Despite trading off some of their assets before the deadline, the Phillies still have enough talent to compete for a playoff spot in 2013. A healthy Phillies team still looks good on paper even if they missed the postseason this year.
The Nationals were able to capitalize on the Phillies taking a step back this season and wound up with not only the best record in the division, but the best overall in baseball as well.
But despite the Nats proving they are the best team in the majors, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins thinks that Philly would have been even better than the Nationals if they were healthier.
Here is his quote 'congratulating' the Nationals on their season, via Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:
"They had a good year," he said. "They're a talented team. Just playing against them for a while, you know they're talented. You always knew if they put it together and found some pitching ... and they've had the opportunity to have some big draft picks, and those guys have made it up to the big leagues and it's all come together for them. So that's great for them. But with us being healthy, you know, they're still second place. But we weren't."
Yes, as if the Nationals themselves were completely healthy. Washington was, in fact, able to overcome just as many injuries as the Phillies, if not more. They withstood significant time missing their closer of 43 games in 2011 in Drew Storen, their highest paid player in Jayson Werth for two months, and maybe the best shortstop in baseball in Ian Desmond for a month. That's just to name a few.
Nats Insider Mark Zuckerman tallied up the games lost for key Phillies players and compared it to key players on the Nationals:
"Six members of the Phillies' projected Opening Day lineup and rotation (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Placido Polanco) missed a combined 309 games this season, a tough obstacle to overcome. Rollins, though, apparently forgot that five members of the Nationals' projected Opening Day lineup (Werth, Zimmerman, Morse, Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos) and their projected closer (Drew Storen) missed a combined 380 games."
The Phillies will be back next year, there is no doubt about it. But as a team of aging stars they look to be on the decline. The Nationals are one of the league's youngest teams and an extra year of experience for Bryce Harper (19), Stephen Strasburg (23), Gio Gonzalez (26), Jordan Zimmermann (26), and Ian Desmond (26) surely won't hurt.
Rollins has famously made correct predictions in the past, but this one no one can be that sure about. The Phillies will probably be better in 2013 that they were this year and that is good for baseball. But the Nationals could be too and there is no guarantee they will relinquish the division title they now own.