Trivia question: Who was the last team to have four 20-game winners in one year?

Answer: The 1971 Orioles rotation that featured Dave McNally (21-5, 2.89), Mike Cuellar (20-9, 3.08), Pat Dobson (20-8, 2.90) and oh yeah, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer (20-9, 2.68).

No one has been able to match that feat, or really come close for that matter. Keep in mind baseball was a different game in 1971 from today. Starting pitchers went further into games almost every time out and averaged more starts throwing on less rest than today’s pitchers. Though now the big comparison to this rotation is the current one the Phillies are about to start the 2011 season with that includes Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton (the fifth guy could be my neighbor, it really doesn’t matter).

Do four pitchers on this staff actually have a shot at 20 wins each? Well three out of four have won 20 games at some point in their career. Halladay has done it three times including last year, Oswalt twice and Lee once. Hamels career high in win was 14 in 2008, but this could be a breakout year for him with less pressure on him as the number four guy. Though Blanton actually has more wins than Hamels in a year with 16 in 2006 with Oakland.

There’s obviously a chance, but I see it as a long shot to accomplish it. The offense is certainly there for the Phillies to produce plenty of runs, but everything would basically need to go right for them to do it.

As I mentioned above, Lee has only won 20 games once in his career as injuries have been a problem for him over the years. Oswalt is also 32 years old and his back is always a question mark. He reached 200 innings last year, but I think it will be difficult for him to continue to go deep into games all year. And Hamels would really need to take a jump in production and dominate to reach the 20-win mark. Halladay appears to be a lock for 20 wins (barring injury) with the way he pitched last year for Philly.

Plus, look at the ’71 Orioles numbers above for each pitcher. McNally reached 21 wins, but the other three just barely reached 20 wins. Obviously they were an incredible staff, but even they received some luck down the stretch for three of them to just get over the mark. You need the offense to score runs, you need your bullpen to hold leads late in the game, you need to stay healthy and avoid a freak injury, need weather to hold up and not wash out a pitcher’s start among other intangibles.

Another interesting fact is while that Orioles staff was unreal with four 20-game winners, they still did not win the World Series. They came close though losing in seven games to, that’s right, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Will the Phillies hold the same fate?

What’s more potentially scary?

The Red Sox projected 2011 lineup?

CF Jason Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
LF Carl Crawford
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH David Ortiz
RF J.D. Drew
C   Jarrod Saltalamacchia
SS Marco Scutaro

Or the Phillies 2011 rotation?

RH Roy Halladay
LH Cliff Lee
RH Roy Oswalt
LH Cole Hamels
5th spot: Insert any name here because it doesn’t matter

“Irresponsible.”

“Absolutely batshit crazy.”

These are just a few of the great quotes from the reaction to the Jayson Werth deal. Years from now we may look at free agency and remember deals before the Jayson Werth contract and deals after the Jayson Werth contract.

Werth is not a superstar. Yet the Nationals seem to think he is one when they threw the free agent market out of whack by signing him to a seven-year deal for $126 million. It’s the third largest contract for an outfielder in MLB history. Manny Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano are the only two OFs to land larger deals than Werth’s mega contract.

Werth did not become an everyday player until 2008 with the Phillies. In three years in Philadelphia, Werth hit 24, 36 and 27 home runs, but has yet to have a 100-RBI season. Not to mention his clutch ability left something to be desired in Philly…he hit .186 with runners in scoring position in 2010. His career slash line is .272/.367/.481. He will turn 32 years old next May, which means he’ll be 39 once this contract expires. Werth was a nice complement piece in Philadelphia with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins being the stars. In Washington, Werth will be expected to be a star on a team that features one other top hitter in Ryan Zimmerman. This signing screams of a panic move by the Nats for losing slugger Adam Dunn to the White Sox, which begs the question of if they can afford Werth for $126MM why couldn’t they keep Dunn at $56MM over four years? The Dunn deal is less risk, more proven, and in my opinion, a more valuable player.

I just can’t envision a scenario where the Nats don’t end up regretting this signing. Even if Werth has a couple great seasons in that nation’s capital, I don’t see him producing all the way until he’s almost 40 years old. These are the kind of contracts that get teams like the Nationals in trouble. See the Rangers committing a good portion of their payroll to A-Rod years ago. It took them years to get out of that hole. The Yankees of the world can get away making a

This ridiculous contract will not only affect the Nationals, but will also leave a lasting mark on the entire free agent landscape this offseason. Carlos Pena picked up $10 million for a one-year deal with the Cubs, Carl Crawford is about to become a very rich man to play for the Red Sox and who knows what other crazy deals we’ll see before we reach spring training.

NLCS Game 6: Giants 3, Phillies 2 (Giants win series 4-games-2)
The Giants scratched out enough runs again in a hostile environment to defeat the Phillies 3-2 to eliminate the former back-to-back NL champs and punch their own ticket to the Fall Classic against the Rangers.

Juan Uribe hit a go-ahead solo home run in the top of the eighth inning off Phillies reliever Ryan Madson to give the Giants a 3-2 lead that held up as the winning run. This coming from a guy who was hitting under .100 this postseason and off of a pitcher that has been stellar for Philadelphia up until tonight. This all after the Giants had tied the game in the third inning off of another Phillies either as Aubrey Huff scored when Buster Posey‘s slow roller to third base gave Polanco trouble as he threw wildly to first base, hit the runner and got away from Ryan Howard to allow Huff to score and tie it. The Phillies showed shoddy defense all series.

The other aspect that has to be talked about for the Giants in Game 6 was the fantastic pitching by the bullpen. After Jonathan Sanchez left following 2.0-plus innings of work, the bullpen took over to shut down Philadelphia the rest of the way. Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner, Javier Lopez, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson worked the rest of the game allowing no runs. Lincecum even picked up a hold! Wilson came on and worked a five-out save and got Ryan Howard to strikeout looking with two runners on in an epic at-bat to end the game and the Phillies season. Lopez picked up the win and Wilson earned his third save of the season. Cody Ross picked up NLCS MVP honors, but no one would have complained had it gone to Wilson and his beard instead.

Phillies starter Roy Oswalt was good, but not terrific as he scattered nine hits over 6.0 innings allowing two runs (one earned) with five strikeouts. Oswalt gave way to Madson, who gave up the home run to Uribe in his second inning of work for the loss. It was the first run allowed all postseason by Madson…and couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The Giants continue to win tight ball games, string together just enough runs and pitch the lights out on the road, at home, anywhere to advance to their first World Series since 2002 in the post-Bonds era. You can’t say enough about how difficult of a performance it was for them to go into a hostile environment like a rockin’ house in Philly, take your starter out in third inning and still rally for the victory. Unbelievable stuff right there.

Cliff Lee versus Tim Lincecum Wednesday night for Game 1. Wow, I can’t wait for this series.

NLCS Game 5: Phillies 4, Giants 2
Well it wasn’t pretty, but on a soggy, strange night in San Francisco, Roy Halladay out dueled Tim Lincecum in round 2 to defeat the Giants, 4-2, and send the series back to Philadelphia. The Giants lead the series 3 games to 2.

The Phillies took advantage of suspect defense and a missed foul call on a Halladay bunt to score three runs in the top of the third inning and never gave up that lead behind Halladay and stellar work for their bullpen. Despite giving up a run in the first inning and looking visibly angry at the umpire, Halladay settled down to go 6.0 innings with two runs allowed on six hits, two walks and five strikeouts for the win. Ryan Madson struck out the side in the eighth inning and Brad Lidge worked his first save of the series with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

The Phillies opened the third with a single and a hit by pitch with Halladay coming to the plate. He attempted a bunt that hit home plate and rolled back, but was ruled a fair ball by the umpire. Posey picked it up and fired to first to almost nab Ibanez at third, but Sandoval missed the bag with his foot. With runners on third and second with one out, Victorino hit a line drive to first where Aubrey Huff misplayed off his glove and caromed into right field as both runs scored. Polanco singled in the next at-bat to score Victorino to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead.

Jayson Werth added a solo home run, his second of the series, to provide an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning. The Phillies were actually out-hit in this one, 7-6.

Lincecum went 7.0 innings, but allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits, one walk and seven strikeouts to get tagged with the loss.

The teams will meet Saturday night back in Philadelphia for Game 6. Can the Giants win one game in Philly to clinch a spot in the Fall Classic? They will turn to Jonathan Sanchez to try in Game 6 against Roy Oswalt.

Courtesy of FanGraphs, here’s the win probability chart from last night’s NLCS Game 4:

Can you say roller coaster of a game?

ALCS Game 5: Yankees 7, Rangers 2
C.C. Sabathia halted the Rangers from celebrating in Yankee Stadium as he held the Rangers offense in check as the Yankees survived for at least another day, winning Game 5 by the score of 7-2.

Sabathia wasn’t particularly sharp as he scattered 11 hits over 6.o innings of work, but only allowed two runs while walking zero and striking out seven. Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera combined for a scoreless three innings to send the series back to Texas for Game 6. The Yankees bats used the home run ball in this one to lead the way as Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano led off the bottom of the third with back-to-back home runs off Texas starter CJ Wilson. Curtis Granderson added his first jack of the postseason and finished 3-for-4 with a HR, double and two RBI on the night.

Just like the regular season, Cano has been a beast this postseason and Girardi finally decided to move him up in the order to the three hole. Even though the only reason he finally made the move was due to Teixeira’s injury that has him sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs. Cano is hitting .387 with four home runs in the postseason, with all the homers coming in the ALCS.

Backup catcher Mike Treanor provided the only two runs for Texas in this game with a solo home run in the fifth inning and an RBI groundout in the sixth. With the 13 hits they came up with in the game, they left eight on base including six in scoring position. Texas out-hit the Yankees 13-9 despite only scoring two runs.

The teams have today off and will travel to Texas for Game 6 Friday night where Phil Hughes head to the mound against Rangers starter Colby Lewis.

NLCS Game 4: Giants 6, Phillies 5
This back-and-forth affair ended with Juan Uribe‘s game-winning sacrifice fly to score Aubrey Huff in the bottom of the ninth to give the Giants a 3-games-to-1 series lead on Philadelphia. The game saw four lead changes and ended up with Phillies starter Roy Oswalt on the mound after both starters failed to go at least 5.0 innings.

Buster Posey had a big night with four hits, two doubles and two runs batted in and a great tag to nail Carlos Ruiz at the plate in the fifth inning. Posey’s now hitting .344 in his first postseason.

Though the big hit of the game for San Fran came in the bottom of the sixth after the Phillies had taken a 4-3 lead, Pablo Sandoval ripped a double to center field that scored Burrell and Ross to give the Giants the lead. The Phillies tied it in the eighth inning after two back-to-back doubles by Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth, but it just set the stage for the G-men in the ninth. With one out and Oswalt pitching, Huff singled and Posey followed with a single, moving Huff to third. Uribe came up and ripped a 1-2 pitch into left field for the game-winning sac fly.

The Phillies face elimination tonight in San Francisco as it’s a rematch of the most hyped pitching matchup in a long time of Roy Halladay against Tim Lincecum. Lincecum won the first one and the Phillies not only need this game, but will be pitching Halladay until his arm falls off with the way their bullpen took a hit last night.