Originally posted on Baseball Prospectus  |  Last updated 3/20/12

Have you already penciled the Phillies in atop your projected NL East standings? Well, you might want to find an eraser.

Ryan Howard is going to miss the first two months of the season while recovering from the Achilles injury he suffered last October, and it now appears that Chase Utley will be joining him on the disabled list with recurring knee woes. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels should hold down their end of the fort, but questions about the Phillies’ offense are looming rather large as the season approaches.

The probable replacement for Utley is 22-year-old minor leaguer Freddy Galvis, who hit .278/.324/.392 while splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A last season. Though he may one day develop into a respectable hitter, Galvis is currently an all-pick, no-stick player, offering little pop and even less plate discipline. He should adequately supplant Utley’s glove, but he won’t be batting in the middle of Charlie Manuel’s order any time soon.

With their first and second basemen shelved, the Phillies badly need third baseman Placido Polanco and shortstop Jimmy Rollins to stay healthy. Unfortunately, both have required at least one disabled list stint in each of the past two seasons. At 36 and 33, respectively, Polanco and Rollins figure to need 15-20 games off, even if they are able to dodge the injury bug.

All of that means more playing time for Galvis, Michael Martinez, and Ty Wigginton—a trio fans would much rather see at Coca-Cola Park than Citizens Bank Park. And this is the team the Philadelphia Inquirer two weeks ago called “the unquestioned favorite?” Not anymore.

As of yesterday, PECOTA was projecting a tie between the Phillies and Braves at 88-74, with the Marlins nipping at their heels, and the Nationals five games back. Age is dragging the Phillies down, while youth is simultaneously fueling their rivals’ surges, perhaps a year earlier than expected.

The longer Howard and Utley sit, the bleaker the Phillies’ outlook will become. PECOTA sees remarkable parity in the top half of the senior circuit, so a win or two could be the difference between the league’s top playoff seed and a chance to dust off the golf clubs before winter hits. A setback here and a slow start there could leave the “unquestioned favorite” watching the postseason from home. 

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Rosevelt Colvin: Belichick had Patriots practice batting balls

Urban Meyer considering using J.T. Barrett in the red zone

Report: Giants 'hopeful' Pierre-Paul can return for final month

Report: Bills hosting Trent Richardson for workout

Report: ‘Weekend-long bender’ prompted CC Sabathia’s rehab

Knicks coach: Porzingis is part-Dirk Nowitzki, part-Pau Gasol


Michael Bennett dislikes Stafford because of JFK assassination

Tedy Bruschi: Always Feels Good To Beat Cowboys

Kentucky and Duke set for 1st meeting since 2012

Michael Bennett calls out Seahawks owner to pay Kam Chancellor

WATCH: Officials blow call on illegal bat, cost Lions game

Zdeno Chara placed on IR, may not miss any games for Bruins

Did McConaughey speech inspire Redskins to beat Eagles?

What should be done with Colin Kaepernick?

Steve Weatherford: Navigating life as a veteran NFL free agent

What pushed the Toronto Blue Jays to the AL East title?

NFL power rankings at the quarter mark of the 2015 season

Some surprising NHL veterans cut from rosters

JR Smith sinks half-court shot to win military member $30K

MLB X-factors to watch in Wild Card games

Seven NFL head coaches already on the hot seat

10 rookies who could become MLB postseason heroes

CC Sabathia and a history of Yankees with alcoholism

Why the NL Wild Card Game makes or breaks Chicago

WATCH: Kam Chancellor saves game for Seahawks

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

What should be done with Kaepernick?

10 rookies who could be playoff heroes

X-factors to watch in Wild Card games

Texas Rangers ups their concessions game for the postseason

College playoff: Five teams that hurt themselves

College playoff: Five teams that helped themselves

Could this be the Carolina Panthers season?

Michael Irvin: Cowboys have no chance against Patriots Sunday

Melo on requesting a trade: 'Hell no'

Remembering the Angels-Mariners AL West tiebreaker of 1995

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker