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Tag:Jimmy Rollins
Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 11:52 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Atlanta Braves


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Altanta Braves
Record: 89-73, 2nd place in NL East, 13 games back
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez
Best hitter: Brian McCann -- .270/.351/.466, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 51 R
Best pitcher: Tim Hudson -- 16-10, 3.22 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 158 K, 215 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

If it weren't for the Red Sox, the Braves' collapse would have been the biggest story of the last part of the 2011 season. Atlanta held an 8 1/2-game lead in the wild card on Sept. 5 before losing 13 of their last 18 and 20 of their last 30 to finish a game behind the Cardinals. Unlike Boston, Atlanta didn't lose its manager and general manager as a result. Only first-year hitting coach Larry Parrish was axed because of the team's failings.

R.I.P. series

There was plenty to like about 2011, especially in rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman, rookie closer Craig Kimbrel and second-year setup man Jonny Venters. The second two manager Fredi Gonzalez liked so much he ran them into the ground, putting Venters into a league-high 85 games and pitching the 23-year-old Kimbrel in 79. Lefty Eric O'Flaherty also pitched in 78 games, as the Atlanta bullpen ran out of gas in the final month of the season.

The worst part of the season was the regression of right fielder Jason Heyward. The runner-up for the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year struggled in his sophomore campaign, hitting just .227/.319/.389 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI in 128 games. 

2012 AUDIT

The Braves were unlucky when it came to injuries, and they return most of the team that did play well for most of the season -- so it doesn't seem like there are big moves that need to be made, just some tweaks. The team is set for a while at first base, second base and behind the plate. Chipper Jones is coming back for one more year to man third. Atlanta also picked up a center fielder in Michael Bourn to fill that hole. The future of the rotation is bright, and that's the foundation the team can build upon.

FREE AGENTS

Alex Gonzalez, SS
Jack Wilson, utility IF
Eric Hinske, OF ($1.5 million club option)
Nate McLouth, OF ($10.65 million club option)
Scott Linebrink, RP
George Sherrill, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • The team needs to decide what to do about its shortstop positions. Alex Gonzalez solidified the position defensively, but the free agent shortstop is 34 years old and the team may want an upgrade offensively. A lot depends on what Gonzalez is willing to take from Atlanta, if he is open to a one-year bargain deal, or maybe two years,  it wouldn't be the worst option. Otherwise, the team will have to look elsewhere. If Marco Scutaro is available on the cheap, he may not be a bad choice. The team isn't going to be able to afford the likes of Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins, so any long-term solution is going to have to be creative -- or wait.
  • General manager Frank Wren has said Heyward isn't guaranteed a starting spot -- to drive that point home, the Braves need to sign a veteran bat that could actually take some at-bats away from Heyward -- or at least be able to fill in when the team is facing a left-hander. That outfielder could also play left, where the team has to decide if Martin Prado is the answer or if he's just a placeholder in the outfield until Chipper Jones retires and Prado returns to the infield.
  • The Braves' back end of the bullpen should be strong, but they need an innings-eating right-hander to help keep Venters and Kimbrel from having to appear in every game. He may cost a little more than the Braves would like to spend, but reuniting with former Braves second-round pick Matt Belisle could be a solid addition.
  • Whoever is the new hitting coach will be the third in three years. Parrish never really fit in and had trouble getting his message across. Sometimes it's not the message, just how it's delivered. The team needs to look inside the organization (or for someone who has been in the organization) to find a voice that fits and will stay for a couple of years.
  • Finally -- several players just need to rest for a couple of months. McCann seemed to come back to soon and struggled after his return, and Prado rushed back from offseason surgery, rehabbing all offseason, and appeared warn out. And then there's Venters and Kimbrel -- those arms could use a lot of time off.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 3:51 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 San Francisco Giants

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: San Francisco Giants
Record: 86-76, second place in NL West, eight games back.
Manager: Bruce Bochy
Best hitter: Pablo Sandoval -- .315/.357/.552, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 55 R, 26 2B
Best pitcher: Tim Lincecum -- 13-14, 2.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 220 K, 217 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

The defending World Series champions entered the 2011 season with high expectations and as heavy favorites to win the NL West again. For most of June and July, they held first place, too. But the Diamondbacks played really well down the stretch and the Giants just couldn't get enough offense going to keep up. An eight-game winning streak in the middle of September -- teamed with the Braves' collapse -- got the Giants to within striking distance of the NL wild card, but it wasn't to be.

R.I.P. series
We cannot discount the blow Buster Posey's injury caused to the team. He's a major part of the offense and he was only able to play 45 games this season. Still, the story was the Giants' pitching carrying the team and the offense just not doing its part. Only the Phillies had a better staff ERA than the Giants in the NL, while the Giants ranked dead-last in the NL in runs scored. Yes, they even managed to score fewer runs than the Padres, Pirates and Astros. No matter how good your pitching is, you can't make the playoffs with that large a void in offense.

2012 AUDIT

The Giants don't have a very strong farm system, according to most outlets, but a lot of the good talent on the major-league roster is young. Still, with the Diamondbacks and Rockies -- and maybe even the Dodgers, if they can get through the McCourt nonsense -- set to be strong in the upcoming years, the Giants window of contention with this nucleus won't last much longer. Don't get me wrong, three years from now, the Giants will be freed from some bad contracts and may never even fall below third place in the division, assuming they spend smarter in free agency than they have in the past. But in order to get back to first place in 2012, short-term moves need to be made to shore up the offense.

Getting Posey back will definitely help improve the team, as will full seasons of continued development from the likes of Brandon Belt, Madison Bumgarner and several other young players.

FREE AGENTS

Orlando Cabrera, utility IF
Mark DeRosa, utility
Carlos Beltran, OF
Pat Burrell, OF
Cody Ross, OF
Guillermo Mota, RP
Jeremy Affeldt, RP ($5 million club option)
Javier Lopez, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • Put Brandon Belt in the lineup and leave him there. The 23 year old has torn up the minors (.343 with a 1.052 OPS in his minor-league career) and all talent evaluators love his bat. He didn't hit well with spotty playing time in the bigs in 2011, so just leave him in the lineup.
  • Lock up Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain long term. Yes, the offense is lacking, but the reason the Giants won last year and were in contention this season was the pitching. You can't risk losing that. I would hold off on Ryan Vogelsong, though. He was good in 2011, but it very well could have been a fluke. He has one more year before hitting free agency, so the Giants can take a wait-and-see approach.
  • Keep Carlos Beltran, if possible. The Giants can't afford to go long-term here or pay a ton for Beltran, but if they can get him at a reasonable price for two years with a club option for a third, he's needed. He hit .323/.369/.551 down the stretch for the Giants and is a good part of the middle of the order along with Posey and Sandoval. That would give the Giants a Belt, Andres Torres and Beltran outfield with Nate Schierholtz as the fourth guy. While we're here, let's point out that they need a much better season from Torres in 2012.
  • Is there enough money to get Jose Reyes? That's a tough call. The Barry Zito contract albatross is still affecting how much the team can spend. They do have money coming off the books (close to $15 million), but there are arbitration raises coming for a few guys and, of course, Cain and Lincecum need to be dealt with. Not to mention re-upping with Beltran, if they so choose. Reyes is certainly a tall order, but if they can backload some deals and increase payroll -- after a record-breaking attendance season -- it's entirely possible. If not Reyes, the Giants could go after Jimmy Rollins. Then they can use Brandon Crawford as a backup at both shortstop and second -- with him maybe even supplanting Freddy Sanchez and Jeff Keppinger at second, eventually. A lineup that looks like this might be productive enough to take back the West: Reyes, Torres, Sandoval, Posey, Beltran, Belt, Huff, Sanchez/Crawford/Keppinger. (For the record, I don't think they can afford both Beltran and Reyes, but you never know. It's worth a try).
  • Grabbing Beltran and Reyes would mean, however, that the Giants have exhausted all possibilities of free agency, so everything else would have to be done internally. The only real hole would seem to be the void left by Lopez and Affeldt, as they need a late-innings lefty. Here, general manager Brian Sabean should finally trade Jonathan Sanchez to shore up the left-handed side of his bullpen and attempt to scrape by with Zito in the rotation, using Dan Runzler or Eric Surkamp as a backup plan. In 2010, Zito gave the Giants 199 1/3 innings with a 4.15 ERA. That isn't horrible for a fifth starter.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 2:26 pm
 

Jimmy Rollins seeking five-year deal

By Matt Snyder

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is about six weeks away from turning 33 years old, and he's heading to free agency. Though he didn't mention dollars, Rollins told members of the media Tuesday he has a specific contract length in mind.

"I'm looking to get five years," Rollins said (Philly.com). "If it's going to be shorter, there would have to be a fifth-year option or something like that. My option."

More Phillies coverage
Rollins won the NL MVP in 2007, but since then his combined line is .261/.325/.412, which just isn't very good. He can still run (30 steals in 2011), hit for power on occasion (16 homers in 2011) and play good defense, but Rollins is far from an elite player. Giving him a five-year deal as he plays past his prime and into his twilight years wouldn't be very advisable.

Also contained in that Philly.com story is the fact that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said he is going to fill the closer job via free agency. It might mean bringing back Ryan Madson, but it also might mean going after someone from outside the organization. The big-name free agent closers this offseason are Jonathan Papelbon, Heath Bell and Francisco Rodriguez.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 11:23 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 5:20 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Philadelphia Phillies

PhilliesBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series... 

Team name: Philadelphia Phillies
Record: 102-60, First place NL East. Lost NLDS to St. Louis, 3-2.
Manager: Charlie Manuel
Best hitter: Shane Victorino -- .279/.355/.491, 17 HR, 95 R, 19 SB
Best pitcher: Roy Halladay -- 19-6, 233 2/3 IP, 2.35 ERA, 35 BB, 220 K

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Phillies didn't waste time asserting their superiority, running out to an 18-8 record. Cliff Lee needed some time to get going in uniform, racking up a 4.15 ERA in five starts, but better times were on the way. Meanwhile, the other three aces didn't have any problem locking down games, even though the offense was exposed with the loss of Jayson Werth. Ben Francisco got April off to a rollicking start, but tailed off in May as the club went 16-13. Vance Worley, who stepped into the rotation to replace Joe Blanton, made his first start on April 29, posting a 2.14 ERA in his first five starts.

R.I.P. series

The club then registered two consecutive 17-win months and struck for Hunter Pence at the trade deadline. Philly then ran a nine-game winning streak into August, leading to their best month with an 18-7 record. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, their shot at extending their 102 victories higher was derailed by a September that saw an eight-game losing streak. Despite that, they were so dominant, they posted a 30-10 record in blowout games, as defined by Baseball Reference.

The playoffs were another story, though, as the Phillies lost in five games to the wild-card winning Cardinals. The offense was mostly the culprit.

2012 AUDIT

Philadelphia is still the class of the NL, even though everyone is one year older. Fortunately, the team is shedding the contracts of Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge most notably, so there is payroll flexibility to be had that will allow for a significant signing. It will still be some time before the Phillies drastically drop out of contention, and the club needs to continue its philosophy of putting all its eggs in one basket and contending while it still can. Flags fly forever.

FREE AGENTS

Ross Gload, 1B
Raul Ibanez, LF
Brad Lidge, RP ($12.5 million club option)
Ryan Madson, RP
Roy Oswalt, SP ($16 million mutual option)
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Brian Schneider, C

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Sign Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies will throw gobs of cash at the best closer they can get. Ryan Madson had an incredible season, finally delivering on his potential, but he's no Papelbon. Papelbon has done it all -- won a World Series, pitched in incredibly tight situations, pitched against elite competition and has experience playing in a hitter's park. (Health Bell, for example, would likely succeed no matter where he plays, but it's inarguable that he also is lucky to pitch in Petco Park.) Who knows if the Red Sox will let Papelbon get away, but the Phils need to try. Madson or Bell would be Plan B. Obviously, the team shouldn't pick up Lidge's option, but should absolutely explore bringing him back as setup man.
  • With Ryan Howard's injury knocking him out until at least May -- if not longer -- the Phillies need to get aggressive on offense. They simply had too much trouble in 2011 with the bat, so need to go after one of the better bats on the market and sign Josh Willingham. Willingham can fill in at first base with Howard's absence. That allows John Mayberry and top prospect Dominic Brown to share time in left. When Howard returns, Willingham simply shifts to left field. Yes, that puts Mayberry and Brown on the bench, but word is Philadelphia has soured on Brown as a long-term player. As for Mayberry, he had quite the coming-out party, but a team like Philadelphia can't make any assumptions about his long-term viability.
  • Bring back Jimmy Rollins. Rollins may not give the club a hometown discount, but he's a very popular player in town and will cost much, much less than Jose Reyes. Even the Phillies can't throw cash around at any player they want. They could potentially sign Jose Reyes, but that would likely mean giving up on Papelbon (or any high-salaried closer), and that would be the wrong move.
  • Let Roy Oswalt walk. While Oswalt is still a good pitcher, $14 million is a lot to pay for someone that may not be capable of making 32 starts anymore. (He has a $16 million mutual option with a $2 million buyout, so the true cost is $14 million.) There doesn't need to be any replacement starter, as Vance Worley can move up to No. 4 and Joe Blanton can slide in at No. 5. The club would need to sign some solid pitchers for Triple-A as depth, though.
  • Bring in a solid utility infielder. One of Philly's biggest issues this past season was offense. Hunter Pence helped address that, but the team needs to upgrade where they can regardless. Wilson Valdez is fine as backup shortstop, but Adam Kennedy should be brought in to man second and third, as well as become pinch-hitter du jour after revitalizing his career in Seattle. Kennedy would have to settle for less playing time, but here's figuring that's not an issue for Philadelphia.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 9:38 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 9:39 pm
 

Carpenter puts Cards in 4-0 hole after two

Carpenter

By Evan Brunell

Chris Carpenter headed to the mound for Game 2 of the NLDS attempting to pitch on three days rest for the first time in his career.

Skipper Tony La Russa explained the move as wanting Carpenter to make two starts in the series as the reason for moving him up a day and slotting Jaime Garcia in Game 3. La Russa was taking a calculated risk, as three-days-rest outings in the postseason have decreased in both frequency and effectiveness over the last several seasons. And La Russa of all people should have noticed that, as his personal history bears out. Prior to Carpenter's start, La Russa started a pitcher on three days rest four times in the playoffs for St. Louis. The combined ERA for all four pitchers? 14.18. (hat tip: @BJRains)

Carpenter is more of the same, as his 18.00 ERA after two innings bears out. He needed 30 pitches just to record the first out of the game, loading the bases on a leadoff double and two walks, allowing two runners to come in on a Ryan Howard RBI single. That makrs six RBI in two postseason games for Howard, after six games last year led to zero RBI. Another run went on to score in the inning, then Carp got two quick outs in the second. Alas, Rollins doubled again to bring up Utley. Before a 3-2 pitch to Utley, TBS cameras caught La Russa yelling "s---!" He proved psychic as Utley walked, allowing Hunter Pence to drill a RBI single before Carpenter retired Howard to get out of the second.

A 4-0 hole in the playoffs is never good, but when it's scored by the Phillies, you can pretty much count the game over. With Cliff Lee on the mound, it's going to be hard enough to score one run, never mind four. Carpenter is coming out for the third inning, but unless he can turn it around quick, he won't be long for the game.

Follow the game live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 4:41 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 4:56 pm
 

NLDS Game 2 preview: Carpenter goes on short rest



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Cardinals at Phillies, 8:37 p.m. ET, Citizens Bank Park, TBS

Cardinals Phillies
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Jimmy Rollins SS
2 Allen Craig RF 2 Chase Utley 2B
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 Hunter Pence RF
4 Lance Berkman LF 4 Ryan Howard 1B
5 David Freese 3B 5 Shane Victorino CF
6 Yadier Molina C 6 Raul Ibanez LF
7 Ryan Theriot 2B 7 Placido Polanco 3B
8 Jon Jay CF 8 Carlos Ruiz C
9 Chris Carpenter RHP 9 Cliff Lee LHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Carpenter vs. Phillies: The Phillies can't be too excited about facing Carpenter again as the Cardinals' ace has dominated Philly this season. In two starts against Philadelphia, Carpenter's allowed just a single earned run and beaten the Phillies in both outings. Most recently, he held the Phillies scoreless through eight innings in the Cardinals' 5-0 victory at Citizens Bank Park on Sept. 18. On June 23 in St. Louis, Carpenter allowed one earned run on five hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking one. Utley's had the most success of any Phillies hitter against Carpenter, going 7 for 15 in his career. Pence and Fielder have homered off of Carpenter, but Pence is 4 for 22 (.182) and Howard is 2 for 9 (.222). 

Lee vs. Cardinals: A full sixth of Lee's 42 walks this year have come against the Cardinals, as the Phillies left-hander is 1-1 with a 1.76 ERA in two starts against St. Louis this season. Six of those seven walks, however were in one game, a loss at Busch Stadium on May 16. In his last outing, he pitched a six-hit shutout on June 22 at Citizens Bank Park. Berkman's had the most success against Lee in his career, with five hits in 13 at-bats, including three doubles. Pujols, on the other hand, has just one hit in eight at-bats against Lee. The only Cardinals to homer off of Lee is Furcal, who is 2 for 3 in his career off of the lefty. 

NOTES

Full Playoff Coverage
  • According to Weather.com, there are possible showers Sunday night at Citizens Bank Park, but no real threat of prolonged delays.
  • Matt Holliday is out of the lineup again with a strained tendon in his right palm. Tony La Russa said before Game 1 that he'd be available to pinch-hit and hoped he'd be ready for Game 2. Holliday left the penultimate game of the regular season and hasn't played since.
  • Carpenter is starting on three days rest for the first time in his career. He threw a 105-pitch shutout over the Astros on the final day of the regular season to help the Cardinals win the wild card.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 1, 2011 2:43 pm
 

NLDS Game 1 preview: Holliday out vs. Halladay

Roy Halladay

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Cardinals at Phillies, 5:07 p.m. ET, Citizens Bank Park, TBS

Cardinals Phillies
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Jimmy Rollins SS
2 Allen Craig RF 2 Chase Utley 2B
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 Hunter Pence RF
4 Lance Berkman LF 4 Ryan Howard 1B
5 David Freese 3B 5 Shane Victorino CF
6 Yadier Molina C 6 Raul Ibanez LF
7 Skip Schumaker 2B 7 Placido Polanco 3B
8 Jon Jay CF 8 Carlos Ruiz C
9 Kyle Lohse RHP 9 Roy Halladay RHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Lohse vs. Phillies: The former Phillie is 1-1 with a 1.76 ERA in two statrts against Philadelphia this season, beating Halladay and the Phillies on Sept. 19, allowing just an unearned run on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. Howard is 8 for 16 in his career against Lohse with two homers, while three of Raul Ibanez's nine hits (in 33 at-bats) against Lohse have found the seats. On the other hand, Utley is just 4 for 24 (.167) against Lohse. 

Halladay vs. Cardinals: The Cardinals may be wondering what the big deal about Halladay is -- Halladay is 0-1 with a 3.21 ERA in two starts against the Cardinals this season. He picked up a no-decision on June 21 in St. Louis and then the Cardinals beat him last month, allowing four earned runs on six hits, while walking four. Berkman homered in the first against Halladay in their last meeting, setting the stage for a key Cardinals victory. Berkman has five at-bats against Halladay, with the homer and has also walked twice. Pujols is just 2 for 11 in his career against Halladay. 

NOTES

Full Playoff Coverage
  • There is a 20 percent chance of rain at gametime, according to Weather.com, increasing to 50 percent by 7 p.m. The same weather patterens that postponed Friday night's ALDS could hurt both this series as well.
  • Matt Holliday remains out with an injured tendon in his right palm, but he is on the team's 25-man roster and expected to play later in the series. Tony La Russa said he could pinch-hit in Game 1 and hopes he can start Game 2. Berkman is getting the start in left, he started 16 games in left this season
  • The Cardianls left right-hander Kyle McClelland off the playoff roster because he's dealing with what the team is calling "dead arm." McClelland started the season in the rotation, but was moved back to the bullpen with the addition of Edwin Jackson.
  • Halladay, of course, pitched a no-hitter last year in the first game of the NLDS. It was also against an NL Central team that led the league in batting average.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 9:22 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:34 pm
 

2011 NLDS matchup: Phillies vs. Cardinals



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals were left for dead in late August, trailing in both the NL Central and the wild card by more than 10 games. There was even talk they'd trade All-Star right fielder Lance Berkman once he cleared waivers. Instead, they held onto him and went 23-9 in the last five weeks of the season. A season-ending 8-0 win over the Astros propelled the Cardinals into the playoffs as the Braves lost in 13 innings. As their prize, the Cards now get to face the best team in baseball in a short series. The Phillies won the NL East for the fifth straight season and ended up with a franchise-record 102 wins. The Cardinals recently took three of four in Philly, but the Phillies weren't really playing for anything. What happens this time around? We'll soon find out. 

TEAM INFORMATION

Philadelphia Phillies (host games 1, 2, 5)
102-60, NL East champions
Manager: Charlie Manuel
Team batting statistics: .253 batting average (9th in NL), .323 on-base percentage (5th), .395 slugging percentage (7th)
Team pitching statistics: 3.02 ERA (1st), 1.167 WHIP (1st), 3.22 K/BB (1st)
Star player: SP Roy Halladay -- 19-6, 2.35 ERA, 1.040 WHIP, 220 K in 233 2/3 innings

St. Louis Cardinals (host games 3, 4)
90-72, NL wild card champions
Manager: Tony La Russa
Team batting statistics: .273 batting average (1st in NL), .341 on-base percentage (1st), .425 slugging percentage (1st)
Team pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (8th), 1.306 WHIP (10th), 2.45 K/BB (5th)
Star player: 1B Albert Pujols -- .305/.349/.465, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 29 2B, 9 SB

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)  

Full Playoff Coverage
Game 1: STL @ PHI, Oct. 1, 5:07 p.m. ET. Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39) vs. Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35)
Game 2: STL @ PHI, Oct. 2, 8:07 p.m. ET. Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45) vs. Cliff Lee (17-8, 2.40)
Game 3: PHI @ STL, Oct. 4 Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.79) vs. Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56)
Game 4: PHI @ STL, Oct. 5* Roy Oswalt (9-10, 3.69) vs. Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.79)
Game 5: STL @ PHI, Oct. 7* TBD vs. Halladay
* if necessary

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Philadelphia: Carlos Ruiz
St. Louis: Yadier Molina

This is one of the best match ups in all of the playoffs, you have two of the best defensive catchers in the game and two of the best handlers of a pitching staff. Catcher is probably the toughest position in baseball and the toughest to judge. However, these two are at the very top when they have the gear on. 

Advantage: Tie

First base
Philadelphia: Ryan Howard
St. Louis: Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols struggled at the beginning of the year, but still finished with 37 homers and a .305 batting average. With the game on the line, who else in baseball would you rather have on the line? Nobody, that's who.

Advantage: Cardinals

Second base
Philadelphia: Chase Utley
St. Louis: Skip Schumaker

Even hobbled, Chase Utley is still one of the best second basemen in the game.

Advantage: Phillies

Shortstop
Philadelphia: Jimmy Rollins
St. Louis: Rafael Furcal

Furcal is struggling with a hamstring injury, and that really hurts the Cardinals because so much of his game is based on his speed. And when you start dealing with a speedster's wheels, they lose a lot of their effectiveness.

Advantage: Phillies

Third base
Philadelphia: Placido Polanco
St. Louis: David Freese

Casual fans may not know much about David Freese, but when healthy, the Cardinals' third baseman is an impressive hitter -- and right now, he's apparently healthy. Freese, 28, had a hit in eight of the team's last nine games.

Advantage: Cardinals

Left field
Philadelphia: Raul Ibanez
St. Louis: Matt Holliday

Holliday's status is unclear, but he is on the postseason roster. If Holliday plays, he's one of the game's best. That said, his palm is an issue. He took batting practice on Friday. Even at 80 percent, Holliday is a heck of a player.

Advantage: Cardinals

Center field
Philadelphia: Shane Victorino
St. Louis: John Jay

Jay has played well as the team's center fielder, hitting .297/.344/.424, but Victorino is having a great season. Not only did he hit 17 homers, he's also played Gold Glove defense.

Advantage: Phillies

Right field
Philadelphia: Hunter Pence
St. Louis: Lance Berkman

The former teammates provide perhaps the most intriguing matchup. Both have been the faces of the Astros franchise and are now beloved in their new homes. Berkman's wrapped up the Comeback Player of the Year award, hitting .301/.412/.547 with 31 homers and 94 RBI. Pence was an All-Star in Houston and even better in Philadelphia, where he's hit .324/.394/.560 with 11 homers in 54 games. Pence isn't a Gold Glover, but he's Willie Mays compared to Berkman in the outfield.

Advantage: Tie

Starting pitching
Philadelphia: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt
St. Louis:Kyle Lohse, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Edwin Jackson

You may have noticed that the Phillies have a pretty good rotation.

Advantage: Phillies

Relief pitching
Philadelphia closer: Ryan Madson
St. Louis closer: Jason Motte

The Cardinals' bullpen has been bolstered by mid-season additions of Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel (the deal also allowed them to move Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen with the addition of Jackson). Since the trade, the Cardinals have the third-best bullpen ERA (2.86) in baseball. But the Phillies' pen has been stout all year long, while the Cardinals still have a bit of uneasiness when Tony La Russa makes one of his many visits to the mound.

Advantage: Phillies

Total advantage: Phillies (5), Cardinals (3), tie (2)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Phillies in 3
Gregg Doyel: Phillies in 3
Danny Knobler: Phillies in 5
Scott Miller: Phillies in 4
Trent Rosecrans: Phillies in 4
Matt Snyder: Phillies in 3

Trent's take: The Cardinals have the best offense in the National League and the Phillies the best pitching, so it will be interesting to see strength-on-strength, even though I'm always inclined to take pitching in that situation. The Phillies are the favorites, there's no doubt about that. The fact that Furcal and Holliday are hobbled by injuries doesn't hurt that idea, either. La Russa raised some eyebrows when he switched up his rotation on Friday, announcing he'd pitch Carpenter on three-day's rest in Game 2. If the Cardinals can take one of the first two games of the series, the pitching difference isn't as big in the second two games, which could make the series interesting. But there are still "ifs" to get to that point.

More Phillies-Cardinals NLDS coverage

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com