The Philadelphia Phillies enter 2014 as they did 2013, hoping for the best. While the general health of their veteran-heavy core does project more favorably at the present moment, at least one major trade is still needed to raise reasonable competitive expectations.
Phillies' fans don't expect to win the World Series each season. They also don't expect to be in the 'Fall Classic' on an annual basis. But, they do want their rich franchise to be perennial playoff contenders.
Comparisons between last off-season's moves and this winter's decisions appears to indicate that general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has positioned his team for another transitional year. With whatever public pronouncements have been made, the lack of a major New Year's trade, prior to the start of the regular season, reveals that the front office contingent believes that playoff tickets aren't likely to be printed next fall.
Counting on Ryan Howard to recapture his old power punch, for Chase Utley to remain on the field for the majority of the season or for Jimmy Rollins to find his offensive game is wishful thinking, at best.
If those three specific, iconic, players perform at an optimum level from April through September, Ryne Sandberg should be seen smiling all season long. In lieu of that red pinstriped scenario playing out, forced trades seem destined to develop by mid-summer's deadline, as was the case in July 2011.