The Philadelphia Phillies aren't the dominant team in the National League any longer. But, they might not be an afterthought either this season as a number of “hidden” strengths lie within those red pinstripes.
It's certainly okay to question how effective Carlos Ruiz will be this year, if the infield will be able to remain healthy and if the outfield adjustments will work. Roy Halladay is hardly a guarantee and the bullpen must gel for it to become a positive force.
However (and that is stated with a strong tone) analysts should be careful of getting carried away with themselves by dismissing Charlie Manuel's group in February. While there are surely a number of NL teams that will perform well this season, not every rival squad will live up to expectations.
The Phillies have five competent starting pitchers. As long as they combine to start 125 games, the offense will have a chance to support their efforts.
Considering the improved health of positional and bench players, it's more likely than not that the team's offensive output will be more consistent. That will lead to more wins.
Last season's bullpen will filled with young arms. This year that isn't the case and that should create tighter sixth through eighth inning segments.
If Jonathan Papelbon goes down with an injury, Mike Adams and Chad Durbin (in that order) could take over. This portion of the roster is legitimately stronger than the 2012 edition.
Finally, the infusion of Ryne Sandberg, Steve Henderson, Wally Joyner and Rod Nichols into the coaching staff will make an impact. It has to.
When reasonably considering every strike against the 2013 Phillies, it seems as though there are more counterbalanced positive points to be included in any seasonal projections.