I thought a piece like this would be easy for me, since I write and say things about the Phillies all the time. It didn't take me long to realize that most of the things I say don't fall into the predictions category. I talk about what the Phillies and their players have done, and what that means, and I talk about my hopes for the future. But none of those are predictions. "I want Roy Halladay to do well so very badly" is different than "I think Roy Halladay is going to do well."
Talking about how I really think the team is going to fare is so different than how I usually operate. Talking about what I want and what I hope allows me to stay optimistic. Even if my expectation is simply "I don't want Michael Young to make a stupid defensive miscue tonight", I'm still hoping for the best outcome, even if it's a ridiculous and near impossible thing to hope for. (It is.) Delving into how I really think the team will do, discounting my personal hopes and dreams and evaluating them simply on who they are and what they're capable of, isn't a spirit lifting exercise.
I have to face what the team is. In my heart of hearts, I already knew.
The 2013 Phillies will flail towards mediocrity. I think they're essentially a .500 team. Maybe they'll win a few more, maybe a few less, but I see them going 81-81 ish. And I don't think it's going to be pretty -- flailing never is. Arms and legs all loose and twirly like wet noodles (or Hunter Pence), no destination or path, just a mindless, reactionary lump of players without a plan. Granted, Ruben Amaro hasn't given Charlie Manuel much to work with, but Manuel's "managerial" "style" isn't going to improve this bunch very much. 2013 will be his last year managing the Phillies.
Chase Utley is going to have a good year. If you want actual numbers, you'll have to stop by the predictions of my fellow TGP writers. But my definition of "good" is essentially "better than he's been for the last three seasons." Second base is an extremely shallow position, so even a mediocre Utley is better than what many teams have. But I don't think we'll have mediocre Utley. I think we'll have top shelf Utley. Premium Utley. The finest, cask aged Utley. And it will be a sight to behold.
Both Youngs will be a disaster. It doesn't take a brilliant mind to predict this. Delmon Young is already a disaster and he hasn't even stepped onto the field yet, what with Amaro being inexplicably in love with him. But once he finally does play for the Phillies, it's going to be embarrassing. There isn't a scenario in which I see this working out well. As for Michael Young, he can work on his fielding as much as he wants. The fact that the Phillies signed him to play at third means they don't really give a shit about his defensive abilities. (Which, considering the state of the Phillies rotation, they are going to regret.) He was brought in for his bat. But I've long suspected that the deciding factor was his status as a well known "good clubhouse guy." There were a number of stories last season about the attitude in the Phillies clubhouse, and how there's no real leader. With a transition on the horizon, Amaro may have felt that adding Michael Young would help in that area. I don't know. Maybe he signed him on a dare. (That's not so far fetched, since I'm pretty sure that he signed Delmon Young because he lost a bet.) Regardless, I don't think Michael Young's bat is going to rebound, and his defense is going to be atrocious.
Domonic Brown is finally going to break out. I mean, duh.
Cole Hamels will dominate, Cliff Lee will be great, Kyle Kendrick will be surprising, and John Lannan will still find a way to hit Chase Utley. Yeah, you read that right. I said Cole Hamels will dominate. And I say that even after seeing his first start. I think Kyle Kendrick will surprise people. Good surprise? Bad surprise? Yes, probably both. At once. And as for John Lannan, the next time he spears a comebacker and has to throw behind him to second, instinct is going to take over. There's no throwing to Chase Utley. Lannan can only throw *at* Chase Utley.
I haven't talked about Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard, and you can't make me. I don't want to talk about them. It makes me sad. Roy Halladay's first start was unbelievably weird, and his quotes after the game sounded like he was in denial, but in a very determined way. I know what I think is going to happen with Roy, but you can't make me say it. And you know what? I don't want to think about Ryan Howard, either. Why? Because the combination of rage and sadness and utter futility that happens in my brain when I think about what his season might be like is TOXIC. It's TOXIC to have all that stuff happening at once. UNHEALTHY. So I'm not going to think about it. I'm going to think about bunnies and kitties and rainbows and WAIT WHY IS THAT BUNNY STRIKING OUT AGAINST A LEFTY?!? GOD. Even in my happy place I can't catch a break.