We are less than two weeks into the 2012 season, but baseball is the type of sport where you find yourself thinking, "It's never too early to be looking at the future."
The Philadelphia Phillies are certainly thinking that way.
Mired in a slump to kick off the 2012 campaign, the Phillies know that their elite pitching staff will hold up their "contender" status throughout the season, but what happens if the offense, which scored all of six runs in the first full series of the season, never kicks it into gear?
The goal will always be to win the World Series this season, but you can bet your bottom dollar that a bunch of men in suits in the Phillies' front office are debating whether or not it is more prudent to re-sign Cole Hamels after the season or spend that money on guys like Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence.
Baseball is as much a business as it is a game, and more often than not, performance on the field creates a numbers crunch off of it.
Which cost-efficient prospects are ready to replace a pricey veteran? Which players do the club deem essential, and who is expendable?
These are questions that Phillies officials will debate throughout the season, and this slideshow should serve as a bit of a primer for those discussions. Which members of the Phillies' 25-man roster will return for the 2013 season, and who is on the bubble?
For news, rumors, analysis and game recaps during spring training, check out Greg's blog: The Phillies Phactor!