Phillies or Giants: Which rotation would you rather have if you were starting a new organization?

Philadelphia Phillies all-star pitcher Roy Oswalt delivers a pitch during first inning San Francisco Giants-Philadelphia Phillies NLCS Championship game two at Citizens Bank Park October 17, 2010. . UPI/John Anderson

So you’re the general manager of the new Las Vegas Craps team and baseball commissioner Bud Selig comes to you with the offer of all offers.

He says, since the Craps are going to struggle this year offensively with a lineup comprised of over-the-hill veterans and unproven rookies, you get your pick of stealing either the Phillies or the Giants’ starting rotation.

“Sweet mother of all that is holy,” you say to Selig. “Those are the best starting rotations in the game!”

“Yes they are, Craps owner,” Selig says. “But you have to choose one right now.”

So which rotation would you rather have? Let’s take a look at the deets first.

Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Halladay
Age: 33
Salary: $20 million in 2011; $20 million in 2012; $20 million in 2013; $20 million option in 2014.
Career Stats: 169-86, 1,714 Ks, 3.32 ERA, 58 complete games, 19 shutouts
Accolades: Two-time Cy Young winner, two-time wins champion, seven-time All-Star.

Cliff Lee
Age: 32
Salary: $11 million 2011; $21.5 million in 2012; $25 million from 2013-2015.
Career Stats: 102-61, 3.85 ERA, 1,085 Ks
Accolades: Cy Young winner, two-time All-Star, 7-2 postseason record, 2.13 postseason ERA.

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Charlie Manuel’s handling of the pitching staff in Game 4 backfires

Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel watches his team play the Cincinnati Reds in Game 3 of the MLB National League Division Series baseball playoffs in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 10, 2010. REUTERS/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

There were a plenty of Philly faith that wanted to see Roy Halladay take the mound in Game 4 of the NLCS, despite the fact that he would have been pitching on short rest. Instead, manager Charlie Manuel decided to hand the ball to Joe Blanton, who hadn’t started a game in over a month.

But even though the Giants beat the Phillies 6-5 in Game 4, the decision to start Blanton wasn’t Manuel’s costliest mistake on Wednesday night.

He’s no Halladay, Oswalt or Hamels, but Blanton is a fine starting pitcher who happens to have postseason experience. He’s not going to throw a perfect game, a no-hitter or even a shutout. But he’s more than serviceable and if you take a step back, you can understand Manuel’s thought process.

If Blanton limits the Giants to only a couple of runs..the offense eventually gets to rookie Madison Bumgarner…Phillies steal a win and then have Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels pitch on regular rest…everyone Wang Chung tonight.

And that’s exactly what happened. Sort of.

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The legend of Buster Posey grows as the Giants build a 3-1 lead in NLCS

San Francisco Giants Buster Posey (R) tags out Philadelphia Phillies Carlos Ruiz at home in the fifth inning of game four of the NLCS at AT&T Park in San Francisco Park on October 20, 2010.  UPI/Terry Schmitt Photo via Newscom

It was Juan Uribe’s sacrifice fly that scored Aubrey Huff in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Giants a 6-5 win over the Phillies in Game 4 of the NCLS, as well as a commanding 3-1 series lead.

But while Uribe may have played the role of hero Wednesday night, rookie Buster Posey was the true star.

Posey went 27 at-bats before getting the first postseason RBI of his young career. But he picked up two ribbies in Game 4 while going 4-for-5 at the plate and becoming the fifth rookie in baseball history to record at least four hits and two RBI in a playoff game. His single down the right field line in the bottom of the ninth moved Huff (who had singled to start the inning) over to third to set up Uribe’s sac fly. Without that hit (which came after Posey fell behind Roy Oswalt 0-2 in the count), who knows how that game would have ended.

Perhaps what’s most remarkable is that Posey’s hits came off of a fastball, a curveball, a slider and a changeup, which speaks to his maturity as a hitter. He also made a sensational play at the plate to haul in a short-hop by Aaron Rowand and tag out a sliding Carlos Ruiz to save a run in the 4th inning. The Phillies went on to score four runs that inning anyway, but considering the Giants won by one, that could be viewed as the play of the game.

He’s only 23, but Posey already carries himself like a seasoned veteran. He always stays within himself and he never loses his composure, which must be hard given that he’s the Giants’ best offensive player (not to mention the fact that he also calls balls and strikes for one of the best pitching staffs in baseball).

Thanks to Posey, Uribe, Huff, Pablo Sandoval (who had a huge two-run double in the sixth to give the Giants a 5-4 lead after they had trailed 4-3 heading into the inning) and about nine tons of resiliency, San Fran is now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2002.

Of course, securing that final victory won’t be an easy task. I texted our college football writer Paul Costanzo following the game and asked, “How focused do you think Roy Halladay is going to be tomorrow night? Dear, Lord…”

His response: “He may not throw a ball.”

The Giants will counter with ace Tim Lincecum, but there’s no question that they’re going to see the absolute best that Halladay has to offer. They’ve beaten him twice this year (once in the regular season and once in Game 1 of this series), but to the Giants’ hitters, it may look like he’s throwing marbles out there.

I don’t know how you can call yourself a baseball fan if you don’t tune into Halladay vs. Lincecum Thursday night. This is what October baseball is all about.

Roy Oswalt, Jimmy Rollins help Phillies even up NLCS

Philadelphia Phillies all-star pitcher Roy Oswalt delivers a pitch during first inning San Francisco Giants-Philadelphia Phillies NLCS Championship game two at Citizens Bank Park October 17, 2010.  .  UPI/John Anderson Photo via Newscom

And that’s why you pony up for a veteran starter like Roy Oswalt when he’s available via trade.

Oswalt was brilliant in Game 2 of the NLCS on Sunday night, striking out nine batters over 8 innings while allowing just one run on three hits in the Phillies’ 6-1 win over the Giants. His only blemish came in the 5th inning when Cody Ross took him deep to tie the game at, 1-1. But Oswalt has nothing to be ashamed of there, because Ross has proved this postseason that he’s the greatest baseball player ever to have walked the face of the earth. (The home run off Oswalt was his fourth in the playoffs and his third in back-to-back nights in Philadelphia.)

It was also a great night for shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who has struggled mightily at the plate of late. In the seventh inning, he drove in three runs on a double to deep right off Giants’ reliever Sergio Castillo, who was trying to mop up the mess left by starter Jonathan Sanchez (who allowed Oswalt to reach on a base hit) and Ramon Ramirez (who gave up a single to Placido Polanco, which scored Oswalt to give Philly a 3-1 lead). Rollins’ double scored Chase Utley (who had been intentionally walked), Polanco and Jayson Werth (also intentionally walked) to essentially put the game out of reach at, 6-1.

For everyone but Ross, it was a night to forget for the Giants, who seemed rather content with taking Game 1 of the series and heading back to San Francisco after earning a split. Granted, that’s what road teams are supposed to do in a seven-game series and the loss certainly doesn’t diminish what the Giants did on Saturday. But they had a huge opportunity to put the Phillies in a hole and instead they came out rather flat. Even Ross’ home run was short lived as Sanchez gave up a run in the bottom half of the inning.

It’ll be interesting to see if Bruce Bochy makes any changes to his lineup for Game 3. Pablo Sandoval drew a walk in the top of the 8th after coming in to replace Mike Fontenot in a double switch in the bottom of the 7th. Maybe it’s time to give Sandoval a start to see if he can’t shake out of his season-long funk and provide the Giants’ offense with a spark. Andres Torres is a huge reason why San Fran is still playing right now, but he looks completely overmatched at the plate and the Giants don’t lose anything with Aaron Rowand in the outfield. Rowand has been brutal at the plate this year, but he has postseason experience (he won a World Series with the White Sox earlier this decade) and would be motivated to beat his former team. (The only problem is that if you bench Torres, the Giants don’t have a true leadoff hitter.)

Now isn’t the time to panic, but the Giants need more offense. Matt Cain will oppose Cole Hamels in Game 3 on Tuesday afternoon.

The Giants could use a little ’09 Panda right now

Aug. 10, 2010 - San Francisco, California, United States of America - August 8, 2010: San Francisco Giants IF Pablo Sandoval.

For all intents and purposes, Mike Fontenot was a great late-season pickup by the Giants’ GM Brian Sabean. He can play multiple infield positions, he can hit right-handed pitching and I swear that his hair is made of hay. (I don’t know how that helps the Giants, but it just does, ok?)

But he’s also Mike Fontenot. Mike, .280 with zero pop Fontenot. He’s fine. He’s meh. He’s Mike Fontenot.

As the Giants gear up for Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night against the Phillies, the plan is pretty simple: Pitch well, score just enough runs to eek out four wins and then head to the World Series. It doesn’t take a blogger at The Scores Report to figure out that San Fran will rely on its pitching staff in order to lift them into the Fall Classic.

But this club could sure use a little dash of the Panda right now. And not that still-lovable, yet very destructive creature that roamed AT&T Park throughout most of this season, but the very effective swing-at-everything-and-yet-still-hit-.330 beast from 2009.

Compared to the season he had last year, Pablo Sandoval was the equivalent of having a rock in your shoe this season. He batted .268 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI (despite hitting .330 with 25 dingers and 90 RBI in ’09), yet showed flashes in April and August that made you still think he was the same hitter from a year ago. Whether it was his weight, his divorce, or the fact that he may or may not have sent lewd text messages to Jenn Sterger, he didn’t perform.

But Giants fans know what kind of talent this 24-year-old kid has. He’s a pure hitter in every sense of the word and when he’s on, he’s a much heavier clone of Vladimir Guerrero. I once saw Sandoval swing at a pitch that bounced before it came across the plate and he still lined it into the outfield. He can it – he just hasn’t been.

In the last 25 regular season games, he batted just .214 with one home run. He was benched after Game 2 of the NLDS and it remains to be seen whether or not it’ll be him or Fontenot who starts tomorrow night in Philadelphia. Given San Fran’s opponent in the NLCS, it would be nice if Sandoval could show a glimpse of the hitter he was last year because again, Fontenot is Fontenot. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the former Cub gets the best of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

Yet something tells me that Sandoval can still be a weapon in the Giants’ fickle lineup and I’m willing to bet that they would overlook his shaky defense if he could re-establish himself as an offensive force. But if he continues to flail at pitches in the dirt, over his head and in the on deck circle, then “meh” will have to do.

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