Phillies won't be an easy fix

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

The only more appropriate way for the Philadelphia Phillies' season to end would have been if it was more like 2011, when Ryan Howard fell to the ground in agony after rupturing his left Achilles tendon. The 2012 Phillies were bruised and battered with injuries all season, from Chase Utley's knees to Roy Halladay's shoulder to Howard's aforementioned foot.
But the season ended with a finish that was nearly as fitting. Cliff Lee pitched well enough to win but didn't, and the former Cy Young winner wound up with a 6-9 record despite a 3.16 ERA.
The Phillies, meanwhile, finished at 81-81, their first non-winning season since 2002.
In 2012, the Phils learned that their core of star players isn't getting any younger. Of the parade of former All-Stars on their team, only Cole Hamels is under 30.
And with the aging process comes bodies breaking down, a theme of the summer in Philadelphia.
For the second straight season, Utley began the season on the disabled list with a knee injury. After missing the first seven weeks in 2011, Utley didn't make his 2012 debut until June 27.
Halladay was Utley's equivalent of the All-Star laden pitching rotation. All of the years of excellence and hard work also included an endless mileage of pitches being tacked into his right arm. Halladay went on the DL with a shoulder injury in late May and didn't return until mid-July.
Add in Ryan Howard's rehab from the Achilles -- he hit just .219 with 99 strikeouts in 71 games when he returned -- and the Phillies have several red flags in their hopes to return to prominence in 2013.
Fixing the Phillies is not simple when you have close to $140 million already locked up to the aforementioned aging, veteran players. But management will try to find a bat or two this offseason to supplement Howard and Utley in the middle of the lineup -- and also give pitchers like Lee a bit more support when they take the mound.
When general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. writes out his offseason shopping list, third base, center field and setup reliever will all be at the top. Analyzing the needs, however, is easy. Finding the solutions in a thin free agent market could be much, much more difficult.

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