The 2008 Phillies should be entertaining and frustrating in equal proportions, which works out to a average season of 81 wins and no post-season appearance. They can hit and they can catch the ball, but their pitching is far too thin to carry them beyond the regular season.
Talking about acquiring arms and having the means -- financially or in terms of trading chips -- is an altogether different matter. One thing is clear, however: Pat Gillick and his alleged brain trust have spent their modest resources very unwisely over the last few seasons acquiring hurlers of known questionable health (Freddy Garcia and Brad Lidge) or dubious distinction (Adam Eaton). Before readers jump all over me for including Lidge on this list please check the active roster and get back to me. A team that is desperate to avoid the poor starts of the last few years can ill-afford to have its closer start the season on the DL.
Nearly everyone is picking the Phils to finish second behind the Mets. A few even see them finishing behind the Braves, whose strengths and weaknesses closely mirror their own. For a third straight year the potent nucleus of the best overall infield in baseball will watch as their production is frittered away by their own pitching staff. Overall, the power in the NL has shifted west. The two best teams might be Arizona and Colorado. If the Rockies get good pitching and their own wonderful nucleus can approach last year's collective production, they are my pick for league champions.