Back to the managers soon.
I put up the 2009 Phillies page, where I will track my best guess at who will be on the ’09 squad.
It looks to me like there are seven spots open for next year, three for pitchers and four for hitters.
Of the pitcher’s spots, two are in the starting rotation behind Hamels, Myers and Blanton. Jamie Moyer looks like a good bet to take one of them. I would still call Kendrick the front-runner for the #5 spot, with Happ behind him and Eaton way, way behind both of them.
The other spot appears to be for a right-handed relief pitcher. Romero and Eyre look likely to handle the left-handed duties, joining righties Lidge, Madson, Condrey and Durbin in the pen. That leaves one spot, and I’m guessing it goes to a righty veteran reliever not currently with the organization. It could be Gordon or Seanez, but I would still go with field as a better guess at this point.
The bigger questions are with the offense. I think there’s a good chance the Phils will bring back Burrell. They should try and I think they will. His absence would leave a huge gap in the lineup, leaving Werth as the best right-handed hitter on the team. Werth is great, but the second-best right-handed hitter on the team would be Feliz, which is not great. Again, we’ll have to cut Feliz at least a little break what with winning the World Series and whatnot.
The emergence of Werth as an everyday player has created a problem for the Phillies with a lack of right-handed options off the bench. They went out of their way to demonstrate this by starting Chris Coste as their DH in the World Series. I think you can argue that the Phillies need two right-handed hitters, a big one, like Burrell, to play left, and another to backup the outfield and hit off the bench. The Phillies had a problem with not having enough right-handed hitters last year and that was with Burrell.
The Phillies either need Burrell back or they need a big right-handed bat in his place. Might as well just make it Burrell. I would be surprised if they traded for or signed an expensive right-handed free agent to play left field that wasn’t Burrell. My guess is that one of the four remaining offensive slots will be taken either by Burrell or a cheap right-handed hitter who can play left field and will play often.
That leaves three spots — one catcher spot behind Ruiz, one more outfielder and another bench spot that will probably be taken by a fifth outfielder.
With Victorino, Werth and Burrell (or his replacement) in the outfield, the Phillies don’t look like they have room for all of Stairs, Jenkins and Golson. I think a disaster scenario for the Phils is one where they trade Victorino to let Golson play regularly in center field. Golson needs to be a fifth outfield if he’s on the team in ’09 — if he is on the roster I think he will be. A less disastrous scenario in my mind is trading Victorino and letting Werth play center regularly with Golson backing him up. That plan is still a bit worrisome as it’s not a lot of backup for Werth, who still has limited experience playing every day. It would mean that Golson would probably get a job backing him up, but he wouldn’t have much of an organizational net behind him.
Werth can play center, though, well enough to be there regularly if the Phils had the hitters to man the corner outfield spots.
I would guess that the Phils will not start ’09 with both Stairs and Jenkins on the team. Dobbs, Stairs and Jenkins is too many left-handed hitters coming off of the bench, especially given that Stairs and Dobbs are hard to use defensively. I’d guess they trade Stairs given that he’s cheaper and more tradable. I have Jenkins penciled in as the fourth outfielder, giving them Victorino, Werth, Jenkins and Burrell or cheap right-handed free agent.
I hope in 2009 we will see Dobbs’ role expand to include signficant time in the outfield against right-handed pitching.
Jenkins and Burrell are two of the four spots. Leaves one bench spot and a catcher.
Ruiz is surely coming back, but I feel much less sure about Coste. The in-house options for second catcher along with Ruiz include Coste, Jason Jaramillo and Lou Marson. Jaramillo was not especially impressive at Triple-A last year and Marson was at Double-A. Marson is 22, Jaramillo is 26. Some people think 19-year-old Travis D’Arnaud is going to be better than both of them, although there’s about zero chance you’ll see him next year. My guesses are 1) that the Phillies would only put Jaramillo or Marson on the 25-man roster to start the season if it was as a third catcher and 2) if they did it would be Jaramillo and not Marson. You have to believe that Jaramillo could be had in a trade if people really think he’s a potential regular player. Here’s what I think is likely for the Phils at catcher at this point, in order of likelihood 1) they sign a veteran catcher to share duties with Ruiz 2) Coste and Ruiz 3) Ruiz, Coste (or veteran catcher) plus Jaramillo 4) Ruiz plus Jaramillo.
The addition of the second catcher leaves one spot on the roster, which could be taken by a fifth outfielder, a third catcher or a pitcher. I think you can assume that Bruntlett will handle the utility role. 23-year-old Brad Harman is coming, but I don’t think it’s yet. This spot may go to Golson, but I don’t think it should. I’d go with a right-handed hitter here that can also play a corner outfield position — a part-time player that’s probably not currently in the organization.
Here’s my guess then at this point as to who will be on the 25-man roster when the ’09 season starts:
Pitchers (12): Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Kendrick, Lidge, Madson, Durbin, Condrey, Romero, Eyre and a veteran right-handed relief pitcher that is currently not with the organization.
Hitters (13): Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Ruiz, Burrell, Victorino, Werth, Jenkins, Bruntlett, Dobbs, veteran catcher not currently with the team, veteran right-handed corner outfielder not currently with the team.