Silver lining for Phils: Big Three will be back
Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt to slot into top of 2011 rotation
PHILADELPHIA -- Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt didn't carry the Phillies to a third straight World Series. But here's the thing: H2O will be back in 2011.Halladay will begin a three-year contract extension next season. Hamels and Oswalt, meanwhile, will be reaching the end of their own multiyear contracts, and Oswalt's includes a club option for 2012. With their trio of aces back intact and pitching with an offense that finished 2010 ranked second in the National League in scoring, the Phillies will head into 2011 with the same win-or-bust mentality that made Saturday so disappointing. The Giants' 3-2 win in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series ended the Phillies' season. But H2O will be back.
"I'm not really going to think about next year for a while, to be honest," Phillies closer Brad Lidge said. "But I know that we've got three guys back that are going to win a lot of games next year."And don't forget, Lidge said, about Joe Blanton, "a heck of a fourth starter." There's also Kyle Kendrick, who is only 26. "We're going to be fine next year," Lidge said. "Right now, I'm just disappointed that this didn't work this year. I'm still surprised that this happened." Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt combined for a 3.21 ERA in the NLCS and accounted for five of the six decisions. Halladay lost Game 1 but fought through a groin strain to win Game 6. Oswalt won Game 2 with an eight-inning gem, lost Game 4 in relief and allowed one run in six workmanlike innings for a no-decision in Game 6. Hamels took a tough-luck loss in Game 3 and was lined up to start a Game 7 that never came. The idea that they could spend all of 2011 together -- Oswalt was a July addition this year -- is a scary thought for the rest of the league. The trio was 40-22 with a 2.57 ERA in Phillies uniforms during the regular season. "This team's been a dynasty," said Giants outfielder Cody Ross, who tortured all three Phillies aces in the series. "They're in the playoffs every year and NLCS champions and World Series champions. They're becoming the new Yankees. They're going to be in this situation every year, it seems, because of their pitching, and they have a lot of guys locked up. This is the team you want to beat." The Giants aren't so shabby. They have Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and young Madison Bumgarner, and pitching in a big ballpark by the San Francisco Bay, they were actually better than the Phillies in 2010. But Oswalt, barring a trade, should be a Phillie for all of 2011. That could make a difference. That's what the Phillies will try to think about over the winter. "The biggest thing is we pretty much have the same team coming back next year," Oswalt said while the team's Game 6 loss was still stinging. "We're still going to have a great team to put out there. We'll put this behind us and try again." Said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel: "I just left our clubhouse, and I know every guy in there, they were disappointed. That can also work for you sometimes. We'll come back with the idea that we'll be more determined, work harder and improved. I think we're capable for the next two or three years of reaching our goal and accomplishing what we're capable to do."