Philadelphia Phillies Face Tough 2013 Season in the NL East
Philadelphia Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel knows that he faces a tough road this season. As he prepares to enter the final year on his contract, this baseball lifer is well aware that the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves represent what appear to be even stronger competition in 2013.
The Braves were eliminated in the National League Wild Card playoff game by the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Nationals ran away with the division last season, but were also stopped in their first playoff round when the Cardinals beat them (3-2) in the National League Division Series.
Both teams have bolstered their rosters this off-season and still have plenty of available resources to meet any challenges that present themselves this year. The money point is highly relevant because that factor directly affects the caliber of players who can be obtained as the season plays out.
The Phillies' roster appears to be much healthier than it was one winter ago. General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has also made a number of moves that should offer Manuel deeper flexibility.
Very limited options deeply hampered Manuel's ability to make moves through the first half of last season. By the time most of his expected starters (in the lineup and on the mound) were in place, the trade deadline had arrived and a number of familiar faces were dealt.
It's fair to look at the end of July 2012, as the actual point in time when plans for the coming season began to be made. As to whether a likely improved Phillies' team can overtake one, or both, of their divisional opponents this season is questionable. Not being able to do so, while still expecting to earn the second Wild Card slot, assumes that every other non-division winning NL team will be worse than Manuel's boys.
Of course, depending upon how the summer flows, it could be Ryne Sandberg's team before the season (or the calendar year) ends.
Unless he falters, Darin Ruf will be given a chance to at least platoon in left field this season. If he can add approximately 20 home runs to the lineup, his rookie year will be successful.
Delmon Young must prove himself, both on and off the field this season. The Phillies believe that he has put the past behind him and are offering him a potential full-time right field opportunity.
Ben Revere has strong upside potential. Considered a solid fielder, this developing hitter needs to improve his on-base percentage in order to make a positive mark in the lineup.
Michael Young isn't who he once was. But, this gritty veteran should make contact with many balls while standing at the plate and with most shots that are hit toward him at third base.
Mike Adams is one of the lynchpins to this season. If he's able to consistently close the eighth inning door, a number of games will be preserved as, or later converted to, wins this year.