5 Philadelphia Phillies’ Warning Signs to Look For This MLB Season

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The fans' faith will be severely tested if their Phillies don't win again

The fans' faith will be severely tested if their Phillies don't win again.
Howard Smith – USA TODAY Sports

Some Philadelphia Phillies' fans have renewed their hopes during this off-season, as a belief in the afterlife (the postseason) seems realistic. However, no regular season games have been played yet.

Back in skepticism city (also known as “Negadelphia”), no deep digital analysis has to be conducted to in order to poke holes in that happy red balloon that is floating high in the March sky. Charlie Manuel's team clearly has the potential to make another playoff push. But, their fall glory is hardly assured.

The starting staff seems like it's one significant injury away from being part of the National League pack, instead of barking like the lead dog.

Roy Halladay appears to have his back, arm and shoulder problems under control. But, any middle-aged man (let alone any professional pitcher) knows that those three physical areas will remain serious areas of concern during every start he makes this season.

Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are healthy. Remaining so should allow both of them to start 30+ games and dually contend for the National League Cy Young Award.

Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan are similar to most other second-tier major league starters. They are decent, but not distinguished.

Jonathan Papelbon has been worth an average of 37 saves per season during each full year of his big league career. It's not pessimistic to wonder if he can continue his health streak and solid save performance. However, the relief contingent that will open before his act begins is much deeper this year.

In order to bolster the offense, Ruben Amaro, Jr. has gambled that a lesser defense won't throw away, drop or otherwise lose more games than the lineup will win.

Ben Revere should be sound in centerfield. But, no one knows how right field, left field and third base will play out.

An encouraging note is that the altered bench arrangement should allow for more roster flexibility to be felt.

Offensively speaking, the consistency of Manuel's lineup should be better this year. However, many of the moving baseball parts must either prove, or re-prove themselves before any pennant chase truly becomes a reality.

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

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“Doc” needs to pitch at least 200 effective innings this year

“Doc” needs to pitch at least 200 effective innings this year.
Derick Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies need Roy Halladay to have a good (not necessarily a great) season this year.

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Jonathan Papelbon will be tempting fate when the new season begins

Jonathan Papelbon will be tempting fate when the new season begins.
Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Papelbon's late-inning efforts should be bolstered by a deeper relief corps. But, will he be able to take that less pressured baseball and convert approximately 40 saves this season?

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Is there an effective fifth-hole hitter who can stand behind Ryan Howard?

Is there an effective fifth-hole hitter who can stand behind Ryan Howard?
Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

Darin Ruf might eventually become the perfect player to hit behind Ryan Howard. If, or until, that happens someone will need to offer stable protection for “The Big Piece” this season.

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Michael Young is one of the new offensive pieces that was added to the roster

Michael Young is one of the new offensive pieces that was added to the roster.
Derick Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

Can Michael Young's consistent presence at one position help him to achieve a decent fielding form? His veteran presence somewhere in the middle of the Philadelphia Phillies' lineup will also be equally key, as his offensive efforts will help to determine how fluid the batting order must be.

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If the offense doesn't produce, a variety of Philadelphia Phillies' fireworks will be seen in 2013

If the offense doesn't produce, a variety of Philadelphia Phillies' fireworks will be seen in 2013.
Howard Smith - USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season could move in a variety of directions. A mix of fireworks in the air, on the field, in the dugout and in the front office seem likely to be seen during this particular baseball season.

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