The Champs Are Back: Philadelphia Phillies Clinch Playoff Spot

The defending World Series champions are back to defend their crown.

With their 10-3 victory over the Houston Astros, the Philadelphia Phillies clinched a spot in the 2009 postseason and their third straight NL East division title.

The Phillies have become, from top to bottom, one of the best run organizations in baseball. If you are looking to build an organization, the Phillies have a great blueprint for success.

Here’s the blueprint…

  • Draft a solid core like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley.
  • Surround that core with solid gamers like Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino.
  • Add players when needed like Raul Ibanez and Joe Blanton.
  • Build up your farm system so you can trade for players at the trading deadline like Cliff Lee.

That’s a pretty solid blueprint if you ask me. Despite their solid blueprint for success, the Phillies have a lot of questions going into the postseason. The questions mainly surround their bullpen.

Going into tonight, I was all prepared to suggest that Manager Charlie Manuel pitch Pedro Martinez in Game 4 and use JA Happ as the closer. Brad Lidge is toast this year and I think Ryan Madson is too good in the eighth to be removed from that role.

Happ could be to the Phillies this year what Adam Wainwright was for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. But after watching Martinez pitch last night, I am not so sure Martinez can start a playoff game for the Phillies.

Martinez had absolutely nothing against the Astros. His fastball was between 87-89 mph and it looked like Martinez was struggling to even get it to that speed. What on earth were the Phillies thinking letting Martinez throw 130 pitches against the New York Mets on September 13th?

That’s like not going to the gym for six months and the first time you go back you run a mile on the treadmill. Surprisingly, you feel great and when you go back the next time, instead of taking it easy again — you run five miles.

Chances are you won’t be the same and Martinez hasn’t been the same since.

I think at this point, the Phillies will have to go with Happ in Game 4 and take their chances with Madson or Lidge closing out the ninth.

The Phillies have a very good chance to repeat as champions. Now it’s up to their bullpen to make it happen.

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