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Three Reasons Why Philadelphia Phillies Supporters Should Be Hopeful: Fan’s Take
The Philadelphia Phillies have many questions in front of them as the 2012 season is set to begin. But, their fans also have three reasons to be calm.
Three reasons #3: Polly's back in business
Placido Polanco gutted out a rough 2011 season that included back problems and double-hernia surgery at year's end. However, he appears to be healthy and should be a key contributor both in the field at at the plate.
'Polly' ranks thirtieth among all active players with a 35.5 WAR score (wins above replacement value) as a result of the work that he has done with the St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers and Phillies.
He is baseball's all-time fielding percentage leader (for all players who have appeared in 500, or more, games) at both third base (.9815) and second base (.9927).
His career .752 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) and .346 OBP (on base percentage) marks might not be able to be dually hit this year. Because manager Charlie Manuel will be able to use former Colorado Rockies utility man Ty Wigginton in a third base platoon, Polanco should remain fresh enough to generate consistent numbers in the top third of the Phillies batting order.
The 36-year-old, 14-year veteran, may no longer be as dynamic as he once was. However, a healthy Polanco on anyone's team remains fully desirable.
Three reasons #2: Cinco Ocho
We now know what would have happened if Ryan Madson's agent Scott Boras had quickly worked out a deal with the Phillies last fall.
Due to 'Mad Dog' tearing a ligament in his arm, he won't throw once regular season pitch for the Cincinnati Reds this season. If Madson had re-signed, Philadelphia would have been forced to use some type of bullpen-by-committee approach. Then again, they may have been forced to trade an asset for a second-tier closer candidate instead.
Papelbon's chosen nickname is 'Cinco Ocho', which refers to the alter ego that he feels emerges when he takes the mound during a game. He also wears that number (58) on his back below his real last name.
Say whatever you will about this six foot four inch, 225 pound pitcher, but that ego and his arm have generated 219 saves during the first seven years of his major league career. His career numbers include 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, a 2.33 ERA and a 1.018 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched).
Three reasons #1: Front office creativity
General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., may not be able to add someone like Cliff Lee (obtained in 2009 and in 2010), Roy Oswalt (obtained in 2010) and Hunter Pence (obtained in 2011) this season. But, his creative mind is likely to find ways to address whatever issues develop this year.
The likelihood that a team will win the World Series is obviously increased by repeated trips to the postseason. Repetition is at the heart of Amaro's short- and long-term strategy.
Fear not if a pitcher goes down, a positional player gets hurt, or supplemental pieces aren't performing. This Phillies boss will patch his red pinstriped uniforms in some way.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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