It’s been awhile since opposing pitchers suffered from nausea when they’ve faced the Philadelphia Phillies‘ lineup. Instead, a weak batting order has enabled many mound feasts to be held during recent seasons.
What happened in 2012 not only stopped a five-year postseason run, it caused everyone who was connected to the team to see reality. Cliff Lee’s brilliant, yet unsupported, seasonal performance may have served as the best magnification of how unproductive the Phillies’ batting order had become since their go-go days.
However, spring does bring the opportunity for renewal, and with that annual opportunity, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. did make a number of decent off-season moves. The additions of Michael Young and Ben Revere in particular changed two important lineup spots.
As for the former Texas Ranger, Young is a contact hitter who should provide more of the Placido Polanco ”flavor” that initially existed in the lineup mix after the Scott Rolen trade. The Phillies new infielder isn’t likely to win another MVP Award, but banking on approximately 200 combined hits and walks is reasonable. That effort would turn a weak spot in last season’s lineup around.
As for the former Minnesota Twin, Revere hasn’t hit one major league home run, but Charlie Manuel won’t be looking for his power this year. However, he’ll expect his new outfielder to make offensive progress this season. Juan Pierre had a good year last season, but Revere is a superior player.
Of course, a healthy Ryan Howard, a healthier Chase Utley and a steady Jimmy Rollins are vital to all red pinstriped efforts. But, no one should undercut what Domonic Brown’s spring performance has created. This young man will be given a full-season shot in “The Show” and with that he has a chance to insert a key bat into the middle-third of the order.
Whatever offensive input will be added by John Mayberry, Jr., Laynce Nix, Delmon Young, a soon-to-be-returning Carlos Ruiz and some bench men will also be key.
Make no mistake, the 2013 edition of Manuel’s offense appears to offer a more productive group from the jump and deeper in-game options. Amaro has also afforded himself some salary tax threshold space to reinforce whatever empty spaces need to be filled in along the way.
There was a religious feeling in the air when the Phillies had their turn at bat in the recent past. With the baseball gods on their side, each Philadelphia marauder felt that no lead was large enough and that no deficit was too steep to overcome.
Real renewal is in the air. As for redemption, we’ll see.