CLEARWATER, Fla. -- What I like and don't like about the Phillies:
• The feel. There are other outstanding teams, but there may be no other team in the game that plays with the same confidence and toughness the Phillies show. As Jimmy Rollins said, "The feel of the organization has changed, and I don't think it's ever been better."
|In Chase Utley's absence, Philly might want to turn to a man capable of making the team go: Jimmy Rollins. Read More >>|
• The manager. Players win, but Charlie Manuel doesn't get enough credit for the atmosphere he creates. Manuel said that what he likes best about his team is that they "have fun playing the game every day," but that attitude comes directly from him.
• The sound. Forget everything you heard about Philadelphia fans. They don't boo. They've turned games at Citizens Bank Park into celebrations, and they spend spring training cheering their players -- and their manager -- from start to finish.
• The rotation. You thought I'd forget? No team in baseball has a front four like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. As one admiring rival scout said, "Any of the four would be our No. 1. In fact, their fifth guy [Joe Blanton] might be our No. 1."
• The Utley question. Chase Utley was out of the lineup 48 times last year, and the Phillies were 29-19 in those games. So it's not like they can't win without him. But Utley's knee injury, which has so far kept him off the field all spring, still is a major concern.
• The Lidge question. Closer Brad Lidge looked great at the end of last season, so maybe there's no reason to worry about him. Lidge said he feels great this spring, so maybe there's no reason to worry. But some scouts who saw him in early spring games said he didn't look that impressive, and on a team with few other concerns, it's something to think about.
• The Werth question. I don't blame the Phillies for letting Jayson Werth leave. I wouldn't have given him nearly the money he got from the Nationals. But Werth's absence from the lineup is significant, all the more so if Utley is missing, too.