Forecast: National League preview

4. Philadelphia Phillies

Dan Szymborski @DSzymborski: The Phillies still retain a number of players who led the team to the playoffs from 2008 to 2011, but that core has aged considerably and is missing some of the key contributors, such as Roy Halladay and Shane Victorino. Philadelphia had a central group of homegrown talent, but that minor league system has slowed down in the Ruben Amaro Jr. era and the team no longer is developing significant talent to replace its losses at the major league level. The starting rotation, the unsung key to Philly's playoff teams, is no longer a significant plus, both weak and shallow at the back end. Although the team's playoffs hopes haven't completely evaporated, it'll require a lot of best-case scenarios from players such as chronically overpaid/underplaying Ryan Howard for those hopes to come to fruition.

Jayson Stark: Let's start with this: What the Phillies are attempting to do has never been done. Their projected lineup includes five position players 34 or older. And no team in the history of the National League has ever had five guys that old play in 130 games (or more) in one season. So age will be a nonstop topic for this team, whether it enjoys that conversation or not. The Phillies also scored the fewest runs of any offense in baseball this spring, had a bunch of key players flirting with the Mendoza Line and then lost two important bench players -- Freddy Galvis (MRSA infection) and Darin Ruf (oblique) -- in the final days of camp. The good news is, they still start their rotation with three dominators -- Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and A.J. Burnett. The bad news is, Hamels (shoulder tendinitis) is likely to miss the first month. Rotation depth is an issue. And with closer Jonathan Papelbon looking shaky this spring, the bullpen is overstuffed with unknown quantities. So, the Phillies might not win the NL East unless everything goes right. But they'll win every Most Likely to Be Selling in July pool.

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