Yesterday we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, today we celebrate the resurrection of spring. Flowers, sunny days, the smell of charcoal grills, flip flops, and BASEBALL! April 1st; OPENING DAY!
It's a celebration for all of Major League Baseball and fans alike. The day when the old is gone and the new has come. The beginning of a new year where anything can happen. The disappointment of a season lost has disappeared and spring rings of another shot. Hey even the newest addition to the American League, the Houston Astros, can say they are unbeaten!
The park looks pristine. The red, white, and blue Opening Day banners hang prestigiously from the rafters. This is America's favorite pastime, America's game. The vendors are fully stocked, the jersey's are pressed, the grass is green, the Phanatic is red! The biggest American flag on the planet is ready for its debut. The jets are gassed and ready for the flyover, the route is timed perfectly to the second as the Star Spangled Banner commences with a thunderous applause.
It is always sad to start the season on the road as the Phillies gear up for Opening Day in Atlanta. It's like waiting till New Years to open up your Christmas presents. Ace Cole Hamels gets the ball for his 1st career Opening Day start tonight at 7:00. An honor that is well deserved for the newly stached lefty. As Citizens Bank Park anxiously awaits its debut on Friday afternoon!
The 2013 Phillies make their season debut with a drastically different roster than what we saw in 2012. Their are 15 different players on the 2013 Opening Day roster. This is what the Phillies 2012 Opening Day lineup looked like in Pittsburgh compared to my projected lineup for tonight!
2012 Opening Day lineup: 2013 Projected Opening Day lineup:
1. Shane Victorino (CF) 1. Ben Revere (CF)
2. Placido Polanco (3B) 2. Jimmy Rollins (SS)
3. Jimmy Rollins (SS) 3. Chase Utley (2B)
4. Hunter Pence (RF) 4. Ryan Howard (1B)
5. Ty Wigginton (1b) 5. Michael Young (3B)
6. John Mayberry Jr (LF) 6. Dom Brown (RF)
7. Carlos Ruiz (C) 7. John Mayberry Jr (LF)
8. Freddy Galvis (2B) 8. Erik Kratz (C)
9. Roy Halladay (P) 9. Cole Hamels (P)
It is incredible what a healthy Chase and Howard can add to a lineup. You take any team's 3 & 4 hitter and you would be hardpressed to be an above .500 squad! You look at what the Phillies did in the 2nd half of the season with Utley and Howard back into that lineup and you see what this team is capable of with a full, healthy season.
I have Revere batting leadoff but it's not crazy to think that Jimmy will be the first guy out of the dugout when the clock strikes 7 tonight at Turner Field. We all know that Charlie is a loyal guy and Jimmy has been his leadoff man since he's been skipper. But you cannot ignore the speed of Ben Revere and the kind of havoc he creates when he gets on base.
"But my main thing is get on first base," Ben Revere said. "Get my on-base percentage up. If I can do that, I can make the big man in the front office happy and big men batting behind me ... all these big men happy. That's my focus, try to get on first base."
We all know that Revere is a contact, slap hitter, Juan Pierre Jr. Last season with the Twinkies he hit .297 in 511 AB's, only striking out 47 times! He is a ground ball hitter, but can turn a groundout into an infield single faster than you can say Rev Run. The issue of an over flux of lefties in the lineup is warranted but Rev Run hit .314 vs lefties in 2012, and .284 vs righties so its a non issue. I think the Phillies have needed a fast, contact hitter at the top of this lineup for years and Revere has to be your guy. This is no shot at Jimmy, because I am your biggest J-Roll fan, but it just makes more sense with Revere at 1. It won't take long for Rev Run to become a Phillie phavorite!
Rev Run is blinding fast, his 60 yard dash time is among the fastest ever. He stole 40 bases in 2012 and was only thrown out 9 times! He is a smart base runner and will produce a lot of runs for Charlie at the top of the order. I see Jimmy eventually finding his groove in the 2 hole.
It doesn't take much projecting to figure out who the Phillies 3 & 4 hitters will be. I'm just thankful Ty Wigginton isn't our Opening Day 1st baseman!!
In 2012 the Phillies had seven different players start at the hot corner. The oft injured Placido Planco couldn't stay on the field and the Phillies had a hard time finding an adquate replacement. It was a need they desperatetley needed to fill going into 2013. In the off-season the Phillies traded for the Texas Rangers all-time leader in games played, AB's, runs, hits, doubles and triples. 36 year old Michael Young brings stability to the hot corner and more importantly leadership. His 1st Phillies protege, Dom Brown, has benefited mightily with a scorching Spring Training from the plate. Brown hit .356 with 7 HR's and 17 RBI's! Turning another major question mark for the Phillies into a hopeful situation.
I project that John Mayberry will start tonight in LF, batting 7th. In 13 career AB's vs Braves Opening Day starter Tim Hudson, J-May is .308 with 2 HR's, 5 RBI's, and 4 walks. It is obviously not a big sampling size and it doesn't jump out at you but I'll personally take J-May over Laynce Nix any day! Mayberry and Nix both had equally awful springs, neither guy hit above the mendoza line. Mayberry is a better option defensively and has the potential to get on a hot streak with his bat.
So the day has finally arrived and this is no April Fools! Here is to 2013 and the revamped Philadelphia Phillies! The Gnats don't scare me, the Chipper-less Braves don't scare me. This has been and still is the Phillies division! The Phillies are the Rocky of the NL East. I'm boldly predicting 93 wins and an NL East title!
LET'S GO PHILLIES!!