Frankly, I don't have any confidence that they can make the playoffs this year, even if Middleton goes full bore. It's easy to say just fix the pen, but that requires adding at least 4 relievers, who are actually good. Based on a 162-game season, they have to add at least 15 wins over last season for a chance at the playoffs. Even taking last year as an aberration, compared to 2019, they need to add 9 wins for a good chance at the playoffs. Doesn't sound like a lot, but it's more than they've added in any recent year, and they will need to spend just to replace JT and Didi to start sort of equal to last season. So, let's say improvements Didi and JT are both gone and that additions, plus improved performance from our young and slumping or inured players plus additions through FA and trade need to add about 14 WAR. I'm not buying that this can happen, especially if Middleton cuts payroll by $20-25 million. I am trying to be realistic here and imagine a route that gets Phillies to playoffs. I just don't see it. I know many need to be all optimism in the off-season, but after so many consecutive non-winning seasons, some where I did strongly see a playoff possibility, my optimism is dead, until the organization shows me a reason to be realistically hopeful.
One can only blame injuries for so long. Then one must conclude that something about the organization causes an excess of injuries, and/or the team simply didn't have enough talent with a normal amount of injuries. We added our new, history of winning, manager last season and we got another travesty, worse than the prior two seasons. And that was on a very large salary budget, with the rotation bolstered with the top FA pitcher on the market.