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MLB Philadelphia Phillies

2013 MLB Season Preview: Looking at the Philadelphia Phillies ‘What Ifs’

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Answering the Philadelphia Phillies 'What If' Questions

Answering the Philadelphia Phillies 'What If' Questions
Eric Hartline - USATODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies have a lot of ‘what ifs’ surrounding the team heading into the 2013 season. I will address some of them in the following slides.

On paper the Philadelphia Phillies are on the outside looking in in the National League East , a division they one dominated. Every expert predicted this kind of start and immediate decline from the Phillies. They have emptied their farm system numerous times since 2007 (the first year of their division title streak) to obtain a few pieces such as Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, Roy Halladay, and Michael Young.

As the front runners were stockpiling blue chip prospects the Phillies were trading them away, in hopes of one more glorious title run. For years while the Phillies were winning the Washington Nationals were collecting big name prospects. Meanwhile the Atlanta Bravses system kept churning out quality (as it has for the better part of 20 years). Even the New York Mets have been trading away talent for young players.

Well, 2013 is upon us, and the teams aggregate age having slowly built over the years, it looks like over the last two years they went from aging to full on old.

Sure the Phillies still have a chance. This is baseball, a sport that saw the Oakland Athletics to come out of nowhere and win a very talented American League West. This is baseball, a sport that witnessed the Boston Red Sox come back from and 0-3 deficit and defeat the New York Yankees .

Nobody is saying it is impossible for the Phillies. It will definitely be tough though, their season depends on more ‘if’s’ than any other competitive team in the majors. Click through the slideshow and take a look at the ways the Phillies will win… if.

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...if Chase Utley can stay healthy

...if Chase Utley can stay healthy
Howard Smith - USATODAY Sports

It's a long season, but as of right now this looks like a real possibility. I've been saying all offseason, he's had his knee condition for three years now. If, in the third off season, he hasn't figured out what to do to stay healthy then there is a good chance he never will.

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...if Ryan Howard can be his former self

...if Ryan Howard can be his former self
Steve Mitchel - USATODAY Sports

Again, this looks like another promising yes. Howard tied for the most spring training home runs of anyone, which means he's back to crushing bad pitchers, like he used to. In the regular season he'll see more carefully selected pitches by better pitchers, but the indicators couldn't look better.

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...if Charlie Manuel can properly manage the team

...if Charlie Manuel can properly manage the team
Derick Hingle - USATODAY Sports

This one is questionable. Charlie has always been a swing for the fences type of manager, which is fine when there are sluggers up and down the lineup. Charlie has a lineup with more base stealers than sluggers, and as such he should adopt a small ball approach, but will he? I doubt it, and we'll all have to wait to see how it turns out.

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...if Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee can be depended on again

...if Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee can be depended on again
Steve Mitchell - USATODAY Sports

Based on Cole Hamels spring training, he looks ready. Cliff Lee got hit around a bit early this spring, but ended looking on target to produce another effective season. Hopefully the two actually get the run support they so desperately need. The real question is Roy Halladay, here is the link to the article talking about my thoughts on his 2013 campaign.

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...if the bullpen can be effective

...if the bullpen can be effective
Steve Bisig - USATODAY Sports

This basically comes down to Mike Adams. I feel like the struggling players the Phillies put in last year were by and large unseasoned, and have had another year to develop and settle. I believe Adams and Papelbon will among the best 8th and 9th inning combinations in the game, and Antonio Bastardo will look like he did in 2011, and Philipe Aumont will surprise everyone. In short, not only do I see the bullpen as being effective, I think they'll be flat out dominant.

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...if Domonic Brown is ready to blossom

...if Domonic Brown is ready to blossom
Derick Hingle - USATODAY Sports

All early indications say that he is ready to explode. He already started his season the right way in spring training, now comes the hard part, continuing his hot hand over the course of the next 6 months against the best of the best.

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...if Darin Ruf can make the team

...if Darin Ruf can make the team
Howard Smith - USATODAY Sports

Did. Not. Happen. They Phillies will have to depend on Delmon Young and dark horse contributor Ender Inciarte. Maybe we see Ruf again later in the year, if Howard gets hurt or he figures out his stroke.