Perhaps you, like me, are having a difficult time getting your arms around the 2014 Phillies. Just how good, or how bad, will this team be?
Maybe a comparison will help.
Remember 2008? Wasn’t that long ago, what, six years? A millisecond in the span of time. How much different will the 2014 Phillies be in comparison to the World Series Championship team of 2008?
Let’s walk through this together.
2008 line-up: Jimmy Rollins, SS / Shane Victorino, CF / Chase Utley, 2B / Ryan Howard, 1B / Jason Werth, RF / Pat Burrell, LF / Pedro Feliz, 3B / and Chooch
Rotation: Cole Hamels / Bret Myers / Jamie Moyer / Joe Blanton / Kyle Kendrick
Bullpen: Brad Lidge / Ryan Madson / Chad Durbin / Clay Condrey / J.A. Happ / R.C. Romero / Scott Eyre / Sean Rudyez
Bench: Greg Dobbs / Jeff Jenkins / Eric Bruntlett / Chris Coste / So Taguhi / Matt Stairs
Now let’s look at the team that will take the field April 1.
2014 predicted line-up: Ben Revere, CF / Jimmy Rollins, SS / Chase Utley, 2B / Ryan Howard, 1B / Dominic Brown, LF / Marlon Byrd, RF, / Cody Asche or Maikel Franco, 3B / and Chooch
Rotation: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, A.J Burnett / Kyle Kendrick / Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez / Roberto Hernandez
Bullpen: Jonathan Papelbone / Mike Adams / Phillippe Aumont / Antonio Bastardo / Justin De Fratus / Brad Lincoln / Jonathan Pettibone / Jake Diekman
Bench: John Maybery, Jr. / Darin Ruf / Kevin Frandsen / Will Nieves / Freddy Galvis / Bobby Abreu
The question is, are the two teams — 2008 and 2014 — that much different?
Can Rollins, Utley, Howard, and Ruiz have good years, as they did in 2008? When Lidge was handed the ball, head for the exits. You can’t expect Papelbon to repeat what Lidge did, but Pap has to be good, avoid blown saves, and stay healthy.
Is Mike Adams fully recovered from last season’s surgery and can he set up Papelbon? Who will fill in until Adams is ready?
These are important questions.
We need a Matt Stairs. Oh, we do, but he’s upStairs in the broadcast booth. Perhaps he can come down and pinch hit against the Dodgers. Moyer is upstairs, too. Maybe he can come down and go 6.
Lookit, here’s the thing.
The 2008 Phillies had few injuries all season. Seven of the eight starters had 400 or more at bats. Four from that rotation started 30 games and four relievers appeared in 70 games. Can the 2014 Phillies — in which the core of the line-up is 6 years older — do that?
Doubtful. Really doubtful. It’s going to take a lot of wins because Washington and Atlanta will be right there all season.
Sandberg has to find a way to play Ruf and not be afraid to go with Franco at third.
Looking at the two teams, 2008 and 2014, maybe this club can win under Sandberg.
Maybe Howard will come back and stay healthy; maybe Utley can hit 30 home runs; maybe Brown will be even better than last season; maybe Papelbon will be lights out, or at least lights dim.
Maybe, maybe, maybe…
Stranger things have happened.