The Philadelphia Phillies’ organization can refer to their hopes for the new year as a wish list, or as resolutions. With whatever cliche is preferred, here are five hopes (some would say dreams) for this baseball team’s new year:
#5: Michael Young’s arrival, via a trade with the Texas Rangers, needs to pay mostly offensive dividends. His presence isn’t meant to replace the 2012 version of Placido Polanco, because that edition wasn’t effective. As long as this 36-year-old veteran consistently contributes at the plate and handles his glove work, the hot corner issue will have been soundly resolved.
#4: Darin Ruf might become the face of the next great Phillies’ era. But, that desired development doesn’t have to fully emerge in 2013. As long as this potential major league power-threat gets over 300 at bats and hits 20 home runs, all will be right in left field.
#3: Ben Revere isn’t Shane Victorino. The 24-year-old is more like a younger version of Juan Pierre offensively, who also has a sharp career fielding percentage (.987). The Phillies need him to cover a lot of ground, improve his on base percentage and steal a lot of bases next season.
#2: An effective Mike Adams can transform the Phillies’ bullpen into a team strength. Of course, Jonathan Papelbon must remain healthy and many of the middle-inning men (and whoever handles the late left-handed duties) will need to be effective as well. However, Adams’ addition will prove to be powerfully important if he consistently locks down the eighth inning.
#1: The “Big 3” must be healthy this year. No, that term doesn’t refer to Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Although they must obviously remain healthy during the coming season.
In this instance, the “Big 3” refers to Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Those three “big boppers” must play full seasons, carry their team through summer’s hottest days and chase down the pennant as fall draws near. If the Phillies’ three greatest positional players (since the late 1970s and early 1980s’ glory days) can collectively produce one last exceptional season, a deep playoff run is possible.
Supplemental list: Carlos Ruiz is currently on the restricted list, due to his restricted substance ban. Therefore, he has his own category at the end of this list. “Chooch” must prove that he can sustain his performance naturally throughout the 2013 season. Erik Kratz is a fine backup, who should be able to supplement Ruiz’ absence with a steady effort. Backup is the key word in that last declarative statement.