Can the Philadelphia Phillies rotation keep pace in the NL East? In 2003 the rotation of Kevin Millwood, Vincente Padilla, Randy Wolf and Brett Myers totaled 58 games, as they averaged 33 starts. In 2004 the same foursome combined to win 32, averaging less than 25 starts due to injuries. Post-season was something that the Phillies watched on TV.
"If we had had young guys we had committed to, we wouldn't have had the same expectations," general manager Ed Wade said yesterday. "Our lineup was set too, Marlon Byrd was the only young guy we had."
New manager Charlie Manuel has a rotation of Lieber, Wolf, Padilla, former Jay Cory Lidle and Myers.
"We were criticized for not doing enough at the trade deadline," said Wade, who added relievers Felix Rodriguez and Todd Jones.
"And after the deadline we picked up Cory Lidle and he pitched better than Kris Benson, Esteban Loaiza or Victor Zambrano."
Zambrano was 2-0 with a 4.37 earned run average, Benson was 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA for the Mets and Loazia was 1-2 with an 8.50 ERA for the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, Lidle was 5-2 with a 3.90 ERA.
The Phillies rotation in 2004 saw Wolf go to the disabled list twice while Padilla and Millwood had bad elbows.
Plus reliever Bill Wagner wasn't available for 70 games a year ago.
"If our guys are healthy, we have the potential," Wade said.
And then there was fluke injury dependable reliever Ryan Madson suffered shagging fly balls in the outfield during batting practice. Madson was running along the warning track trying to chase down a ball and caught his baby finger in the outfield fence. A damaged pinky on a pitcher's glove hand is no big deal, however, on the pitching hand it's another matter if you can't grip the ball.
The only injury bug to date is third baseman David Bell's bad back.