One of my favorite bands of the early 1980's XTC with Burning with Optimism's Flames
Amidst all of drubbing that ESPN placed upon the Phillies in this early part of Spring Training, it was kind of hard to get excited about this team for many people. In case you missed it, ESPN had a ranking that had the Phillies finished 29th out of 30 teams for the 2014 season.
I don't know how ESPN can allow that kind of stuff to be published let alone who is responsible for publishing it. How can you figure that the Phillies will go into Spring Training this year in perhaps the best shape that they've been in for a couple of years and expect them to finish near dead last in the MLB?
In the last couple of days we've been hearing from the players themselves. Ryan Howard is saying he can return to greatness, he's certainly not too old to do that. He says he can hit 40 HR's this year and lead this team back to the playoffs. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins have been a little less vocal so far, but the fans have been waiting for these 3 players to get on the same field and play together on the Phillies for a long time now. 2014 will be the time this happens as they all appear to be in great shape.
Adding Marlon Byrd to the picture was at first glance, not too much to get excited about. Byrd though really picked up his game last year and had a career year, can that continue into 2014? Can Domonic Brown pickup on this monster year of last season? If these players can combine and become a force, we may be surprised that this Phillies team may just rise to the top and never look back in 2014.
Signing AJ Burnett was a big plus for this team, although I didn't think they actually needed him to have a great season. It's official this morning with AJ Burnett signing with the Phillies, so we'll have a lot of extra fire power in the starting rotation now with his presence on the team.
So for now, it's more optimism coming out of Spring Training in a quiet sort of way from the Phillies. A lot of the Phillies players have been successful before, they know what it takes to get to the playoffs and World Series, maybe they found the missing ingredients with this team that has been assembled so far.