The Dodgers and Phillies dominated the National League in 2009. This year is a little different as Los Angeles has dominated after struggling in the beginning while Philadelphia has struggled the entire season. Joe Catanzariti of The Good Phight took some time to answer a couple questions for True Blue LA.
DAVID: Who are the Phillies MVP and Cy Young as of right now?
JOE: Cliff Lee and Chase Utley and it isn't really close. You could make a case for Domonic Brown I suppose, but in 90 games, Utley has put up 3.5 fWAR, to Brown's 2.1 in 107 games. But Brown has certainly been the most pleasant part about an otherwise turd of a season.
DAVID: Who would the Phillies' rookie of the year be as of right now (feel free to include second-year players who barely miss the cutoff in this)?
JOE: It's a toss up between Jonathan Villar, whose stolen 11 bases in 18 games or Jarred Cosart, who's sporting a 1.36 ERA in his first five major league starts. Oh wait, we TRADED those guys to the Astros. Nevermind. Thats a really tough question. Ask me again at the end of the season but it's probably Cody Asche or Darin Ruf. I can tell you for certain who it hasn't been, and thats one of the eleventy million young relievers who've failed to deliver in a season where they had the opportunity to do so. Of all of them, the biggest dissapointment has been Phillipe Aumont for sure.
DAVID: What has gone wrong with Philadelphia since they last played Los Angeles?
JOE: Aside from going 15 and 25 (including the last series) overall and losing 18 of their last 24 since the All-Star Break? Lol. I think aside from the team not really being that good to begin with, Kyle Kendrick's given up 29 runs in 7 starts, Cliff Lee went through his annual 5 start craptastic mid season run (8 HRs in 5 starts) Ben Revere broke his foot while he was hot as heck and Dom Brown had a concussion. It's hard to win when you're running an OF out there of Steve Susdorf, John Mayberry and Delmon Young every night. Also, they stink.
DAVID: Did you think it was smart for the Phillies to keep most of their older guys during the trade deadline?
JOE: I don't know if it was smart, so much as there just wasn't a deal that made sense. Cliff Lee is worth more to this team on the field than he is via trade right now, the Utley extension was inevitable, and I think the value out there for guys like Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz just didn't merit dealing them. The trade deadline landscape has changed so much since the new CBA rules and additional wild card that I'm of the opinion that more August deals are coming. Heck, look what you guys did last year.
DAVID: It isn't official just yet, but if it becomes official and he signs with Philly, do you like the Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez signing?
JOE: I love it, not because I think Gonzalez is the next Aroldis Chapman, rather what I love about this deal (whether it happens or not) is that is shows that the Phillies are actually acknowledging the reality of the changing market economics. They've never made a big international splash and even if the guy is horrible, the rainbow here is that the organization is taking a step into the future.
DAVID: Do you like the Phillies' decision to re-sign Chase Utley to a contract extension?
JOE: I wrote about it HERE for TGP. I think this may be the best move Ruben Amaro has ever made. The conrtact structure itself is quite revolutionary, there's virtually no risk, they've got no replacement in the system that can replicate Utley's on field value and the numbers are a bargain for a guy who has put up the kind of fWAR Utley has even with the injuries. Plus, its Chase Utley. The idea of him in any other uniform is hard to comprehend.
DAVID: Should Philadelphia keep Jonathan Papelbon this offseason, or should they trade him?
JOE: You want him for Brandon League straight up? LOL? Papelbon needs to go, mainly because the velocity is down, and he's showing big regression signs. But the real reason he should be traded is that he can be replaced for a lot less money. That said, the reasons he should be traded are the exact reasons why its going to be difficult to do it. Ruben Amaro believes in the cult of the closer too, so that makes it harder. That said, he's also very big on clubhouse cohesion and Papelbon is a guy that causes more harm than good in that respect. Utlimately I think Ruben will work hard to move him for that reason. But he's not going to the Tigers for a Nick Castellanos. I'd eat as much money as necessary and get him the hell out of town myself.
DAVID: Would you like to see Philadelphia trade most of their older guys (Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Cliff Lee) in order to start rebuilding the franchise this offseason? If so, why? If not, why not?
JOE: The Phillies fanbase is really divided on this issue. For me, it comes down to one thing. DO they want to try and win or do they want to turn into the Houston Astros? I don't believe you'll ever see this ownership group completely rebuild, and if they want to put a winning team on the field trading Cliff Lee (unless someone is willing to give up an Oscar Taveras type game changer) doesn't do much to help you. His value on the field far outweighs his value in a trade unless its a blow away deal. With Rollins, I feel the same way. who do you replace him with? His trade value again is not going to bring back an impact player, so again...better off keeping him. With Howard... Man, where do I start. If they can move that contract I think they'd do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately thats easier said than done, and if it happens it'll be similar to what you guys did to get Gonzalez last year.
DAVID: Series prediction?
JOE: Dodgers sweep. Puig hits 3 home runs and leads my fantasy team to a season victory. Phillies inch closer to catching the Astros for the number one overall pick in the draft.
ADDITION AS OF AUGUST 16th AT 11:30 AM, SHORTLY AFTER NEWS BROKE OF CHARLIE MANUEL'S FIRING.
DAVID: What is your opinion of the Phillies' decision to fire Charlie Manuel? Was does this mean for Ruben Amaro Jr.?
JOE: Most Phillies fans expected Charlie to go after this season and Ryne to succeed him, but we also felt it would be on his terms. The organization allowed him to reach 1000 wins last week. If this was Charlie's decision (think the Danny Glover character from Lethal Weapon) that's one thing. If he was forced out I've lost all respect I had left for ownership.
JOE: This now means that Ruben Amaro is on the clock officially. No more deflection. Welcome to the hot seat.