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MLB Philadelphia Phillies

5 Reasons Phillies Fans Should Be Optimistic

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5 Reasons Phillies Fans Should Be Optimistic

5 Reasons Phillies Fans Should Be Optimistic
Steve Mitchell - US Presswire

These are the top 5 reasons the Philadelphia Phillies fans should go into the 2013 season with optimism. The Phillies are going into the 2013 season as underdogs for the first time since 2007 and though the Phillies don’t have the kind of firepower that the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves do, Phillies fans should not count themselves out before the season starts.

Last season the Phils endured more suffering in a regular season than they have since Larry Bowa was their manager. The Phillies aging stars had down years, injuries ravaged seemingly every starting position at one point or another, and the bullpen had more holes than Sonny Corleone’s Lincoln Continental.

Despite 2012 being a huge let down, there are still positive notes (or negative aspects of 2012's team that are unlikely to be repeated) that should give Phillies fans reason not to despair. One reason that did not make my list is that the Phillies were simply due to have a dud season after 5 years of playoff appearances. The Phils have new players to use and an off season of rest that should help their older players.

Professional sports have a cyclical nature to them. One year everyone stays healthy and the next season the extended workload leads to more dings and dents, missed games, and a worse record. From 2007-2011 the Phillies avoided the lions share of their injuries, and had them all manifest in 2012 (or that’s how if seemed). It felt like I was watching Pat Gillick’s deal with the devil from 2007 come back to roost. “Yes, certainly Pat, your team will absolutely make the playoffs the next five seasons, but after that I’m coming for your healthy legs with a vengeance.”

Without further delay, here are the top 5 reasons for Phillies fans to be optimistic.

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5. Ryan Howard has had Over a Year Since His Injury

5. Ryan Howard has had Over a Year Since His Injury
Steve Mitchell - US Presswire

Word on the street says that rupturing your achillies tendon hurts pretty bad. Even after a 8+ month recovery program last year, doctors say that a patient often won’t fully recover from the injury until well over a year has passed. Well, its been about a year and a half, and Ryan Howard did not accomplish anything last season. I don’t expect a Miguel Cabrera type of season, but .260 and 30+ HR’s is fine in my book, and I think that is totally doable for the Big Piece.

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4. Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay Should Rebound in 2013

4. Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay Should Rebound in 2013
Steve Mitchell - US Presswire

17-17, an average 3.82 ERA, and an average of 3.7 WAR for $45 million is just a piss poor investment. No two ways about it.

There’s a good chance Roy Halladay never returns to his Cy Young caliber, ace form. Still, I expect his regression to go a bit slower. He won the Cy Young in 2010, got second in the Cy voting in 2011, then finished 2012 with a 4.49 ERA and higher line drive, fly ball and HR/fly ball percentages than he’s ever had. Basically last season players saw Halladay’s pitches better than they ever have, and when they saw them they crushed them.

Cliff Lee, as many of you may already know, suffered horrible luck and run support in 2012, and should see a return to his former dominant self that his peripheral statistics said was present in 2012

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3. Chase Utley Has Had Time To Figure Out His Knees

3. Chase Utley Has Had Time To Figure Out His Knees
Howard Smith - US Presswire
By this point Chase Utley has either learned how to deal with his injury by now or he never will. I’m inclined to believe that by now he has figured it out. His knees starting getting bad around late 2010, early 2011, and missed a fair amount of time in '11. Chase and the fans were taken by surprise in 2012, and he missed months trying to figure out how to manage his pain. The problem for Chase hasn’t been his production, sure he may not be producing at an MVP caliber rate anymore, but when he plays he’s still among the top 10 2B in the game. It's about getting as many games and at bats as he can tolerate while still being healthy enough to produce in the playoffs. It's a tricky tight rope of a situation, but that's where his three years of experience with these issues should pay off.
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2. Mike Adams

2. Mike Adams
Steve Bisig - US Presswire
Even without Mike Adams the Phillies bullpen would be hard pressed to reproduce the horrible season they had last year. Adams simply is a fix for the biggest hole, the 8th inning. The Phils blew 12 games in which they had the lead in the 8th inning. They finished 7 games behind the second wild card winning St. Louis Cardinals. Do the math. Now get pumped because here comes the #1 reason to be optimistic.
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1. THEY MANAGED A .500 RECORD

1. THEY MANAGED A .500 RECORD
Howard Smith - US Presswire

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley missed a combined 170 games. The bullpen blew 12 leads in the 8th inning. The only ace worth their salary was Cole Hamels. Third base was a combination of a totally ineffective Placido Polanco, a defensively poor Ty Wigginton, and the low ceiling Kevin Frandsen. The outfield was a platoon of John Mayberry, Laynce Nix, Ty Wiggington, and Juan Pierre by July. There were players littering the field that barely belonged on a AAA team (Hector Luna anyone?), let alone a major league ballclub. Despite all this Philadelphia finished the season at .500, only seven games out of the Wild Card. That's like a morning commute where you get stuck in traffic, spend an extra ten minutes in the Dunkin Donuts, and get pulled over for speeding but still manage to be only ten minutes late for work. Imagine if even one of those factors were different.

So keep your chin up Phillies fans, just because they didn’t sign an Upton brother or win 97 games last year does not mean that the Phillies don’t have a chance, they’re just underdogs now. And I like it that way. Now they have something to prove.