A high-90s win total is where the bar will likely stay if the Phils hope to reclaim the National League East.
Beerleaguer: It's sort of the hard truth about the season, isn't it? Let's be blunt: the Nationals took the fat-and-happy Phils, with their five-consecutive pennants lodged deep in their gullet and a blind assumption by Vegas that they were ticketed for another World Series, and tossed them on their ear. Frankly, the Phils were thoroughly manhandled by not one, but two, teams, as the Nationals clinched the division with a 17-game distance from the 81-81 Phillies and the Braves maintained a 13-game advantage and beat the snot out of them in head-to-head play. The Phils never led the division at any point and trailed by as many as 20. They peaked at three games over .500. They worked themselves back into the playoff conversation with a late-season charge, which may have done nothing more than instill false hope that the old gang can wrangle in the much younger pacesetters.
That's where Beerleaguer's head is at following the 4-12 finish of the Phillies' cross-parking lot partners and the mid-winter recollection of how things weren't much better in mid-summer. Then you read how the Marlins will listen on Giancarlo Stanton, who is the one player the Phils need to have, and one wonders if the Phils know they haven't anted up enough.
Three over 36: Here are three pitchers worth consideration on low-risk deals, all over the age of 36.
Pedro Feliciano, 36: The familiar lefty finally blew out his shoulder after ratcheting up big innings against the Phillies all those years with the Mets. At 36, he's trying to come back from rotator cuff surgery and is pitching winter ball in Puerto Rico. He hasn't pitched in the Show since making 92 appearances with the Mets in 2010.
Derek Lowe, 39: The Phillies need a swing man and at 39, the veteran righty has likely fallen out of rotation work for good. I like the idea of adding another veteran like Lowe to the bullpen and dealing away Tyler Cloyd while his value may never get higher. Lowe pitched to a 3.04 ERA in 17 appearances out of the Yankees' bullpen. At last report, at least five teams were interested in him.
Francisco Cordero, 37: He might be done, but if he's not, the Phils might be able to pick up one of the most consistent closers over the last decade cheaply. Last season was a disaster and he was released by the Astros after his trade from Toronto. He missed time with an inflamed ligament in his toe and shoulder soreness. But as recently as 2011, he was a top closer, and surprisingly, didn't make the Reds look like complete fools for signing him to a three-year, $36.5 million deal after 2008. In four seasons with the Reds, he collected 150 saves.
Also old and mildly interesting: Orlando Hudson, 35, a veteran switch-hitter and former gold glover who might be done, but might also be an OK stopgap in case Chase Utley is not ready again. Manny Ramirez, 40, is probably done, but he's playing again in the Dominican and homered twice in a game the other night. Jim Thome reunited with Charlie Manuel last season. Is it Manny's turn in 2013?