Nine Fearless Predictions for 2009

What's in store for the 2009 Phils?

Wish you could hit the pause button and keep feeling the euphoria that you felt the moment the Phils won the World Series?

Well you can't and it's time to move on. After all, the 2009 season is just days away. 
So let's put on the courage cap to lay out the nine things to expect from the boys of summer in 2009 -- brace yourself.

9. Ryan Howard will win his first Gold Glove.
-- Perhaps this is more wishful thinking than anything else. But aren’t fans tired of hearing about the big man’s defensive problems? He’s lost some weight and spent much of the off-season working on defense. He should be better in the field.
8. J.A. Happ will supplant Chan Ho Park in the starting rotation mid-season.
-- Both pitchers pitched outstanding this spring and Happ’s youth probably cost him the five spot. But, Park hasn't pitched consistantly during his career. Why should Philly be any different? Happ will eventually take the job permanently.
7. Jimmy Rollins will return to the 30/30 club.
-- J-Roll can almost guarantee 30 steals. The home runs, on the other hand, will depend on his health. He played in every game in his MVP year and needed every one to smack 30 on the nose. A healthy Rollins will definitely provide homers -- great pop for the top of the lineup.
6. Jayson Werth will make the All-Star team.
-- Last season was Werth the wait for Jayson. He hit 24 homers and knocked in 67 runs in just 418 at bats. Imagine what he could do in a full season with this lineup.
5. Brad Lidge will remain perfect (in April).
-- Often it takes just one bad pitch to blow a save, but Lidge should be OK to start off the year. In May, he'll have to deal with powerhouse offenses like the Mets, Yankees, Manny and the Dodgers and the Braves. All in one month? The streak will end.
4. Ryan Howard will hit 50 home runs.
-- Howard has nine home runs already this spring and he’s usually a slow starter. That’s a recipe for trouble for National League pitching. If Ibanez and/or Werth supply good protection than Howard could hit 55 or more.
3. Cole Hamels will win no more than 14 games.
-- He'll start off strong and probably earn an All-Star appearance, but last year’s workload will catch up with him and he will have a rocky mid-season. Don’t fret, he will finish strong into the postseason.
2. The Phillies will not repeat as N.L. East Champs.
-- Beware of the Mets. They are what the Phillies used to be -- a talented team who could not get over the hump. This year they will be motivated and on a mission. No choke this year.
1. But the Phils will reach the World Series again.
--Thank God for the Wildcard. The Phillies will win about 94 games and clinch the final playoff spot.
Another parade? Who knows. The Phillies got a little lucky by drawing the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. This year, it could be the real beasts of the American League East -- the Angels (or maybe the Rays again with the addition of Pat Burrell).
Either way, it's going to be another roller coaster ride. So strap in and hold on tight. 

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