Today’s very early guess on who starts the year with the Phillies. Barring new injuries, I think we can count on these 12 hitters:

1 Ruiz
2 Utley
3 Rollins
4 Polanco
5 Mayberry
6 Nix
7 Victorino
8 Pence
9 Wigginton
10 Thome
11 Schneider
12 Valdez

Notable no-shows on that list include Ryan Howard, still recovering, Domonic Brown and Michael Martinez.

Assuming you don’t count Wigginton, there are just four outfielders on that list including one, Nix, who can never, ever be used against lefties. On a related note, I have some trouble buying completely into the idea that Wigginton is the nearly every day first baseman while Howard is out. If Thome can play first at all (he probably can’t) he’s clearly the better choice. I think Mayberry is a better choice offensively as well, but to give him much time at first the Phils are going to need someone who can man left field against left-handed pitching. Maybe someone like Ben Francisco? Oh, wait.

I see one or two hitting spots as open, depending on how many pitchers the Phils decide to carry. I think one of them is filled by a fifth outfielder, either Domonic Brown or someone not currently on the roster who hits right-handed.

I think these 12 pitchers are likely to start the year with the Phils:

1 Halladay
2 Lee
3 Hamels
4 Blanton
5 Worley
6 Kendrick
7 Papelbon
8 Contreras
9 Bastardo
10 Stutes
11 Willis
12 Herndon

That assumes Contreras is healthy enough to start the year, of course, which is far from a sure thing. After Contreras, Stutes and Herndon seem like the two pitchers with the least solid hold on their slot. Brian Sanches, Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus seem like the most likely candidates to squeeze past them or take Contreras’s spot if he’s not ready to go.

I have trouble seeing the Phils carrying more than two lefties out of the pen to start 2012. Unless Bastardo or Willis get hurt, or are consistently and resoundingly awful in spring training, I’d be surprised to see Joe Savery or Jake Diekman start the year with the Phils.

Joe Blanton says he’s feeling and throwing well. If he’s healthy he seems like a lock for the rotation. If he’s not I’d guess Kendrick takes his turns in the rotation, barring a big effort in the spring from NRIs Dave Bush and Joel Pineiro.

If the Phillies went with 14 hitters to start the year, my guess would be that Stutes and Herndon would be fighting for the eleventh pitching slot, advantage Stutes.

Cesar Hernandez was fifth on MLB.com’s list of the top ten second base prospects. Sebastian Valle ninth on the list of catching prospects.

Thome says that Spring Training will be the true test for his back in terms of when and how often he might be able to place defensively at first this year. I’m going to be surprised if we see much at all of Thome at first in 2012.

This says the Phillies are one of four teams still in the mix to land Francisco Cordero.

Update: Wilson Valdez was traded to the Reds for 26-year-old left-handed reliever Jeremy Horst.