This year hasn't been kind to the Phillies so far. They entered the spring knowing Ryan Howard would miss a chunk of the season, then he suffered a setback. Next, it was Chase Utley, whose balky knee will cause him to miss a good amount of time. Then, mere weeks into the season, stud starter Cliff Lee went down with an oblique injury.
Meanwhile, the on-field performance hasn't exactly been up to par. The Phillies lost a season-opening series to the Pirates. They've split series vs. the lowly Padres and Cubs.
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The offense, predictably, has been a problem. But Jimmy Rollins (.247/.292/.281) isn't yet old enough to be this washed up. Shane Victorino (.229/.275/.375) and Hunter Pence (.264/.302/.407) are also better than they're currently performing. Placido Polanco may well be washed up but it's too early to definitively make that call.
And yet, here the Phillies are: 12-12. It's far too early to pay close attention to the standings, but after all that has gone wrong, they're only 2½ games out in a tough NL East.
The offense will get better when Rollins, Victorino and Pence start to hit better. And they will. In a few months, add Howard and Utley to the fray. Meanwhile, the pitching staff is still among the best in baseball.
The trick will be for the Phillies to tread water until everything starts to come together. And it has happened so far. As I said above, they're sitting at .500. In a year chock full of mediocrity -- 13 teams are within two games (above or below) of .500 -- staying there for the next few months might just be good enough for these Phillies. Especially with a second wild card on the table.
Stats, comments and rankings are through Tuesday night.