Any playoff hopes for the 2014 Phillies would have to include a big year from Byrd.
Crasnick noted that a significant reason for the unsettling feeling is "the team's roster moves have been less compelling" than either the announcement of its new television contract or the dispatching of Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews from the broadcast booth.
It is almost never a good thing when the off-the-field issues are more interesting—exciting?—than the team that will take the field. But look at these acquisitions and judge for yourself whether they were interesting or exciting.
Assuming there are no further acquisitions, Marlon Byrd was the big prize of the offseason.
Yeah, that Marlon Byrd.
The 36-year-old went from being nearly out of baseball entirely in 2012 to a comeback in 2013 and now a two-year, $16 million contract from the Phillies.
Byrd's slash line (home runs/runs batted in/batting average) in 2013 was 24/88/.291. The Phillies would take another season like that right now and never look back.
Unfortunately, Byrd's slash lines in 2011 and 2012 were 9/35/.276 and 1/9/.210.
Because Byrd is almost guaranteed a ton of at-bats this season, his counting numbers should be decent. There is no safe projection of his batting average, though. A line of 18/75/.267 in 140 games feels about right.
Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona) got a one-year deal worth $4.5 million after having an unspectacular 2013 for Tampa Bay.
Hernandez is going to eat innings as the Phillies' fourth starter. If you disregard his disastrous 2012 season, Hernandez has taken the ball a lot since 2010. Unfortunately for the Phillies, he often ends up taking a new ball from the umpire after the one he just threw left the yard.
The right-hander surrendered 24 home runs in 151 innings, pitching half his games in pitcher-friendly Tampa last season. Hernandez will now throw in the not-so-friendly confines—for pitchers, anyway—of Citizens Bank Park for half of 2014.
Hernandez was 6-13 with an earned run average just under five and 113 strikeouts in 2013 for a good Rays team. In Philadelphia, to hope for much better than that record with a lower ERA and a few more strikeouts is probably asking too much.
There are other names on the Phillies' transaction list—Wil Nieves, Brad Lincoln, Sean O'Sullivan—but only Nieves seems likely to come north from Clearwater and will do so only as a backup to Carlos Ruiz.
The most interesting story in spring training is likely to be Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Since Marc Normandin of SBNation noted that Gonzalez's "physical cost him tens of millions of dollars," projecting the 27-year-old's performance would be rank guesswork.
Even more so than predicting what Byrd or Hernandez will do, of course.