COMMENTARY | The long awaited arrival of pitchers and catchers is upon us and the season of transition for the Philadelphia Phillies is about to begin. This will be the first season since 2007 that does not favor the Phils to win the NL East, and the first since 2009 that doesn't see them as a World Series contender.
On paper, this is a third-place team with a lot of questions that need to be answered before anyone can reasonably think different. There is potential on this squad, no question about that. They still have three of the most dominating pitchers in baseball and perennial Cy Young candidates, and have an influx of youth in the outfield.
The time between now and opening day, while not definitive, will be a good indication of what is to be expected once the chalk lines are laid at Citizens Bank Park. The next six weeks could inspire a sense of reserved optimism down Broad Street or could deflate fans to the inevitable notion that this will be a long summer.
The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, but the only thing that is certain on February 12 is the Phillies will not have an easy time reclaiming the NL East.