There's nothing quite like a good old-fashioned MRI to provide conclusive evidence rather than the snake-oil that normally pours forth from the Phillies PR department, especially when it comes to matters of health.
Brad Lidge has a partially torn rotator cuff and will be out for an extended period of time. The Phils say 3-6 weeks so that should mean 6 - 12. Jose Contreras will take over the closer's duties, bypassing bridesmaid Ryan Madson, who either clearly would rather set-up or simply doesn't inspire sufficient confidence in his manager. Either way, Lidge joins a growing list of aging, injured veterans.
Lidge also joins a select list of horrible investments by the Phils, who granted him a lucrative 3-year extension after what turned out to be his only fine season in red pinstripes. Now, the Phils are on the hook for the balance of that contract and it is safe to say it is dead money.
After last Fall's failure to advance beyond the NLCS, the feeling everywhere was this Phillies team was built to win now. The addition of Cliff Lee provided both a brief moment of euphoria and further confirmation the Phils were going all in in 2011. Their bet looks a lot less sure with the injuries to Chase Utley and Lidge, the questions about Placido Polanco's health and the hope that aging stars Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez still have something in the tank.
Spring Training results should never be taken too seriously, what with all the experimentation and lack of urgency surrounding the games. Still, the Phils have to also have a few worries about Roy Oswalt, who hasn't looked all that sharp even before taking a ball to the neck.
Spring Training is over now and even though the home opener promises to be played under conditions more conducive to Winter Games, it's time to see what this team surrounded by so many high expectations can do. The bet here is that they will fall short of a parade.