The Philadelphia Phillies convinced themselves that they missed the playoffs last season because of their injury issues. That logical conclusion wasn't steeped in emotion. Instead, it was a real explanation as to why their five-year playoff run ended.
Losses will mount when a team loses it's opening day starter, first baseman and second baseman for significant portions of the season. Unless a franchise has enormous minor league reserves, or is able to temporarily plug holes with equally great veterans, winning won't be a habit.
Roy Halladay has moved toward the end of his middle-aged pitching years. He may be able to re-gain the ability to pitch effectively this season. Then again, he may not.
Ryan Howard is fifteen months removed from his Achilles' tendon surgery. With his recovery apparently complete, all that he needs to do is work himself into seasonal shape. If he can reach that reasonable goal, home runs will fly again and runners will cross the plate after he drives them in.
Chase Utley was able to take control of his chronic knee issue last season. By the end of the 2012 season, he began to look somewhat like the player that he used to be.
While Utley's pain won't go away, it's reasonable to believe that he might be able to push one more positive Phillies' season out of his body. That last statement is directly tied to the fact that his guaranteed contract ends after this baseball year.
Of course, there will be 22 other men on the Phillies' major league roster. But, these three players can help everyone to regain group confidence if they produce strong results from the get-go starting in April.