In only three days, the Phillies will begin their quest a repeat as World Series Champions.
The feat has been accomplished 14 times, and the Phillies are looking to be No. 15.
But to do so, many players must step up, and many must continue to do well. But the most important thing is that they must all stay healthy. No one person on the Phillies roster is unimportant. They must all stay healthy. If one goes down, they must fight to stay in it.
Most of the questions that arose during the off-season has been answered during Spring Training.
We know who the Phils’ fifth starter is: Chan Ho Park
We know who will fill in until J.C. Romero’s 50-game suspension in over: Jack Taschner
We know who the backup catcher will be: Chris Coste
Only two important questions haven’t been answered.
Who will get the last spot in the Phillies’ bullpen?
Who will get the last spots on the Phillies’ bench?
But regardless of who they are the Phillies will be strong.
For the Phillies to do well, their core players must have strong seasons. Cole Hamels should be in the competition for the Cy Young Award this year, and Ryan Howard and Chase Utley should be in the fight for the MVP.
Brad Lidge will be the one to watch we his saves streak still intact. Shane Victorino will be flashing the glove many times this year as well.
Also, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard have to bounce back from a dismal start last year. Rollins should return better than last year, but Howard is still questionable.
Yes, Howard did pass up a World Baseball Classic invite to play for team USA to work with the Phillies. He has worked on his plate discipline and should cut back on strikeouts this year. He also will be a better fielder.
I don’t know how much better, but he will be better.
The second most important thing is the Phillies bullpen. They have to have another great year. If they can do that, the Phillies will be almost untouchable in late innings.
The third most important thing is for the Phillies to get production from their other players on the field. Jayson Werth had a good year last year, but he must keep it up. If he can become more reliable in clutch situations the Phillies will have another great clutch man.
Pedro Feliz, who had surgery during the offseason, has to be more productive with the bat. We all know that he is a fielding expert. Great. But what we Philadelphians love is good hitting. We all know we do.
Raul Ibanez, who the Phillies required in the offseason, will have to live up to the hype that has been created about him. Ibanez will increase the Phillies defensive skills and have consistency, something that Phillies former left fielder Pat Burrell has lacked in recent years.
He also has feasted of lefties even though he himself bats left-handed.
Now, for Carlos Ruiz. He is great defensively, but isn’t that great of a hitter. According to Charlie Manuel, he has gotten much better. If that is so, the Phillies will have a much better bottom-half of the batting order.
The Phillies will also need support from their starting pitchers.
Brett Myers had a strong second half last year but will it carry over? He has shown signs of his starter-self, which is good news. If he gets off to a hot start, the Hamels-Myers combination will be virtually unstoppable.
Jamie Moyer is 46 years old, but will he be effective? He still baffles batters with his off-speed pitches and if they haven’t caught on by now, they never will.
Joe Blanton claims he didn’t do very well at the beginning of last year because his spring training routine was different. This is understandable since the Oakland Athletics played early last year on Mar. 25 against the Boston Red Sox to start off the season.
If this is true, the Phillies should have an innings-eater on their hands.
Chan Ho Park is the Phillies final starter, which doesn’t mean he’s bad. He had a strong spring and has pitched effectively as a starter before. If he isn’t as effective as the Phillies hoped, he can always pitch out of the bullpen.
The Phillies bench must also remain strong. Led by Gregg Dobbs, the Phillies bench has changed the most since last year. The Phillies unexpectedly released Geoff Jenkins and there is currently a battle for the final spots. Eric Bruntlett and Dobbs will definitely return.