 9th- go with Robertson, but if not – go with Soriano. I think Robertson has more value and flexibility if he isn’t the designated closer.
MH: In 9 innings this season, Soriano has 8 K’s and 6 walks, meaning he has absolutely no control of where the ball is going. Not the kind of combination you want in a closer, as Carlos Marmol recently proved.
On the other hand, we’ve got David Robertson who hasn’t allowed a run in 12 innings this season. Of the 45 batters he’s faced, he’s struck out 21 of them. That’s right, almost every other batter Robertson has faced has been struck out. That’s the kind of stuff, and the kind of pitcher you want pitching in the 9th with a lead you need to preserve.
Maybe you could get away with Soriano in a small market. But in New York, if he blows a save, the crowd will turn on him faster then you can say “We want Rivera back”.
Are The Minnesota Twins the Worst Team in Baseball?
BL: Yes. See you next week!
MH: The Minnesota Twins are one of the worst teams in the majors. Their pitching has been completely ineffective. Despite the MVP calibre season of Josh Willingham, the offence is amongst the worst in the majors. But there is some hope for the Twins yet.
Justin Morneau is healthy, and with every game he should improve to be a lethal bat in the middle of the lineup. Danny Valencia has to be replaced at third, and no matter who replaces him that will be a significant upgrade. Likewise Francisco Liriano isn’t going to keep pitching if he has a 9+ ERA, and as long as the Twins don’t replace him with Clay Buchholz they’ll improve through addition by subtraction.
Make no mistake, the Twins aren’t going to compete for the Central anytime soon. But they’re not the worst team in the majors.
Double Play is a weekly blog done every Monday on Rant Sports where Mark Hock and Bryan Lutz debate three topics in the game of baseball.