Nonetheless, all the baseball folks I've heard (including me) have put the Phillies among the best 3 teams in baseball, along with the Red Sox and Giants. They've assembled one of the best rotations we've seen on paper in a long time. They still have an extremely potent offense and a strong defense.
But is everyone overstating their potential? To be honest, I don't think so. The pitching rotation is outstanding, and the offensive talent is there. However, just like with every team, we're assuming that the entire team is healthy. Already this spring, the Phils might be in some serious trouble.
Star 2B Chase Utley has had a cortisone shot in his knee, always a bad sign and typically the last resort before surgery. SS Jimmy Rollins has been unable to stay healthy of late, and even after his return he hasn't looked like the same intimidating person. The team's star outfielder, RF Jayson Werth, is now a member of the Washington Nationals. And his replacement RF Dominic Brown broke the hamate bone in his hand, probably eliminating him from the bigs for more than 2 months.
Let me be entirely clear here, the Philadelphia Phillies are going to be really good, even if they do have some of the setbacks I've outlined here. But making the playoffs in baseball isn't like in the NHL or the NBA. Just 8 teams make the playoffs in MLB, whereas double that amount (16) make it in those other leagues. It doesn't leave a lot of room for error, even from the best teams.
If Utley's injury is as bad as some think it is and Dominic Brown isn't able to come back as quickly as he hopes, the Phils are already at a serious disadvantage. Their average team age certainly doesn't get any younger by losing those two. So a bad Phillies team might just be wishful thinking, but it certainly doesn't seem to be out of the realm of possibility.
What say you, readers?