Tag: Phillies

Phils have some keep-it-in-the-yard work to do

The Phillies bullpen was fantastic in 2008, but 2008 is over and 2009 has seemingly brought more than one problem to the Phils’ relief corps. Through the first 11 games of 2009, the pen has been a little tough to watch. Curiously, however, they have been better at preventing hits and walks than they were overall in 2008 and have struck out hitters more regularly. Whatever could it be?

Remember this? If you don’t, compared to the other bullpens in the National League, the thing the Phillies excelled at in 2008 was preventing extra-base hits and especially preventing home runs.

This year, not so much.

The chart below compares the rates of runs, hits, walks, strikeouts, extra-base hits and home runs per nine innings for the ’08 pen and the ’09 pen.

pen09.jpg

In ’09, again, the rates for allowing hits and walks and striking people out are all better. The rate for allowing extra-base hits is worse by a little and the rate for allowing home runs is worse by a lot (through 11 games the Phillies pen has allowed about 2.72 times as many home runs per nine innings as they did last year).

Only one National League team, the Rockies, has had their bullpen allow more home runs than the eight that the Phillies have allowed (Houston and Washington have also each allowed eight).

While the rate the Phils pen has allowed extra-base hits is up in ’09 compared to ’08, they are still below the NL average. The average NL pen has given up 3.22 extra-base hits per nine innings compared to 2.82 per nine innings for the Phils. When it comes to home runs it’s a different story — 1.88 per nine for the Phils compared to 1.19 for the NL bullpens overall.

Finally, it’s important to remember that while the bullpen has been bad for the Phils so far this season it isn’t as big a problem as the starting pitching has been. The Phillies pen has thrown to a 5.63 ERA so far, which is 12th-best of the 16 NL teams. Their starters on the other hand, have a 7.67 ERA, which is the worst ERA for starters in either league.

Jamie Moyer (1-1, 6.55) faces lefty Manny Parra (0-2, 6.97) tonight as the Phillies play the first of three against Milwaukee. Moyer has allowed four runs in each of his starts, going five innings against the Braves in his first start and six innings against the Nats in his second. He’s allowed 16 hits in 11 innings. Opponents are hitting .340 against him. Parra has also made two starts on the season and fared better in the second. He allowed three runs to the Reds over six innings a week ago today. Opponents have hit just .231 against him this year, but he’s walked six in 10 1/3 innings. He made one start against the Phils last year and didn’t make it out of the second inning.


The old man and the C-minus

Two games, two bad starts for the Phillies. Last night Kelly Johnson hit Jamie Moyer’s very first pitch of the season out to right. Things got better from there, they would have to, but not by a whole lot.

While Myers and Moyer didn’t impress in the first two games, it’s nothing compared to the struggles of the offense to put runs on the board. After scoring one run in the opener, the Phils were shutout last night. Manuel did make a change to the lineup, dropping Werth down to split up three big left-handed bats in a row. If nobody is going to hit, though, it doesn’t matter a lot where they do it.

The news isn’t all bad for the Phils. The bullpen has been absolutely outstanding in the first two games. In seven innings they haven’t allowed a hit or a walk. Jack Taschner has pitched three perfect frames. Clay Condrey, coming off a great spring, made his ’09 debut last night and looked fantastic.

The Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves last night, falling 4-0 to drop to 0-2 on the season.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and two home runs. He struck out two.

Kelly Johnson led off for Atlanta and hit Moyer’s first pitch of the game out to right to put Atlanta up 1-0. Moyer got Yunel Escobar to ground to short for the first out, but Chipper Jones was next and he doubled high off the wall in center. Brian McCann followed and hit a 1-2 pitch to second where it went under the glove of Utley for an error. Jones scored from second and it was 2-0. Garret Anderson moved McCann to second with a single to left, but Moyer got Jeff Francoeur to pop to Howard at first and Casey Kotchman on a ground ball to first to leave both men stranded.

Moyer walked Jordan Schafer to start the second and the pitcher Jair Jurrjens bunted him to second for the first out. Johnson fouled out to Feliz for the first out and Escobar flew to center for the third.

The Braves went in order in the third. Chipper went down swinging, McCann hit a hard ground ball to first that Howard handled and Anderson grounded to first less dramatically.

Francoeur led off the fourth with a bloop single to right. Kotchman was next and hit a 3-2 pitch back through the middle. The ball wasn’t hit especially hard and Rollins had a chance to field, but the ball went off Rollins’ glove. Francoeur went to third and Kotchman, who was given a hit, was safe at first. The hit call was right, but it’s a play that Rollins makes often. Moyer got Schafer to pop to short for the first out and struck Jurrjens out on three pitches for the second. Johnson was next and he hit a 2-1 pitch slowly to short. Rollins charged, fielded and threw to first but didn’t have a chance to get Johnson on a ball hit so slowly. Francoeur scored and Kotchman went to second with Atlanta up 3-0. Escobar slammed a 1-0 pitch into left field for a single. Kotchman came around second and tried to score, but Ibanez made a strong throw home that was online. Ruiz picked it on an in-between hop and put the tag on to end the inning. Nice throw by Ibanez and a nice catch and tag from Ruiz to record the out.

Chipper led off the fifth and blasted Moyer’s first pitch out to left. 4-0. McCann followed with a walk before Anderson popped to first for the first out. Francoeur was next and he his a soft fly ball to left. Ibanez charged and took it easily. Not a hard play and Ibanez made it look easy — Burrell probably would have gotten there, too, but it surely wouldn’t have looked easy. Kotchman flew to right to leave McCann stranded.

Second time in the game the Braves took Moyer deep on the first pitch of the at-bat.

Park, who won’t make his first start until Sunday against the Rockies, started the sixth inning with the Phils down four. He set the Braves down in order without much help from Feliz. Schafer hit a grounded to third that Feliz didn’t handle cleanly and then threw in the dirt. Howard made a nice scoop to record the first out. With two outs, Johnson popped a foul down the third base line that Feliz should have caught but didn’t as he shied away from the railing. Johnson flew to center to set Atlanta down.

Taschner pitched the seventh after throwing 17 pitches Sunday night and had an easy 1-2-3 inning, setting down Escobar, Jones and McCann on three ground balls.

He came back for the eighth, too, and again set Atlanta down in order. Francoeur hammered a ball out but foul and Utley made a nice sliding stop on a ground ball by Kotchman before throwing to first for the third out, but it was impressive nonetheless.

Condrey started the ninth, making his first appearance of the year coming off a very solid spring training. He struck Schafer out on four pitches for the first out. Greg Norton hit for the pitcher Rafael Soriano and Condrey struck him out as well. Johnson was next and hit a line drive to the left of Rollins. Rollins made a great play to knock the ball down and throw to first where Howard made another nice scoop to set Atlanta down.

More fantastic work from a Phillies bullpen that has not allowed a hit or a walk in seven innings to start the season. In this game they combined to throw four perfect innings. Taschner threw 26 pitches and Park 21, so we likely won’t see either of them this afternoon. Just 11 pitches for Condrey.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jair Jurrjens went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Manuel splits up the lefties for game two, dropping Werth to the five-hold and moving Victorino up to hit second. That’s the way to go with those players in the lineup. Feliz starts against a righty for the second straight day, so if you were holding out hope that this was the year Dobbs and Feliz platoon, so far no good.

Utley and Howard singled back-to-back with two outs in the first, but Werth grounded to second to leave the runners stranded at first and third.

Ibanez led off the second and drove a ball into the gap in left-center. Anderson went after it and got to it, but the ball went off his glove. Ibanez was given a double. Didn’t help the Phils any, though. Feliz flew to right for the first out. Ruiz was next and he hit a ground ball to short. Escobar fielded and threw to third, where Ibanez was tagged out for the second out. Sounds like bad base-running by Ibanez, but it wasn’t. The ball was to his left, Escobar made an odd choice to go to third but it worked out for Atlanta. Moyer drew a walk to put men on first and second, but Rollins grounded back to the mound for the third out.

Phillies can’t score after the leadoff double.

Victorino and Utley struck out to start the third. Howard delivered a two-out single, but was left stranded when Werth flew to left. Werth looked like he had hit the ball very well, but Anderson took it in front of the track.

Down 3-0, the Phils went in order in the fourth.

Miguel Cairo hit for Moyer to start the fifth with the Phillies losing by four runs and hit a ball to second that Johnson didn’t handle for an error. Rollins flew to right for the first out before Victorino drew a walk. It put men on first and second with one down for Utley. Utley flew to center for the second out. Howard was next and hit the ball hard back up the middle, but that’s right where the Braves were playing him with the shift. Escobar took the ball behind second base and threw to second to force Victorino and end the inning.

Werth and Ibanez flew out to start the sixth before Feliz drew a walk. Righty Jeff Bennett came in to pitch to Ruiz and Ruiz smoked a single into left that sent Feliz to second. Stairs hit for Park and Atlanta called on lefty Eric O’Flaherty to pitch to him. He worked the count full and drove a ball into left-center, but Schafer tracked it down to leave both men stranded.

Utley singled to left-center with two down in the seventh, but O’Flaherty got Howard on another ground ball to Escobar for the third out.

Righty Rafael Soriano came in to pitch the eighth with Werth due to lead off. Werth struck out swinging for the first out. Ibanez was next and got to hit against the righty with the Phils down four. He hit a ball hard back to the mound and off of Soriano’s glove, but the pitcher was on it quickly and tossed to first to get Ibanez for the second out. Feliz drew a walk on four pitches, putting a man on for Ruiz. Ruiz hit it hard to left, but Anderson took it at the warning track to end the inning.

Lefty Mike Gonzalez started the ninth for Atlanta. Bruntlett hit for Condrey and lined to left for the first out. Rollins flew to Anderson on the warning track for the second out and Victorino flew to left-center to end the game.

Bruntlett as the best right-handed pinch-hitting option isn’t good. He really isn’t the guy you want as either your backup corner outfielder or your best right-handed pinch-hitter.

The second, when Ibanez led off with a double, and the fifth, when Cairo led off and reached on an error, were the best chances for the Phils to score. Maybe today.

Rollins was 0-for-5 and left three men on base.

Victorino 0-for-4 with a walk. Still looking for his first hit after a bad spring training.

Utley 2-for-4 with two singles and an error.

Howard 2-for-4. Made several nice plays at first base, digging out throws in the dirt from Rollins and Feliz.

Werth 0-for-4.

Ibanez 1-for-4 with a double.

Feliz 0-for-2 with two walks. Two walks in a game may seem like a big deal for Feliz, but it’s not unheard of. He did it three times just last year.

Ruiz 1-for-4.

Joe Blanton faces righty Javier Vazquez this afternoon. Blanton had a great spring and made one start against the Braves last year. On July 27 he went just two innings before being forced out of the game by a long rain delay. Anderson and Kotchman have both seen him a lot from their days in the AL. Anderson 314/368/371 against him in 35 at-bats. Kotchman 300/333/500 in 20 at-bats. Vazquez pitched for the White Sox in 2008 and didn’t face the Phillies. Jimmy Rollins has faced him a ton from Vazquez’s time with the Expos and Diamondbacks. 186/222/349 in 43 at-bats. Ibanez 5-for-14 (.357). Stairs 2-for-24 (.083). Amaro 0-for-1 with a strikeout (on June 6, 1998).


Okay, then, stay in my yard

By almost any measure, the Phillies had the best bullpen in the National League in 2008. Phils’ relievers pitched to an NL-best 3.22 ERA and allowed fewer runs per inning than the relievers for any other team in the league.

But what was it that they did that was exceptional relative to the other bullpens in the league? Not that they necessarily had to do any one thing — they could have been a little bit better than average in a lot of ways. I mentioned yesterday that one thing that wasn’t exceptional about the pen in ’08 was the number of walks they issued. They actually walked more batters than the average bullpen in the league. They also didn’t prevent hits at an exceptional rate. Here are the rates that the average NL bullpen recorded hits, walks and strikeouts per nine innings in 2008 along with what the Phillies did:

bbhsoper9.jpg

The Phillies relievers did do a better job of preventing hits than the average NL bullpen, but not by a whole lot. They walked more batters and struck out more. Here it is in a chart that shows the average rates for NL bullpens for 2008 for hits, walks and strikeouts along with the rates for the Phillies and their rank in the NL in those categories relative to other NL relief corps:

  NL pen
average
PHI pen NL Rank PHI/NL AVG
H per 9
8.72 8.50 7 0.97
BB per 9 3.83 3.93 9 1.03
SO per 9 7.57 7.66 5 1.01

So per nine innings pitched, the Phillies relievers allowed about 97% of the hits, 103% of the walks and got 101% of the strikeouts that the average pen would have gotten. They were the fifth-best in the 16-team league at striking hitters out, but the numbers for allowing walks and hits were near the middle of the pack.

What is exceptional relative to the other bullpens in the NL last year is this:

  NL pen
average
PHI pen NL Rank PHI/NL AVG
XBH per 9
2.89 2.53 3 .88
HR per 9 0.96 0.69 1 .72

Again, per nine innings pitched, the Phils allowed 88% of the extra-base hits of an average NL pen and 72% of the home runs. Their rate of allowing extra-base bases hits was third-best in the league and the rate of allowing home runs was the best.

The overall success at preventing extra-base hits has a lot to do at how good the Phillies relievers were at preventing home runs. Compared to the other NL teams, their rate of preventing doubles and triples was not nearly as outstanding as their rate at preventing home runs.

hxb2bhr1.jpg

And here it is in table form:

  NL pen
average
PHI pen NL Rank PHI/NL AVG
XBH per 9
2.89 2.53 3 .88
2B + 3B per 9 1.93 1.84 7 .96
HR per 9 0.96 0.69 1 .72

The rate at which they prevented doubles and triples simply wasn’t as extraordinary as the rate at which they prevented home runs. While they were third overall among NL pens at preventing extra-base hits, they were just seventh in preventing doubles and triples. None of this is to say there was any one factor that made the bullpen great overall in 2008, or that all of the areas mentioned in the post are equally important, but in some areas the Phils’ relievers were much more dominant than others.

Yesterday the Phillies lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 to drop to 4-8 in spring training. Another nice outing by Happ was the best news of the day for the Phils.

Moyer got the start and went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk. Happ followed Moyer and allowed a run in three innings, giving up four hits and a walk. The run that Happ allowed came on a solo homer by Gabe Kapler.

Moyer called the outing his worst appearance of the spring. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed he’s not losing his marbles.

Offensively, the Phillies had three hits. Andy Tracy hit a solo home run with two outs in the ninth to get the Phillies within a run. Cairo was 2-for-3 with two singles, raising his spring average to .318. Mayberry 0-for-3. Donald 0-for-2 with a walk. Paulino 0-for-2, dropping his average to .200. Coste 0-for-1.

Werth was supposed to start the game in center but was scratched with a groin issue. He is expected to play today. I think you should be concerned but not surprised by all the problems Werth is having getting on the field this spring — the roster puts the Phillies in a spot where they’re going to have problems if Werth isn’t ready to go once the season starts. There’s still a lot of time, though.

Burrell was at DH for the Rays and went 1-for-3. He’s hitting .333 this spring.

The Phillies play the Pirates this afternoon.

In the World Baseball Classic, Rodrigo Lopez did not pitch yesterday as Cuba beat Mexico 16-4. Mexico plays Korea on Sunday and Cuba plays Japan.


Extra! Extra! Bases!

Yesterday I wrote that in 2008, Chad Durbin allowed extra-base hits at a rate far lower than many of the other pitchers on the team. He also allowed extra-base hits at a rate far lower than he has over his career.

  PA % H % BB % SO % XBH
Durbin ’08 365 22.2 9.6 17.3 4.7
Durbin rest
of career
2,099 25.5 9.2 12.6 8.9

Durbin had the best year of his career in ’08. He didn’t do it by cutting down his walks — he walked batters more regularly than he has over the rest of his career. He did allow fewer hits and strike out batters more regularly, but the most dramatic change in the four categories is the improvement in preventing extra-base hits in ’08.

Coming into 2008, Durbin had allowed 187 extra-base hits in 2,099 plate appearances — that’s one every 11.22 plate appearances. In 2008 he allowed 17 extra-base hits in 365 plate appearances, which is one every 21.47 plate appearances.

In his work as a reliever before 2008, Durbin had also allowed extra-base hits at a rate that was higher than what he did last year and that was very similar to his career numbers overall coming into ’08. Prior to last season, he had faced 299 hitters as a relief pitcher and allowed 26 extra-base hits, or one every 11.50 plate appearances.

The Phillies would have had a lot of trouble winning the division last year without Durbin’s contribution. And they’re counting on him to come up big again this season. I think there’s two things to worry about, though. One is that Durbin’s 2008 was just by far his best year and even including 2008 he still has a career 5.29 ERA and a 1.53 ratio. The other is that Durbin had two dramatically different halves in ’08, a great first half in which he threw to a 1.89 ERA and a 1.20 ratio and a weaker second half in which he threw to a 4.33 ERA with a 1.50 ratio.

If you think the secret to Durbin’s success in the future could be preventing extra-base hits, it surely couldn’t hurt. There’s a lot more too it than that, though, as Durbin himself helped demonstrate with his second half last season. In the second half of 2008, when he was less effective, he still wasn’t being hurt by the extra-base hit. He gave up hits and walks at a higher rate than in the first half, and struck a lot fewer people out, but the rate at which he gave up extra-base hits stayed about the same:

  PA % H % BB % SO % XBH
1st half ’08 214 20.6 8.9 20.1 4.7
2nd half ’08 151 24.5 10.6 13.2 4.6

Opponents hit .282 against Durbin the second half (.234 in the first half) and on-based .367 (.310). So while the fact that they slugged just .382 (.314) against him in the second half helped avoid a complete disaster, it wasn’t enough to make his numbers after the break nearly as impressive as they had been before the break.

The Phils beat Team Canada yesterday, winning 9-2.

Hamels made his spring debut and went two scoreless innings, allowing two singles and a walk. Dave Borkowski threw a perfect inning, continuing his impressive performance in the early going. Andrew Carpenter allowed two runs on three hits and four walks over two innings. Eyre struck out two in a scoreless frame.

Offensively, Mayberry continued his tear, going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer. Jeremy Slayden, who has also been outstanding, hit a three-run homer in his only at-bat. Ibanez was 1-for-3 with a double and three RBI. Paulino 1-for-3. Donald 0-for-3. Stairs went 1-for-3 with a single for Team Canada.

The Phils play Team USA today. Kyle Kendrick is expected to pitch.

The Zo Zone has updates (a day old) on the medical conditions of Utley, Feliz, Werth, Coste and Durbin.

Ad: TicketCity has Phillies tickets for spring training and regular season games.


And the hits just keep on coming, sometimes a little too close together

Yesterday I wrote about how often Kendrick, Eaton and Hamels allowed hits and extra-base hits last season. Here’s what those numbers look like for all the pitchers that faced at least 40 hitters for the Phils in ’08 (they’re ordered by the number of batters they faced):

  PA H XBH PA per hit PA per XBH
Hamels 914 193 75 4.74 12.19
Moyer 841 199 64 4.23 13.14
Myers 817 197 82 4.15 9.96
Kendrick 722 194 66 3.72 10.94
Eaton 478 131 43 3.65 11.12
Durbin 365 81 17 4.51 21.47
Madson 340 79 23 4.30 14.78
Blanton 305 66 24 4.62 12.71
Condrey 303 85 26 3.56 11.65
Lidge 292 50 13 5.84 22.46
Romero 255 41 14 6.22 18.21
Seanez 189 38 11 4.97 17.18
Gordon 139 31 14 4.48 9.93
Happ 138 28 7 4.93 19.71
Eyre 53 8 6 6.63 8.83
Walrond 49 13 4 3.77 12.25

The single biggest surprise in those numbers for me were the extra-base hits allowed by Durbin. Durbin faced 365 batters in 2008 and allowed just 17 extra-base hits, which is one every 21.47 plate appearances. That was the second-best rate on the team after Lidge.

Seanez was very effective at preventing hits. He allowed a hit every 4.97 plate appearances, which was fourth-best on the players listed above after Lidge, Romero and Eyre (who only faced 53 hitters). His rate of giving up extra-base hits was also very good, behind only the rates for Lidge, Romero, Durbin and Happ. His walk rate was very bad, however. If there was a column for plate appearances per walk, Seanez’s rate would be near the very bottom of the list for these pitchers, along with Romero and Gordon.

Condrey gave up a ton of hits, one every 3.56 batters, which was the worst rate of the group. The rate at which he gave up extra-base hits was better than having-an-off-seasoners Kendrick and Eaton, but not by a whole lot. Condrey threw to a 3.26 ERA in 2008. Eaton 5.80, Kendrick 5.49.

Scott Eyre faced just 53 hitters as a Phil, but oddly prevented hits at the best rate of the 16 pitchers and, in what’s just about surely a tiny sample size coincidence, allowed extra-base hits at the worst rate. Opponents went just 8-for-49 against Eyre, but six of the eight hits went for extra-bases (five doubles and a homer).

Finally, Brett Myers gave up a lot of extra-base hits last year. Notably he allowed 49 doubles — only three NL pitchers allowed more. Overall, he allowed 82 extra-base hits to 817 batters. Durbin, Lidge, Romero, Seanez, Gordon, Happ and Eyre also combined to allow 82 extra-base hits, but they allowed theirs in 1,431 plate appearances.

The Phillies made lefty Will Ohman an offer last week. This suggests the Phils are not likely to get Ohman.

The Phils play Team Canada today, with Cole Hamels scheduled to pitch. The linked article also explains that Coste has been limited to one at-bat so far due to a hamstring problem.


2009 a fourth time

The Phillies actually play a game today, so I thought it would be a good time to update my guess at who makes the opening day roster.

Not a whole lot has happened since my most recent guess, which came in mid-January:

  • The news about Utley’s health has largely been good. Multiple reports have suggested that he may be ready for the start of the regular season.
  • News about Pedro Feliz’s recovery from back injury has been less encouraging and his readiness for opening day is looking possible but not as sure as some had previously thought.
  • The Phillies signed utility man Miguel Cairo.

It’s very hard to know whether Utley or Feliz are going to be ready to go when the season starts. I’m going to guess they both will at this point. That would give the Phillies ten hitters on the team:


Player

Position
1
Ryan Howard

1B
2 Chase Utley
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

Three spots left. One has to go to a catcher and another to a fourth outfielder.

The top candidates for the three spots look to be Jason Donald, John Mayberry, Marcus Giles, Miguel Cairo, Ronny Paulino, Chris Coste, Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins.

Of the three spots one has to go to either Paulino or Coste. Jenkins is a strong front-runner for the second. I think Jenkins is on the team as the fourth outfielder, partly because he’s harder to trade than Stairs because of his contract. He is also far better defensively.

I’ve been saying I think Paulino is the second catcher all along, but my confidence is wavering. I will stick with Paulino, but I do think the chances that Coste makes the team improve as camp progresses without the Phillies adding a right-handed hitter. This article suggests that Coste is the front-runner over Paulino coming into camp.

If Coste were to be the second catcher behind Ruiz, it would solve one of the Phillies other problems in what to do with Coste. They could send him (or Paulino) to the minors, but I would guess they don’t want to. Coste as the backup catcher would presumably kill Paulino’s chances to make the team, but I’m less sure Paulino as the backup catcher would kill Coste’s chances. I think if Coste won the backup catcher spot it would open up the final spot for Giles, Donald or Cairo.

If the final hitter comes from the group above, my guess it would be Coste or Stairs. I don’t think it will, though. I will still guess the Phils make a trade, sending Stairs, or Stairs and Coste, to someone to bring back a right-handed hitter who will take the final hitting spot on the roster.

There are only so many things the Phils can do with Stairs, including putting him on the team, trading him or releasing him. Putting him on the team makes him a sluggish corner outfielder who is the sixth left-handed bat along with Utley, Howard, Ibanez, Jenkins, and Dobbs. Assuming they also will continue to play Bruntlett in the outfield, it would also make him their sixth outfielder. Releasing him, especially since one would think his $1 million contract would make him desirable to other teams, doesn’t seem that likely either. That seems to leave trading him.

If Feliz isn’t ready to go to start the year, my guess is the Phils would go with a Bruntlett/Dobbs platoon at third. It would open another spot on the roster, at least temporarily. I would guess Miguel Cairo, given his experience playing third as well as his ability to play multiple positions, might become a more attractive option for the Phils if that were the case.

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

Two spots left and my guess for each stays the same.

I like Kendrick to win the fifth starter job over Chan Ho Park, JA Happ and Carlos Carrasco. I think Park goes to the pen and Happ joins him as the second lefty along with Eyre.

I will be interested to see if the fifth starter job actually goes to the player of those four who pitches the best in spring training. I think the answer may be no. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem if it’s Happ or Carrasco who pitches the best. Carrasco can’t be too surprised if he starts the year in the minors at age 21 coming off a year when he threw to a 4.32 ERA at Double-A. I think Happ has a good chance to make the team anyway and should have known better than to be left-handed. But if Park, who clearly wants to start, out pitches Kendrick and doesn’t win the spot things could get interesting quickly.

Another possibility is that the Phils could trade Stairs (or, less likely, Jenkins or Coste) to bring in a second lefty. Or they could sign a left-handed reliever. In either of those cases, I think it would really make it a three-way duel for the fifth starter job between Happ, Kendrick and Park rather than Park and Kendrick battling it out.

So here’s my overall guess at this point:

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

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

Dobbs would like the chance to hit against lefties. He has 55 plate appearances against lefties and 781 against righties for his career.

Victorino will not be playing in the World Baseball Classic.

Jason Donald will start at second base in today’s game against Pittsburgh. Moyer, Blanton, Scott Nestor, Joe Bisenius, Dave Borkowski, Mike Koplove and Jake Woods are expected to pitch for the Phils.


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