MLB Philadelphia Phillies

5 Loud Philadelphia Phillies’ Predictions for the 2013 Season

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A Renewed Playoff Push Will Begin

Sean O'Brien

The Philadelphia Phillies are about to begin spring training as the prohibitive non-favorites in the National League. They also aren't expected to win the National League East, or to be in prime contention for either of the two Wild Card slots.

It's not as though the baseball world thinks that the 2013 edition of this team will be awful. It's just that their roster appears to be only be slightly better than last season's .500 bunch.

Of course, 162 regular season games have yet to be played. But, each new baseball season brings change, hope and promise. So, why not throw some darts at the diamond board and see what sticks?

After breaking through a decade-plus playoff malaise, the Phillies qualified for the playoffs in dramatic fashion on the final day of the 2007 season. The next season brought indelible glory, as a super-charged squad squashed the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays during an inevitable World Series Championship campaign.

Charlie Manuel's team possessed an invincible aura during the fall of 2008. Their 2009 World Series appearance against the New York Yankees was a bit flat, but at least represented the second-half of back-to-back “Fall Classic” contests. After those moments had passed their erosion of power and potential became undeniable.

The downward spiral from 2010 through 2012, that resulted in last season's postseason denial, felt like a mirror image of the ascending mid- to late-2000 years.

As long as the Phillies' veteran core remains healthy in 2013, a mix of younger faces and added inventory could enable playoff tickets to be available for download once again. If that smooth scenario is to play out, a number of wildly optimistic factors and some other “stuff” will need to happen throughout this baseball year.

Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanyOB, Facebook, Google+ and read his blog Insight.

2 of 6

Ryne Sandberg will be booed in Wrigley Field

Daniel Shirey – US Presswire

Ryne Sandberg will be booed by some Chicago Cubs' fans if the Philadelphia Phillies new third base coach (and infield instructor) disputes a call in his adopted baseball home during a road game.

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“Babe Ruf” and “The Big Piece” will battle it out

Howard Smith – US Presswire

Darin Ruf and Ryan Howard will channel Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire (circa 1998 and without the juice) as they battle for the team's home run lead all season long.

Everyone knows that “Babe Ruf's” three major league home runs in 2012 don't guarantee any future success. But, this young man has a quick swing and should be given every opportunity to become the Philadelphia Phillies' next great power hitter.

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Chase Utley will sign a contract extension

Eric Hartline – US Presswire

Chase Utley will hit somewhat like it's 2009. He'll also sign a mini-contract extension during the season that keeps him in red pinstripes for a few more seasons.

This assumes that the Philadelphia Phillies second baseman proves that his chronic knee condition has truly been contained.

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“Doc” and “Hollywood” will share the hardware

Howard Smith - US Presswire

It's far more likely that Cole Hamels moves to a top pitching beat this season. But, no one should dismiss one of the great starting pitchers of the past decade (Roy Halladay) from also being able to create a Cy Young surge.

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Ruben Amaro's team will make another NLCS appearance

Howard Smith – US Presswire

The Philadelphia Phillies will appear in the 2013 National League Championship Series.

In order for this bold theory to become reality, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. must see a number of factors to fall into place. Charlie Manuel needs his lineup to be among the best in the game. At least four of his starting mound men must pitch approximately 200 innings. The bullpen needs to shorten games and the bench men must behave like they want full-time jobs.

Beyond the obligatory “good health” cliche, three other National League Wild Card contenders must have lesser seasons than the Phillies do. If that happens, it will be much easier snag one of the two Wild Card spots.

Take note that I'm not claiming that the Washington Nationals, or Atlanta Braves will be left in the Phillies' divisional dust this year.

It's only February. So, who really knows what will happen in 2013?