Tag: Geoff Jenkins

They coulda been a contender . . . oh wait, they were a contender

Not long ago, the Phillies were pretty good defensively in the outfield compared to the rest of baseball. Not so much anymore. Here’s the UZR/150 for all Phillie outfielders combined for the last six seasons as calculated by FanGraphs and how it compares to teams across both leagues:

Year UZR/150 all PHI OF Rank MLB
2007 4.1 8
2008 8.0 7
2009 0.7 13
2010 -5.5 25
2011 -8.4 28
2012 -4.8 25

So, from 2007 through 2009, the Phillies were in the top half of teams defensively in the outfield across both leagues by UZR/150. Over the last three years they have been no better than 25th.

There’s only 30 teams out there, so being 25th or worse for three straight years counts as a problem. It’s arguable that the Phillies have had the worst outfield defense in baseball over the past three seasons. It’s kind of a pick ‘em between the Phils, Orioles and Mets.

Notably, ugly outfield defense or not, the Phillies went 199-125 in 2010 and 2011 combined. I think it’s safe to say they were good at other things.

Using Baseball-Reference’s dWAR, only twice in the past three seasons have the Phillies had a player who both played at least 100 outfield innings for the team in a season and posted a dWAR greater than zero for the year. Victorino did it both times, putting up a 0.5 in 1,150 innings in 2011 after putting up a 0.4 in 1,265 innings in 2010.

In 2007, Victorino (16.6 UZR/150 in the outfield, mostly right), Bourn (22.9 in about 300 innings, about 200 of which were in left) and Werth (30.5 in 446 innings in right, 127 2/3 innings in left and two in center) were all outstanding defensively. Rowand played more than 94% of the defensive innings in center field and posted UZR/150 in the outfield of 4.5. Burrell played just over 70% of the innings in left, dragging down the numbers for the team overall with his UZR/150 in the outfield of -29.6. Despite that they were still eighth-best in the category among all MLB teams.

In 2008, Victorino moved over from right, where he had been very good defensively, to center. He was very good there as well, playing about 82.5% of the innings in center with an UZR/150 in the outfield for the year of 5.8 — a little better than Rowand’s 4.5 from 2007. Werth and Jenkins combined to get about 90% of the innings in right in 2008 and were good defensively. Werth was great with an outfield UZR/150 mark of 28.5. Jenkins was very good, too, playing to an UZR/150 of 15.2 in 642 outfield innings. Burrell continued to be the guy in left, playing about 83% of the innings there. He was still bad defensively, -12.3 in the outfield for the year, but that was still a big improvement over his 2007 mark of -29.6. Overall, by UZR/150, the Phillies popped up to seventh-best across both leagues, their best mark for the six seasons presented in the table above.

In 2009, their UZR/150 dropped from 8.0 in the previous year to 0.7. Jenkins was gone and so was Burrell. The Phillies went Ibanez, Victorino and Werth from left to right on most days. Ibanez was a big improvement over Burrell in left, at least as calculated by UZR/150. He played about 77% of the innings in left and posted an UZR/150 for the year of 4.9 in the outfield, which was a huge improvement over the big negative numbers Burrell had put up in the two previous seasons. Victorino manned center and his numbers were way down as he oddly posted a UZR/150 for the year in the outfield of -5.6, which was, by far, the worst mark of his career. UZR/150 suggests that Werth didn’t have nearly the impact defensively he had in the two previous seasons, but he still put up a solid 4.4 for the year in the outfield. Overall, thanks to the replacement of Burrell with Ibanez, the Phillies had a huge change to improve on their overall numbers from 2008. Didn’t work out that way as both Victorino and Werth played a lot of innings and each found themselves off their pace from the previous year.

Things got worse in 2010 as the Phils dropped from thirteenth all the way to twenty-fifth. They still primarily went Ibanez, Victorino, Werth left to right. Victorino improved on his 2009 number, up to 2.8 for the year in his 1,265 1/3 outfield innings. But Werth and Ibanez were both worse. After five straight years of at least 575 outfield innings with an UZR/150 in the outfield of 4.4 or better, Werth’s UZR/150 in the outfield plunged to -7.8 over 1,342 innings. Ibanez, who had posted a 4.9 in 2009, saw his mark drop to -7.2. For the year, Victorino improved on his ’09 numbers, but Ibanez and Werth both saw theirs take a huge dive. The Phillies wound up near the bottom of the league in UZR/150 for their outfielders as a result.

2011 was a nightmare defensively for the Phillies in the outfield, the worst year of the six as their UZR/150 for all outfielders dropped to 28th in the league. Only the Mets and Orioles were worse — notably, the Mets were worse in large part because Angel Pagan was their center fielder and he was awful, posting a UZR/150 for the year in the outfield of -16.1. Ibanez was still the primary guy for the Phils in left and Victorino in center. Victorino was still good, putting up a 5.7 UZR/150 for the season. Ibanez went from real bad, -7.2, to terrible, posting a Burrell-like -21.8. Right field was shared by three guys in Pence, Brown and Francisco, all of who ended the year having played about 30% of the innings for the Phillies defensively in right. Pence played about 32.7%, Brown 30.5% and Francisco 30.1%. Pence was very good defensively for the Phils when he played, putting up an 8.6 for the year with the team. Brown and Francisco were both terrible — Brown’s mark for the year was -26.0 and Francisco’s was -16.1. For the season, Ibanez was terrible in left, Victorino solid in center and Pence, Brown and Francisco split right almost equally, with Brown and Francisco being atrocious while Pence was very good. Put it all together and the Phils were the 28th-best team in the league for UZR/150 in the outfield.

Things were still atrocious in 2012, if slightly improved from the two previous seasons. Pierre was the primary guy in left, getting about 55% of the innings. He was backed up by Mayberry, who got about 23% of the innings at the position. Pierre put up a better-than-expected mark of -0.4 and Mayberry was solid when playing left with a 5.4. Victorino was the primary guy in center until he was traded. He wound up playing about 60% of the team’s innings in center field for the season and posting an UZR/150 of 0.9. Mayberry took over the gig after Victorino was traded and was terrible, posting a -20.7 UZR/150 in center in 474 1/3 innings. Pence played most of the innings in right field for the Phils in 2012, about 62%, and was awful in right when he did play, posting an UZR/150 with the Phils of -13.5, well off his 2011 mark. Domonic Brown was the other guy to see a lot of time in right, playing about 21% of the defensive innings at the position. He was significantly better than he was in 2012, but still not good, putting up a UZR/150 of -7.9 for the year.

Looking to 2013, there are still big questions to be answered about the makeup of the Phillie outfield. The Phils appear to have five guys in-house in the mix in Brown, Mayberry, Schierholtz, Nix and Ruf. If you had to pick one of them, most fans would guess that Brown is the player of that group who is likely to play the most defensive outfield innings for the Phils in 2013. And we know he’s been a really bad defensive player so far in his career. I think we also know that Mayberry can put up some ugly defensive numbers in center field — he seems sure to do so if the Phillies give him that opportunity. Schierholtz and Nix have both been pretty good defensively over their careers in the outfield, although neither of them seem likely to see much time in center and it’s a little hard to believe the Phillies think they need to carry both left-handed backup outfielders going in 2013. Ruf is the other guy in that group — if he proves to be a good defensive outfielder in the majors it’s going to surprise a lot of people.

The Phillies finalized a one-year, $850,000 deal with Kevin Frandsen.

Many Marlins appear to be on the move to Toronto, including Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.

This suggests that Amaro kind of wishes that Ruf would have had more of an opportunity to play at the end of the year, but that Amaro understands Manuel playing Juan Pierre instead. Not sure I completely believe all of that.

At least now the Phillies have a good idea what Juan Pierre brings to the table.

It will be pretty interesting to see if Ruf can play left field — I think he’s going to get some chances to do so with the Phillies in 2013. I’m guessing he can’t in a think Pat Burrell kind of way. So let’s hope for 51 more home runs.


You don’t know Jack (but you will)

I’m a bit flummoxed by the trade for Jack Taschner. I thought the clear play for the Phils was to hold onto Paulino and let him play a lot against left-handed pitching, which he has hammered over his career. That didn’t happen, though, and the Phils shipped Paulino away for Taschner, a guy who turns 31 this month and has a 5.68 ERA with a miserable 1.64 ratio over the past three seasons and has been bombed this spring (6.23 ERA and a 2.54 ratio and three unearned runs before last night’s appearance).

This article points out that Taschner is going to make $835,000 this season whether he plays in the minors or the majors. That seems to suggest there’s a good chance he’s going to be playing in the majors. Since he’s on the Phillies it probably means he’ll be playing for them. So I thought I’d go looking for the silver lining.

You have to look pretty hard for the silver lining. To the degree it’s there I think it has two main parts: 1) he strikes people out and 2) he was very solid till the end of the season in 2008 when his numbers fell apart.

First the strikeouts. For his career, he’s struck out 124 in 140 innings. That’s 7.97 per nine innings. He also has struck out lefties and righties at about the same rate over his career. He’s fanned 67 of the 350 righties he’s faced (19.1%) and 57 of the 295 lefties (19.3%).

He also threw to a 3.03 ERA with a 1.35 ratio in 32 2/3 innings for the Giants in the first half of last year. He blew up in the second half, though, throwing just 15 1/3 miserable innings with an 8.80 ERA and a 2.41 ratio. Opponents hit 380/440/634 against him in the second half.

His overall numbers last year were actually solid through his appearance on August 24 against the Padres. Through his first 58 games he had thrown to a 3.89 ERA with a 1.44 ratio. In his last nine appearances of the season he allowed eight earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, an 11.37 ERA with a hideous 3.32 ratio (13 hits and eight walks).

Here’s how his career rates for runs, hits, walks and strikeouts compares to some other Phillies’ lefties (remembering that Happ has thrown just 35 2/3 innings while Romero and Eyre have each thrown more than 500):

taschner.jpg

Taschner isn’t especially good against lefties. He does have some nice numbers against righties compared to the rest of that group:

 
Vs Right

Vs Left
  AVG OBP SLG AVG OBP SLG
Taschner 247 353 412 288 349 409
Happ 269 355 419 217 280 413
Romero 271 379 435 212 306 285
Eyre 280 368 447 242 324 399

Yesterday the Phils released Geoff Jenkins. That one came as a surprise to me, but I also think it’s a mistake. Werth has had 400 plate appearances once in his career and has a history of having problems hitting right-handed pitching. I think Jenkins would have been a good guy to have around. Not sure why you would want to pay to not have him around and I especially think it’s a bad idea if the reason is so you can put Miguel Cairo on your team.

The article linked above also suggests the Phils may be interested in Gary Sheffield. Sheffield and Stairs would be one DH too many if the Phils played in a league with the DH.

Chan Ho Park will be the Phillies fifth starter. That article also suggests that Happ, Majewski, Mosebach and Taschner are competing for two jobs. I’d guess Taschner is likely on the team and Mosebach is likely not.

Brett Myers will start opening day.

The Phillies beat the Blue Jays last night, winning 9-1 to improve to 12-16 in spring training.

Myers got the start for the Phils and allowed a run on three hits. Travis Snider hit a solo home run off of him in the second and the other two hits were singles. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. His spring ERA is 3.52. Taschner and Majewski both pitched scoreless innings.

Ibanez was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer, his first of the spring. Rollins was 2-for-3 with a double to raise his average to .321. Werth 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. He’s hitting .317.

The Phillies play the Yankees today.

Update: This says the Phillies are interested in Andruw Jones. That would make a lot more sense than Gary Sheffield.


Runs down rundown

The massively improved bullpen helped the Phillies win the World Series in 2008, but the team also produced far fewer runs offensively. After scoring 892 runs in 2007, the Phils scored 799 in 2008.

Runs were down across the league last year. In 2007, NL teams combined to score 11,741 runs, about 734 runs per team. In 2008, they combined to score 12,208 runs, about 763 runs per team. The Phillies drop off was larger than the rate overall — across the league about 96.2% of the runs that were scored in 2007 were scored in 2008. The Phillies scored about 89.6% of the runs they had scored in 2007 in 2008.

Things would be easy to explain if the Phils had installed a forty foot wall in left field, but it doesn’t look like the problem was Citizens Bank Park. The difference in the average number of runs the team scored in their home and away games between ’07 and ’08 is actually larger for the team’s games away from home:

 
Home

Away
Year Runs R/G Runs R/G
2007 450 5.55 442 5.46
2008 412 5.09 387 4.78

So where did all those runs go? To try and help understand I took a look at the offensive production by 11 different groups of players: the offense produced by players playing all nine of the positions (P, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF) plus designated hitters and pinch-hitters. Those groups are not all equally important, of course. Pitchers got fewer at-bats than the players manning the other eight positions, pinch-hitters fewer than that and designated hitters fewer still.

For each of those 11 groups, I looked at the OPS they hit to and, using the technical version of the runs created formula, their runs created.

Of the 11 groups, both by OPS and runs created, nine were clearly worse in 2008 than they were in 2007. The only two that weren’t were pinch-hitters and third base.

Led by Dobbs, Phillies pinch-hitters were simply better in 2008 than they were in ’07. In 281 plate appearances, Phils’ pinch-hitters put up a 253/309/415 line a year after hitting 230/307/391 in 2007. The bad news is that of the 11 groups, designated hitter is the only group that got fewer plate appearances than the pinch-hitter group.

The other place where the Phillies were not clearly worse was at third base. This one was a split decision. The 245/295/400 line gave Feliz and cohorts a .695 OPS for 2008, which is better than .688 OPS (255/321/368) Nunez and pals put up in ’07. On-base percentage trumps slugging, though, so runs created thinks the ’07 group was a little bit better than last year’s.

The other nine groups were all worse than what they did in the previous year. But not by the same amount. Here’s the difference in the runs created for all 11 groups between 2007 and 2008:

Group RC
SS 30.0
1B 19.0
2B 17.8
LF 16.3
RF 15.1
CF 13.5
C 7.3
P 4.0
3B 3.6
DH 2.5
PH -3.4

The chart suggests that Phillies shortstops created 30 fewer runs in 2008 than they had in 2007 while, at the bottom of the list, pinch-hitters created about three and a half more.

If you add up the runs created numbers, they don’t equal the difference in runs that the Phillies scored in 2008 and 2007. They equal 125.8. If you adjust the chart so the total difference in runs created is the actual 93 runs (892 runs scored in 2007 minus 799 scored in 2008), the chart looks like this:

Group RC
SS 22.2
1B 14.0
2B 13.2
LF 12.1
RF 11.2
CF 10.0
C 5.4
P 2.9
3B 2.7
DH 1.8
PH -2.5

If you think back to 2008, four of the Phils’ best hitters had a worse year than they had in 2007. Burrell, Utley and Howard all had fantastic years, but all three weren’t as fantastic as they had been the year before. Rollins was much worse with the bat in 2008 than in 2007. At the top of the list you see all four of their positions in a row.

While first, second and left are all down in about the same level, though, shortstop is down a lot more. The position got hit with a double-whammy in ’08. First, Rollins’ production was way down. After hitting 296/344/531 with 30 homers in ’07, he hit 277/349/437 with 11 home runs in 2008. Second, after starting every game for the Phils in 2007, Rollins started just 132 in 2008. Bruntlett started the other 30 games, and although he hit well while playing the position (274/331/393) it still brought the numbers down for the position compared to the previous season.

In right field, the group led Victorino and Werth in ’07 put up more offense than the ’08 group led by Werth and Jenkins. Jenkins struggled badly for most of the year, hitting 252/308/383 in 266 at-bats while playing right.

Surprisingly to me, the Phils did well to keep pace in center field coming off a fantastic year with the bat from Aaron Rowand. By OPS, the Phils’ 292/354/470 line in ’08 was still the best in the National League. It was just a bit off the 311/377/507 mark of ’07, which was the best in the league that year by a wide margin. Coming into 2008, I would have guessed that center field would be the position where the Phils offense would be down the most compared the previous season. Not even close.

Catchers, pitchers and third basemen fared about as well in ’08 as they had in ’07.

Here are the Phillies hitting splits by position for 2008 and for 2007.

Jimmy Rollins is okay with playing behind Derek Jeter in the World Baseball Classic and doesn’t want to talk about the Mets yet.

This from the Phillies web site seems to suggest that Kendrick could pitch out of the pen if he does not win the fifth starter job. I’d be surprised if they keep Kendrick on the team to pitch out of the pen.

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High on leverage

Baseball-Reference tracks high leverage hitting splits. The high leverage concept is based on work by Tom Tango, which is described here. Baseball-Reference suggests that high leverage plays account for about 20% of all plays.

Overall in 2008, Phillies hitters got 6,273 plate appearances in which they hit 255/332/438. Of those, 1,230 plate appearances were tagged as high leverage. In those plate appearances, the Phils as a team hit 247/332/423. A tiny bit worse, but about the same.

Here’s what key Phillies hitters did in high leverage situations in 2008, ranked by OPS:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Burrell 132 280 379 607 986
Dobbs 59 358 407 547 954
Howard 152 265 342 545 888
Feliz 92 291 378 506 884
Werth 102 276 373 448 821
Rollins 104 258 343 404 748
Utley 128 215 315 402 717
Victorino 106 240 305 396 701
Taguchi 19 250 333 313 646
Ruiz 72 238 300 333 633
Coste 74 215 268 323 591
Bruntlett 54 191 269 255 525
Jenkins 62 176 290 216 506

If you compare the player’s OPS in high leverage situations with their OPS overall for the year, there are six players whose OPS in high leverage situations were better than their OPS for the year:

Player High
Leverage OPS
OPS for
Season
Feliz 884 705
Dobbs 954 824
Burrell 986 875
Taguchi 646 580
Ruiz 633 620
Howard 888 881

And seven players from the group whose OPS overall for the year was better than their OPS in high leverage situations:

Player High
Leverage OPS
OPS for
Season
Rollins 748 786
Werth 821 861
Bruntlett 525 594
Victorino 701 799
Coste 591 748
Jenkins 506 694
Utley 717 915

The players at the top of that list have small differences between their OPS in high leverage situations and their OPS overall for the year. Rollins and Werth, for example, have very similar numbers compared to their overall OPS for the year. At the bottom of the list, Utley had a huge difference, posting a .717 OPS in high leverage situations compared to a .915 OPS overall.

Similarly, if you look at the late and close splits for the guys at the bottom of that list, Utley, Coste and Jenkins, the numbers are pretty ugly. For the guys at the top of the list, Feliz, Dobbs and Burrell, the numbers are much better. Late and close plate appearances are ones that come in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.

 
Late and close
Player PA AVG OBP SLG
Feliz 89 313 368 575
Dobbs 56 380 446 560
Burrell 111 295 441 636
Coste 69 220 288 271
Jenkins 63 148 270 204
Utley 117 221 353 347

Article about the outlook for the pen.

This article suggests that Dobbs could fill in at second if Utley doesn’t start the year. That actually seems like a fine idea. A Bruntlett/Dobbs platoon at second would put up pretty nice numbers offensively, the problem being that Dobbs can’t play both second and third at the same time against a righty.

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2009 a third time

In mid-November, I took a guess at who would be on the Phillies roster when the 2009 season started. I did it again in mid-December. Since the post in mid-December:

  • It was announced that JC Romero will be suspended for the first fifty games of the 2009 season.
  • The Phillies signed 2B Marcus Giles to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training.

I still think there are nine guys on the team for opening day, including Pedro Feliz, recovering from back surgery, but not including Chase Ultey who is recovering from hip surgery:


Player

Position
1
Ryan Howard

1B
2
2B
3
Jimmy Rollins

SS
4
Pedro Feliz

3B
5
Shane Victorino

OF
6
Jayson Werth

OF
7
Raul Ibanez

OF
8
OF
9
Carlos Ruiz
C
10 C
11
Eric Bruntlett

UT
12
Greg Dobbs

3B/OF
13
UT
14

Utley is obviously on the team as well, but will probably start the season on the DL. That leaves four spots for position players, assuming the Phils carry 13 hitters and 12 pitchers to start the year.

Of the four remaining spots, one has to go to a second catcher behind Ruiz and one has to go to a fourth outfielder. Assuming Utley does not fill Utley’s spot, the third probably has to go someone who can play second base.

On the catcher spot, I still think Paulino is on the team. What I’m feeling a little less sure of as the days pass and the Phillies continue not to sign a right-handed hitter is that Paulino on the team makes it highly unlikely that Coste is not.

One of Geoff Jenkins or Matt Stairs takes the fourth outfielder spot. I still think it’s Jenkins and still think Stairs won’t be with the team when the season starts. Jenkins is far more useful as a defensive player and would be tougher to trade for the Phillies given his contract. I think there’s a chance the Phillies go into the season with four real outfielders on their team, with Bruntlett and maybe Dobbs getting some chances to fill in a little. If you’re going to have four real outfielders on the team I don’t think you have one of them be a 41-year-old Stairs just because I don’t think you can put him out in the field too often.

At second base if Utley’s not ready to go I see the candidates as Giles, Bruntlett, who’s on the team either way, and Jason Donald. The window where the Phillies would bring someone else in with a legitimate chance to compete for the position at this point seems like it’s at least closing. Bruntlett is the least exciting of those prospects. I’m going to guess that Giles proves to be the guy.

Chris Coste and Stairs appear to be the primary candidates to fill out the roster of the players currently on the team. Given how weak the Phillies are from the right side of the plate I see Coste as the winner if it comes down to those two. If Coste is still on the team I don’t think John Mayberry has much of a chance to win the spot. I think there’s a good chance that whoever takes the slot will prove to be the second-best right-handed hitter on the team behind Werth. The need for another right-handed hitter is huge, so my guess is still that the Phillies will bring in a right-handed hitter before the start of the season to be the thirteenth hitter.

Ten of the Phillies pitching spots are likely to be filled by these guys:


Player

Position
1
Cole Hamels (left)

SP
2
Brett Myers (right)

SP
3
Joe Blanton (right)

SP
4
Jamie Moyer (left)

SP
5
SP
6
Ryan Madson (right)
 RP
7
Chan Ho Park (right)

SP/RP
8
Clay Condrey (right)

RP
9
Scott Eyre (left)

RP
10
Chad Durbin (right)

RP
11  
RP
12
Brad Lidge (right)

CLOSER

Assuming the Phils carry 12 pitchers, that leaves two.

The battle for the fifth starter appears to include Chan Ho Park, JA Happ and Kyle Kendrick. Park is on the team either way, I think, it’s just a question of whether he’s pitching as part of the rotation or out of the pen.

The loss of Romero leaves the Phils with one lefty in the pen, Scott Eyre, and seems to give Happ’s chances of making the team a huge boost. I think one of the two remaining spots goes to Happ, either in the rotation or out of the pen.

Kendrick isn’t going to make the team to pitch out of the pen. So if Happ or Park does win the fifth starter job, it leaves a spot in the pen that would ideally go to a lefty. I don’t think the Phillies have one that fits the bill, though, so my guess is that it would probably be righties Mike Koplove and Gary Majewski as the front-runners batting for the final spot. Given the current options, though, it looks like the Phillies will go into spring training with an opportunity for a dark horse lefty to make the team as the second left-handed pitcher out of the pen.

There’s still a lot to be decided about how the Phillies pitching will round out, but at this point I’m going to guess it’s Happ (and Park) out of the pen and Kendrick as the fifth starter.

So here’s my overall guess at this point:

Hitters (13): Howard, Rollins, Feliz, Ibanez, Victorino, Werth, Ruiz, Bruntlett, Dobbs, Paulino, Jenkins, Giles and a right-handed hitter not currently with the team.

Pitchers (12): Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Kendrick, Madson, Happ, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Park, Lidge.

JC Romero will be allowed to participate in the World Baseball Classic.

Interview with Doug Glanville at We Should Be GMs.

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2009 on the mind

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.


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