There isn't a whole lot left to accomplish after the Philadelphia Phillies won a division title for the second consecutive year en route to a World Series title in 2008.
But most of the team is still young and should be able to at least get to the playoffs for the third straight season even if it doesn't yield another championship.
Unlike most World Series champions, the Phillies didn't lose a whole lot in terms of talent that wasn't replaced by anything better or at least equal.
Pat Burrell departed for the Tampa Rays but left fielder Raul Ibanez will fill the void without any problem.
Although Ibanez' age (36) may suggest a decline coming soon, he has been one of the most consistent and underrated players in baseball for the last four years. In 2008, Ibanez posted his third straight 20-home run, 100-plus RBI campaign in a pitchers park for the Seattle Mariners.
Much like the New York Mets, the heart of the lineup returns for another year with enough firepower to remain one of the best in baseball. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins should be even better this year if he avoids injuries while second baseman Chase Utley hopes to be back from his injury by opening day. Of course there's first baseman and subway pitchman Ryan Howard bringing 50 home run potential and let us not forget the versatility outfielder Shane Victorino gives them.
World Series MVP Cole Hamels returns to head the rotation with a brand new contract and Philadelphia also added Chan Ho Park to the fifth starter mix.
Park and fourth starter Jamie Moyer are the only major questions for the fightin' Phils because Park could revert to his Texas-like numbers in a pitchers park while Moyer is 46-years-old and probably doesn't have another 16 win, 3.71 ERA season left in him.
- Wednesday, January 28, 2009
- Posted by M.J. Hartwig at 12:33 PM