ESPN.com highlights the Phillies chances this year:
Why they can win it: The pressure is off now that GM Pat Gillick unloaded Bobby Abreu and four other veterans before the deadline. This is now Ryan Howard and Chase Utley’s team, and they’ve responded to the challenge.
Why they won’t: Cole Hamels has been terrific. But with fellow rookie Scott Mathieson in the rotation and Randy Wolf still finding himself in his return from Tommy John surgery, the starting pitching could be a concern in September. The bullpen, which has logged a ton of innings, might not have much of a finishing kick.
Injuries: Pat Burrell’s foot is giving him problems, and Aaron Rowand has been bothered by nagging injuries to his hand, back and calf.
Schedule: Unless things change, the Phillies will not face a team with a winning record once they complete a three-game series against the Mets in late August. God bless the National League.
X factor: Outfielder Dave Dellucci, welded to the bench for the first four months of the season, is taking advantage of increased playing time to make a free-agent push. He’s hitting .478 in August.
Outlook: If the Phillies make the playoffs for the first time since 1993, Howard could inject himself into the Most Valuable Player race and Charlie Manuel won’t have to endure those Lou Piniella rumors this winter. Our guess is that the Phillies fall short.
I think a big question mark they mentioned is Pat Burrell – not just for this season but next as well. Charlie Manuel had this to say about his left fielder:
To me, the biggest thing about Pat is the speed getting to the ball. That comes from the foot. It’s not like he limps, but he kind of gets his foot real high and then puts it down. I think sometimes the way he sets it down, you get flat-footed in the outfield, the ball kind of moves on you. His foot speed is what dictates what he can do. The doctors or somebody has got to find a way to get his foot better. I don’t know what the answer is, but whatever it is, I think he needs to do it.
Yes, he does need to do it, whatever it is. Either that or Pat Gillick needs to unload him for some more prospects.