It has been awfully quiet here for a long time, but like players, coaches, announcers and hotdog sellers, bloggers need their own warmups. So, here it goes....
There is a fair bit of optimism in Clearwater this Spring because Chase Utley appears healthier than at any time in three years, Ryan Howard has apparently recovered from his Achilles tear and Roy Halladay seems fit as well. Let me pause to ask the equipment manager if he has a bucket of cold water available.
Spring Training always takes place in the land of Optimism. The realities beg to differ. The infield, with an aging Jimmy Rollins who has been prone to his own assorted ailments, and Michael Young, a solid performer who is probably in decline as well, simply does not inspire confidence. Howard was so inept versus lefties last year the club has already announced he'll sit for fifteen games or so when opposed by tough southpaws. That doesn't sound like a guy who was simply struggling with injuries.
Utley only knows one speed: full throttle. Anyone who plays with his intensity is a moment away from trying to beat out an infield hit or sliding hard into second to break up a double play.
The outfield is young, very inexperienced and short on defense in the corners. Any team that relies on its pitching, which the Phils will do, needs solid defense to make up the difference. And while we're at it, such as staff also relies heavily on a good field general behind the plate. Carlos Ruiz won't be there for a while as he serves out his suspension.
In a division with the Nationals and Braves sporting lots of talent, the Phils will probably finish third...if they remain healthy.
Thanks, I only needed one bucket.