Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Fan's take: A Phillies surprise may be the story this season

Yahoo Contributor Network
Was signing Cliff Lee the right move for the Phillies?

View photo

Historic Philadelphia right fielders.

Reality has a way of adjusting assumptions. A hand of four aces created strong confidence for Philadelphia Phillies fans this off-season. However, unexpected injuries often have a way of impacting a baseball team and its initial storyline.

But, is there a surprise ending coming for Philadelphia this season?

For the moment, it seems as though the Phillies lineup, bullpen, and certain defensive areas are all in question. Anxiety has replaced hope.

Among the regulars are proven commodities like: Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz. Others, like Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez, need to improve their productivity in order reverse rumors of career decline.

Ben Francisco and Wilson Valdez may not make people forget Jayson Werth and Chase Utley. But if they perform decently in their new starting roles they will help the team win and that's what matters.

In the bullpen, Jose Contreras won't be wearing a Brad Lidge mask. He'll just be attempting to remain consistent, like he was last season, while trying on his new closer's clothes. Ryan Madson will stay put in the setup role that he is comfortable with. Due to a starting staff full of potential inning eaters, the other members of the bullpen family may have less work to do and more time to bond in the summer months.

After Cliff Lee had arrived in December to compliment Roy Halladay and the rest of the super staff, everything looked great for the Phillies. Even Werth's departure to Washington didn't stop people from pre-ordering their 2011 World Series championship t-shirts.

But spring training injuries turned hopes into worry.

Keep in mind that every other team in the National League has holes and injuries. None are as deep as the Phillies are on paper. But images of past season's statistics viewed on smartphone screens don't guarantee anything.

The Phillies surprise this season? That realistic expectations were sound. Hope will regrow as wins are swapped for anxious thoughts one-by-one.

Growing up in the Philadelphia region during the late 1970's and early 1980's naturally enabled everyone to become Phillies fans. My friends and I learned the game on little league fields, through trading cards, and by playing APBA. That era became an important part of our young lives. This new golden era has sparked a resurgence of baseball passion in everyone who never forgot the feeling of those old school days.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (0)