How cool was that to see the Big Club in Baseball Town?!? The Big Man getting a much deserved standing O and then proceeding to go Oppo Boppo over the LF fence. Then the fans chanting "We Want Chooch," Petey sending him in and then Chooch getting a standing O!
Add that to being able to catch of glimpse at what the team's Phuture might be with the likes of Franco, Crawford, Herrera, Williams and Quinn all being on the same field! It was a great night!
Its hard to believe that Opening Day is just a few days away. But with this, the roster is starting to take shape. In reality, there are just 3 spots that are yet to be decided with 6 players battling for those spots. But in all likely hood, those 3 who don't make the roster on Opening Day will get there opportunity to play with the Phillies at some point this season.
Starters(5): Hellickson, Nola, Morton, Eickhoff, Velasquez
Relievers (7): Hernandez, Hinojoso, Gomez, Russell, Stumpf, Neris, Oberholtzer
Catchers(2): Rupp, Ruiz
Infielders(7): Howard, Ruf, Hernandez, Galvis, Franco, Blanco, Burriss
Outfielders (4): Herrera, Bourjos, Goeddel, Venable
Last 4 In:
1. James Russell: Both him and Stumpf are all but locks. If the Phillies decide to keep just 2 lefties, Stumpf has the edge. But it really looks like they will start the season with 3 lefties. This is unusual at the surface but makes a lot of sense for a number a reasons.
First, Oberholtzer will be the long man, so he won't be "matching up" with lefties late in games. And with all 5 starters being right handed, teams will put a lot of left handed hitters in the lineup. So the team will need multiply lefties late in games. Russell has given up just 2 runs in 6.2IP so far this spring and pitched in 387 games at the big league level. He was a non-roster invitee, so he will have to be added to the 40 man.
2. Emmanual Burriss UTL: Burriss is in a battle with Venable and Hunter for the final 2 bench jobs. Luckily Petey Mack likes versatility on his bench and that is definitely Burriss' game! He has played every position but Center at the ML level. The 31 year old has also had a nice spring, hitting 10-32 with 9R and a .840 OPS. Having Burriss on the bench gives Mackanin another versatile player and allows him to use Blanco more freely as a pinch hitter.
3. Will Venable: The Phillies signed Venable to a minor league deal earlier this week but he could make a nice platoon option with Rule 5 draftee Tyler Goddell. At the end of the day, I think his past sucess at the Major League level will give him the edge. He has proven he can hit at the Major League level and that is a plus given the look of the team's outfield right now.
4. Hector Neris RP: Neris hasn't had a great spring but may be the main benefactor have a lot of unknowns in the pen. He owns a plump 6.23 ERA this spring but he has struck 13 hitters in his 8.2 IP. But the 26 year old did have success with the Phillies last season. In 40.2 IP he had a 3.79 ERA and stuck out 41 hitters. Neris is likely to be the guy sent down if Bailey, Mujica or Frieri have some really good outings with the Pigs.
First 3 Out
1. Cedric Hunter OF: I really hope I'm wrong and Hunter makes the roster. He has had such a good spring and definitely deserves to be on the team. He hit .267 this spring with 3 HR, 12 RBI and an .807 OPS. He has played great and has done just as much as you could expect from a non roster invitee. It would be great to see the team reward him for it. Mackanin has really has really talked highly of him lately. I just can't see them going into the season with him as there 4th outfielder.
2. Andrew Bailey RP: Early in camp it looked like Bailey might open the season as the team's closer. Now it looks like he won't be on the roster. After starting the spring with 4 straight scoreless outings, the NJ native has gvien up 5 runs and 9 hits in his last 4. I would expect Bailey to start the year with the Pigs but has a great chance to be back with the big club in late April.
3. Ernesto Frieri RP: His spring has been almost the opposite of Bailey's. He struggled early in camp and has turned it on lately. Some of this is due to some changes in his mechanics that has given him some extra velocity. I suspect that the team would like him to work on some things in the minors before he gets his chance at resurrecting his career.