Pat Gillick thinks Phillies still have 2-3 years of contention left

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Former Phillies GM Pat Gillick, now a special assistant to the team, still sees a window of opportunity for the aging and injury-prone club.

“I certainly see enough for two or three more years, for sure,” said Gillick, now a special assistant to the Phillies. “I kind of got the feeling when I came here this year that Chooch, Rollins, Howard, and Utley, they want to win. They really want to win. When people have that attitude, it carries them a long way.”

The Phillies are expected to finish third in the NL East and miss out on the playoffs once again according to almost all forecasting. They lay claim to the oldest roster in baseball and have a slew of question marks that will be answered as the season goes along, mostly pertaining to the health of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, and Mike Adams. Halladay’s 2014 option will almost certainly not vest, meaning he may join Utley, Michael Young, and Carlos Ruiz as free agents.

They have nearly $105 million already committed for 2014, $73.5 million of which is going to Cliff Lee ($25 million), Howard ($25 million), and Cole Hamels ($23.5 million). The Minor League system is barren, earning bottom-third rankings from Keith Law (27) and John Sickels (20), among others. Unless Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf turn into bona fide Major Leaguers, and the Phillies are able to aptly fill in their future gaps with a relatively limited budget, it is hard to see them keeping a steady trajectory.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.