Baseball in Philadelphia had a different look in 2012. After five seasons of successful runs featuring two World Series appearances, a World Championship and five straight division titles, the Phillies missed the Postseason for the first time.
With spring training and the dawn of a new season just a week away, does baseball have that same excitement it carried into the previous five seasons?
It should be, especially with a clean slate and a new look to the team.
The Phillies changed their makeup in the offseason by making impact signings without breaking the bank.
The team started by acquiring a centerfielder via trade. Gone is pitcher Vance Worley, who was traded to the Minnesota Twins for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Revere will serve as a huge threat on the basepaths and should also be a solid contact hitter on the team for years to come. At just 24-years-old, he has an incredibly high ceiling as a potential lead-off man of the future.
Next, the team traded again, this time acquiring veteran Texas Rangers infielder Michael Young to play third base. Young was a one-time batting champion and should bring a solid amount of contact hitting to the middle of the Phillies order.
The third offseason acquisition by the Phillies may be the most important. The Phillies lost a countless number of games in the eighth inning or later due to the lack of a true set-up man. Mike Adams, another former Ranger, becomes that guy. The Phillies signed the reliever to a two-year deal.
Add in starter John Lannan and outfielder Delmon Young to the mix of players joining the roster and there are plenty of fresh faces joining the fold.
Even with plenty of new faces, the most important pieces to the Phillies’ 2013 success were already a part of the roster.
Health will be everything to this team, most notably the heart of their batting order and the top of the rotation. Three names that instantly come to mind are Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay.
All three players missed extensive time due to injury which hurt the Phillies throughout the season.
Additionally, there will be an interesting battle in spring training at a position that has yet to be filled. The 2013 Opening Day left fielder is still unknown. Three players appear to be candidates.
First is Domonic Brown, the hotshot prospect that hasn’t really seen a solid opportunity to start just yet. Perhaps 2013 is his make-or-break season as a starter.
John Mayberry Jr. also remains a possibility. After a slow start to 2012, Mayberry played well down the stretch but never really found the groove he did in the latter part of the 2011 season. Will he bounce back?
Finally, there is the emerging prospect Darin Ruf. Ruf supplied tons of power in the minor leagues, earning a September callup. He looked like a fit then but only time will tell if he is a fit for the 2013 team.
The Phillies may not be favored to win the World Series or even the division. But that doesn’t stop this team from trying to defy the odds.
Baseball is back, and with that so begins another chapter of Phillies history where they will once again look to become baseball’s best.