Omar Minaya conceded recently that he's been watching the Phillies road to the World Series very closely, and he expects their core group of good, controllable players to continue to play at a high level through 2009.
And he mentions names citing, "Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth are all in their prime years and under contract through 2009."
Now nothing interrupts a nice episode of poopy-talk between fans more than one of the teams going and winning the World Series. Much to the dismay of Mr. Met, the Philly Phanatic now has the ammunition to end all debates; this even though it was not long ago that most saw the Mets teams as superior and the Phillies as having an inferiority complex.
That's clearly not the case now, but is the Phillies core group that much better than the Mets? Let's break down Minaya's list of nine players* and their Met analogs to see how the groups stack up: (*we're leaving out Werth because he's only had one year of full-time success, and Carlos Ruiz because he hit .219 with 4 home runs which does not constitute "good" even on a team that wins the grand prize.):
Howard vs. Delgado: Howard is averaging 50 home runs and 140 RBI over the last few seasons with no sign of decay, so despite the record-breaking strikeout totals and Delgado's Howardesque second half this battle is decidedly in the Phillies favor. Advantage: Phillies
Utley vs. Wright: The dandy pretty boys for each team are pretty similar. .300 hitters, 30 home run power, with good speed and defense to round out the package. But Wright's numbers are a tick better, and he plays the more challenging defensive position at a gold glove (cough) level. Advantage: Mets
Rollins vs. Reyes: Reyes has developed more quickly than Rollins did, is more dominant on the basepaths, and has a catchy chant associated with his name. But Jimmy brings the same tools to the table, and won the MVP last year. During chaotic financial times like these, we prefer the hardware. Advantage: Phillies.
Victorino vs. Beltran: Shane Victorino is a solid player, and is likely honored to even be mentioned with the likes of Carlos Beltran. Advantage: Mets.
Hamels vs. Santana: Hamels is younger, but Santana has years of of consistent dominance. Both teams feature ace lefthanders that rank among the best in baseball. Advantage: Push.
Myers vs. Maine: Myers was once the Philly ace, so he presumably has a higher ceiling. But he's also more likely to smack his wife, while Maine is more likely to try on her little black dress. Advantage: Mets.
Blanton vs. Pelfrey: Two kids on the rise. Blanton appears locked in as a middle of the rotation guy, and has proven he can eat the innings. Pelfrey flashed signs of dominance this season.Advantage: Push.
Lidge vs. Wagner: Well until Wagner got hurt, we might have been able to hold a good argument here. But Lidge is coming off a perfect season, meanwhile the Mets don't know if Wagner hurt his arm pitching or by throwing teammates under the bus. Advantage: Phillies
Madson vs. Heilman: Both of these pitchers have good stuff and arms that could be versatile out of the bullpen or fit in the rotation. Madson has matured into a nice setup man, Aaron Heilman has morphed into a nice costume for Halloween. Scary! Advantage: Phillies.
There you have it, a super-scientific survey that should give Mets fans some solace because in terms of core players the two teams are just about equal in terms of talent-- that is if you leave out the bullpens. Omar Minaya's mission is clear: find his Brad Lidge, and don't show up next season wearing his Aaron Heilman Halloween costume.