Back in April I had an article posted on this blog with my 2012 MLB season predictions which some of you might have read. If you recall I predicted the Phillies to be my World Series winner. Clearly I was dead wrong with that prediction. The 2012 Phillies turned out to be the complete opposite of a team predicted by many experts to go far. All season we were treated to sloppy, uninspiring, inconsistent baseball here in Philadelphia. It’s a season most of us would like to forget as quickly as possible but it’s also a season that should serve as a reminder to everyone to enjoy the good times you have with your team because the good times can instantly come to a halt as we saw this season.

Sure we all thought coming into 2012 the Phillies would have trouble repeating a 102 win season as they did in 2011. For a team to go from winning 102 games to finishing with a measly 500% record at 81-81 is pretty inexcusable. They came in with injuries to key players like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley but they still had a stellar pitching staff (or so we thought). I’m not quite sure where exactly to pin point the blame in 2012 but let’s sort through the mess that was the 2012 Phillies and try to get to the bottom of why this team took a serious dive in front of all of us this summer.

As I mentioned injuries became the theme of 2012 right off the bat. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were huge losses that this team wasn’t prepared to overcome in the first half of the season. Even when Howard and Utley came back these guys at their tender old age needed time to get back into the groove and I don’t think they had enough time all season to really get rolling the way they should have. Aside from Howard and Utley you had Roy Halladay getting hit with the injury bug as well as Carlos Ruiz among others. This team wasn’t equipped to go long periods of time without their key players. The bench wasn’t that great to begin with and then to ask the bench players to step up into a starting role for long periods of time wasn’t fair to them. Guys like Kevin Frandsen, Juan Pierre, and John Mayberry Jr just aren’t starting MLB players yet in 2012 they were asked to start quite a bit.

The bullpen was atrocious in 2012. Aside from Jonathan Papelbon this bullpen was unreliable night in and night out. Clearly the loss of Ryan Madson last off season had an effect on this group. All season the biggest struggle was to find a way to get to Papelbon without blowing a lead. At the end of 2012 I see no one in that bullpen worth keeping aside from Papelbon. They need another experienced reliever and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a run at Madson again who will be a free agent after his 1 injured season in Cincinnati.

In my eyes though, the biggest disappointment this season was the starting pitching staff, specifically Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. Aside from Cole Hamels this staff was awful all season. They were supposed to be the rock solid cornerstone of this team. No matter how bad the offense was without Howard and Utley the starting pitchers were supposed to carry this team through it all. Roy Halladay had the worst season of his career. His shoulder injury and reduction in velocity to his fastball are all concerning going into next season. He’s openly admitted age is catching up to him and it’s something we should all be concerned about. Should Halladay not bounce back to the old Halladay what is this team to do? Will it they bring in another arm for 2013? No one knows for sure just yet but it will be an interesting scenario to monitor during the offseason.

If Halladay can’t bounce back in 2013 we better hope for a huge bounce back year from Cliff Lee. Lee was disappointing to say the least in 2012. He did everything right except win games. He finished 2012 with a 3.16 ERA which isn’t bad. But his record of 6-9 is nowhere near where anyone thought he’d be in his second full season in Phillies pinstripes. Lee didn’t get his first win of the season until July 4th against the Mets. The Phillies put a lot of money into Cliff Lee and for this team to have any chance of bouncing back in 2013 Lee needs to bounce back as well. Earlier in the season I was on board with trading Lee away if another team was willing to take on his enormous contract but the fact is with Roy Halladay’s health so uncertain going into 2013 you have no choice but to bring Lee back and hope for the best.<a href=”

The Phillies and their fan base endured a season of change in 2012. We saw the departure of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. Some would say what if the team held on to them longer would they have been able to come closer to clinching a playoff berth? No one knows for sure but this team did show some promise in the second half of the season. If they didn’t lose 3 out or 4 to the worst team in baseball the Houston Astros in September they might have just been playing for a wildcard berth this past week instead of playing out the string.

I feel a lot better about this team right now than I did a month or two ago.This team needed a youthful injection and it seems they’ll get it next year with Dom Brown and Darin Ruf. Brown didn’t overly impress but I like the fact he was able to get significant playing time after Pence and Victorino were traded. Darin Ruff had a huge season in Reading at AA ball hitting 38 homeruns then 3 more homeruns in 12 games with the big club. Ruff hit .333 with the big club and it’s pretty clear he should have been brought up sooner than September. It could have possibly made a difference between watching the playoffs and going to the playoffs for this team. Ruff and Brown certainly will have every chance to make the big club in 2013 and I hope they do because this team needs some youth. I expect the Phillies to spend money this off-season and make a run at some big name free agents like Mike Bourne and Josh Hamilton. 2012 is officially in the books and with it are 5 consecutive seasons of Phillies playoff appearances. Early 2013 Prediction… I’ll be writing about the Phillies getting ready for a playoff run this time next year… pending how the offseason turns out, stay tuned.