It's a legitimate concern, as the Phillies are not only coming off one of their worst offensive seasons in recent memory, but are also fielding an aging roster with several starters that spent time on the disabled list as recently as last season and are thus needing to lean on lesser proven talent to pick up the slack that's been dropped by the others.
So yeah, count me among the fans worried about whether the Phillies could put up the offense that seemed to disappear from them at the most inopportune times last year.
But after watching the first series of the season, wherein the Phillies got some much-deserved revenge over the Houston Astros by breaking out the bats and sweeping the three-game set, I'm beginning to come around on these sort-of-new-look Phils.
I've said it before, but the success of this team in the immediate future falls squarely on the shoulders of both Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. While everyone else needs to contribute, it's going to come down to whether or not these two can bring it on a daily basis. After all, no one is really expecting Ben Francisco's spring success to carry over into the regular season, or Raul Ibanez to replicate his first half from 2009, or Wilson Valdez to suddenly learn how to work the count.
No, it comes down to Howard and Rollins, the de facto leaders, until Utley can get back into the game. If they can produce like they are capable of, then the Phillies need not worry about who is in their rearview mirror. The pitching is going to take them most of the way, but it's the offense that puts them over the top, specifically, that of the new 3-4 tandem.
So far, they seem to be doing just that. I'd make their case using statistics, but it's a fruitless endeavor because it's only been three games, so telling you that Ryan Howard is hitting .538 doesn't really accomplish anything other than making me look like a guy whose never heard of the phrase “small sample size,” because there is literally 98-percent more of the season left to play.
However, that doesn't make it any less encouraging, as Howard and Rollins are both stroking the ball in the early goings. Howard is crushing the ball, even when they don't fall for hits, and Rollins is showing the same bit of plate discipline that he displayed early on last season before hitting the disabled list. Can they keep it up? Maybe not, as we can't expect Howard to hit bullets every time he steps into the box, and Jimmy is going to eventually start swinging at the first pitch every other at-bat.
Despite that, I'm going to bask in the glow of an offense that made a dazzling comeback on Opening Day and bounced two pitchers out of the game by the fifth inning on back-to-back nights, despite being without their best offensive player.
It might not be the Phillies offense of old, but I think we can all get used to what we're seeing.