Are the Philadelphia Phillies currently setting plans for an October World Series' parade? No. But, is it reasonable to believe that this 2014 team will walk a bridge toward baseball resurgence this season? Yes.
Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been roundly criticized for the manner in which he's handled the championship team that he inherited from Pat Gillick in the fall of 2008. While that critique is fair, it doesn't mention the role that the Phillies' ownership group has assuredly played regarding the retention of numerous popular baseball men whose names won't be mentioned within this digital space.
Amaro and his staff made a crucial decision that allowed Ryne Sandberg to return to his baseball home after the 2010 season was over. Managing the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs for two seasons (2011, 2012) and serving as one of Charlie Manuel's coaches last year set the stage for 'Ryno's' promotion to the top red pinstriped bench spot late last summer.
Having a Hall of Famer player, who also worked hard to develop his managerial resume, on any staff helps. In this instance, Sandberg's presence signals a real Phillies' revival is about to take place. Number 23 is establishing exactly the right tone in spring training. That atmosphere will extend through the entire regular season.
While the division crown isn't likely and a playoff appearance is far from guaranteed, this author won't bet against this Phillies' team rising above the .500 line and potentially making a playoff push. If that mostly modest projection holds, the past two seasons of decline will have been reversed. And that will count as progress by any rational standard.