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Weekend predictions

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay throws during

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay throws during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees at Brighthouse Field in Clearwater, Fla., Thursday, March 4, 2010. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) Photo Credit: AP

1. The Mets, in their big weekend series, will win tonight’s opener against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, only to lose Saturday and Sunday, falling a half-game behind Philadelphia in the NL East.

Jerry Manuel – who said on Wednesday, ““The way we’re going right now, I could probably go in the game and get a few outs” – surprisingly tries to live up to his words, putting himself in Sunday night's game and, after striking out Placido Polanco, giving up a grand slam to Chase Utley.

In response to Utley’s heroics, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will sign the second baseman to a six-year, $140-million contract extension, even though Utley already was signed through 2013. Then Amaro, always thinking ahead, will order his lunch for May 2, 2014.

2. The Yankees will return home and drop two of three to the White Sox, and the focus on Javier Vazquez will only intensify. In confirming the worst fears of Yankees fans, who regard Vazquez as the professional reincarnation of Ed Whitson, the right-hander will allow five runs in four innings on Saturday.

Even worse, amidst concerns that he simply doesn't like anything about New York, Vazquez will shriek in terror upon seeing Disco Stu and say, "No, thank you" when offered a knish.

3. The slumping Dodgers will finally wake up and take the next three games from the Pirates. Alas, GM Ned Colletti still won't be pleased. He'll call out Matt Kemp for hitting into a hard, line-drive out Friday; for failing to score from first base on an Andre Ethier bunt Saturday; and, on Sunday, for failing to get the McCourts back together.

4. The red-hot Rays will sweep past the Royals, extending their AL East lead over the Yankees. Yet the new relationship between Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will take an unfortunate twist.

Maddon loved the hoodie that Belichick sent him. However, Maddon will feel compelled to return both the video cameras and the phone numbers of married women.

--For my column advancing this weekend's Mets-Phillies series, I discussed how some of the Phillies' recent moves have actually drawn the Mets closer to the Phillies, in the big picture, IMO. Yes, nearly four days later, I still can't believe the Phillies gave Ryan Howard that contract.

--Here are the five keys to the series that I wrote.

--My colleague David Lennon, whom I will join in Philly, wrote about Ike Davis, and the importance of the Mets' seventh overall pick in the upcoming amateur draft. It is imperative that the Wilpons ignore their pal Bud Selig regarding "slots" and select the best player on their board, regardless of price.

--R.A. Dickey pitched a gem for Triple-A Buffalo. Dickey is pitching well in the minors, and he'll probably get a call to the Mets at some point. It'd be interesting to see how he does against National League hitters, many of whom haven't seen his knuckleball.

--Down in Baltimore, Erik Boland spoke with Andy Pettitte, who will try to continue his strong start when he faces the White Sox tonight.

--Jorge Posada is on the mend. A story that arises every season, without fail, is the "emergency catcher," when one catcher goes down with an injury. How often does that "emergency catcher" actually play, however? The only such instance I can recall is this game, in which Steve Bieser caught for the Mets.

--Blog commenter Bob Tufts contributed to this book, which looks pretty cool.

--Interesting piece by Jeff Passan concerning baseball and Arizona's new immigration measure. Considering how much business conducts in baseball, with spring training and the Arizona Fall League, not to mention the Diamondbacks (who host next year's All-Star Game), it'll be hard for baseball to ignore this altogether.

How did I find Passan's column? Twitter, naturally.

--I'll check in tonight from Philly, and then tomorrow and Sunday, too. You can't stop me. You can hope only to contain me.




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