It may be cold and snowy in the North East but "Spring is in the Air" in the Sunshine State. The Phillies Pitchers and Catchers are set to report on Thursday. In addition to the 40 man roster, the Phillies have an addition 18 "non-roster" invitees who will be in the big league camp. While the majority of the spots are locked up, there will be a few Opening Day seats up for grabs over the next 7 weeks. I'll take my annual crack at what the roster may look like on March 31 in Texas.
Last February, my 1st projection correctly had 23 of the 25 correct.
My Current Projection:
Starting Lineup: Revere, Rollins, Utley, Howard, Byrd, Brown, Ruiz, Asche
Bench: Nieves, Galvis, Frandsen, Mayberry, Abreu
Starting Rotation: Lee, Hamels, Kendrick, Hernandez, Pettibone
Bullpen: Papelbon, Bastardo, Diekman, De Fratus, Martin, Rosenberg, Gaudin
Last 4 in:
Wil Nieves: The 36 year old received a Major League deal from the Phillies during the offseason and is almost guaranteed a spot. He hit .297 last season but provides little pop. Barring a awful spring and an incredible spring from Rupp, Nieves is in.
Kevin Frandsen: Like Nieves, Frandsy is virtually a lock. He will likely get the majority of starts against LH staters. With Galvis and Hernandez on the radar, there is a possibility he could be traded. But with his guaranteed contract, he has a spot if he's in the organization.
John Mayberry: Just like the previous 2, Jmay is very close to being a lock. But I could see the Phillies shopping Mayberry during the spring. It would save them some money and let Ruf be the power bat off the bench from the right side. But like Frandsy, if he's not traded, he's a lock.
Bobby Abreu: Ricky Ledee may challenge him during the spring. Oh wait, it's not 2003. Personally, I would make Abreu earn a spot and force him to hit lights out during the spring to have a spot. But I think Amaro will keep the 39 year old (almost 40) as long as he shows some promise.
Last 4 out:
Cameron Rupp: The 24 year old went 4-13 in his brief time with the big league club last season. While I don't think he is a starting catcher, I do think he can be a quality backup in this league. Last season, Rupp jumped ahead of Joseph and Valle on the organizational ladder. With the dangers of the position, Rupp is almost guaranteed to see some time with the big club in 2014. If it was my choice, I would have saved the $1.2 Million on Nieves and let Rupp handle the backup duties.
Darin Ruf: I'm not sure what more Ruben wants to see from this guy. Apparently 14 HR's in 73 games isn't impressive. If Ruf were 10 years older, he would probably get a multi year deal but since he's 26, he's not a major leaguer? Ruf deserves a spot on the Opening Day roster but I don't think Amaro gives him one. #RuinTommorowJR
Cesar Hernandez: He's another one who earned some playing time but most likely won't be given a chance. Sayzar can play 2B and improved his play in CF over the last month of the season. Hernandez will likely start the season with the Pigs.
Tony Gwyn Jr: He's not your Dad's Tony Gwyn. He is the son of Hall of Famer and long time Padre Tony Gwyn. His speed and ability to play center gives him a chance but he's a long shot right now.
Last 4 in:
Jonathan Pettibone: A Rotator Cuff injury ended the 23 year old's season in late August but he did go 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 18 starts last season. Pettibone isn't a top of the rotation starter but he can give you quality innings at a cheap price. If healthy, he has the inside track at the 5th spot.
BJ Rosenberg: He looked like a completely different pitcher once Sandberg took over. The big righty posted a 3.24 ERA in 16.2 innings with Sandberg at the helm. Rosenberg has the stuff to be a quality reliever and Ryne formality with him gives him the inside track on a spot.
Ethan Martin: The Phillies tried Martin as a starter last season but they eventually realized that he is better suited in the pen. There is no doubt he has a big arm and could be a lights out reliever if he can locate his fastball.
Chad Gaudin: He signed a minor league deal with the team on the offseason but his versatility gives him the edge as the team's long man. In 97 IP with the Giants last season, he appeared in 30 games had 12 starts and had a 3.06 ERA.
First 4 out
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez: MAG's may be the most unknown player in the organization right now. He could be the team's #3 starter, he could pitch in the pen or he could be in the minors. We should get a better idea of where the former Cuban Defector stands once we see him in some live action. Sadly the team needs him to contribute but he's a huge question mark right now.
Brad Lincoln: The former 4th overall pick in the 2006 draft was acquired in the offseason in the trade that sent Erik Kratz packing. He is not far removed from when he posted a 2.73 ERA in 58 innings for the Pirates. But the Phillies have a lot of other young, inconsistent relievers. He has a chance but he has to prove his worth to his new team.
Mike Adams: He has reportedly already started long tossing and hopes to start throwing bullpens in mid February. If he's healthy, he's on the team. But I think they will take it slow with him and he won't be ready for Opening Day. Hopefully he can regain his previous form and be the 8th inning man the Phillies thought they were getting.
Phillippe Aumont: It was a great idea to trade Cliff Lee for this guy. But it was in 2009 and maybe I should just get over it. Aumont has a great arm and I really hope he figures it out. But I think he is running out of chances.