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Scouting the NL East - the Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies players stretch in the outfield during spring training baseball practice Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Clearwater, Fla. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Phillies players stretch in the outfield during spring training baseball practice Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Clearwater, Fla. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Phillies players stretch in the outfield during spring training baseball practice Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Clearwater, Fla. (Charlie Neibergall/AP) Gallery: 2014 Phillies Spring Training

Here's a look at some key factors for the Phillies' 2014 season

Manager: Ryne Sandberg

Last 5 years: 2013: 73-89, fourth; 2012: 81-81, third; 2011: 102-60, first; 2010: 97-65, first; 2009: 93-69, first

Additions: RHP A.J. Burnett, OF Marlon Byrd, RHP Roberto Hernandez, Of Bobby Abreu, INF Ronny Cedeno

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    What to expect: Numerous free agents were rumored to be a possible fit this offseason, including Nelson Cruz, Matt Garza, Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Phillies ended up landing Marlon Byrd, Roberto Hernandez and A.J. Burnett, who made a splash Wednesday with a 1-year deal worth $16 million.

    Entering 2014, the Phillies do have an upgrade in rightfield after beginning last season with Delmon Young. Byrd signed for $16 million over 2 years, giving manager Ryne Sandberg a righthanded bat amid multiple lefties. If Ben Revere and Domonic Brown can remain healthy, the Phillies should receive increased production in the outfield.

    Overall, success will greatly depend on health. It is no secret the Phillies are aging, and the time left for another world championship with this core is limited. One main key will be first baseman Ryan Howard, who hasn't surpassed 80 games since 2011 because of injuries. In 2011, Howard batted .253 with 33 home runs and 116 RBI.

    As in recent years, the Phillies enter 2014 with questions surrounding the pitching rotation and bullpen. Burnett helps solidify a rotation led by Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, but Hamels said he is behind schedule with shoulder and biceps tendinitis and will not be ready for Opening Day. The pitching staff, which ranked 27th last season in earned run average, has other questions, including who among returning Kyle Kendrick and new additions Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Roberto Hernandez will earn the final two spots in the rotation.

    Coming off a fourth-place finish in the NL East in 2013, the Phillies could find themselves in a similar position, depending upon health, pitching and the stiffness of the competition in the division.

    Projected lineup

    * OF Ben Revere

    * SS Jimmy Rollins

    * 2B Chase Utley

    * 1B Ryan Howard

    * OF Domonic Brown

    * OF Marlon Byrd

    * C Carlos Ruiz

    * 3B Cody Asche

    Projected rotation

    * LHP Cole Hamels

    * LHP Cliff Lee

    * RHP A.J. Burnett

    * RHP Kyle Kendrick

    * RHP Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

    Top relievers

    * LHP Antonio Bastardo

    * RHP Mike Adams

    * CL Jonathan Papelbon

    John Murrow Daily News Staff Writer
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