Can The Phillies Repeat? Or Did Brad Lidge Sell His Soul To The Devil?
Last year the Phillies hit on all cylinders, just at the right time – playoff time. The Mets were mostly responsible for the Phillies winning the division. But as the playoffs started, the Phillies clicked, easily taking the NLDS from the Brewers and the NLCS from the Dodgers. Next victim, the Tampa Bay Rays.
Brad Lidge was perfect during 2008 and certainly the Phillies MVP. His won-lost record was 2 and 0 while converting 41 out of 41 save opportunities. What’s more he was a flawless 7 for 7 during the playoffs. Lidge led the Phillies to a five game World Series victory, their first world championship since 1980. 2009 brings a new challenge for the world champs – repeating. Repeating is a rare feat, last accomplished by the 1999 and 2000 New York Yankees. Can the Phillies be next?
This year the Phillies have both hit and pitched well. They boast four players with 30 or more home runs – Ryan Howard (43), Jason Werth (35), Raul Ibanez (34), and Chase Utley (31). In addition, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Pedro Feliz add incredible depth to make a formidable lineup. Starting pitching has been excellent and with the recent signings of Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez, the Phillies can win games even without their bats.
Last year’s strength has been ’09’s big question mark – the bullpen. And Brad Lidge has faltered the most. His pitching line isn’t pretty: 0 wins – 8 losses, 11 blown saves and an ERA of over 7. Without Lidge dominating the end of games, it is difficult to envision the Phillies beating the best teams in the NL. His replacement, Ryan Madson, while successful as the eighth inning set up guy, has also failed at closing games, saving only 10 of 16 opportunities.
I really thought that Lidge would eventually blow a game last year – and maybe even game seven of the World Series. He saved game five and the series went no further.
Remember Joe Boyd from the “Damn Yankees”? Boyd, a regular “Joe”, made a deal with the devil to become Joe Hardy, a great hitter that would lead the Senators past the Yankees to win the pennant. Joe had until 9:00 PM on the last day of the season to renege on his pact with the devil and at one minute to 9 o’clock, Joe backs out to the dismay of the devil.
What does this tell us about Brad Lidge? He didn’t renege during his game 5 series clinching save. What does his 2009 regular season performance indicate? Did he indeed sell his soul for the perfect season and World Series victory?
The 2009 playoffs start next week so we shall soon know whether Brad Lidge will fail and rot in hell for the rest of his life.