Philadelphia Phillies' Aging Core Capable of Another Playoff Push?: Fan Analysis

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Philadelphia Phillies' Aging Core Capable of Another Playoff Push?: Fan Analysis
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Phillies' fans know that the future is filled with questions.

The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win the 2008 World Series.

It's been nearly four years since that great playoff run took place. I'm wondering how many more seasons this aging core has left to try and win another championship?

The boys of October 2008

Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick are the last remaining players who were on the 2008 championship team. (Kendrick started 30 games during the regular season, but did not appear in the playoffs.)

Time is very subjective. That great Halloween day victory parade seems so close at some moments and so far away at others. Because the Phillies aren't in this season's playoff picture, the possibility of another championship run seems fuzzy at best.

I think it's good that one half of the 2008 squad's starting lineup (Ruiz, Howard, Utley and Rollins) are still in town. Seeing the National League Championship Series and World Series Most Valuable Player (Hamels) re-signed this summer was also a blessing.

Kendrick's career has also developed nicely. He should stay in Joe Blanton's former rotational spot in 2013.

The baseball clock is ticking

Ruiz, Utley and Kendrick are entering the last guaranteed years of their contracts. It wouldn't be surprising to see all of them stay past next season, but that's completely speculative at this point. Utley will be 34 in December, Ruiz will be 34 in January and Kendrick will be 29 next August.

Rollins still has a good glove and had a productive year at the plate, in some statistical categories, this season. I would prefer to see him hit somewhere behind Howard in the lineup next year, but that's contingent upon a better leadoff option being obtained during the offseason. He'll be 34 in November.

Darin Ruf might play, or platoon, in left field next season. If he's able to remain in the major leagues, Ruf's continued presence could eventually offer the team a replacement option for Ryan Howard at first base. However, I don't see the Phillies' current first baseman going anywhere for the next few seasons. Howard will be 33 in November.

Hamels will hopefully remain healthy and continue leading the starting rotation for many years to come. He'll be 29 in December.

Moving onto next season

Because I'm a life-long baseball fan, I've been enjoying the playoffs. Temporarily supporting other teams allows me to stay connected to the game.

But, I'm more interested in seeing if general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. can bolster the bullpen, solve three outfield questions and settle the third base dilemma during this one offseason. On the surface, that seems like an overly challenging task.

Sure, it's possible that the core of this team can win another World Series next year. Considering current competition from the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and the improvements of some other teams across the League, I'm not making 2013 parade plans just yet.

Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He began his professional career in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons' front office (the Philadelphia Phillies former Triple-A affiliate), later worked as a freelance sports writer and is currently a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo Contributor Network! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.

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