As Donald Rumsfeld would say, there are things which are known and things which we know we know and then there are things which aren't known, but are known to be known and, well, you get the idea.
Most of the news around the horn lately is little more than the standard crust in pie yet to baked. First, out of Alabama, where Job Lieber attended college after leaving that bastion of high school baseball in western Iowa, it is known that the Phils ace last year preferred to work with backup catcher Todd Pratt because he pushed Lieber to be more aggressive. One has to wonder why a 10-year vet like Lieber would need to be told such, but the revelation probably revitalizes the moans of letting Pratt walk. Considering Tank's age, however, it wasn't an entirely bad decision. The real kernals of value in this story are unsaid: (1) Mike Lieberthal, signed years ago as a member of the current cornerstones of the club, appears to lack the one basic skill all catchers should have -- the ability to run a game from behind the plate. Again, known, but it is true so much to a point that the staff's best pitcher would rather not work with their number one catcher and has no problem making that known. This is a ridiculous situation if you really think about. The other item is that (2) the Phils could really use a quick maturation by Carlos Ruiz, despite his having never played a game in the majors. By most accounts, his defense and actual catcher skills are much better than what the big club currently has. The team needs the Lieber of early and late season, not the midseason guy who went 5-10 and, quite frankly Stephen A. Smith, sucked.
Next, it is known that Cole Hamels believes he is fine. This is great news, or would be if it were true. However, its truthiness is under review until Hamels actually does something with a baseball for the first time in six months. Granted we are talking about the greatest minor league pitching prospect in the history of baseball as an american institution, but please remember (1) he hasn't thrown off a mound in 6 months and (2) he has pitched exactly 4 games at double A. To say that he is a consideration for the show right now is either crazy or sad.
Beyond that, we've got spring previews. Over in Delaware County, Denny Deitch was the first writer to point out the Phils' heavily CBP-ed schedule in the firts few months of the season. In fact, the team plays 33 of its first 53 games at home which means a few more things: (1) a mediocre start like last year's would almost certainly be a killer and (2) the offense should get off to a nice start while it will not be a surprise to see some big ugly number from the pitching staff, including flyball specialist Ryan Franklin. While the offense could have 2 or 3 all-stars, the starting staff is really going to have to bear down mentally in a number of 9-7 games possibly. No rest for the weary bullpen, either.
Finally, the bad news. Reports persist that the team's fifth outfielder will actually be an infielder. Kind of ridiculous.