Spring training games aren’t too far away, so it seems as good a time as any to guess who might be joining the Phillies when the season starts for real. It looks to me as if there are eight hitters who are locks to start the year with the team. Here’s the eight, along with some of the other candidates to fill the remaining hitting slots:
|1||C Ruiz||W Nieves|
|2||R Howard||C Rupp|
|3||C Utley||T Joseph|
|4||J Rollins||L Marson|
|5||C Asche||S Valle|
|7||B Revere||D Ruf|
|8||M Byrd||K Frandsen|
Beyond those eight, I think Wil Nieves and Kevin Frandsen are the best bets to make the squad. I’d really love someone to convince me Kevin Frandsen isn’t going to be on the team as a backup first baseman and a backup third baseman who never plays third. Anyone? Sure seems like Darin Ruf would be a good choice for backup first baseman, or even, well I’m not going to say it, but it rhymes with latoon flayer at worst face. Hoping for the best but expecting, well, you know, more Kevin Frandsen, mostly cause he hit 311/409/459 against lefties in 2013 after hitting 400/426/554 against them in 2012.
That puts the Phillies at ten players, which probably leaves them with three hitting slots.
Of the remaining spots, one has to be filled by a backup middle infielder. They also only have three outfielders on their team, suggesting the other two slots go to outfielders.
I’d guess Freddy Galvis is the backup middle infielder. That’s eleven.
That leaves space for two outfielders, one of which has to be “able” (see John Mayberry, Cesar Hernandez from recent years) to backup center. I pretty much have no idea on this one. Seems like it’s two out of the group of Mayberry, Bobby Abreu, Darin Ruf and Tony Gwynn, Jr. There’s really only one guy in that group who can play center, although the Phillies may think there are two. I’ll go with Ruf and Mayberry, but if Abreu crushes the ball in spring training I think he makes the team. The Phillies really, really don’t need both Ruf and Frandsen backing up first base. They really, really, really don’t need all three of Mayberry, Ruf and Frandsen backing up first base. Especially if they’re never going to play the backup first baseman.
That gets the guess up to 13 — Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Asche, Brown, Revere, Byrd, Ruf, Mayberry, Nieves, Frandsen and Galvis.
Here’s the pitchers, where I think seven guys are sure to start the year on the team if healthy, assuming the Phillies somehow acquire AJ Burnett before the year starts:
|1||C Lee||M Gonzalez|
|2||AJ Burnett||J Pettibone|
|4||K Kendrick||P Aumont|
|5||J Papelbon||J Diekman (L)|
|6||A Bastardo (L)||L Garcia|
|7||J De Fratus||J Horst (L)|
|12||J Savery (L)|
|J Biddle (L)|
|M Hollands (L)|
That leaves the Phils with seven slots used and, presumably, five open. One for a starter and four slots in the pen.
Looks like Miguel Gonzalez and Jonathan Pettibone the primary candidates for the fifth starter role to me. Truly no idea, but I will guess Pettibone with close to no confidence. Have you read the every article about Miguel Gonzalez’s velocity? They aren’t so hard to find. Not good appears to be the consensus.
Among the relievers, it seems lefty Jake Diekman might have an edge over the rest of the candidates, coming off of a year in which he threw to a 2.58 ERA for the Phils with a 1.30 ratio and 41 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings. Less impressive were his numbers in the minors, but I think he takes a spot in the pen, leaving the Phils with two lefties in the bullpen and three open spots.
Then we’re pretty much back in no idea land. I think the Phils really wish Ethan Martin were going to be something special in relief. 6.08 ERA overall last year, but much better in his seven innings in relief than in his eight starts.
Every Phillie fan should be afraid of Rule 5 pick Kevin Munson. The righty did pitch well between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013, throwing to a 4.12 ERA, but with a 1.17 ratio and 66 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings. Those of us who have followed Michael Martinez‘s 396 plate appearances with the Phillies over the past three seasons or remember his appearance in the ’11 NLDS (which the Phillies lost, you may recall) may have good reason for concern when it comes to the team’s handling of Rule 5 guys.
Michael Stutes pitched well at Triple-A last year and great in his first 11 appearances with the Phils from late May to early June. He ran into biceps problems in late June and allowed eight runs in two innings over three outings, but I think he’s got a good chance to make the squad.
I’m going to guess Stutes and Martin take two of the three remaining spots.
One left. Brad Lincoln, because he was the fourth pick overall once (Brad Lincoln four, Clayton Kershaw seven, Tim Lincecum ten and Max Scherzer eleven, you can look it up), Munson, cause the Phillies can’t help themselves, Joe Savery and Luis Garcia are the guys that stick out for me. Garcia was atrocious last year, 3.73 ERA over 31 1/3 innings or not. He walked 23 in those 31 1/3 frames and opponents on-based .370 against him. Savery was good in both the minors and in 20 innings with the Phils, but would still be the third lefty in the pen.
Lincoln got at least four outs in 13 of his 22 appearances in 2013, throwing to a 2.57 ERA with a 1.43 ratio in those outings. I wonder if that might appeal to the Phils with a need for a long man out of the pen, so I’ll go with him for the final slot.
Twelve pitchers: Burnett, Lee, Kendrick, Hernandez, Pettibone, Papelbon, Bastardo, De Fratus, Diekman, Martin, Stutes and Lincoln. Hamels and Adams on the DL.