PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There aren’t many who have been happy with the Phillies offseason. After winning just 73 games in 2013, a year after winning just 81, a return to playoff form based on the additions they’ve made seems unlikely.
Just how unlikely is debatable. Could Ryan Howard become at least sort-of his previous self? Will Chase Utley stay healthy for another season? Does Jimmy Rollins have anything left in the tank? What can we expect from Domonic Brown? All fair questions with unsure answers.
One ESPN writer thinks that the answer to most of the important questions will be bad ones, and the Phillies are likely to have their worst season in a very long time.
David Schoenfeld has the Phillies ranked 29th out of 30 MLB teams heading into the 2014 season.
“They bring back the same aging core. Yes, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are a great 1-2 combo. But doesn’t that point to how bad this team is? Lee and Hamels were terrific in 2013, and the Phillies still lost 89 games,” Schoenfeld writes. “I can see a scenario where the Phillies could win 85-87 games and sneak into the wild-card picture, but a lot has to go right for that to happen. Brown improves, the old guys stay healthy and Howard has a big comeback season, and Gonzalez has a big year as the No. 3 starter. More likely, however, this is an old team that has gone from 102 wins to 81 to 73 to … well, something lower. The core group of Utley, Rollins and Howard was once a dynamic trio that helped create a glorious era of Phillies baseball. The Phillies doubled down on those guys and bet wrong. This looks like a bad team with two ace pitchers. Don’t be surprised if Cliff Lee is in another uniform come Aug. 1.”
Schoenfeld predicts the Phillies will finish with a record of 66-96 this season. The Astros were predicted to have the worst record in MLB.