While the Atlanta Braves got younger, adding both Upton brothers, and the Washington Nationals got better, signing closer Rafael Soriano and starter Dan Haren, the Philadelphia Phillies got older this winter. At least that's the narrative you hear if you hang around the proverbial water cooler and talk baseball.
The two biggest moves the Phillies made this winter involved adding two players in their 30s: setup reliever Mike Adams (34) and third baseman Michael Young (36).
Other than 29-year-old Cole Hamels, each of the Phillies' core players is a 30-something: Jonathan Papelbon (32), Ryan Howard (33), Cliff Lee (34), Chase Utley (34), Jimmy Rollins (34), Carlos Ruiz (34) and Roy Halladay (35). But don't call the Phillies old.
"People talking about older and older and older and older," Howard said. "Jamie Moyer -- I'm sure people told him he was old and this and that, but Jamie Moyer would go out every year and show people that he can play and he can get it done. I don't buy into the old thing. It's all about how young you feel inside and how well you take care of yourself. ... If people want to call us old, that's fine, but I think going out there this year we're going to show people that we're not old."
The Phillies might not have to fend off Father Time, but their older players do have to prove they can be healthy and durable in 2013 if they hope to compete with division rivals Washington and Atlanta in the National League East. Halladay, Howard and Utley all missed significant time with injuries in 2012, essentially sinking the team's chance at what would have been a sixth straight division title.
Utley has missed a bulk of the first half of the season in each of the past two years. But after dealing with the injury for a second straight winter and changing his program this offseason, Utley is confident he can stay on the field this year.
"I feel pretty (darn) good right now," Utley said. "Hopefully, it will stay that way, and I think it will. Hopefully, all the work has paid off."
Howard, meanwhile, blew out his left Achilles tendon on the final play of the 2011 season and didn't return to the field until July 6, 2012. However, he says his strength is back in his legs.
"My left leg feels phenomenal compared to this time last year, compared to where it was when I came back," Howard said. "My Achilles is a non-factor."
If the Phillies are healthy, perhaps they'll also be productive and won't have to hear about being an older team.
"Yeah, I understand there is a window of opportunity," Howard said, "but if you focus on the window closing, then you're never letting that cool breeze come in. We've got to go out there and take advantage of this nice breeze while we can."