Since Jonathan Papelbon joined the Phillies last winter, he's noticed something that had never been an issue during his career in Boston: the team has a lack of veteran leadership. In an interview with Mandy Housenick of the Allentown Morning Call,
"Since I've been here I haven't seen any leadership. Every good team that I've been a part of has had a good core group of veterans and an influx of a good group of young guys and I think that's a recipe for success," he said. "But at the same time, that doesn't mean we're going to have success. In my opinion, this team has way more to lose than to prove. I think a lot of guys on this team have proved a lot. But I think this year if we don't go out and do what we're capable [of] and supposed to do, then we have a lot more to lose. The longer it takes us to figure out who we are as a team, the longer it's going to take us to start winning," Papelbon said.
It's pretty stunning that on such a veteran team, Papelbon feels there wasn't any leadership. Despite missing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for the first half of the season, the Phillies still had veteran position players like Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Hunter Pence in the fold, along with veteran pitchers like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels. It almost seems like Papelbon is calling those guys out. It'll be tough for someone like Papelbon to step up as a leader, since he spends nearly the entire game sitting out in the bullpen as opposed to the clubhouse, so placing the onus on his shoulders will be tough.
But it's not just Papelbon that feels that way. Halladay seemingly agreed that the team needed leadership, claiming there was a lack of intensity on the 2012 squad.
"I thought that we lost some presence," Halladay admitted. "You lose Raul [Ibanez] and Jayson Werth and [Roy] Oswalt. It's just a different presence when you're on and off the field. I'm most excited about Mike Young because he brings an intensity."
That's all well and good, but winning is what will cure all that ails the Phillies. And if a veteran squad like this one can't get motivated to win in a brutal NL East, it might be another season of sleepwalking for the Phillies.