Phillies fans know all too well all that could go wrong this season. Are Roy Halladay’s days as an ace over due to a very high odometer? Will Chase Utley play during the first half of the season? Can Ryan Howard post big numbers again? There is considerable worry about the veterans, but could there be some pleasant surprises for Charlie Manuel?
1. Is Darin Ruf for real?
Prior to last August, Ruf showed only occasional pop before turning into Roy Hobbs for the last two months of the season. During the last week of the season, Charlie Manuel expressed doubts, but Ruf is going to get a shot to show what he has — and there are vacant jobs to win in the outfield.
2. Could Kyle Simon make the team?
This would be quite a story since Simon was floundering in the Orioles’ organization as a minor-league starter before he was a throw-in when the Phils dealt Jim Thome to Baltimore last June. Simon was exceptional in Clearwater after being converted to a reliever. Simon, a prospect the Phillies are very high on, was terrific in Reading, too. If he doesn’t make the final roster, keep an eye on him in the minors.
3. Can Erik Kratz hit for consistent power?
Kratz was a revelation during the last two months of the 2012 season. He’s not Chooch behind the plate, then again who is? No matter what Kratz does, he’s a big upgrade over Brian Schneider. Expect production from Kratz, especially for the first 25 games when Chooch is serving his suspension.
4. If Utley has issues, will the Phillies add another infielder?
Could Ruben Amaro, Jr. call unsigned free agent Ryan Theriot? There is a chance as time passes that Theriot could be had for a minor-league deal. ‘The Riot’ is arguably a better choice to start at second base than Kevin Frandsen or Freddy Galvis. Theriot is a clutch hitter, a winner and a tremendous clubhouse guy. He also told Metro that he would love to play for Manuel.
5. Can Adam Morgan or Jonathan Pettibone emerge if Kyle Kendrick or John Lannan struggle?
You can never have enough starting pitching. Just ask the Red Sox, who gave up Bronson Arroyo for Willy Mo Pena after the 2005 season. Arroyo is a solid starter and whatever happened to Willy Mo? Considering how long the season is, the odds are that Morgan or Pettibone will get a chance to pitch in the ace-laden rotation.