Losing to the same team in the playoffs for two years in a row is awful. It takes a psychological toll, at least on the fans, that the losing team can't get over the hump. The Dodgers lost to the Phillies in last year's NLCS in five games. This year they improved by 11 wins in the regular season, gained home field advantage in the playoffs, and the result was the same. Phillies. Five games. Thanks for playing.
It is times like these that it is best to take a step back to take the long view of the situation. Rather than focus on the failure of losing twice to the Phillies, it is important to note just what the Dodgers have accomplished in these last two years. They are a young, growing team, that had the best record in the National League this season. Rather than focus energy on what roster moves need to be made to get past the Philadelphia road block, a better option would be to look at the Phillies themselves, and the parallels with this Dodger team.
From 2007 to 2009, the Phillies have led the National League with 274 wins, have won three straight division titles, one World Series, and are back this year to defend their crown. Here is a look at the nucleus of those teams, and their ages during this great run:
The Phillies have really done well to capitalize on the prime years of their best players. The Dodgers have a window with the current nucleus until roughly 2012, the final year of arbitration eligibility for six of their main cogs (plus Jonathan Broxton can become a free agent after 2011). Let's take a look at the ages of the Dodgers' best players for the next three years, to compare it to the Phillies:
|Pos||Player||2010-2012 Ages||2009 WAR|
That is a strong core to build around. If the Dodgers can take advantage of the prime seasons of their young stars, like the Phillies did, they will be in great shape. The Phillies are still going to be good next season. But, as many Phillies start to hit the wrong side of 30 years old, their window will close, while the younger Dodgers will keep improving.
The Phillies may have been the team of the last three years in the National League, but if you want a team for the next three, look to the Dodgers.