Coming off their 2008 World Series' victory over the Tampa Bay Rays and a return trip to the 2009 Fall Classic against the New York Yankees, it appeared as though multiple championship parades might be seen during this current decade. But optimism is just a feeling. Results on the field are the only factors that determine which team gains the trophy, every ring and all accompanying bling.
Last season was hardly horrible, as a .500 record is often indicative of a team that could go in either direction during the following season. Early indications appear to foreshadow a move to the upside in 2013.
The coaching staff adjustments that were deftly executed last fall continued general manager Ruben Amaro, Junior's organizational reboot. He's clearly hoping to create a soft transition at the major league level. However, his plan might need more than one season to fully play out.
By adding a number of new starting players and through his bolstering of the bullpen, Amaro must believe that his existing core group is capable of making another playoff push. This front office boss has also smartly left himself with a decent amount of payroll flexibility as he prepares to head into a new baseball year. That extra dough will surely be needed as expected challenges arise throughout the spring and summer.
This particular Phillies' team could realistically compete with the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves within the division, as well as with other National League teams for any available Wild Card slots. The goal of renewing playoff tickets next fall is realistic. Once any team has gained access to the fall dance, a trip to the penthouse becomes possible.