The Season Begins
Regrettably, I am not among those (especially not in the "expert" category) who foresee such an outcome. I don't think the Phils will make it to the Series. Indeed, if they make it to the playoffs, it could very well be as the Wild Card.
Just not enough offense and a bullpen that has its share of question marks.
It's pretty hard to win between 90 and 100 games without a dominant closer. It's equally difficult to win that number of games without a reliable offense. The only proven productive hitter in the heart of their order is Ryan Howard, and he's going to see fewer good pitches this season than at any other time in his career. Let's hope the opposition has a sufficient quota of "mistakes" to throw his way.
Jimmy Rollins, the Phils lead-off hitter for as long as many can remember, has been dropped to the number three hole. Never your prototypical number one, JRoll is being asked to hit behind Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco. There's really no other place to put the free-swinging Jimmy at this point. As long as Polanco stays healthy, it seems reasonable the opposition is going to have to pitch to Jimmy some of the time.
The best outcomes from this Spring were the anointment of Ben Francisco as the every-day right fielder and the elevation of Wilson Valdez to starter at second base instead of the injured Chase Utley. Francisco was the most proven major leaguer vying for the spot in right field and has earned the chance to show he can man the post. Valdez, last year's super-sub, also earned the spot with an excellent Spring on top of his solid season in 2010. The brief fling with Luis Castillo was as much an insult as a flyer, but as predicted, it ended quietly.
So, another season begins with the forecast more winter-like than spring-like. Wonderful things are expected from the starting rotation. Let's enjoy them.