This week the Phillies pitchers and catchers reported to Clearwater,Florida for the start of Spring Training 2014. The rest of the players will report next week with the first Grapefruit League game scheduled for February 26th. Unlike past years this years spring training starts with almost no optimism among fans about the teams chances of breaking a .500 record let alone making the playoffs. .
Why are fans so down on the team this year?
Over the off season fans were looking for Amaro Jr. to make drastic changes to the team in order to make the Phillies more competitive in the NL East. What fans got instead were a few questionable free agent signings which when added to a core team which has underachieved over the last two seasons leave the Phillies with a lot of ifs going into the 2014 season.
If # 1
If Reuben Amaro Jr's geriatric approach to this years team will pan out the way he hopes it will. If not, well it may cost Amaro Jr.his job. In the off season Amaro Jr. added a few older players, like the recent addition of A.J. Burnett who is 36, to an already aging core of players who has under produced as per the amount of money they get paid to produce.
If # 2
If Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and the rest of the veterans the Phillies have added can be the players of old and start hitting and knocking in runs then the team may truly have a chance at the post season. If not, it will be another long season. The Phillies have a lot of money wrapped up in their core players, and they are banking they can put up career numbers once again.
If # 3
If last years surprises Dominic Brown, Darin Ruf and Ben Revere can continue their success and become the star players the Phillies hope they can be then the future will may truly be bright. If not then it is back to the drawing board.
If # 4
If the Phillies pitching staff is strong enough to carry the team like they have in the past then the team may have a chance. The problem is Cole Hamels has announced he has some sort of shoulder problem. Now it will be up to Burnett, Lee and newcomers Roberto Hernandez and Cuban import Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.to step up and carry the team until Hamels can return.
If # 5
If rookie manager Ryan Sandberg can bring new life into a team which over the last couple of years has seemed to try and survive on its past laurels as the teams in the NL East has changed. If not, well lets just say the blame must be passed along to the person who has assembled the team-Reuben Amarao Jr.
The final if is this, If the Phillies do not produce this year will the Phillies owners finally make the change and bring in some fresh blood at GM?
All that is left to be said is Play Ball! and let the balls drop where they may.