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Tag:Placido Polanco
Posted on: March 2, 2012 9:41 pm
 

Spring primer: Philadelphia Phillies



By Matt Snyder


The 2011 Phillies sported an MLB-best 102-60 regular-season record, but then lost a heartbreaking Game 5 in the NLDS, 1-0, to the eventual World Champion Cardinals. Rubbing salt in the wound was slugger Ryan Howard tearing his Achilles tendon on the final out of Game 5. He's expected to miss around two months. With him missing time, the Phillies aging stars a year older and a much tougher division in 2012, is the window of opportunity for another World Series title starting to close with this nucleus? It's certainly not closed, but it may be headed that way.

Major additions: RHP Jonathan Papelbon, OF/IF Laynce Nix, IF Ty Wigginton, 1B Jim Thome
Major departures: OF Faul Ibanez, RHP Ryan Madson, RHP Roy Oswalt, RHP Brad Lidge, OF Ben Francisco

Probable lineup
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Shane Victorino, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Hunter Pence, RF
5. Jim Thome/Ty Wigginton/Laynce Nix, 1B
6. John Mayberry, LF
7. Placido Polanco, 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C

Ryan Howard will obviously man 1B and slide in the lineup at cleanup when he's ready to take the field, but it doesn't sound like that's happening until late May, if not later.

Probable rotation
1. Roy Halladay
2. Cliff Lee
3. Cole Hamels
4. Vance Worley
5. Joe Blanton

Kyle Kendrick waiting in the wings if someone goes down.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Jonathan Papelbon
Set-up: Antonio Bastardo

Important bench players

C Brian Schneider, OF Juan Pierre and whoever isn't starting at 1B (see lineup above)

Prospect to watch
Domonic Brown isn't a prospect anymore and much of the Phillies top prospects are in the lower-levels of the minors, so it's slim pickings here -- as to be expected with an elite, veteran club. I'll go with Phillipe Aumont, a relief pitcher headed for Triple-A. The 23-year-old had a 3.18 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings once he was promoted to Triple-A last season. Control was an issue, as he walked 14 guys, leading to a 1.54 WHIP, but he certainly has the strikeout capability to contribute to the bullpen later in the season if he gets things figured out. Considering the Phillies are counting on the likes of Jose Contreras, Chad Qualls and Dontrelle Willis in the bullpen, the chances an injury or underperformance open up a spot in the 'pen after a few months are pretty good.

Fantasy bust: Hunter Pence
"Before you hop aboard the hype train and ride it all the way to crazy town, you might want to remind yourself that theonly aspect of his game that changed for the better last year was his batting average. He didn't gain any power. He didn't walk more or strike out less. He didn't fundamentally change as a player. He simply got better results, putting together a .361 BABIP instead of his usual .305 or so. It wouldn't be the first time. He had a .377 BABIP as a rookie in 2007, when he hit .322. But the peripherals suggested it was too good to be true then, and they do now as well. Pence is an asset in Fantasy because of his job security and 20-homer power, but he's a .280 hitter who can't take a walk." - Scott White [Full Phillies fantasy team preview]

Fantasy sleeper: John Mayberry
"General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has made the comparison. Manager Charlie Manuel has made the comparison. It's Mayberry's identity now: the next Jayson Werth. For the Fantasy owners who have played long enough to remember when Werth rose from obscurity to put together a 20-20 season in 2008, that's cause for celebration. But is it a reasonable expectation? Hey, Mayberry is more of a certainty now than Werth was then, having hit 15 homers in 267 at-bats last year. Like Werth, he's a former first-round pick who, like Werth, didn't begin to meet his potential until his late 20s. And like Werth, he happens to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage." - Scott White [Full Phillies fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
World Series champs. By now, anything less is a disappointment for a group with so much talent and postseason experience.

Pessimistic outlook
The offense badly struggles without Howard -- who falls behind in his rehab and misses three months -- with age declines limiting production from the likes of Utley, Rollins and Polanco. Worley comes back to Earth after his insane 2011 season and Blanton continues to struggle with injuries. Even with all that, the Phillies would still be good enough to be a playoff contender, even in the mighty NL East, due to the new two-wild-card playoff format. It's hard to envision enough things going wrong to have them finish below the Braves, Marlins and Nationals. Maybe two of the three -- in a worst-case scenario -- but not all three.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:57 am
 

Homegrown Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

While most of the teams on our list would love a do-over for 2011 -- or at least part of it, the season somehow worked out pretty well for the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that took advantage of an epic collapse and capitalized upon its chance by winning the World Series. The moves made by both the current management team and former executives, all worked out for one glorious season in St. Louis, so it's another example of why the exercise is for fun only. But there's one thing our Homegrown Cardinals have that the 2012 version doesn't -- Albert Pujols

Lineup

1. Jon Jay, RF
2. Placido Polanco, 3B
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Allen Craig, LF
5. Colby Rasmus, CF
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Brendan Ryan, SS
8. Skip Schumaker, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Dan Haren
2. Jaime Garcia
3. Kyle McClellan
4. Chris Narveson
5. Lance Lynn

Bullpen

Closer - Chris Perez
Set up - Mitchell Boggs, Fernando Salas, Luke Gregerson, Blake Hawksworth, Eduardo Sanchez

Notable Bench Players

The bench has some interesting players -- you have defensive replacements in Jack Wilson and Coco Crisp, some pop in Brett Wallace, J.D. Drew and Rick Ankiel, as well as some versatility in Daniel Descalso. Daric Barton's there, too, but not sure where or when he'd ever play considering Pujols is still a Cardinal here.

What's Good?

Any lineup with Pujols is not bad -- but it's not overwhelming, either. While lacking some of the firepower from Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, there are still some passable players. While there's no Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright, there is Dan Haren and the top two of the rotation are good. The strength of this team -- and Tony La Russa would certainly love this -- is the bullpen. Not only are their Cardinals holdovers of Motte, Boggs, Salas and Sanchez, you also add Perez, Gergerson and Hawksowrth, giving this team plenty of relief options. 

What's Not?

After the top two in the rotation, the rest are pretty pedestrian. McClellan is not only in the rotation -- where he started in 2011 -- but he's also going to be either a No. 3 or No. 4. The outfield isn't terrible, but when you take away Berkman and Holliday, it's going to pale in comparison.

Comparison to real 2011

Let's just get to the point, the margin for error for the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals was razor thin, but they stayed on the right side of it just enough to go on to one of the most exciting, improbable runs of all time to capture the World Series title. There is no way this hypothetical team could do anything close to what the real Cardinals did. The offensive firepower isn't the same and there's no Chris Carpenter. No, this team doesn't just fail to win the World Series or make the playoffs, it fails to reach .500 and probably finishes in the bottom half of our made-up NL Central.

Next: Ranking the Homegrown teams.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 11:38 am
 

Ryan Howard progressing from Achilles injury

HowardBy Evan Brunell

The Phillies may have signed Jim Thome, but they are still very much counting on Ryan Howard to provide Philadelphia with home-run production.

The team got good news in that area as Howard has been making progress in his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the final at-bat of the NLDS.

"The last time I talked to him was probably about 10 days ago," manager Charlie Manuel told the Philadelphia News. "He's going to see the doctor again next week. Right now, he's doing really well. The big test for him will be probably be after about two or three months. That's when he really starts to move around and do things."

The hope is that Howard could be ready for Opening Day, although that's a long shot. A best-case scenario will have Howard returning fairly early on in the season. Any setback could leave Philadelphia trying to fill the position of first base through the All-Star Game or perhaps beyond.

Two other Phillies are recovering from injuries -- right fielder Hunter Pence and third baseman Placido Polanco, who both had surgery to repair sports hernias.

"Polly (Polanco) should be ready for spring training," Manuel said. "He said he'll definitely be ready to go."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:28 pm
 

Baseball reveals Gold Glove winners

Molina

By Evan Brunell


For the first time, the Gold Gloves were unveiled in a televised presentation on Tuesday night. Below, you can find the results of the awards. Winners are chosen by managers and coaches who vote for players in their leagues and can't pick players on their own teams.

Catcher
AL: Matt Wieters, Orioles -- Wieters became the first Orioles catcher to win the award. I predicted Wieters would win the award in late September saying that "Runners fear Wieters' arm -- he's only allowed 56 stolen bases all season, while the next-lowest total among catchers who qualify for the batting title is J.P. Arencibia's 77, achieved in 10 less starts. Oh, and Wieters has nabbed 32 runners for a caught-stealing rate of 36 percent, a high percentage for a catcher.

NL: Yadier Molina, Cardinals (pictured) -- Obviously. He wins the award for the fourth straight year, the first time since Charles Johnson from 1995-98.

First base
AL: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Gonzalez wins his third Gold Glove and pairs with second baseman Dustin Pedroia to keep the right side of the infield to one team in the AL. The same goes for the NL.

NL: Joey Votto, Reds -- Votto takes home his first Gold Glove award to put on the mantel along with his MVP trophy from 2010.

Second base
AL: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox -- This is Pedroia's second Gold Glove and first since 2008. As one of the best second basemen in the league, this was a no-brainer. "It's fun playing alongside him," Gonzalez said of Pedroia on ESPN2, saying the communication is top-notch between the two players.

NL: Brandon Phillips, Reds -- The color red really dominated first and second, as the Reds in the NL take home the awards at each respective position. Same with the AL and Red Sox. Phillips wins his third Gold Glove.

Third base
AL: Adrian Beltre, Rangers -- What I said back in September: "Beltre somehow only has two Gold Gloves despite a career of success. That success continues in 2011 in Texas, as Beltre has tremendous range compared with soft hands. Evan Longoria is a fantastic defender as well, but in the AL there simply is no comparison to Beltre."

NL: Placido Polanco, Phillies -- Back in September, C. Trent Rosecrans picked Pablo Sandoval of the Giants. "There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year," he wrote. Gold Glove voters disagreed, and Polanco gets his third Gold Glove -- first at third base. He becomes the second major leaguer to win a Gold Glove at two separate positions, following Darin Erstad nabbing one for first base and outfield.

Shortstop
AL: Erick Aybar, Angels -- It's Aybar's first Gold Glove, and he's as good a pick as any to dethrone Derek Jeter's undeserved Gold Glove last season.

NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies -- Trent may not have gotten Sandoval right, but he nailed Tulo. "The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken," he wrote.

Left field
AL: Alex Gordon, Royals -- Gordon racked up the assists this year, but how do you not give this to Brett Gardner?

NL: Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks -- Parra grabs his first Gold Glove. I haven't heard Parra as a name among the elite defenders, but there you go. He appears worthy.

Center field
AL: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox -- Ellsbury's victory gives the Red Sox three Gold Glovers. It must be sweet music for the center fielder too, after being moved to left field to start 2010 amid reports of poor defense. Frankly, this is a stretch -- Ellsbury still takes poor routes to the ball. But he's fast, so that helps. It's the first time since 1979 Boston has three winners.

NL: Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Really? Kemp is a poor center fielder, and it's really difficult to imagine Kemp as a Gold Glove finalist, never mind a victor. But we all know that Gold Glove awards usually aren't worth much, and in this case...

Right field
AL: Nick Markakis, Orioles -- Markakis is not a very good defender. In fact, he made my list as the AL's worst defensive right fielder. I wouldn't go so far as to say that anymore, but a Gold Glove? Frankly, though, I have a hard time getting worked up about who wins the Gold Glove because it's such an irrelevant and inefficient award. For true honoring of defensive prowess, check out the Fielding Bible winners.

NL: Andre Ethier, Dodgers -- It's just the second time in the 21st centery that outfield teammates have won a Gold Glove award. Ethier wins his first. Not quite deserved.

Pitcher
AL: Mark Buerhle, White Sox -- It's his third straight Gold Glove.

NL: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers -- It's the first award for Kershaw, who said on ESPN2 during the unveiling that he did not expect to win the award. Kershaw spoke about how pitchers fielding practice in spring training can get old, but it provides the basis for good defense. "Once you get out on the field, repetition helps it sink in," he said.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 8, 2011 9:23 pm
 

Howard, Hamels to undergo surgery

By Matt Snyder

With the Phillies 2011 season coming to a close on a 1-0 loss in Game 5 of the NLCS to the Cardinals, the focus for many players now shifts to getting ready for next season. And for a handful of them, it means having to immediately get some injuries taken care of.

The big one here is first baseman Ryan Howard. He was injured on the final play of Game 5 and an MRI revealed that it's bad news. He has ruptured his left Achilles tendon and will require surgery. He has to wait until the swelling goes down before the surgery and there's no timetable for his recovery until the procedure has been completed. The official line from the Phillies is that "there is no guarantee he will be ready for spring training." A reasonable expectation is about six months, which gets us into April, depending upon when Howard has the surgery. And what if there are setbacks? And whenever Howard's injury is healed enough to allow him to resume baseball activities, he'd then have to work his way into game shape. So this is already an issue for the 2012 season.

Starting pitcher Cole Hamels is also going to go under the knife. Twice. First, he's going to have "loose bodies" removed from his left (throwing) elbow on Oct. 14. Then, a week later, he's going to have surgery to repair a inguinal hernia. Expect Hamels to be ready come mid-February, though, as these aren't serious procedures like Howard is going to have.

There are more, too.

Right fielder Hunter Pence is going to have an MRI on his sports hernia to evaluate the severity of the injury. A course of action will be determined after the results of the MRI are known.

Third baseman Placido Polanco is also going to have an MRI on his sports hernia, and the Phillies report surgery is likely. 

Bench player Ross Gload will have his hip injury examined, but is likely to undergo arthroscopic surgery.

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