The Philadelphia Phillies are considered by most to be the prohibitive favorites to win the National League East, and to represent the NL once again in the 2011 World Series. They have very few roster spots up for grabs in spring training, and they are the epitome of a veteran-laden team with great starting pitching.
The counterpoint to this is that no team is without question marks, and the Phillies do have some of these crooked punctuation marks heading into this eagerly anticipated campaign.
Luckily for Phillies Nation, the Phillies uncertainties are not nearly as serious as, say, those of the St. Louis Cardinals who right now are wondering:
- Is their unquestioned face of the franchise, and best player on the planet (Albert Pujols), returning after 2011?
- How do they go about replacing Adam Wainwright, a Top 10 starting pitcher in the game?
- What of the injury to co-ace Chris Carpenter?
But back to the red-pinstriped squad.
As you know, the Phillies somehow won a MLB-best 97 regular season games in 2010, and did so despite relatively down years from Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Essentially, the team returns intact in 2011, minus one big cog of their lineup (Jayson Werth) but with the addition of a stud pitcher, Cliff Lee.
What does this all mean? To most Phillies fans, it means "World Series or Bust," or something like that, and I have no reason to douse this sentiment with buzzkill.
I will, however, highlight 10 Phillies players and the key question(s) surrounding each.
Alphabetically by player, let's begin...