Monday, October 19, 2009

Señor Octubre & Jayson Werth

It must be pointed out that the play from Jayson Werth and Señor Octubre so far this post-season has been fantastic. Their offensive output has not only been impressive, but important for the success of the Phillies lineup. O, by the way, Carlos Ruiz is now Mr. October, but he speaks Spanish..

Let's quickly review the statistics from these two players through game 3 of the NLCS..

Jayson Werth - .250 BA (6/24), .400 OBP, .708 SLG, 1.108 OPS - 6H, 6RBI, 7R, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6BB.
Carlos Ruiz - .429 BA (9/21), .538 OBP, .619 SLG, 1.158 OPS - 9H, 7RBI, 3R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5BB.

What these numbers show..

Jayson Werth hits the ball hard. Werth has crushed the ball this post-season, and could very easily have 4 home-runs. As with any power hitter, pitchers have become cautious with Werth which has allowed him to accrue 6 walks - Raul Ibanez has been able to take advantage of this. It is simply amazing to see that Werth has 6 hits so far in this post-season - 3 of these hits were home-runs and another was a triple. Werth is hitting the ball like a clean-up batter and has gained the respect of one too.

What I see as the most important part of Werth's success is the fact that because he has hit the ball so fiercely, pitchers are forced to pitch to Ryan Howard. Albert Pujols was pitched delicately or intentionally walked in the NLDS by the Dodgers pitchers. Going into the NLCS, "everyone" said that Howard would be neutralized by the Dodgers left-handed pitchers...I'm still waiting to see what these experts are talking about! Howard is hitting the ball as well as he ever has this October, but a lot of this success is because he is seeing good pitches. He is seeing these pitches because pitchers know Jayson Werth is on deck and has the power and hot bat that will make them pay if they pitch around Howard.

Carlos Ruiz, or Señor Octubre, is the clutch performer of the Phillies post-season thus far. The 8th batter in the line-up has smacked the ball all over the field, and into Mannywood! The Panamanian Devil is out to show people that he's back this October with a vengeance, proving that last year's playoff showing was no fluke. Ruiz is leading the team in batting average (.429) and has stepped up to drive in 7 RBI's in 7 games. Ruiz is allowing players like Ibanez and Feliz to be more selective with their swings, since they know that if they get on base they have Señor Octubre just waiting to put a confident swing on the ball.

Some people would say, "With this offensive production, the Phils should move Ruiz up to the 7 spot and push Feliz to the 8 spot." Quite the contrary, because the success of Ruiz is allowing our pitchers at bats that do not lead off innings. Ruiz is therefore putting the pitchers in the position to end or prolong innings, instead of beginning them. In playoff baseball, these simple things win games and series.
P.S. Randy Wolf is going to get smacked around tonight..a not-so-welcome back to Citizen's Bank Park.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pitchers for Game 1 & 2 Set

The pitching match ups for Game 1 & Game 2 of the NLCS have been set..and they are certainly surprising. Below are the match ups for the the games with each pitcher's '09 NLDS stats and their season stats to look at..

Game 1 is a match up between two young lefties in Hamels and Kershaw. Clayton Kershaw seems to have been paved the path to becoming the Dodgers ace of the future. Hamels, on the other hand, was certainly the ace of the Phillies rotation but has had to learn how to become the number 2 since Cliff Lee arrived. In last year's NLCS, Hamels was dominant over the Dodgers while Kershaw was taken advantage of out of the 'pen. This year has seemed to change a lot...

Throughout the 2009 season, Kershaw has consistently allowed a low number of runs, but was not given the run support that he needed to win many games - very similar to the plague Hamels received in the '09 regular season. From listening to the pre-practice press conference yesterday, Kershaw seems unfazed by the Phillies potent lineup. He said he is not afraid to attack any hitter in the Phils lineup and that he is the kind of pitcher that does not shy away, but uses all parts of the plate. This should work well for Kershaw since he has only allowed lefties to hit .173 against him this year!

Hamels always talks about how he loves to pitch in California, and he certainly has backed it up against the Dodgers in recent history. It should help Hamels to get back in the "ace" spot of game 1 and also pitch in the LA spotlight. He has only allowed 1 run in 16 innings against the Dodgers this year..

Game 2 is an interesting match up between two veteran pitchers. One pitcher, Pedro, is a first ballot Hall of Famer and the other pitcher, Padilla, has been a so-so 10 year up-and-down pitcher. Surprisingly, both pitchers have performed well in the 2nd half of the '09 season.

Since Padilla's first start for the Dodgers on August 27th, he has gone 4-0 with a 3.20 era. Being a Phillies fan, I hate seeing that these numbers are better than any season he ever had in Philadelphia (best season was 2002 when he was an All-Star, 14-11, 3.28 era). We know he has had "stuff" in the past, and he certainly did against St. Louis when he pitched 7 shutout innings and only allowed 4 hits. The one good thing in the Phillies favor is that lefties hit .303 off of Padilla...Might be a good game for Paul Bako to get his first post-season start and see how he battles - can always go back to Chooch if you need him. In the last post I wrote that I thought Padilla would pitch in game 3...probably a good call by Joe Torre to have him pitch in game 2 so that he does not have to return to the Phillies fans that would surely rip him apart!

The most interesting pitcher for both of these games seems to be Pedro Martinez. He has not pitched yet in this post-season and has not pitched at all since September 30th. When Pedro was picked up by the Phillies numerous baseball analysts condemned the Phillies and said he could not pitch anymore and that he would not be healthy for a post season run even if he made it that far. Well, Pedro is healthy and has pitched very well for the Phillies with a 5-1 record and 3.63 era. This is great news, because Pedro has had great success in the post season and is well known as a "Big Game Pitcher". For his career in the post season, Pedro is 6-2 with a 3.40 era. Colorado's cold weather did not seem to be the right place for Pedro to try to start pitching, but the California temperatures and weather should suit his arm just fine tomorrow. It is 10 years since Pedro dominated baseball in 1999, but this 2nd half of the season has certainly showed he can still pitch. Hopefully this "big game" brings out the best in him again. Let's just hope he doesn't grab Larry Bowa by the head and throw him on the ground..

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NLCS Preview - Phillies vs Dodgers

The Philadelphia Phillies were the only team in the final four that did not sweep their opponent in the LDS round. With a 3 game sweep of the Cardinals, the LA Dodgers will host the Phillies for Game 1 of the NLCS this Thursday at 8:07PM. Below is a preview of who to watch for and stats from their previous series/season..

Phillies NLDS Best & Worst

Cliff Lee - 1-0,1.10 ERA - 2 GS, 1 CG, 16.1 IP, 11H, 2ER. Cliff was outstanding in his first two starts of the post-season. If Madson doesn't allow three runs in the 8th of Game 4 Cliff has a great chance at being 2-0. He proved himself as the ace and was able to give a huge boost of confidence to the team and fans in Philly. Now we just need Cole to do the same and we're set..

Jayson Werth - 357 BA, 5H, 2HR, 1 3B, 4 RBI, game winning hit in game 4. Werth made every hit count in the NLDS and was responsible for the series winning hit in game 4. He hit 2 home runs and had a triple that would have been long gone had it not been for 25mph winds - at worst, had he not thought it was gone from the get-go and had his trot going, Werth would have had an inside the park home run.


J.A. Happ - 0-0, 9.00 ERA - 2G, 1GS, 3.o IP, 6 H, 3ER, 2BB - Happ was brought in for one batter in Game 2 and was injured after getting drilled in the leg. Next, Happ started Game 3 in freezing temperatures in Denver. Happ really struggled in this game, as we see in the stats above, but mostly with his command. I believe that a lot of Happ's struggles were actually because of the weather, but I guess that is what you get for wearing short sleeves in 29 degree weather. C'mon Jay..

Jimmy Rollins - 19 AB, 5 H, 1 2b, 5 K, 0 SB, 1R - Rollins played well in Game 4, but was a terrible lead-off hitter in the other games. We cannot expect to win the NLCS, and especially the World Series, with Rollins only scoring 1 time, not stealing a single bag, having one extra base hit and striking out 5 times. Rollins must get on base and must distract the pitchers by stealing bases. I've said all year, as Rollins goes the Phillies go.

Possible Pitching Match Ups

Serious Speculation here...
Game 1 - Cole Hamels vs. Randy Wolf - in LA
Game 2 - J.A. Happy vs. Clayton Kershaw - in LA
Game 3 - Cliff Lee vs. Vicente Padilla - in Philly
Game 4 - Pedro Martinez vs. Chad Billingsley - in Philly
  • To be honest, I am feeling very confident about these match ups. While Wolf and Padilla certainly are not the pitchers they were in the red pinstripes, they will never seem any different to me because of how terrible they were on our rosters.
  • Cole Hamels is an interesting player...he has struggled this year and in Game 2 of the NLDS. The one team Cole did not struggle against was LA where he pitched his best game of the season against them on June 4th pitching a complete game shut out.

  • Like I said earlier, I feel Happ's struggles were mostly because of the weather and should have no problem in LA if he gets the call in Game 2. While the Dodgers hit lefties much better than the Rockies, the fact that Happ has actually started recently makes me think he is a better choice then using Blanton or finally bringing Pedro into a game.
  • Lee, I am comfortable against anyone - Vicente Padilla, Roger Clemens, Babe Ruth, Cy Young...I don't care at this point. What Cliff has done for us this year/post season has blown me away.

  • Chad Billingsley could be slipped in somewhere in the first three games since he did not pitch in the NLDS and was very successful earlier this year against the Phils.
Who to Watch for on the Dodgers

James Loney - Against the Phils this year Loney has hit .393 BA, 11H, 2HR, 6RBI. These numbers are certainly up from his averages and up comparable to other teams this season.

Andre Ethier - Ethier's numbers have been ridiculous so far this post season.... .500BA, 5R, 2 2B, 2HR, 1.333 SLG, 1.905 OBP. Along with the NLDS series that Either had, he has performed very well against the Phillies this year including the June 6th game when he had 2 home runs, 1 being a walk-off in the 12th inning.

Chad Billingsley - If he pitches anything like he did against us earlier this year we're in trouble. Billingsley threw 7 innings, allowed only 3 hits, 1 ER and had 9Ks. I wouldn't expect these numbers since he hasn't pitched like this all year, but some pitchers perform better against certain teams... like Hamels, hopefully.


I have to believe that this series has 6 or 7 games written all over it. The Phillies & Dodgers have arguably been the two best teams in the NL all season and it seemed in June that this would be the NLCS match up again. With this said, both teams have showed a lot in the last NLDS series - the Dodgers swept a good St. Louis team and the Phillies battled all series, especially in game 4 against the Rockies. Both teams are hot and if either team lets up the other will surely capitalize on them and could quickly dominate the series.

Honestly, I do not see either team dominating this series, although I think the Phillies pitching has the potential to be far superior. I would be very surprised to see anything less than 6 games in this series unless Hamels and Lee were to both dominate their games... which is unlikely. I do think that the experience and consistency through the Phillies lineup will be the deciding factor, as it was in the NLDS.


Phillies in 6, Ryan Howard NLCS MVP

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stairsway to Heaven '08

Anyone remember this home run..?

Matt Stairs became a Phillies legend with one swing of the bat. By the way, it was against the LA Dodgers in the NLCS...
Will get back with a NLCS preview shortly. Until then, just remember this swing..


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Game 1 NLDS Recap - Looking at Game 2

Honestly, I could not have drawn up a more encouraging win than yesterday's Game 1 of the NLDS. There were positives in just about every aspect of the game that should make everyone in Philadelphia even more excited about this afternoon's sequel with Cole Hamels on the mound. I want to point out many of the positives that I saw in the game and then quickly write about Game 2 and what could be important.
  1. We can steal all day on Torrealba - as we did (tried..RH) all game yesterday. When your starting pitcher steals bags you know there is a weak link. First post-season steal for a Phillies pitcher in the history of the team. Chris Iannetta will have to get time if we continue to steal as successfully as yesterday.

  2. Each of the 9 batters had at least 1 hit. This is incredibly encouraging especially with who was pitching yesterday and how our offense has been performing lately. As I wrote in the NLDS preview, if our offense is on, as it was yesterday, there is no stopping this team. I don't know if the rest the last few days helped or what, but all of the players were hitting the ball in good spots and hard.
  3. I watched the game on the MLB Corner feature online - this thing is cool! I had four views going - behind home plate with an awesome view of the strike zone, in center field, in the Phillies dugout which is hilarious to watch and along the 3rd baseline. I thought this thing would be stupid, but it was actually pretty cool if you're really into baseball....or at work, like I was!

  4. If the wind was not at 25mph there would have been at least 2 home runs in the game. Werth's would have been more left center and definitely way out and Howard's most likely would have been a bomb to left. Instead, we ended up with an RBI scoring triple and double off the wall - not complaining!

  5. We did not have to use the bullpen at all (thanks Cliff) which allowed the group another day of rest. We did see Happ up in the bullpen in the 9th which makes you think that Martinez will be starting game 4 and that Happ may have become the late reliever/closer - I don't know how I feel about this.

  6. Do Not Doubt Cholly! He decided to use Cliff Lee in Game 1, despite his recent struggles, and wow was he right! Now Hamels is coming into today's game with a nice 1-0 lead in the series and the chance to just about end the series. We can only hope he pitches like last post-season...

  7. Cliff Lee.

  8. Clifford Lee.

  9. C. L. - Whatever you want to call him, the man pitched amazing yesterday. He retired 16 in a row at one point. Allowed just 6 hits and 1 earned run in a complete game. Sounds awfully familiar (cough cough..last post!) to his first home start vs. the Rockies. Lee was one strike away from a complete game shutout but allowed an RBI double. No big deal. I have to say for this being his first playoff game, for a team and city he has been with for a few months, this outing was very very impressive. Yesterday's pitching by Lee is exactly what we hoped for the day that Ruben traded for him. I cannot wait to see him pitch again!

Game 2

Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32 era) will take the mound this afternoon versus Aaron Cook (11-6, 4.16). We all know what Cole is capable of doing in the post-season. Last year, Hamels was 4-0 with a 1.80 era in the playoffs - he shoud have been 5-0 but that 2 day delay messed it all up. Aaron Cook, on the other hand, has pitched his last 13 innings while allowing only 1 run. He was on the DL in August with shoulder problems. The last time the Phillies faced Cook was August 6th - Cook pitched 5.0 innings, allowed 7 hits and 3 earned runs. Cook left the game with a hyper-extended big toe. Cook was an All-Star in '08.

The weather forecast for today's game is 67 degrees, sunny, 9mph wind. Today's game will not be changed by anything other than the will of the players. It will be a beautiful October afternoon to kick the Rockies' ass.

Hamels was quoted yesterday as saying that he truly believes the playoffs are a time to "start over". I am so excited to hear him say that. If Hamels can pitch anything like last year, or Lee yesterday, then this game will be another breeze. The Rockies will be swinging today - their team is too good to have two silent days offensively. Today's game should be closer than yesterday's simply because the Rockies know they have there backs against the wall...already. If they lose today they have an incredibly small chance of pulling this series out. They will be swinging and aggressive on the base paths when they have the opportunities. With this in mind, Carlos Ruiz can be a huge part of today's success. He needs to be able to keep the ball in front and call pitches in running counts where he knows he will have a good angle to still throw down to 2nd or 3rd.

I think the crowd will be even crazier today then it was yesterday. I was really mad when I heard that the Phils had the two early games, but after seeing yesterday's record setting crowd it is truly obvious that this town does not quit on their teams...even when they're supposed to be working...I mean seriously, what recession?


I don't like doing this for playoff games, but I'm really excited about this one. Hamels should go about 7 strong, 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 6 left on base. The Phils will win the way they know best and get two big home runs, 1 from the Big Guy Ryan Howard and 1 from Chase Utley. Phillies win 5-3.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Familiar Start for Lee in Philly

On August 6th, 2009 no one saw foreshadowing in a 3-1 Phillies win at the intersection of Pattison Avenue and Citizen's Bank Way. Instead, we were all mesmerized as Cliff Lee pitched his first game in Citizen's Bank Park since being signed by the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee threw 7 strong innings and struck out 9 batters in his home debut and left the field to a standing ovation. There might have been a few baseball fans that were concerned with other Philles that day, but they were certainly hard to find. I can assure you, though, that everyone was much less concerned about the team the Phillies played...the Colorado Rockies.

Tomorrow, October 7th, 2009, exactly 2 months and a day since Lee's Philadelphia home debut, Citizen's Bank Park will once again be the spot for a Cliff Lee home debut - this time it will be the first playoff game Lee has pitched in his career. Surprisingly, this game will feature the Colorado Rockies, again. In Lee's only outing against Colorado, the Rockies managed 6 hits with only one extending to extra bases. Lee's 9 strike outs came mainly from a delicately place fastball and an on-point curveball. Essentially, Lee was able to keep the Rockies off balance all day long with pitches that could not be lifted to the gaps.

While Cliff Lee continued to dazzle the Philadelphia crowd for a few more starts, things seemed to change around August 29th. Since then, Lee has had a 2-4 record and a 6.20 era. One can only guess as to what may have changed in Lee's pitching to allow such a difference in his numbers. "He has been leaving the ball up, he has been relying on his curveball, the NL has finally caught on to his pitching style." All of these excuses could be debated, but the important thing to realize is that it isn't important at all!

As we saw last year with Cole Hamels, the postseason is a new animal and can breed a new player. Cole Hamels was able to dominate through the playoffs winning a game in each series against Milwaukee, LA and finally Tampa Bay. Lee seems to be the one pitcher in the rotation that is really struggling recently. With this said, if he is able to take this "new season" attitude into tomorrow's game and feed off of the Philly Phaithful, there is no reason that August 6th, 2009 was not the perfect foreshadowing to October 7th, 2009.
Go Phillies!

Monday, October 5, 2009

NLDS Matchup: Phillies vs. Rockies

The NLDS and ALDS are all setup. The Phillies will be taking on the wild-card Colorado Rockies. The series will start Wednesday at 2:37pm in Philadelphia (thanks...I'll be at work). Below are important numbers to compare before the series begins. Better numbers for each category will be highlighted in RED for Phillies and PURPLE for Colorado. GREY for a tie.

Phillies - 93-69
Rockies - 92-70

Probable Pitcher Matchups: (Based on
Hamels (10-11, 4.32 era) vs. Jimenez (15-12, 3.47 era)
Lee (14-13, 3.22 era) vs. Cook (11-6, 4.16 era)
Blanton (12-8, 4.05 era) vs. Hammel (10-8, 4.33 era)
Martinez (5-1, 3.62 era)/Happ (12-4, 2.93 era) vs. De La Rosa (16-9, 4.38 era)

-Obviously, these are complete season totals in both records and ERA. I would say that the most important pitching stats for playoff predictions are numbers in the second half of the season and the last 7-8 games. Therefore, I compiled the stats for these pitchers over their last 7 games to be a better judge of how they may pitch in this series.

Last 7 Games:
Hamels (3-3, 3.78 era) vs. Jimenez (3-3, 3.95 era)
Lee (2-4, 6.20 era) vs. Cook (2-3, 4.86 era)
Blanton (4-2, 4.92 era) vs. Hammel (2-1, 3.67 era)
Martinez (4-1, 3.48 era) /Happ (3-2, 3.88 era) vs. De La Rosa (4-0, 2.99 era)

Observations - With the exception of De La Rosa (much better numbers the last 7), the Rockies pitching has been consistent throughout the season. I would think that this will benefit the Phillies because you would rather know exactly what you are getting, instead of trying to plan for a streaky or hot pitching staff. The Phillies will most likely get what they saw from the Rockies during the season, where the Phillies won 4/6 games. For the Phillies, the numbers over the past 7 games for each pitcher are close to the same for the season except for Cliff Lee. His numbers have been much worse over the last 7 games. This is a concern because Lee is struggling, especially with leaving the ball up in the zone, and is unfamiliar to pitching in the postseason. The home field advantage may play a huge part in the success of the Phillies in the NLDS because the pitching match ups, especially lately, are surprisingly similar.

Offensive Comparisons: (top 3, Total Team)
Hits: Phillies - Victorino (182), Howard (172), Rollins (168), Total -1439
Colorado - Helton (177), Tulowitzki (161), Hawpe (143), Total - 1408
RBI: Phillies - Howard (141), Werth (99), Utley/Ibanez (93), Total - 788
Colorado - Tulowitzki (92), Helton/Hawpe (86), Barmes (76), Total - 760
HR: Phillies - Howard (45), Werth (36), Ibanez (34), Total - 224
Colorado - Tulowitzki (32), Stewart (25), Hawpe (23), Total - 190
R: Phillies - Utley (112), Howard (105), Victorino (102), Total - 820
Colorado - Tulowitzki (102), Hawpe (82), Helton (79), Total - 804
2B: Phillies - Rollins (43), Victorino (39), Howard (37), Total - 312
Colorado - Hawpe (42), Helton (38), Barnes (32), Total - 300
3B: Phillies - Victorino (13), Rollins (50, Utley/Howard (4), Total - 35
Colorado - Fowler (10), Tulowitzki (9), Gonzalez (7), Total - 50

Hmm...this is encouraging! As shown above, the Phillies lead offensive categories over the Rockies in everything except triples. This may come as no surprise - anyone who watches baseball knows the potent offense that the Phillies have. With the make up of both fields (Coors & CBP) the offense has the potential to become a huge advantage (look back 2 years when the Phillies offense disappeared in the NLDS vs. Colorado). Worth noting is that the Phillies offense has been struggling over the last few weeks - we'll see if this rest helps them come out of their funk.

Bullpen: Listed All Pitchers
Bastardo (2-3, 6.46 era)
Condrey (6-2, 3.00 era)
Durbin (2-2, 4.39)
Escalona (1-0, 4.61 era)
Eyre (2-1, 1.50 era)
Kendrick (3-1, 3.42 era)
Lidge (0-8, 7.21 era)
Madson (5-5, 3.26 era)
Myers (4-3, 4.84 era)
Park (3-3, 4.43 era)
Romero (0-0, 2.70 era)
Taschner (1-1, 4.91 era)
Walker (2-1, 3.06 era)
Total - (30-30, 4.14 era)

Beimel (1-6, 3.58 era)
Belisle (3-1, 5.52 era)
Betancourt (4-3, 2.73 era)
Chacin (0-1, 4.91 era)
Daley (1-1, 4.24 era)
Flores (0-1, 5.25 era)
Flogg (0-2, 3.74 era)
Herges (3-1, 3.38 era)
Morales (3-2, 4.50 era)
Peralta (0-3, 6.20 era)
Rincon (4-2, 6.87 era)
Street (4-1, 3.06 era)
Total - (23-24, 4.50 era)

Statistically both teams have about the same numbers representing their bullpen - they win just about as many games as they lose and have around a 4.25 era. With this in mind, I have to say that the Rockies have a considerably higher advantage in their bullpen simply because the Phillies do not have a true closer. The Rockies have Huston Street who has only blown 2 saves all year. This makes me incredibly scared and shows how important our offense will become.


The Phillies are a better team than the Rockies and have a lot to live up to from last year. This is an interesting match up because statistically, aside from offensive stats, the teams match up very well. Additionally, these two teams have been the NL representative in the World Series the last two years - experience is not a factor for either team. I see this series really hinging on the offense that is I have said over and over again above. If the Phils play to their offensive potential this could be a quick sweep...if they are not firing on offense we will have to rely on our bullpen and the "closer" which is something that will not favor the Phillies. The offense must produce.

Prediction: Phillies win in 4.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fiorentina 2 - Liverpool 0

My Squad. Huge game. FORZA VIOLAAA!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Phillies Win 2009 NL EAST!

Well, the Phillies have now won 3 consecutive National League East Division titles! Hard to believe this day has come growing up as a Phillies fan where we have become accustomed to losing or getting close, but not close enough to the playoffs. We need to seriously look back on the last three seasons and enjoy what we have witnessed. Guys like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and Jamie Moyer have worked for years to bring this team where we are today. The Phillies have the most losses in sports history, but you would never guess it from watching the play of these guys the past three years.

This season has been a great one - but we have a new season now, and it better be a long month! The Phillies led the division for 123 straight days, which this team has not been used to doing. During these games the team had its ups and downs, but in the end were able to stay "the team to beat" in the NL East until the last day. Ed Wade, Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro Jr. have truly built a dynamic team through the draft, off season pick ups and trades. These three GM's will forever be remembered for the 3 NL East Division titles they manufactured in Philly - only the second time in team history.

I'm not going to lie, I am as proud to be a Phillies fan today as I have ever been. I am still running high off of last year's World Series win, but it is truly gratifying to know that this team has not laid back comfortable from last season. This team has capitalized on their talent, took the bull by the horns and won another title. They could have had a decent year, missed the playoffs, or just barely made it in as a wild-card.... and still have been loved in Philly because of last year -but they didn't. Instead, players like Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez had career years, Pedro Martinez made an incredible comeback to baseball, Pedro Feliz and Jimmy Rollins dominated the left side of the infield and J.A Happ, Jamie Moyer, Chan Ho Park and Kyle Kendrick battle as starters and relievers to get a win anyway possible. This team is not perfect, and they never will be, but they understand how to win and how to play as a true team.

One thing that really meant a lot last night were the two incredible decisions by Charlie Manuel. We all know Charlie is a player's coach, but he really showed why last night. With two outs in the 9th inning, Charlie brought in Brad Lidge to close out the division for the Phillies. This showing of confidence and respect for Lidge is something that few managers would do, especially with the year Brad has had. Charlie has said he would stick with Brad all year - well, he proved it last night. While Lidge was pouring beer and champagne all over his teammates, Charlie was nowhere to be found. We all know where Charlie was - sitting in his office allowing the players to enjoy the title on their own, focusing more on what the team needed to do next to win the NLDS. Charlie has vowed he will not celebrate until they win the World Series, and that is an incredible decision on his part. Charlie Manuel, you are the man!

Philadelphia Phillies - 2009 National League East Division Champions!