Originally posted on UmpBump.com  |  Last updated 10/3/11

Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin has a new article out today, where he calls the Phillies a dynasty and predicts that “the Phillies will still be one helluva ball club in 2013.”

Conlin predicts a 2013 lineup that’ll look like this:

CF Shane Victorino
SS Freddy Galvis
RF Hunter Pence
1B Ryan Howard
LF John Mayberry Jr.
3B Free agent or trade
C Carlos Ruiz
2B Free agent or trade

SPs: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Trevor May.

I’m a Phillies fan. And I really want Conlin to be right. But I can’t help but notice that every position player Conlin has penciled into his 2013 lineup will be over 30, except Galvis, who is hardly a sure thing to make the big league squad (over 5 minor league seasons he has an OBP of .292). Two of his starting pitchers will be under 30.

Howard will be 33 in 2013.  Victorino will be 32. You know how many 32+ year-old position players were in the top 35 in WAR this season? Two. Lance Berkman (35) and Carlos Beltran (34). Both had big years despite their advancing age, but it’s worth noting that both entered 2011 amidst low expectations. Beltran played only 64 games in 2010 and 81 games the season before that, thanks to a knee injury. Berkman, meanwhile, had WARs of 2.1 or 2.9 in 2010 and 2009, respectively.

Both Beltran and Berkman are good examples of what you can expect from 32+ year-old players: they are more likely to be bad or hurt then they are to lead the league in homers or OBP. Though, as both players proved in 2011, sometimes an old player will surprise you.

Moreover, we can’t always count on players to decline gradually. Sometimes they fall off a cliff. Look at Adam Dunn. Look at Aubrey Huff. Or Aaron Rowand before them. Sometimes, guys get old fast. Hopefully, that won’t happen to Howard, Victorino, Pence or Chooch. But it might.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that Conlin’s 2013 squad would be hella expensive. Victorino, Pence and Hamels will all be free agents after 2012. Victorino was an MVP candidate this season. Hamels was a Cy Young candidate and Pence was an all-star. All three will likely be looking for deals in the $15-$20 million per year range. Hamels might even get more! Howard will make $20 in 2013. Throw in the huge deals given to Halladay and Lee and…well, you get the idea. That team is going to cost a fortune.

I realize that’s a pretty bleak assessment of the Phils’ chances in 2013 and beyond. But the good news is you never know. The Phillies might get lucky. It’s happened before. The 2008 Phillies lucked out big time with Victorino and Jayson Werth, two players that no other teams wanted. Sure, we should give Pat Gillick credit for recognizing both players’ potential. But don’t tell me Gillick in his wildest dreams envisioned Victorino challenging for the NL MVP.

Teams get lucky all the time. I’d argue you have to get lucky if you’re going to build a winner, let alone a dynasty. The Nationals lucked out big time this season with the emergence of Michael Morse. The Yankees rode Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia to an AL East championship. How lucky was that?

The Phillies have gotten lucky in the past, and they’re getting lucky again in 2011. John Mayberry Jr. is showing signs he might be a breakout candidate. And the Phillies got way more than they bargained for from Worley and Antonio Bastardo. Luck happens. And maybe it’ll happen in 2013. But if it doesn’t, I think Conlin’s prediction is wishful thinking.


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