Team to Beat? Not Anymore
He memorably called the Phillies the team to beat in the National League East in 2007. He even maintained they were the best team in the division last season, despite an 81-81 finish, 17 games behind the first-place Nationals and 14 games behind the second-place Braves.
“With us being healthy, you know, they’re a second-place team,” Rollins said about the Nationals. “But we weren’t.”
But asked following yesterday’s 4-3 loss to the Mets if he still felt the Phillies were the best team in the NL East when healthy, Rollins said, “There’s a lot of talented teams in the division. The team that we had in the past definitely was. The team going forward, we’ll figure that out. There are a bunch of new pieces. We haven’t had that around here for a long time. I’m excited about them. They’re good, young players. Big eyed. A lot of hopes and wishes, it’s our part to make sure they come true. It’s fun seeing the energy and excitement every single day. The world is still theirs and it’s at hand. They can change it. I was that guy. Now it’s up to me, Chase (Utley) and Ryan (Howard) to make sure they do change it.”
The Phillies already have lost 84 games with seven games remaining. Anything can happen next year, but as the Phillies get further and further removed from their 102-win season in 2011, it gets harder and harder to picture them winning 90 games and competing for a championship.
Especially because at this moment you pretty much know how this team is going to look next season. The everyday lineup is almost set, although the Phillies have to resign Carlos Ruiz or find somebody to replace him. They also have to decide if Darin Ruf is going to be the other right-handed bat in the lineup. The rotation has plenty of ‘ifs’ behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. The bullpen has shown some promise lately, but the Phillies were feeling the same way about their bullpen at the end of last season.
The Phillies entered this season with countless ifs. If the majority of those ifs turned out OK, they could have competed for a postseason berth. But very few did. So is there any reason to think those countless ifs will be any easier to achieve next season?