Outfielder Karim Garcia becomes the latest acquisition, agreeing to a minor league deal after spending two seasons abroad. As the Phillies head closer to spring training, the body count rises, as do the question marks. [Link]
Remember how all the new acquisitions fell embarrassingly flat last season, contributing heavily to the slow start? Hold on to your hats, folks. The pessimistic fan recognizes that history often repeats itself. From Adam Eaton, to Karim Garcia, to Wes Helms, this season's batch of new additions are shaping up to be one, giant coin flip. In many cases, such as Eaton or Jayson Werth, the Phillies are banking on improvement over their career average. Neither has been able to stay healthy, and at this stage, both figure prominently into next season's plans.
Running down the roster, there's more mystery than a book-of-the-month club. The Phillies hand the hot corner to Helms, who's been unable to secure a third base job anywhere in the past. In right, Shane Victorino will run with the thoroughbreds as an everyday player, the consensus being he needs to maintain a high average in order to justify his offensive shortcomings, even with his strong arm and lightning speed. We'll see whether Major League pitchers feast on that wild swing after a full season of exposure.
Every team faces questions like these, and picking your spots to roll the dice and take a risk can often work to your favor. Then again, not every team will head into spring training in complete darkness about the back of their bullpen. Tom Gordon's shoulder is a puzzle nobody has solved, and they haven't had a reliable answer to the setup role in two seasons. Optimistically speaking, even with Gordon, Geoff Geary, Matt Smith and Ryan Madson, the Phillies have two open slots in a six-man 'pen, to be filled with Rule 5 picks, prospects or fringe talent. That's assuming Gordon is healthy and Smith is ready. GM Pat Gillick has indicated he will not add a free agent reliever.
The Phillies are wishing on a few surprises. Whether it's too much blind faith remains to be seen.