Philadelphia Phillies’ Four Core Men Must Deliver in 2013
Jimmy Rollins at the World Series' Ring Ceremony
If the Philadelphia Phillies want to repeat their championship ceremony, they will have to play like it's 2008 one more time.
The 2013 season will be different than the past four years, because Charlie Manuel's squad will be entering the season without any new playoff banners to raise. Even though they were defeated by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 National League Division Series, at least the Phillies were in the fall classic pre-party that season.
Last year's disastrous amount of injuries led to a variety of men playing out of position, or being asked to do too much too soon. This year's calm winter was highlighted by a number of cost-conscious moves that attempted to balance roster needs with continued payroll flexibility.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who is entering his fifth season as the Phillies' front office boss, hasn't built his strongest roster. However, he's adapted his inventory.
This is a good team that should at least contend for a Wild Card spot. Within the division, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves will both provide stiff competition that isn't likely to fade as the summer plays out.
Hopefully, Manuel will benefit from a much healthier group that doesn't put itself on the edge of ruin by June, as it did last season. As long as his remaining core of positional players from the 2008 World Series' team and some of his other key parts remain in the game this year, a return to fall ball should be seen.
Carlos Ruiz defied all expectations last season. After his PED ban expires, he must re-prove himself offensively.
With whatever Jimmy Rollins does with his bat this season, his defense must remain sound. Still possessing one of the better gloves in the game, “J-Roll” remains vital to the Phillies' infield plans.
Chase Utley has always projected confidence when he's at the park. Heading into what could be his final Phillies' season, nothing will stop him from trying to be who he once was.
Ryan Howard was, is and will continue to be the most threatening man in the lineup. Playing at full health this season should allow him to become a run-producing machine again.
Charlie Manuel will permanently be labeled as a winner, regardless of what anyone believes. Expect this passionate baseball man to battle like he believes that it will be the last year of his on-field baseball life.