March 19, 2013; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown (9) runs back to the dugout at the end of the fifth inning at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
After ruling over the National League East for five years, the Philadelphia Phillies suddenly looked old in 2012. Battling a barrage of injuries and underperformance, the Phillies finished out of the postseason with an 81 wins. Philadelphia’s aging roster will have to summon up a valiant effort in order to make the playoffs in the difficult NL East.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. make some minor additions to the roster to gear up for this years run. Speedy Ben Revere was acquired from the Minnesota Twins and will start in center field for the Phils. Revere is a one dimensional offensive player, he offers no power and has a low OBP. The Phillies parted with back of the rotation starter Vance Worley to get Revere.
Delmon Young was signed to a one year deal to provide power in the outfield. He brings 20 HR/100 RBI potential, but there have always been questions concerning his character.
Long time Texas Ranger Michael Young was brought in via trade to start at third base in Citizens Bank Park. Young has driven in 90 or more runs six time in his career, but his slugging numbers dropped precipitously last year. Hopefully a change of scenery will help him shrug off last years lethargic performance.
Another Texas Ranger, relief pitcher Mike Adams was signed to a two year contract to be a primary setup man for Jonathan Papelbon. The right hander brings an excellent career line of 2.28 ERA/1.06 WHIP/.207 BAA to the Phillies bullpen.
The Philadelphia Phillies best hopes still rest on the arms of their big three pitchers. Cole Hamels has ascended to the role of staff ace, going 17-6 with a 3.05 ERA in 2012. Cliff Lee may have had the best year in history for a guy who went 6-9, he had a 3.16 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP, but suffered from terrible run support. Philadelphia needs a bounceback year from Roy Halladay, who pitched to a 4.49 ERA and made only 25 starts. At the back of the bullpen, Charlie Manuel has one of the best closers in the business, Papelbon, at his disposal.
The Phillies lineup needs old stalwarts Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to be productive once again. Utley was once a premier player but his career has been derailed by injuries. He has not had a complete season since 2009. Howard missed the first three months of the 2012 season and returned to strike out 99 times in 260 AB. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins keeps on rolling along hitting 23 HR and swiping 30 bags.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz was an offensive leader for Philly last year, batting .325 while slugging 16 HR. Unfortunately Chooch will miss the first the first 25 games for violating the MLB ban on amphetamines.
A player who might provide an injection of both youth and offensive firepower could be Domonic Brown. For three years Brown has crumbled under the weight of high expectations. But after hitting 7 HR and driving in 16 runs in spring training, Brown will get the opportunity to play every day in 2013.
The Philadelphia Phillies are going to have to channel their inner Rocky Balboa if they plan on going 15 rounds with the Braves and Nationals in the NL East this year. While they are no longer the favorites, the Phillies do have the weapons to stay in playoff contention. Hamels and Lee have performed at an elite level for years and Halladay could easily revert back to that level.
In order to challenge for a wild card spot the Phillies must score more runs. A fully recovered Ryan Howard slugging 40 HR and driving in 130 runs would go a long way towards making that a reality. Expecting a full season from Chase Utley at this point is a bit of a reach. The outfield of Brown, Revere and Young has too many question marks. Brown has never succeeded at the MLB level, Revere is one dimensional and Young is inconsistent.
The aging Philadelphia Phillies will scrap to the end, but the Braves and Nationals are younger and more talented. Unfortunately the championship window for this bunch probably closed last year.