The Philadelphia Phillies fell flat on their faces for the majority of the 2012 season. It took a strong run towards the end of the year to get them back to .500 for the year. And even then, they still fell 17 games back of the division-winning Washington Nationals. Heading into 2013, the Phils and their aging core are hoping to make one or two more deep runs before they may have to tear it all down again. But regardless of what the distant future holds, 2013 should be better for the Phillies.
Phillies on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I'm a Dreamer (11:30 AM)
2013 Burning Question (12:45 PM)
This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM)
X-Factor (3:15 PM)
Top Ten Prospects (4:30 PM)
Depth Chart (as of 2/20)
C: Carlos Ruiz
1B: Ryan Howard
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Jimmy Rollins
3B: Michael Young
LF: Domonic Brown
CF: Ben Revere
RF: Delmon Young
SP: Roy Halladay
SP: Cliff Lee
SP: Cole Hamels
SP: Kyle Kendrick
SP: John Lannan
CL: Jonathan Papelbon
The Phils added a few veterans to the mix, the most notable of which was Michael Young. The seven-time All Star will hold down the hot corner for the Phillies, adding a nice veteran presence and a guy who hasn't hit under .277 since 2002. A couple new faces join the outfield, including Ben Revere and the much more questionable pickup of Delmon Young. Revere will add a terrific glove to center and Young is a wild card out in right. Mike Adams was brought into help shore up the back end of the bullpen. They also brought back Chad Durbin on a one-year deal.
Much of the subtracting that the Phils did took place during the 2012 season. They unloaded the trio of Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, and Joe Blanton. Pence went to the San Francisco Giants, while Victorino and Blanton were shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The latter two moved on in free agency over the course of the winter, though. Vance Worley probably counts as a subtraction, as he was sent to the Minnesota Twins as part of the trade that brought Ben Revere to Philadelphia.
There isn't a whole lot of room for a youngster to crack this lineup right now. But if Brown or Young struggle in the outfield, the Phils could turn to someone like Darin Ruf, assuming they exhaust all of their bench options. Ruf has come on as a prospect recently and made a brief appearance in the bigs towards the end of 2013. He hit .333 and three home runs in 12 games. He has power, but there are still plenty of flaws in his game. Some time in the minors, along with struggles from Domonic Brown, though, could lead to him heading back to Philly at some point during the summer.
Similar to the situation with the rookies, there isn't much to be discussed with this Phillies roster. The starting spots are settled for the most part, meaning that it's a matter of bench and bullpen spots to be settled. The trio of Yuniesky Betancourt, Kevin Frandsen, and Freddy Galvis will battle for two infield bench spots. The Phils will have a host of folks battling for three or four available spots out of the bullpen that aren't already reserved for Papelbon, Adams, or Antonio Bastardo.
Really, where do you start with this team? Three of the five infield starters represent a significant injury concern, none bigger than Chase Utley. He hasn't appeared in more than 115 games in the last three years. Ryan Howard played in just 71 games last season. An injury in the outfield could open up an opportunity for somone like Ruf. Same goes on the infield for the likes of Freddy Galvis, if Utley ends up hurt again.
Does this core group still have another World Series run left in them?
The Phillies have seen two of the four other teams in the NL East catch up, to the point where the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals have actually passed them up. Which means it's wild card or bust for the Phitins. If they can snag one of those spots, they still have the pitching and the offensive punch, on paper, to make another serious run. That requires them to actually reach the postseason, though.
Last year's struggles prove not to be a fluke for the Phils. They continue to struggle with injury and show their age. Domonic Brown continues to struggle and fails to earn consistent playing time. The addition of Delmon Young completely blows up in Ruben Amaro's face. Such a scenario could require the Phillies to start tearing it down, completely sell what they have, and attempt to build back up the farm system that they've depleted in going 'all in' the past few years.
The Phillies are probably going to battle for a playoff spot. That doesn't necessarily mean that they'll grab one. The addition of that wild card spot does help their chances, but you have to figure at least one of those spots is already reserved for the Braves or Nats, whichever doesn't win the division. Which will leave the Phils to likely battle it out with someone from the NL West as the other wild card. They should be in the thick of things, if they can maintain their health throughout the lineup, but they're not the surefire World Series pick that they were just a couple of years ago.