They break camp and head north having solved little if anything. Indeed, they finished as they started, with putative fifth starter Adam Eaton getting his clock cleaned yet again and with the bullpen in disarray.
I cannot recall a Spring in which hope sprung less eternal than this one. I'm sure if I try harder I might dredge up a few given the Phils' spotty history during my 30 years of local residency but what makes this camp so discouraging is that while the nucleus of the offense is so solid, so exciting it is heartbreaking to think Gillick et al did nothing to improve upon that core as they paraded a bunch of nobodies in and out of Clearwater, especially pitchers.
Apart from eagerly awaiting the return of three-fourths of the best infield in baseball, I have great expectations of newcomer Pedro Feliz if only because he brings a fine glove to a ballpark that should also favor his free-swinging style. Shane Victorino should thrive, too, as the man in the middle of the defense and in the two hole. Carlos Ruiz also is poised to take off now that he has the confidence of his pitching staff.
But, oh, that pitching staff! Late winter and early spring may not be harbingers of summer and autumn, but unless a guy is experimenting with every single ball he throws, performance does mean something. The Phils saw precious little consistency from the guys they are counting on and even less from the ones they were hoping would turn things around. The principal off-season acquisition begins the season on the DL and the guy who is taking his spot has spent a lot of time on the same list the last two seasons.
Everyone wants to avoid the calamitous slow starts out of the gate that have marred the past few seasons. It might take eight to ten runs a game to do so.