Philadelphia Phillies: Why Returns of Utley, Howard Won't Solve Problems

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Philadelphia Phillies: Why Returns of Utley, Howard Won't Solve Problems
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

With the exception of the last few games, this year's Philadelphia Phillies team has been difficult to watch.

Whether it's injuries, poor performance, lack of fundamentals or a combination of the three, at times the Phillies' play has left fans just shaking their heads. The offense is lackluster, the bullpen is horrendous (save Jonathan Papelbon, no closer pun intended) and the defense for some players in the field has been atrocious, too.

Not to mention—the injuries have taken their toll.

David Herndon, Michael Martinez, Laynce Nix, Michael Stutes and Jim Thome are all on the DL. Justin De Fratus, who was possibly expected to break camp with the Phillies, hurt his elbow and is now on the 60-day DL. And now, Vance Worley has some elbow soreness, resulting in a skipped start.

But what's dragged this team down the most this year has been the injuries of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Howard's rehabbing from a torn Achilles suffered in the last at-bat of the 2011 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, while Utley is building up strength in his shoddy knees, which was an issue at the beginning of last season as well.

When these two guys return, though, will the team necessarily get better again? Will they start to hit, to field, to have a stronger bullpen once more? Or will they continue their downward trend, and will we see the Phillies trade away one or two of their top players?

I'm here to tell you that the return of the Phillies' three and four-hole hitters is not going to guarantee the team success at that point.

Could success happen? Sure. But is it set in stone? No. And here's why.

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