Here's a look at some of the bigger issues the Phillies must confront in this spring training:
Can the hitters change?
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. triggered this debate a few days after the unceremonious end of the team's 2011 season.
After watching the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals put together grind-it-out at-bats against the Phillies' superior starting rotation, Amaro said he thought his hitters needed "to go about it a little differently."
"I think we have to have a different mind-set or approach than maybe we had in '08 or '09," Amaro said immediately after the season. "I think it's a different ball club. I don't think we have nearly as much power. I think we have to rely on having better at-bats, being better with two strikes, and being better situational hitters. Frankly, those are things we'll have to change if we want to be a championship-caliber club and get to the World Series."
A couple of months later, Amaro backed off a bit from that stance by saying he was pleased with the way the offense improved over the course of last season. The Phillies were tied for second in the National League in runs scored after the all-star break and were a more balanced team with the arrival of rightfielder Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros.
Actions, of course, always speak louder than words, and Amaro's offseason moves focused more on adding power than adding players with high on-base percentages. The three main offensive additions - Ty Wigginton, Laynce Nix, and Jim Thome - are best known for their ability to drive the ball out of the park. Late in the offseason, the Phillies signed Juan Pierre to a minor-league contract, and there's a decent chance he will land on the opening-day roster, too.
In fairness, after re-signing shortstop Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies did not have any openings for position players other than left field. If Nix (16 home runs) and John Mayberry Jr. (15) can match their home-run totals from last season, it will make for a nice combination there.
More power rather than a new approach may be exactly what the Phillies need to revitalize the offense, especially in the cozy confines of Citizens Bank Park. The 153 home runs the Phillies hit in 2011 were their fewest since 2000 and a far cry from the 214 they hit in 2008 and the 224 they hit in 2009, when they led the league in long balls. Last season, they ranked eighth in home runs.
The team's main source of power, Ryan Howard, figures to be missing for at least the first month of the season while he rehabilitates from foot surgery.
Who's on first?
Manager Charlie Manuel must find a replacement for Howard at first base, at least through the month of April.
At one point during the offseason, Amaro indicated that Wigginton would be the main guy at first base in Howard's absence. Manuel said at another point he'd like to insert Thome's name in the lineup a couple of times a week at first base.
The manager also has the option of playing Mayberry at first base.
"I think there are viable candidates to replace him," Amaro said. "We can't replace his production, but we can try to stem the tide while we're waiting for him to get back. However Charlie feels about mixing and matching, he's always been pretty good about that."
Manuel said he will make his decision based on what he sees in spring training.
"Mayberry would probably be the first option," he said. "Thome, if he can play there, he'll be there a game or two a week. Wigginton has played there and so has Nix."
The manager also must decide on a cleanup hitter in Howard's absence. He said Hunter Pence is his choice going into spring training.
Are Utley and Polanco healthy?
All eyes will be on Howard as he works to return from surgery, but the condition of second baseman Chase Utley's right knee and Placido Polanco's entire body should be of equal concern.
Patellar tendinitis sidelined Utley for almost all of spring training last year and kept him out of the team's first 46 games.
"He's doing well," Amaro said. "We have to keep an eye on his health and monitor him, and make sure we're cautious about how we handle him in spring training . . . to make sure he stays fresh for the season."
Utley's batting average has dropped in four consecutive seasons and his OPS (on-base-average plus slugging percentage) has slipped for five straight years, so even if he's healthy, it's probably not realistic to count on the 30 home runs and 100 RBIs he used to provide.
Polanco, 36, had back and groin problems last season and was limited to 122 games. He underwent double hernia surgery shortly after the season ended. His .277 batting average was his worst since his 1998 rookie season, and he batted .243 with nine extra-base hits after April. If that Polanco shows up again, the Phillies' offense has a serious problem.
Who precedes Papelbon?
Two of the most pleasant surprises for the Phillies a year ago were relievers Antonio Bastardo and Mike Stutes.
"We have to get those seasons out of them again," Manuel said.
Bastardo pitched in the eighth inning or later in 55 of his 64 appearances last season, which meant Manuel trusted him with the game on the line. He may have lost some of that trust when he struggled in September, posting an 11.05 ERA, but there were a lot more good moments than bad ones for the 26-year-old lefthander.
Stutes, 25, appeared in the eighth inning or later in 38 of 57 games but was much better in the first half of the season. He struggled in his only postseason appearance.
Manuel has other eighth-inning options before calling on closer Jonathan Papelbon, including veteran Chad Qualls, who was signed last month and possibly Jose Contreras if he comes back healthy from elbow surgery.
Immediately after agreeing to a one-year deal for $15 million, Cole Hamels' agent John Boggs said he'd be in Clearwater at some point during spring training to discuss a long-term extension for his client. Like Hamels, Shane Victorino can be a free agent after the 2012 season, so don't be surprised if the Phillies also try to work on an extension for their centerfielder.
Will the starters dominate again?
A year ago, the story line heading into spring training was the Four Aces - Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Hamels.
Because of back problems, Oswalt did not live up to his ace status and he is now gone, leaving the number of aces at three.
Provided Halladay, Lee, and Hamels duplicate their dominating 2011 seasons, that should be enough, especially if Vance Worley can be as good or almost as good as he was during his rookie season.
Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at email@example.com or @brookob on Twitter.