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Roy Halladay's return will be one of the big questions for the Phillies this season.
81-81, third place in National League East
What the Phillies Need to Happen in 2013
Whatever general manager Ruben Amaro and his staff are doing with this franchise right now, it certainly leaves a lot to be desired.
First, the team acquired Michael Young from Texas to be the team's everyday third baseman. Young had the worst Wins Above Replacement in baseball last season at minus-1.4, according to Fangraphs. He has been a bad defensive player for years and just posted a .682 OPS in 2012.
Then came the Delmon Young signing and notion that he can be an everyday right fielder when he was so dreadful as a left fielder with Detroit. That's to say nothing of the fact that he hasn't had an on-base percentage above .308 since 2008 and is just a terrible person in general.
This is an aging team that doesn't appear to have any sense about how to fix things. All of the hopes around this team revolve around players well into their 30s, like Roy Halladay (35), Chase Utley (34), Ryan Howard (33), Cliff Lee (34), Michael Young (36), Jonathan Papelbon (32), Carlos Ruiz (34) and Jimmy Rollins (34).
Ruiz will miss the first 25 games of the season after testing positive for Aderall in the offseason.
A lot of balls are in play for the Phillies. What it comes down to is how much stock they have put into their pitching, specifically the trio of Halladay, Lee and Hamels.
Halladay is coming off shoulder problems last season that limited him to just 156.1 innings. He hasn't looked great this spring, either. David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News reported that Halladay's fastball was in the 86 to 88 mph range in a start on March 6.
That won't get it done for an entire season, I don't care how good Halladay has been at pitching in the past. When the stuff leaves, your margin of error is so small. Perhaps it will come back as we move closer to the regular season, but this does give you a lot of pause.
This team needs Utley to play 140 games. He did have a .365 on-base percentage and 11 home runs in 83 games last season.
Howard can't hit left-handed pitching anymore (.173/.226/.378 last season), so he is basically the most overpaid platoon player in baseball.
Lee was the unluckiest pitcher in baseball last season, yet he still has the best command in the game and should get 200 strikeouts again. They need that kind of production from him, especially with Halladay facing so many questions.
Hamels re-signed with the Phillies last season, making it the one good thing Amaro has done in the last year. He has to take over the mantle as "The Man" for this team if they hope to contend.
Because the defense is going to be so bad, with Michael Young at third, Delmon Young in right, Darin Ruf (likely) in left and Howard at first base, the pitching staff has to miss a ton of bats this season if it wants any chance of having success.
What Could Go Wrong?
Just look at the age and injury history at this roster—you will get your answer.
If Halladay can't come back and be close to the best pitcher in baseball again, the rotation loses a lot of its depth. Howard's problems against left-handed pitching become so severe that not even Charlie Manuel wants to play him against southpaws.
Utley's knees break down again, preventing him from playing more than half a season yet again. The team is able to see why Michael Young and Delmon Young were so readily available, though that might actually be an upgrade if the Phillies were to replace one or both of them.
This franchise needs a serious change in philosophy soon, because there is no immediate impact help coming in the farm system and some questionable drafts, as well as a number of trades, in recent years have really thinned out the minors.