Its that time of year again. As the snow begins to melt in the north east, the roster battles in Florida are heating up. This is the first year in a long time that the Phillies are in a clear rebuilding phase and that has the potential for them to structure their roster differently. Amaro and Gillick have find a way to blend current production with long term growth, both individual players and potentially flipping veterans at the deadline. Even though they are rebuilding, there are still a lot of veterans with a lot of money left on there contracts. Then you add in the few young pieces the Phillies have and there isn't an over abundance of open jobs but enough to make things interesting.
Lineup: Revere, Galvis, Utley, Howard, Ruiz, Brown, Sizemore, Asche
Bench: Rupp, Hernandez, Blanco, Ruf, Herrera
Rotation: Hamels, Lee, Harang, Williams, Buchanan
Bullpen: Papelbon, Giles, Diekman, De Fratus, Oliver, Gomez, Clemens
Last 4 in
1. Andres Blanco SS: He appeared in 25 games last year for the Phillies and hit .277 but he won't make the roster because of his bat. He will make it because he can play SS. So far through 6 games, Galvis and Blanco are the only 2 players to appear in a game at SS. The fact that Hernandez has yet to appear at SS, makes me think they are reluctant to go into the season with him as there only player who can backup at SS.
2. Paul Clemens RHP: I've heard some say that Clemens is the 2015 version of Jeff Manship. I see the logic but Clemens is both younger and has a better arm than Manship. A week into act he seems like the leading candidate as the long man out of the pen. On Wednesday he pitched 2 scoreless innings against the Yankees. Clemens also pitched 2 scoreless innings against the University of Tampa last Sunday.
3. Andy Oliver LHP: We all know Ruben loves the Rule 5 draft and Oliver is another example of him trying to find gold in the scrap bin. But I do like the potential Oliver does have. He is a lefty who can bring it at 97-98 and guys like that don't grow on trees. Last year in AAA, he posted a 2.53 ERA while striking out 85 in just 65 IP. So far this spring he has struck out 4 in his 2 scoreless innings. The stuff is there, but the 27 year old has always had problems with his control. Given the rebuilding state of the team, I don't see why you wouldn't take a chance on this kind of arm.
4. Jeanmar Gomez RPH: He is a non-roster invitee who is both young and has had some success in the big leagues. The 26 year old (27 on Tuesday) had a 3.18 ERA in 11.1 IP last year in Pittsburgh. So far this spring, he's pitched 3 scoreless innings. He's likely in a battle with Luis Garcia, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and BP pitcher Phillippe Aumont (sad that a guy with that nasty of stuff can't figure it out).
Last 4 out
1. Mario Hollands LHP: Super Mario emerged onto the scene last spring and 6'5" lefty earned a spot on the 25 man with a solid spring. He carried that into the season as he posted a solid 4.4 ERA in 47 IP. Last season injuries hurt his numbers as he posted a 6.89 ERA after the break. He rebounded Friday pitching a scoreless inning after being shelled for 4 runs in just 2/3 of a inning in his Spring Debut. With Oliver's presence, I think he better served to start the season at AAA rather than getting inconsistent work in the majors.
2. Luis Garcia RHP: So far during his career, Garcia has been what people like to call a AAAA player (great in AAA but not failing to have success in the majors). He had a ridiculous 0.96 ERA with the Pigs last year but posted a 6.43 ERA in 14 IP with the Phillies. It seems they feel Garcia's arm talent will eventually translate to the big leagues, but he's got to prove himself first. So far this spring, he's pitched 1.1 scoreless innings. Even though he's "out" right now, he is very much in the discussion for the final spot in the pen.
3. Jeff Francoeur RF: The former Braves super prospect was signed to a minor league deal and got an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. Right now, I feel he is behind Revere, Brown, Ruf, Sizemore and Herrera on the team's OF depth chart. I think his chances depend a lot of whether the organization feels Hernandez can be a decent backup at SS. He clearly brings more to the table at the plate than Blanco. A solid spring will make it a tough decision as he could be a candidate to be flipped at the deadline if he posts decent numbers early. If you want a good laugh check out the video below. Last year his minor league teammates convinced him that one of his teammates was deaf.
4. Maikel Franco 1B/3B: If we are going based on current talent. Franco should be on the roster. But as Phillies beat writer David Murphy pointed out, if he spends just 40 days at AAA. The Phillies could delay his free agency by one year. Then when you add in the fact that he didn't exactly set world on fire last September. I'm not sure how you would say keeping him in the minors is a bad thing. It also allows the team to give more consistent AB's to both Ruf and Asche.
40 Man Roster
My current projection gives 3 spots to players who are not currently on the team's 40 man roster. The Phillies are maxed out on the 40 man right now, so they would have to DFA 3 players. Aumont is out of options and would be subject to waivers assuming he doesn't make the 25 man. Another obvious option is OF Jordan Danks who the team claimed on waivers during the off-season. The Phillies would then have to chose between a young reliever and I think it would come down to Nefi Ogando and Mike Nesseth. Another option could be placing someone on the 60 day DL if someone has a long term injury.
Injuries and Trades
Cliff Lee: Phans got some bad news this morning as Amaro announced Lee has some discomfort in the elbow that gave him problems last year. It may be minor as Lee may resume throwing as early as tomorrow. But given the past, its definitely worrisome.
Chad Billingsley: He missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery and he has yet to appear in a Spring game and it looks like he will likely miss most of April. He figures to start the season on the DL.
Chase Utley: "Minor" injuries for Chase at the start of camp just worry me. Neither the team nor Utley have given any reason to believe he won't be ready for Opening Day. But until he plays an official spring game, I'm a little worried
Hamels, Papelbon and Lee: All 3 still may be traded before Opening Day (Lee A LOT less likely given his recent injury concerns). But the farther we get into spring, the less likely it is.