As much as Phillies fans will miss Raul Ibanez's humongous tobacco cheek, striking resemblance to guitarist Tom Morello, and tortoise-like speed, it's time we get used to the fact that the Phillies will have a new left fielder in 2012.
There are a handful of candidates to assume the vacancy in left field, and each of them will get a long look from Charlie Manuel (and all of us, since nearly every game is televised). While someone could certainly come out of nowhere to steal the job, it appears that there are five main competitors: Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik.
Handicapping the battle for left field is a tricky situation depending on how you define "winning the job." For instance, is the "winner" the player who starts on opening day, or is it the player who gets the majority of at-bats over the course of the season? The situation is further complicated by the fact that John Mayberry Jr., in the absence of Ryan Howard, may find himself actually playing some first base early in the season.
For the sake of this article, and in order to account for platooning or games the player may play at other positions, I'll define the "winner" of the Phils left field battle this spring as the player who gets the most starts in left field in the month of April. With that in mind, here are the chances that each candidate wins the left field job, from least likely to most likely.