Even Charlie Manuel is getting just as excited as the rest of us watching Halladay throw, judging by where his hands are:
(Photo courtesy of Todd Zolecki)
If you want to read more on what Halladay has the potential for this season, check out Todd Zolecki and that sportswriter extraordinaire, Jayson Stark. If you're a Phillies fan and not excited about Roy Halladay yet, please check your pulse right now.
Cole Hamels also spoke to the media in the last few days, and he and pitching coach Rich Dubee are on mostly the same wavelength about how to get some of that 2008 magic back, which is definitely good news. As I've written before, some of Hamels' struggles in 2009 can be attributed to bad luck, high BABIP, etc. However, the way he responded to much of that bad luck played a significant role in him being pulled from games. When Hamels visually lost his cool after the infielders missed a routine double play, for example, Charlie is going to take note of that and Hamels is less likely to stay in much longer. While Hamels can't control what happens behind him, he can control what he does in response, and that's something he recognizes he needs to work on. He is also in a much better place right now than he was this time last year in terms of arm strength and dedication. I think it's safe to say he knows it's time to get up off the ground from last year, dust himself off, and return to being an ace (well, co-ace).
Don't just take this optimistic fan's word for the prospects of a resurgent Hamels. In addition to the links above, check out a good rundown by the AP, Jon Heyman's column over at SI, and, if you have ESPN insider access, go over and check out what Buster Olney has to say. If you don't have access, this little tidbit from the column should be enough to get you excited:
"In his first start in spring training last year, his fastball velocity was at 81-82 mph. But already he seems to be able to throw much harder than that, and to do what he wants with a baseball."
So there you have it: what is shaping up to be quite the righty-lefty, 1-2 punch for the Phillies. It is without a doubt the best starting rotation the Phillies have had for quite a long time. If our offense keeps doing what it does best and our bullpen manages to stay healthy this year, we can get back to the World Series and win it again. The Phillies have a better team than last year and 2008, and I don't hesitate for a second in making that statement. Of course, there's always the unforeseen, like injuries (see Mets, 2009), inexplicable offensive slumps (see Rollins, Jimmy circa June 2009), and the shockingly resurgent Washington Nationals. Just kidding about that last one, sorry Nats fans. For now, it's still one of the best times to be a Phillies fan in my lifetime, and Roy Halladay is here to make sure it stays that way. If this team lives up to its potential, there's no good reason (Yankees included) why our season shouldn't end just as it ended two years ago: