A true lack of depth, injuries, performance issues and the natural cycle of baseball itself has beset this team since the fall of 2011. It's hard to imagine that two years ago Charlie Manuel oversaw a squad that set a franchise record with 102 regular season wins. But, that high-point was overshadowed by the sword of Damocles that finally fell in the postseason.
The National League Division Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals proved to arguably be the end of this Phillies' era. Basically, Manuel's core group of players (with some modest changes) reached the end of their collective glory days that fall.
The 2012 season ended for all intents and purposes at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline and realistic contention was never in sight this year. While some key pieces from the 2008 World Series season remain in place, the bulk of performance personalities from that age are gone.
Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Ryne Sandberg have their work cut out for them. Questions abound across every portion of the roster and within the farm system. Hopes for a good off-season and a renewed start next spring are reasonable, but not guaranteed.
As to whether a new baseball window opens in 2014 is the looming question. The dreams of many fans and the money they carry with them into Citizens Bank Park are tied to the answers that will initially be seen starting in February.