This week’s Writer’s Roundtable question was from Ryan Dinger and compiled by Don McGettigan:
“Aside from Roy Halladay‘s health, what is another major concern you have as you watch Spring Training wind down?”
Alex Lee: This has been covered at great length, but my main concern is still the defense on the corners, particularly in the early part of the season. I believe that both Michael Young and Domonic Brown will improve defensively throughout the year, but first base and wherever Brown isn’t look like permanent problems. With Carlos Ruiz out for April, any additional lackluster defense could sink the Phillies hopes of a division title… and quickly.
Don McGettigan: My biggest concern is getting Chase Utley all the way to Opening Day. Utley is still arguably the Phillies best all-around player, and has missed the first month+ of the past two seasons. With Carlos Ruiz serving a 25-game suspension to begin the year, the Phillies need Utley in the lineup to start the season.
Ian Riccaboni: My biggest concern this year is the development the Phillies minor leaguer’s make. With such positive progress from Cody Asche, Ethan Martin, and Adam Morgan, the Phillies need big developmental years from Freddy Galvis, Tommy Joseph, and others as they hope to fill in the blanks with their own talent in the coming years.
Ryan Dinger: Looking at how this Spring Training has played out, there’s not a whole lot to be concerned about outside of Doc’s health. However, one area where I’d prefer to see a few more positives is with the guys contending for spots in the middle of the bullpen. Perhaps the most undervalued aspect of a baseball team, the Phillies expect to have a lot of young talent in middle relief. But so far a lot of that talent hasn’t shown up this Spring. Whether it be Jake Diekman and Phillippe Aumont‘s inconsistency, or Jeremy Horst‘s downright bad efforts, guys who were thought to be key cogs to the middle relief this season haven’t stepped up and taking a firm hold on their position yet.
While the back of the bullpen looks to be formidable with Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon, the Phillies will need the middle relievers to find consistent positives results if they’re going to win ball games. There is still plenty of time to do so, but I’d prefer to see some of that potential dominance shine through sooner rather than later.