Thanks in large part to unfortunate injuries, the Philadelphia Phillies had an extremely disappointing season in 2012. On paper, Philadelphia looked like the best team in the league prior to the season. With pitching that included Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels as starters and closer Jonathan Papelbon at the back end of the bullpen, the Phillies were picked by many to win it all.
What followed was an 81-81 season in which Philadelphia finished 17 games behind the NL East champion Washington Nationals. They missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. According to Papelbon, a lack of leadership has been an issue.
“Since I’ve been here I haven’t seen any leadership,” he told Mandy Housenick of the Allentown Morning Call (via NJ.com). “Every good team that I’ve been a part of has had a good core group of veterans and an influx of a good group of young guys and I think that’s a recipe for success. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean we’re going to have success. In my opinion, this team has way more to lose than to prove. I think a lot of guys on this team have proved a lot. But I think this year if we don’t go out and do what we’re capable of and supposed to do, then we have a lot more to lose.”
Ryan Howard played in just 71 games last season. Chase Utley was only able to play in 83. Those two guys have been the core of the Phillies’ lineup, so having them for only half a season crippled the team. Philadelphia will need better luck with injuries in 2013 to be successful. Papelbon also feels they need more guys to step up and lead the team, starting with himself.
“I felt like I could have been a little bit better leader than what I was, and I held back at some times,” the closer said.
He certainly didn’t hold it back when he was blasting the umpires, so perhaps Pap needs to do a better job of channeling his emotions. The Phillies can still be dangerous. Like any other team, they simply need some good fortune.
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Photo credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE