26 March 2009

2009 Phillies Preview...in Iambic Pentameter (sort of)

The Phillies won themselves a World Series,
Beat the Tampa Bay Rays with rel'tive ease!
A championship! And long-awaited!
City of Brotherly Love, elated!
But now they face a new season: Oh-Nine,
Their foes take aim, they'll have no easy time
Repeating as Darlings of October...
Will their season end before it's over?

Starting Pitching:

The team's hopes start with Hamels, their big ace
The Series MVP, the Phranchise Phace,
Two hundred innings plus, this year he'll give
And each time out, he'll keep the hope alive.
A nasty change-up from his arm, sinister
Will make opponents hear, "Sit down, Mister!"
At only twenty-five and not abused,
His arm for 20 wins could well be used.

Brett Myers gets the nod as starter, second,
For thirty starts again, he should be beckoned.
He's better than his middling ERAs
But needs to prove it, get back to the days
In '05, '06, under four he stayed
And he still can, he's only twenty eight.
A breakout season they need, not a LAIM
Fifteen-plus wins, he's no one left to blame.
If he can't do it now, he never will
A few more years, and he's over the hill.

Blanton's number three, an innings-eater
His slider, curve and low 90's heater
Provide six innings, quite reliable.
Mechanics make him inviolable.
Perhaps not much to watch, not exciting
Won't miss bats, without a slider, biting,
But more than earns his modest salary
(Though he should maybe watch the calories!)

Fourth is Jamie Moyer, ancient of days
Who helped the Phils to beat the Tampa Rays.
Sixteen games he won through the long season
Though some thought him done, and with good reason.
For two years more the Phillies, they signed him
And though his best seasons are behind him
He might give just enough to be useful
Though I doubt it, if I must be truthful.

The Number five spot, quite likely revolving:
(Kendrick's not much good, and not evolving.)
Chan Ho Park could start sometimes, but it seems
His ERA, helped by Chavez Ravine
Will likely blow up this year in The Vault.
The minors seem bare, though not Ruben's fault,
Won't help much, unless someone surprises.
The same poor pitching, in many guises.


Closers can't remain perfect, as Brad Lidge
Was in '08. He'll drop off, just a smidge,
But should remain a thoroughbred stopper
Helping the Phillies remain on top, or
Barring that, at least he'll fan his share of
Batters, for Phillies Phans to cheer thereof.
But if Philly's season hopes, they Phalter
It won't be his fault, he's like Gibraltar.

After Brad Lidge, rounding out the bullpen:
Madson, Condrey, Chan Ho, Eyre and Durbin,
Some quality arms, some who are re-treads.
"Condrey and Durbin," say some cooler heads,
"Should regress some from last year's performance.
Low ERAs, with little conformance
To anything they had done before this!"
By not pointing this out, I'd be remiss.

But Madson is a solid reliever,
With two good seasons, he's made believers
In Philly and beyond. Hitters hate him
And his slow change-up, "Bland ultimatum!"
They'd rather be challenged with smoking heat
But it's off-speed stuff he uses to beat
Them, and more of the same you'll see this year
He's both young and quite good, so have no fear!

Scott Eyre is the Phillies' only southpaw
Due to Romero's run-in with the law
From tainted powder, 6-Oxo Extreme
(Of pitching 'fore June, he can only dream),
But once he returns the Phils are stronger,
Though in contention, perhaps no longer
They'll be if the starters cannot maintain
Their '08 levels and be more than LAIM.

And those who don't start should pitch some innings,
Out of the bullpen, vulture some winnings,
Though Park and Kendrick and Happ aren't much,
To coax outs from them will take a soft touch.

If there's more relief help, it's hard to see.
Majewski, Zagurski, Dave Borowski?
All washed-up and lousy they were last year
Such dreck in the majors? No! Please not here!

Offensive Starters:

As for the offense, begins the order:
Number 11, a man much shorter
Than many of his peers, though they can't boast
Of an MVP, to him, they must toast.

But from that height, he seems to have fallen,
Though still a great shortstop, Jimmy Rollins.
His glove is no slouch, he's earned two Gold ones,
And backs up his words (he utters bold ones!)

His bat, more than adequate, it should yield
A hundred-plus runs, if he stays on-field,
Hit a few homers, could walk more often
But don't expect vintage Kenny Lofton.

The two-hole, also manned by a shorty,
With O-B-P's well over .340:
Shane Victorino, "Flyin' Hawaiian"
His small stature, his talent belyin'.

Decent BA, a handful of homers,
Good defense (among center field roamers),
Excellent speed (he'll steal 30 bases),
Still in his prime, just 28, he is.

Second baseman, Utley, the third batter,
Should this year 40-plus doubles, scatter,
And hit 30 taters. Runs he'll drive in,
And score some himself, plus make some divin'

Stops up the middle. Perhaps a Gold Glove?
Alas, last year's voters showed him no love
Though vastly better he was than Brandon,
(The voting gets increasingly random.)

Regardless, Chase is the best keystoner
In MLB. At that, he's a loner,
An MVP threat, without any peer,
But Philly will need more than him this year.

Cleanup man? First baseman, Ryan Howard
Last year with much undue praise was showered
For driving in runs and hitting some jacks.
Such people ignored the cost of those hacks:

Almost 200 whiffs, low O-B-P...
His VORP, on his own team, ranked #3!
Still he had value, not a bad player,
But much like Casey, per Ernest Thayer.

Likely to improve on .251,
But not the best fielder under the sun,
Defense atrocious and legs immobile,
But more power than erstwhile Chernobyl!

Raul Ibanez bats fifth, plays left field,
(Philly to Burrell's demands would not yield.)
Out goes The Bat they thought not a keeper,
And in comes Raul: Older, not cheaper.

Still can't play defense, walks much less often,
Hits more singles, (the blow, this should soften)
But little difference in their net effects
Should there be this year, unless one gets wrecked

With injuries, or else early, ages.
Smart cash is on Raul, say the sages,
To start his decline phase, slow attrition.
By June, for Pat, Phils' Phans could be wishin'!

Next we have Werth, him, finally healthy,
Had a career year, made himself wealthy,
But can he build on last year's good numbers?
Or will his bat instead choose to slumber?

The more common problem for him has been
That his wrist ailment, to heal wasn't keen,
But with a full year in '08, he proved
That he's OK now, beyond this he's moved.

A great hitter, like Manny, 'gainst lefties
But batting left, his numbers aren't hefty,
Now he must try to hit righty pitching
Or maybe just when he hits, not switching.

The next, um... "hitter" is Pedro Feliz
Who seems to make outs with relative ease.
Suppos'd to stabilize the Corner, Hot,
But hitting .250 is all he's got.

Despite his weak bat, swings for the fences,
No need to walk, he makes no pretenses,
Still plays good defense, but won't steal a base,
OPS so low, how's he show his face?

Better thirdbasemen? Twenty, easily,
Or more, but Philly's minors got measly
Production from theirs, so help's not coming.
City of Brotherly Love? Soon bumming.

Last in the lineup is the day's catcher,
Often Ruiz, whose bat is no match for
Chris Coste, not that his lumber's so awesome,
But at least his bat isn't still playing possum.
Ruiz, now 30, has slim potential
To help the Phillies' run differential.
Nor does Lou Marson, or Ron Paulino.
Eight's a black hole for the Phils, as we know.

The Bench:

The Phillies back-ups, they should do just fine,
Long as they're usually riding the pine.
Not a bad bunch here, some players, decent
But none whose star was bright very recent.

Jenkins, fifth outfielder and pinch hitter,
May be tempted to feel rather bitter,
Signed with the Phillies to be a starter
But found hitting righties last year harder
His one skill gone and injuries nagging
Geoff found his at-bat count sort of lagging.
A different approach he seems to have found,
And hopes for a 2009 rebound.

Stairs has experience, hitting, eating
Now 41, his career's depleting.
A timely bomb made him Philly's hero,
But this year he'll post too many zeroes.
Still hits a homer or walks on occasion
But where can he fit in their equation?
Just a DH in the League, National
They'd cut him loose if they were rational.

The mid-infield back-ups, Bruntlett and Giles
Like pre-owned cars, with no shortage of miles.
Both about 30, with little upside,
Bruntlett, all over, can field the horsehide,
And run just a bit, in case they have need.
Giles once had some pop, and a bit of speed,
And could bounce back, getting out of this rut...
(Monkeys could also fly out of my butt!)

More likely someone like Cairo, Miguel
Or Pablo Ozuna will get to tell
His wife he won the job in Spring Training.
Giles seems to have no more miles remaining.

Main corner back-up, Greg Dobbs they will ring
To spell Feliz from all his out-making.
Not much for defense, Dobbs won't be used long,
But his bat makes up for all his glove's wrongs.

Finally, putting these things together
You will all likely want to know whether
The Phillies will win. What are their chances
Of returning to October Dances?

The Phillies will have trouble reprising.
New York Mets, no slouch, and the Fish, rising,
Make stiff competition, as do the Braves
Though none of these teams will draw critics' raves.

Injuries could, the Phillies, sabotage.
Last year they had few, they're due a barrage,
And with some key players, like Cole and Chase
High injury risks, the Phils could, the race
Concede by August, dig too great a hole
To climb out from, as these hurts take their toll.

Too many key players with sudden peaks
Last year aren't likely to keep up those streaks,
Or stave off aging, they're due to endure
Declines in their 40's, they will, for sure,
Show signs of slipping, and with that, the team
Will need much luck to stay up in the stream.
The odds will catch up with the Phils this year
Eighty five wins is the safe bet, I fear.

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Stuart Shea said...

This is great. I am really impressed.

We have been doing baseball poetry at bardball.com for a while now...if you ever want to submit something for publication, please feel free; we'd love to have you.

Right now we have NL haiku previews up...
Stu Shea

Charlie said...

You need a parade to commend you efforts, I could never do this. This brings me back to why I hate Shakespeare. Iambic Pentameter= hard to read and corny. This must have taken; days-weeks. Impressive but unnecessary!

Rocko said...

Out-frickin'-standing!!! How long did this take you to do? Wow.

Travis M. Nelson said...

Took me about a month to do, squeezing it in on weekends and lunch hours. I had recently listened to the Canterbury Tales on CD and thought it would be interesting to do it this way. Wish I'd gotten more readers for it, but I appreciate the positive feedback.