Can you smell it in the air? Spring is here … well not here, but in Clearwater Florida it is.
Phillies Pitchers and Catchers have officially reported and the smell of a new season is upon us. Last year is now behind us and as Phillies fans, we can look ahead. We now look towards a new team, a team with some question marks; but also a team with a lot of hope.
There were many little changes this off-season that may go a long way for the Phils. Changes that include a better bench, a veteran lead bullpen, questions in left field, first base and third base, but hey, what’s a new year without questions?
The Phillies did make their bullpen better by adding veteran leadership, most notably Jonathon Papelbon. They made their bench a heck of a lot better by adding players like Jim Thome, Ty Wigginton, and Laynce Nix. Not mentioning the players that played well for them off the bench like Michael Martinez, John Mayberry (who may be your starting LF), and Brian Schneider.
There are position battles going into the season which include left field and who will play first base to take Ryan Howard’s place at the start of the season.
With Raul Ibanez now in New York, there is a need at left field. The Phillies are keeping an eye on their options there with Nix, Mayberry, Domonic Brown and possibly non-roster invitees Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik. The eyes of Phillies fans, as well as management, will be on the left field position during the Spring.
Another thing to keep your eye on is at first base. With Howard out until at least May, the question remains, who will play in his place? Ruben Amaro Jr. said that Thome will play first maybe once or twice a week, but the Phillies play 5-7 times a week during the season. You have Wigginton and Mayberry to look for as a replacement for some time.
Howard was taking ground balls today, but he is still a question and most likely will not be back until May (as we said). The Phillies need a bench player to fill in and is a position to watch.
Placido Polanco’s health has been a big question for the Phillies this off-season, leading to many people unsure of how well he will be throughout the season. The Phillies do have a few bench players that can fill in for some time for him; including Wigginton and Martinez. Third base may be their biggest worry throughout the year.
But all those questions and comments will be answered down the road. Right now we are at a start. The start of the smell, the start of the feel, the start of a new season, the start of Spring.