Halladay, who turns 36 in May, had a 4.93 ERA in 14 starts after his return from the disabled list and a 9.00 ERA in his final four outings. His arsenal of pitches that move in a variety of directions lacked the same bite. But Halladay vowed to be back to his elite status after his final outing of 2012.
"There's no doubt for me," Halladay said at the time. "I feel like I can prepare myself the right way and be successful next year."
Halladay can be a free agent after the season and desperately wants to win a World Series, so it's a safe bet that he has done everything he can during the offseason to make good on that promise.
Is Chase Utley ready to play?
In 2011, it was Chase Utley's right knee that prevented him from participating in most of spring training. In 2012, it was both knees that kept him out of spring training entirely. Chondromalacia, the term for Utley's knee condition, cost him the first 46 games of the 2011 season and the first 76 games of last season.
We could insert a quote here from some member of the organization telling you how everything has gone great for Utley during the offseason, but his spring-training activity will speak much louder than any words. Like Halladay, he can be a free agent after the season. Also like Halladay, he is a super-motivated human being who is determined to prove he can still be an elite player.
What about the four corners?
After missing the first 84 games last year because of the torn Achilles tendon he suffered in his final at-bat of the 2011 season, first baseman Ryan Howard batted a career-low .219 and struck out 99 times in 292 plate appearances. He also hit .173 against lefties, the worst number since his second season, and struggled defensively.
Manager Charlie Manuel points to his 56 RBIs in 71 games as a positive, but the Phillies clearly need a much healthier and better cleanup hitter in order to be a contender.
Howard, however, may be the least of the Phillies' corner concerns.
Third baseman Michael Young only started 64 games at the position the last two seasons in Texas.
"We believe he's going to be at least an average third baseman," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
The Phillies would be happy if Delmon Young was something close to an average rightfielder, and spring training will likely determine whether Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown can handle the majority of playing time in left field. Both are considered below-average defensive outfielders.
Can the new centerfielder deliver?
Shane Victorino went from Rule 5 draft pick to three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time all-star, and World Series winner with the Phillies. Now, the team is counting on 24-year-old Ben Revere to replace him. Revere has never been an everyday centerfielder, has never played in more than 124 games in a season, and has never hit a big-league home run. That's a lot of nevers, and there are some huge expectations for the kid the Phillies acquired from the Minnesota Twins.
Should we count on the bullpen?
The bullpen ERA went from 3.45 in 2011 to 3.94 in 2012, and the blown-save total rose from a major-league low eight in 2011 to 19 last season. The eighth inning was the black hole that the Phillies believed they closed with the addition of veteran Mike Adams. If he's healthy, it should represent a major improvement.
Chad Durbin and closer Jonathan Papelbon also provide a steady veteran influence, but a couple of the young bullpen arms that were so inconsistent last season must emerge if the bullpen is to return to its 2011 form.
Contact Bob Brookover at email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @brookob.