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MLB Philadelphia Phillies

5 Questions The Philadelphia Phillies Must Answer During Spring Training

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5 Questions That Need Answers In Spring Training

5 Philadelphia Phillies Questions That Need Answered In Spring Training
Howard Smith-USA Today Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies don't seem to know what direction they are going as a franchise. While most people realize the Phils need to start a major rebuilding process, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn't appear to agree with this theory, as shown by his offseason to this point.

The Phillies have developed a reputation as a big-spending organization that tries to mask the fact that it doesn't have a strong farm system by signing free agents and trading for better players. This offseason, however, they have been far less active than they have in the past.

In early November, the Phillies signed 36-year-old outfielder Marlon Byrd to a two year, $16 million deal. Nine days later, in late November, the team re-signed 35-year-old catcher Carlos Ruiz to a three year, $26 million deal. In mid-December, the Phillies signed 33-year-old starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona) to a one year, $4.5 million deal. The Phillies also made two other notable signings, adding 39-year-old -- yes, 39 year old -- Bobby Abreu and 31-year-old Ronny Cedeno.

One other contract detail worth noting is with 35-year-old second baseman, Chase Utley. The Phillies gave him a two year extension worth $25 million earlier this year. However, the extension also includes three vesting options that seem very likely to be activated. Each vesting option for 2016, 2017 and 2018 requires Utley to reach just 500 plate appearances in the previous season to have the option picked up. The Phillies may have Utley until his age 40 season. He will still be making $15 million annually at that point.

The ages of the players the Phillies signed this offseason, including Utley, are 36, 35, 33, 39, 31 and 35, and most signed to multi-year deals. The future is not looking good for the Phils. With that said, the Phillies still have some questions that need answering before the season starts. Continue reading to find out what these questions are!

Zach Morrison is a Pirates/MLB writer at RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter, add him as a friend on Facebook, or add him to your circles on Google+.

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5. What Happens To Darin Ruf?

What Happens to Darin Ruf?
Howard Smith-USA Today Sports

With the addition of Marlon Byrd, the Phillies seemingly don't have a spot for Darin Ruf on their 25-man roster. Ruf is already 27 years old, he doesn't need more seasoning in the minor leagues. Could a trade happen in Spring Training?

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4. Is Cody Asche The Man At Third Base?

Is Cody Asche the Man at Third Base?
Howard Smith-USA Today Sports

Cody Asche was given 50 games in 2013 to prove himself at third base, and for the most part, he didn't impress. In only 179 plate appearances -- a small sample size, of course -- Asche hit for a .235/.302/.389 triple-slash line with a 86 wRC+. He was below average defensively and offensively in 2013.

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3. Will The Phillies Find A Taker For Jonathan Papelbon?

Will the Phillies Find a Taker For Jonathan Papelbon?
Howard Smith-USA Today Sports

Trading Jonathan Papelbon would be no easy task for the Phils, due to his decline in performance, his attitude and his way-too-high salary. If the Phillies are willing to eat essentially all of his contract, they could probably find a trade for the disgruntled closer.

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2. A.J. Burnett Or No A.J. Burnett?

A.J. Burnett Or No A.J. Burnett?
Charles LeClaire-USA Today Sports

The Phillies, the Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates appear to be the top three candidates to land A.J. Burnett's services for 2014. If they really want Burnett, the Phils are the team most equipped with money to make a run at him.

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1. For Once, Can Everyone Just Stay Healthy?

For Once, Can Everyone Just Stay Healthy?
Howard Smith-USA Today Sports

Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Ben Revere and Mike Adams are all guys that have missed significant time over the past few seasons for various reasons. Can everyone stay healthy for once so the Phillies can have at least some optimism to begin the regular season?