In an alarmingly short time, the Phillies have gone from being a perennial contender to a very bad team. Consider that they finished next-to-last in a very weak division. Consider that the Braves, riddled with injuries and with two high-salaried everyday players hitting under .200, won going away. Consider that the Phils could not even stay with the disappointing Nationals or inept Mets. Consider that the Phillies finished just 11 games ahead of the Marlins, one of the worst teams in baseball and one of the worst franchises in all of pro sports with no money, no players and no fans. Consider that only four teams in baseball had worse records than the home team. They can no longer be regarded as just underachievers or even mediocre, they are officially a bad team until they prove otherwise.
Outside of Hamels and Lee, the pitching staff is in shambles. The hitting may be worse. Chase Utley barely hit over .280, the only regular to do so, and he accomplished much of that after his team was out of the race. Jimmy Rollins had a singularly unproductive year. While his average has been anemic for years now, at least he had some pop. This year he had 6 long balls in 600 at-bats. As recently as last year he had 23. Watching him at the plate, he looked totally lost. Ruff and Asche are still huge question marks. Dom Brown may be an emerging star but the jury is still out and he still demonstrates frustrating inconsistency and mental lapses in the field and on the bases and it's well past time when you can blame that on youth or inexperience. A healthy Ben Revere should be a plus but Ryan Howard's status is an unknown.
The Phillies are not the first team to fall from grace precipitously. Look no farther than the Giants of 2013. Sandberg and the front office have work to do but given that there are no apparent nascent dynasties in Atlanta, Washington, New York or Miami, it may not quite be mission impossible, but its close.