If Philadelphia Phillies star first baseman Ryan Howard indeed has a torn Achilles tendon, it’s unlikely he’ll be back for the start of the 2012 MLB season.

And that’s going to be a huge loss for the Phillies.

When you have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt (if Philly picks up his option) and Vance Worley as your starting rotation, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be a contender, so perhaps the title is misleading.

The Phillies’ problems became evident in this year’s NLDS. They lack the offensive firepower to be a title contender. After Game 1, they scored a meager 10 runs in four games. Even with their star-studded pitching staff, that won’t get it done.

Next year looks even worse.

Table-setter Jimmy Rollins is likely gone and the Phillies likely won’t want to invest a ton of money in Jose Reyes as a potential replacement. 

Wilson Valdez, Michael Martinez or a cheaper free agent will likely replace Rollins. Downgrade. Maybe Freddy Galvis even makes an appearance, but it won’t be Jimmy Rollins.

Raul Ibanez is also likely on his way out. He’s getting old and has been declining, anyways. Domonic Brown could take over in left. 

And now if Ryan Howard is out for an extended period, this lineup is seriously thin. $20 million to someone in rehab makes it tough to go after a big-name free agent, too.

Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino are suddenly the heart of this lineup. Those are two talented hitters, but can either of them hit cleanup?

Pence is the only one with any experience there, and he has one home run in 30 games from the No. 4 spot. Not exactly the type of power you want to see from a playoff team.

Chase Utley might be another option, but he didn’t look the same this year and he’ll be 33 next year. 

The pitching will continue to carry this team, but at this point, the offense just isn’t good enough anymore.

And now, injury problems coupled with large contracts might just prevent them making a big splash in free agency.


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