That was still true even after the news broke during the game that the Phillies have agreed to a two-year deal with Chase Utley that will keep the second baseman here at least for the start of next season.
Roy Halladay swears he sees good things ahead for the Phillies, and Utley was his No. 1 reason.
"I see a lot here, actually," Halladay said. "I see a lot here. I see, obviously, Chase."
Utley as the foundation was once a grand plan, especially with Halladay at the top of the rotation. Even the president endorsed that road map for success when he named Utley and Halladay as the player and pitcher he'd want to build a team around. Of course, the president was George W. Bush and the year was 2008.
The scary part about Utley's being the foundation in 2014 is that he's going to take the money and not be able to run. He missed a combined 122 games at the start of the 2011 and 2012 seasons because of a knee condition known as chondromalacia. The Phillies have decided to gamble on Utley's creaky knees, probably because they have not presented any noticeable problem in 2013.
Without a medical report, you could easily look at Utley on the field and in the statistical column this season and be convinced he is still among the game's elite second basemen. That's because he is.
Utley's .277 average among second basemen with at least 300 at-bats ranks 10th in baseball and fourth in the National League. His 15 home runs are tied for third among all big-league second basemen and his 43 RBIs rank 12th despite the fact that he missed 28 games with an oblique injury. His .842 OPS is the best among National League second basemen with at least 300 at-bats.
Even though he didn't start Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs, his value was on display when he delivered a game-tying, pinch-hit single in the seventh inning. His gritty style of play soon followed during a home-plate crash with Dioner Navarro. Utley was out, but he didn't look like a guy worried about his knees.
Utley turns 35 in December and he is not the player that Bush would have built his team around five years ago. But unless the Phillies had a plan to sign the New York Yankees' Robinson Cano for a gazillion dollars, they were not going to find a better second baseman on the free-agent market or through a trade this offseason.
What makes Utley's extension a bigger concern than it normally would be are the cracks in the rest of the foundation. If Howard wasn't going to be a candidate for comeback player of the year again in 2014 - he's not going to win this year's award - and if shortstop Jimmy Rollins had not taken such a huge step backward this season, then it would have made perfect sense to keep Utley around for a couple of more years.
Because of the extenuating circumstances, it only makes good sense despite the considerable risk.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s obvious intention is to try to erase the bad memories from this lost season and attempt to make a playoff run with the same core that has won so many times before. Halladay, another potential free agent, insists he'd love to be a part of such a thing if his surgically repaired shoulder will allow it.
"I like our third baseman," Halladay said of Cody Asche as he recited the reasons he thinks the Phillies could have a brighter future than the one most of us see. "I like his swing and I'd like to see him catch fire at the end of the season. Domonic Brown has been a positive.
"Seeing how Ryan Howard does this winter is going to obviously be important and, myself, knowing that I can come back and compete is important. I see a lot here. I really do. This would obviously be my first choice if everything goes the way I think it's going to go, but that's obviously down the road," Halladay said.
The only thing we can tell you for sure about the 2014 Phillies is that they won't be rolling the video from the 2013 season before the players run onto the field.
Contact Bob Brookover at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @brookob.