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Atlanta Braves - Philadelphia Phillies: Series Preview

We check in again with Peter Baker of the Phillies blog, The Good Phight. I talked with Peter back at the end of June, just before the Braves swept his Phillies at Turner Field. Not that I'm superstitious or anything, but I'm doing everything just the same this series as I did last time, and that includes this Q&A. Actually, this is the only thing I'm doing the same. I'll be headed out of town this weekend to the internetless hills of North Carolina, so RoyHobbs and cbwilk will be filling in at the ol' Chop.

Go to The Good Phight to check out my answers to Peter's questions about the Braves. Here are my questions to him about the Phillies.

Q:  Who has the better starting pitching staff, the Phillies or the Braves, and why?

A:  Oh, the Braves.  I think if I had to choose, I'd take Cliff Lee over Javier Vazquez, but the Braves' clear superiority 2-5 in the rotation makes it an easy choice.

Q:  Who would you rather have long term, Tommy Hanson or J.A. Happ?

A:  Hanson.  Happ is 26 and more or less a finished product.  Hanson's ceiling is tremendous.  I like Happ, but Hanson's future is much brighter.

Q:  Good outing aside, how much are you really expecting from Pedro Martinez?

A:  Good fifth starter.  I'd like it if he'd go six innings on a regular basis, however.  And maybe he can teach some of the other pitchers a thing or two about being awesome.

Q:  Any concerns about the ability of Brad Lidge to close out game?

A:  Pretty much every day.  Whether it's mental, or physical (I suspect his knee is still bothering him), he's just a mess right now.  But Charlie Manuel, for good or for ill, is incredibly loyal to his players.  I don't see Lidge falling out of the role unless he's actually injured.  Brett Myers is due back sometime later this month; it wouldn't shock me to see him pick up a couple saves here and there.

Q:  Who is the Phillies MVP so far this season, and why?

A:  Chase Utley.  So underrated he's overrated, and vice versa.  His contributions to the team at the plate and in the field are plenty, but he's an incredibly hard worker and sets a strong example in the clubhouse as well.  I don't know if anyone could ask for more from a ballplayer than Chase Utley gives to this franchise.  He will likely go down as the second greatest Phillie of all-time, and it's a well-deserved honor.

Thanks again to Peter for his great answers to my questions.

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