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Looking Ahead

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    It goes without saying, but last season is one that most Phillies fans would prefer to forget. It was injury-plagued, rife with mediocrity, and aside from a few weeks near the end of the season, it lacked the sort of excitement that usually fills the summer months in Philadelphia.

    The question now remains: Will 2013 be any different?

    With spring training not too far away, it's a fine time to start managing expectations for the upcoming season. After all, no one really saw 2012 playing out the way that it did, and with the competition in the division not going away any time soon, it stands to reason that next season could be more of the same unless something drastic happens.

    I'm not suggesting that the Phillies should raise the white flag in and write off the season in January, but I'm not saying that everything is going to be A-OK for team either. The Washington Nationals figure to be as good – if not better – than they were in 2013, and the Atlanta Braves didn't get any worse, so the Phillies will need all the help they can get if they want to scale the steep cliff that is the division.

    The best way to get back to the top of the mountain, of course, is to field a better team. But without any help internally (trading for marquee players every season eventually comes back to haunt a team) and with a limited payroll, overhauling the team at this point is more pipe dream than reality.

    Even if they had the money, it's not like they could do too much with the open market this season - at least not without risking the team being in the same position (old, expensive, and without minor league prospects) for the foreseeable future. It's a Catch-22, for sure.

    And with the front office seemingly not being involved in any of the bidding for the top free agents, you have to wonder if they have accepted the grim reality that they have been presented. They were considered to be favorites for B.J. Upton or Nick Swisher or Josh Hamilton, so it stands to reason that they realize that standing pat and riding out this wave might be the best course of action.

    Now, all they can do is hope they have better luck, health-wise, next season. 2012 was waylaid by injuries to Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, so having them at 100% (or as close to it as it gets) is going to go a long way for the club. Wishing for better luck is not an ideal scenario, but right now, it might be the best that anyone can hope for.

    The season is still four months away, so quite a bit can happen between now and then. But, for now, buckle in, because 2013 might be a rough year for Phillies fans.