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Inbox: Addressing a holiday potpourri of topics

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers fan questions in the latest installment

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Inbox: Addressing a holiday potpourri of topics play video for Inbox: Addressing a holiday potpourri of topics

What is the best-case scenario and the worst-case scenario for the Phillies in 2014?
-- Ryan K., West Chester, Pa.

That's easy. The best-case scenario is the $525 million core of Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz stays healthy and produces like it has in the past, and the complementary pieces around that core fall in line and produce. If that happens, this team could make the summer months interesting again.

The worst-case scenario is the slide continues and the Phillies go into selling mode before the July 31 Trade Deadline. In that scenario, the rebuilding effort would begin in earnest, Lee and others could be traded and a host of young players would get their shots to compete the final two months of the season. Some might argue a rebuilding effort is overdue, but nobody likes to watch a team in a rebuilding effort. It is a lot of losing and nobody really knows how long it might last.

What are your favorite Roy Halladay moments?
-- Corey K., Philadelphia

Three of them are easy: the no-hitter in Game 1 of the 2010 National League Division Series, pitching the Phillies to victory on one leg in Game 5 of the '10 NL Championshiper Series and losing a killer to Chris Carpenter in Game 5 of the '11 NLDS. I got to see each of those performances in person. I would love to say I saw his perfect game live, too, but in a cruel twist I was off that weekend and missed one of just 23 perfect games in baseball history. I still can't believe it.

But I think a few other things stand out about Halladay. First, his presence in the clubhouse. Players come and go every day, but whenever Halladay passed through the clubhouse, you couldn't help but feel, "That's Roy Freaking Halladay." Second, he worked hard. You almost never saw him sitting in front of his locker, fooling around on his iPad or iPhone, killing time. He always seemed to be on the move with a purpose. Third, he was just a ton of fun to watch. The way he attacked hitters. The way he worked quickly. The killer glare he gave umpires or his menacing stare walking off the mound if he wasn't happy with a pitch. The guy was an animal.

Give me your 2014 surprise.
-- Mike M., Philadelphia

So this is the question that comes back to haunt me, huh? OK, I'm going to say Howard bounces back. He stays healthy, he hits 30 or more home runs with 100 or more RBIs, has a .350 or better on-base percentage and hits respectably against left-handed pitchers. Howard is motivated, and truth be told, this is a huge year for him. If he comes back and struggles, then the "Don't-worry-about-Howard-he'll-be-fine-when-he's-healthy" talk goes away and the final years of his $125 million deal paralyze the organization. If he comes back, stays healthy and produces, it will be a huge relief for the front office.

What are your five favorite ballparks?
-- Matt S., Boston

I always include Wrigley Field and Fenway Park because of their history and because they are great places to watch games in great cities with tremendous atmospheres outside the ballpark. I know the concourses are awful. I know the seats are small and the sightlines can be poor. But they remain two ballparks every baseball fan must visit. I also put AT&T Park, PNC Park and Target Field in my top five. AT&T Park is the total package. It's an incredible ballpark with great food and a great atmosphere. It is also in San Francisco (awesome) and sits right on the water, which is fantastic. PNC Park has an absolutely unbeatable view of the Pittsburgh skyline. The ballpark fits perfectly with the city. Target Field also has an excellent view of the Minneapolis skyline. Just another beautiful place to watch a game.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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