The Phils are about to break camp and head north absent the barnstorming of yore. If they've been watching the weather channel, the alleged brain trust might want to delay their departure.
While I am loathe to attach much significance to spring training results, indeed the superstitious me is convinced there is an inverse relationship between spring training and regular season success, it's hard to ignore the problems that have surfaced with the pitching staff.
On more than one occasion a starter has looked like a batting practice pitcher. John Lannan's pitiful outing only yesterday isn't altogether surprising; after all, he is a mediocre player. Roy Halladay's struggles are another matter. While Doc is getting credit in some quarters for acknowledging he isn't the same pitcher he was a few short seasons ago, the guys in the other dugout could care less how he makes the adjustment. All they know is they couldn't hit him before and they can now!!
The good news, in a nod to my friend Julia, is that Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have appeared healthy and productive and Domonic Brown may finally be ready to be the everyday player the Phils envisioned. That said, this team wasn't built as an offensive juggernaut and the production of the last few years, injuries notwithstanding, bears that out.
Cliff Lee needs to bounce back from his peculiar season a year ago. Cole Hamels needs to be even better now that he is clearly the staff ace. Kyle Kendrick has to pick up where he left off a year ago, especially since he is really likely to be the team's number three pitcher whether his manager and pitching coach like it or not.
Jimmy Rollins is a year older. Still a fine shortstop, nevertheless he has lost a step. He still is not the prototypical lead-off man and never will be. The Phils should hand Ben Revere that role and stop tinkering.
That leaves one corner outfield position open. Delmon Young, whose defense will never be mistaken for that of Pat Burrell let alone Shane Victorino, will probably man that position once he is healthy. In the meantime, Lance Nyx will see some action there.
While Carlos Ruiz serves his suspension, Erik Kratz will handle the catching duties. Expectations are low.
New setup man Mike Adams looks healthy and effective. Jonathan Papelbon should provide all the excitement he did a year ago, a mixed blessing as far as this fan is concerned.
Next post: My eagerly awaited predictions. Are the three of you ready?