Phillies Preview-Broad street breakdown

 It’s the beginning of February and spring training is right around the corner.  The feeling in Philadelphia is cautious optimism given that the heavily favored Phillies choked big time in their National League Division Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, who became the eventual World Series champion. Plus, the Phillies haven’t really done much to improve in the offseason.
Their biggest acquisition has been former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, but they’ve refused to address their obvious flaws at the plate.
While the Phillies still have the most dangerous pitching staff in the National League, possibly the entire majors, they just aren’t good hitters.
Perhaps Ruben Amaro is hoping to see more hunger in his every day players.
For instance, the impending free agencies of outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence will motivate them to put together their strongest seasons ever.
Chase Utley who has been plagued by injury the past few seasons is finally looking healthy and will be looking to put together another All-Star season as he begins to transition to the twilight of his career.
The heart and soul of the Phillies of the past decade Jimmy Rollins didn’t get any respect from the free agent market ended up taking a discount to come back to Philadelphia and will be looking to prove his doubters wrong.
So maybe some of the field will have extra incentive to produce this year, but we can’t ignore the $125 million gorilla in the room.
Let’s face it, when Ryan Howard comes back from his ruptured Achilles tendon the most he’ll be good for is 230 strikeouts.
I don’t know if the Phillies will be a serious contender until he’s out of the lineup.
However, when we look at this upcoming season, it’s hard to not pick the Phillies to at least win the division.
Although the Marlins and Nationals have made some signing to improve, neither of them really have that it factor that says divi

sion champion.
The Braves are a very good team but haven’t really done much to get better.
I feel they’ll be too shell-shocked over their late season collapse to be any sort of a threat to the Phils.
Then there’s the Mets, and well if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck, and the Mets are pathetic.
Now if we look at the pennant race, again, due to their pitching, it’s hard to not put the Phillies near the top of the list.
This past year, the biggest obstacles in the Phillies way were the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, and with both their big boys, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, signing with the Anaheim Angels and Detroit Tigers, both of the American League,  respectively, can anyone in the NL put up the runs against Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
So yes, as the 2012 MLB season approaches, it’s easy to get excited for another year of domination by the Phillies, but it’s just as easy to think that we’re setting ourselves up for another big disappointment.

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