The Philadelphia Phillies' payroll remains among the highest in the game. When a team invests heavily, its fan base expects to be more than just competitive. Anything short of a postseason appearance this season won't be tolerated by the Phanatics who gave general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., manager Charlie Manuel and their players a 2012 pass.
The National League East remains very challenging, as the Washington Nationals are favored to win again and the Atlanta Braves are still a solid bunch. Both teams have far more available payroll space than the Phillies do, which will make Amaro's playoff push harder to accomplish. Other National League teams also factor into this equation, as Wild Card competition obviously also counts.
Before insurance costs and minor league player salaries (of those men who are on the 40-man roster) are included, the Phillies have committed roughly $157 million to this year's team. The Nationals have $111 million in obligations, while the Braves have $83 million on the books.
Every team deals with injuries and production issues as the schedule plays out. Both factors naturally cause adjustments to be made throughout the spring and summer.
In order to respond to the 162-game grind each organization must have system depth. That resource helps to plug major league holes and facilitate needed acquisitions. Of course, the amount of available payroll space a general manager has dictates what options will be available to him.
Philadelphia's initial 2013 path appears to be somewhat easier than last season's road, because their 25-man roster is generally healthy right now. Since both main divisional competitors have the ability to spend more (if they choose to do so) during the season, it's reasonable to conclude that the Phillies have their work cut out for them this baseball year.