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March 30, 2012 12:00 pm

Overthinking It: Are the Phillies Too Old to Win?


Ben Lindbergh

The defending NL East champs should gather their titles while they may, since the same Phillies that flower today tomorrow will be dying.

It’s been six seasons since the Phillies finished anywhere other than first in the National League East. Last year, they led the major leagues with 102 wins, their highest total during their recent run of success. Over the winter, they signed Jonathan Papelbon, the top closer available on the free agent market, and saw their jilted former closer, Ryan Madson, blow out his elbow before he could throw a meaningful pitch for a competitor. Their starting rotation will be headlined by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels, who project to be three of the 15 most valuable pitchers in baseball. Their lineup will be bolstered by a full season from Hunter Pence. On the surface, most signs point to continued success. But the Phillies’ competitive window may be closing quickly.

There are four Phillies ranked between 51 and 100 on ESPN’s list of the top 500 players for 2012: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Shane Victorino. It’s conceivable that none of those four will be both ranked in that range and in uniform for the Phillies in 2013. Howard was worth less than two wins in each of the past two seasons and finished 12th on his team in WARP last season, so he’s already out of place that high on the leaderboard. This could be the season his reputation starts to reflect his recent performance: Even after he recovers from the ruptured and subsequently infected Achilles tendon that could cost him the first two months, his on-field decline will likely accelerate at age 32.

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October 1, 2008 12:22 pm

Player Profile: Shane Victorino


Marc Normandin and Eric Seidman

The Phillies lost a highly-regarded center fielder last winter, but they already had his replacement on hand.

With the departure of Aaron Rowand as a free agent last winter, the Phillies needed to find themselves a new center fielder. Rather than pick through the offerings in a thin free agent market-one that would result in Rowand's being overpaid significantly by the San Francisco Giants-they instead found their new center fielder in-house, shifting Shane Victorino from right field to center. As the Phillies were also lucky enough to get a quality season out of Jayson Werth (Victorino's replacement in right), they were able to replace a big part of their 2007 offense and still make it into the playoffs. Let's take a look at how Victorino ended up where he is today, the starting center fielder for the NL East Divisional champions.

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