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Know your enemy: Philadelphia Phillies

It will be tougher for the Phillies to contend this year.

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

KEY ADDITIONS: Archie Bradley, Ivan Nova, Christian Betancourt, Neftali Feliz, Hector Rondon, Matt Moore, Brandon Kintzler, Brad Miller, Tony Watson

KEY SUBTRACTIONS: Jake Arrieta, Jay Bruce, Brandon Workman, Adam Morgan, David Phelps, Blake Parker

You might be surprised to learn that it has been 10 years since the Phillies had a winning season.

Yes, that’s right — their last playoff season, 2011, the one that ended with Ryan Howard tearing his Achilles, was also their last season over .500. They’ve had two. 500 seasons since, three of 90+ losses, and a whole lot of meh in between.

They’ve had some recent years where they have contended, briefly, then faded late. One of those was 2020, when they lost 15 of their last 22 and finished third.

The list of players they’ve signed as free agents seems like they’re grabbing guys who were good around 2015 or 2016. That might or might not help them in 2021; some of those players are still good, but...

The Phillies have a brand new President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, but it seems like same old, same old. Former Cub Sam Fuld has been hired as Phillies GM. He seems like a rising young executive star. Maybe that’ll help them down the road.

There are question marks in the Phillies rotation. There are question marks in their bullpen, where Archie Bradley is now slotted in as closer. They did re-sign potential free agents J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, so that’s good! But... those are some of the guys who produced the 28-32 record in 2020, and I don’t see any real change on the offensive side. The Phillies did score 306 runs, fourth in the NL, but were second-worst in runs allowed (311) in the league, and they don’t appear to have done much to address this.

Also, most of the other teams in their division are improved. The Phillies aren’t a bad team, but there’s a non-zero chance they might finish last anyway.

The Phillies and Cubs will play seven times in 2021:

July 5-6-7-8 at Wrigley Field

September 14-15-16 at Citizens Bank Park