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Brandywine Weighs in on ’14 Phillies 

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Although it may not seem like it, spring is just around the corner, and that means baseball is already underway. Just let it sink in for a moment.

The Phightin’ Phils are set to start up the 2014 season after dwindling in the standings the past 2 years, and missing the playoffs. And it seems as though there’s only one huge change that has been made.

For the first time since 2004, the Phillies will be led by a name other than World Champion winning manager, Charlie Manuel. Ryne Sandberg has since taken over the duties after the Phillies fired Chuck late last season.

Sandberg offers a hard work ethic, and a different type of energy when he comes to the ballpark every day. This new approach may be what the Phils need.

The Phillies are an old team, who, if anything, have gotten even older. The signings of AJ Burnett, Marlon Byrd and Bobby Abreu have certainly added to that. All, of which, are in their late 30s.

On the positive side, the health of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Ben Revere is rather encouraging. Howard hasn’t been 100-percent since 2011 and is said to be in the best shape he has ever been in. Utley has also showed that his knees may actually be able to handle the grind of a 162-game season last year, while Revere is also fully healed after returning from a broken ankle that kept him from playing nearly five months.

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has seen a rise in his velocity after that had become an issue last season. This will certainly help the Phillies when it comes to finishing off close games. They need a great closer, because with this team’s age and ability, they won’t be putting up 5 runs a game like they did between 2007-2011.

When things really shake out, depth is going to be an issue with this team. After the top three in our rotation (Lee, Hamels, Burnett) there are a lot of question marks. The Phillies’ Cuban rookie right hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has looked very average after the praise he received since his August signing. This could be because he hasn’t pitched much since 2011.  It’s only March and he has plenty of time to get back to where he was. The only problem is that he is making $12 million over the course of the next 3 years. He could end of being one expensive minor leaguer.

Looking ahead to the 2014 season, the NL East is going to be tough. The Braves and Nationals are fielding stronger teams on paper once again and are expected to be battling each other for the division crown.

Penn State Brandywine student Brian DeJohn, 20, isn’t so sure the Phillies have what it takes to compete.

“As a fan, I always have hope,” DeJohn said. “But this team doesn’t look much different than it has the past 2 years. It all depends how well our core players play.”

DeJohn might be alone since the general consensus on campus surprisingly believed in this team.

Let’s be honest — it really comes down to one element: HEALTH.

The season is set to kick off on March 31 with interleague play against the Texas Rangers.

As the Legendary Joe DiMaggio once said, “You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.”

Maybe, just maybe, something wonderful is going to happen this year for the boys in red pinstripes.

Ryan Tuttle

Lion’s Eye Staff Writer, rjt5281@psu.edu

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