Baseball Season Is Over in Philadelphia

Baseball Season Is Over in Philadelphia

The time to say goodbye to the Phillies is upon us. While a sad occasion, for the first year since their last World Series appearance in '09 -- where win or lose, the season is over -- we can't say we didn't see it coming.

For all intents and purposes, baseball season was over one-to-two weeks ago, at whichever point you felt the Phillies had fallen hopelessly out of the Wild Card race. Then again, by that logic some might say baseball season was already over as far back as July, when the team was 14 games under .500. Or you could argue baseball season wasn't over until this past Friday, when they were eliminated from playoff contention.

Either way, with a Michael Martinez fly-out to tie up one final loss, baseball season is officially over for Philadelphia, and everybody knew it was going to end.

And if we were truly being honest with ourselves, we probably should've seen it coming before the season ever got underway. How does any Major League team weather the loss of their first and second basemen -- their three and four hitters no less -- for half of a season?

Through dominant starting pitching, we were told. The problem with that line of thinking was it wouldn't take much to go wrong for the entire house of cards to fall.

Much didn't go wrong. Seemingly everything went wrong instead.

On top of fighting through injuries to the entire right side of the infield, Cliff Lee, Vance Worley, and Roy Halladay all did stints on the disabled list, the latter sending the team into a tailspin from which they would never recover.

Now the Phillies enter an offseason full of questions. Is Halladay in decline? Will Howard get his stroke back? Will Utley be ready to play come April? Who will be at third base? Center field? Where is their right-handed power bat? Is there a better leadoff hitter? Can they get the bullpen fixed? Are Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel the right guys for the job? All fair, I suppose.

Here's the thing. At the All-Star break, when the Phillies' core was just coming back together, the club's record was 37-50; they finished 81-81. In order to get back to .500, they had to go 44-31 the rest of the way -- a winning percentage of .587. Take that number over a full 162-game season, and it equates to 95 wins.

That's a playoff team, folks. That's after trading away Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino. That's with Halladay's ballooning 4.49 ERA and Howard's .219 batting average. That's when the invaluable Carlos Ruiz doing his own stretch on the DL. That's with Kevin Frandsen playing everyday at third base, not to mention a mix-and-match outfield.

Baseball season may be over, may have been over weeks or months ago, or even before it began. The Phillies' window is not.

Some -- probably not all -- of the concerns on the roster should work themselves out, and the front office will go about addressing the areas that might not. They could even get some additional help from prospects, some of whom we saw over the last month or two of the season, and others continuing to develop.

We've endured a hellacious year, one in which expectations were set far too high, and still was never quite as disgraceful as it was often made out to be. In the end, perhaps the single biggest feeling we can take from 2012 is it should not take much this winter to get the Phillies right back in the hunt in 2013.

Everybody should be able to see that much coming, too.

Even Mike Trout wants to see Sam Bradford's return to Philly

Even Mike Trout wants to see Sam Bradford's return to Philly

When Angels All-Star outfielder Mike Trout's six-year, $144.5 million contract ends in 2020, the Millville, New Jersey, native will be in his prime at 29 years old, and Phillies' fans dream of seeing Trout playing at Citizens Bank Park could be come true.

For the time being, though, Trout, a season-ticket holder, is just chilling at Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles play the Vikings on Sunday because the Angels are almost as bad as the Phillies and even he couldn't stay away from Sam Bradford's return to Philadelphia.

Michael Del Zotto, Scott Laughton return to practice

Michael Del Zotto, Scott Laughton return to practice

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers welcomed two more players out on to the rink for their practice following Saturday’s 6-3 win over Carolina. 

Michael Del Zotto (lower body) and Scott Laughton (lower body) returned to the ice for the first time since suffering injuries within days of each other. Before Sunday’s light practice, Del Zotto and Laughton had skated two consecutive days prior to work on their conditioning. 

“It’s nice to see them back with the group,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. 

Laughton, who injured himself during a training camp practice after losing an edge, was a bit more forward than Del Zotto on when he hopes to return. 

“I would say within the next five to seven days,” Laughton said.

The 22-year-old pointed to Saturday’s game with Pittsburgh as his target to return. 

As for Del Zotto, the defenseman didn’t want to jinx anything, saying it’s a “day-by-day” situation. He would like to think he’s working on the same timetable as Laughton. If that’s the case, he would be back either a few days before or right on cue with the projected four to five weeks he was scheduled to miss after suffering an injury to his left knee in the preseason against the New York Rangers on Oct. 6. 

“It’s kind of trial and error,” Del Zotto said. 

Above all else, though, the two were just happy to be back with their teammates. Del Zotto said that being around everyone really rejuvenated his spirits. 

“Just being back around the guys and having that team chemistry and camaraderie and being able to joke with the guys,” Del Zotto said, “it’s probably been the best thing for me.”

This past month has especially been hard on the two because of the timing and how last season ended for them. 

While there’s never an ideal time to suffer an injury, the pair saw training camp and the approaching start of the regular season in a different light than most of their teammates.

It was supposed to be their new start. Last season, Del Zotto missed the final few months, including the postseason, after ligament damage to his left wrist. He was having a strong preseason, arguably the top defenseman in camp at the time before suffering his setback.

“Being out so long last year and having to sit and watch playoffs than having six months of grueling rehab to get back into it … that made it sting that much more,” Del Zotto said. “That’s part of the game. It’s a contact sport. I signed up for this.”

The same can be said for Laughton, who experienced a scary injury in Game 4 against Washington after being dumped head first into the boards. 

“I was really excited to have camp and start the year here,” Laughton said. 

The two will be traveling to Montreal with the rest of the Flyers for Monday’s contest. They will each do the morning skate with another bag skate afterward.