As the temperature’s rise in Pennsylvania, the battle for roster spots in Clearwater is heating up. In just two weeks, the Phillies will be playing the much anticipated on deck series against the Pirates and Opening Day will follow 3 days later. Even with a only a few weeks remaining, there is still some uncertainty on who will be on the roster on April 1st. There is added uncertainty due to the unknown availability of Chase Utley. Personally, I would be very surprised to see Chase playing 2nd on Opening Day, but there is still some time for his knee to get better.
For those who might not know, the Phillies have a decent starting rotation heading into the season. The amount of innings that they are capable of giving will lessen the need for middle relievers. So they could decide to start the season with just 11 pitchers and keep 14 position players. As I did in my first roster projection in late January, I’m going to assume they go with 12 pitchers and 13 position players. I don’t have many changes to my January Projection. If you want to look back at my January post, click below. I will post my final roster projection sometime before the start of the on deck series. If there is a need to do an update early next week, I will do another one then.
Position Players (13)
Starting Lineup (8)
Rollins, Polanco, Ibanez, Howard, Francisco, Victorino, Ruiz, Valdez, (Pitcher)
Changes: In Valdez , Out Utley
If you look closely at the box score, you will notice that Charlie has done a lot of tinkering with the lineup. He has had a lot of different players batting at a lot of different spots. The only certainty is Howard will bat 4th. Charlie has stated numerous times that Jimmy is the leadoff hitter, but he has also had him bat 3rd a few times. Ibanez has spent a large part of the spring batting in front of Howard. If it was my decision, I would bat Polanco 3rd and Ibanez 5th. It still may be a long shot, but I find it interesting that Barfield has been getting the majority of the starts at 2nd base and Valdez has been getting time at numerous positions. Maybe I’m reading into it to much, but I don’t think Valdez is a lock to replace Utley like many seem to think. I think it is something that we should at least monitor in the next few weeks.
Schneider, Gload, Mayberry, Young, Barfield
Changes: In Barfield, Out Valdez
The battle for the available bench spots has gone like I had thought it would. The injury to Utley has created a need for another player off the bench. Barfield has taken full advantage of his opportunities. Right now I think that there are there are 3 players battling for 2 spots. Those 3 are Young, Barfield and Rule 5 accusation Michael Martinez. It seems as though Young and Barfield have been playing more and playing better right now. But since Martinez was acquired via the Rule 5 draft, he must remain on the 25 man roster all season or he must be offered back to Washington. The Phillies seem to like Martinez but it would be hard to deny Young and Barfield a roster spot. Contrary to some other opinions, if they do keep Martinez I think he would take the spot of Young not Barfield. Young would give the team more flexibility than Barfield, but Valdez has played everywhere this spring including RF, Gload can play RF and LF and Mayberry can play all three OF positions.
Disabled List: Utley
Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels, Blanton
Changes: In Blanton, Out Worley
When I did the roster projection in January, I still thought that Blanton would be moved. I thought that Worley would end up beating Kendrick out for the 5th spot. Right now, there isn’t really much to discuss about the rotation. These are the 5 who will be out there barring any trades or injuries.
Lidge, Madson, Contreras, Romero, Baez, Bastardo, Kendrick
The bullpen has shaped up like I thought it would and like the Phillies had hoped. Baez has pitched well enough to earn a job. He has given up just 1 run so far this spring. While he has looked great so far, he did have a 0.71 ERA last spring and pitched horribly during the regular season. I think Baez can be a good reliever for the team but he has to continue to pitch well to keep his job. Bastardo has rebounded from a early spring injury to pitch very well. In 4 innings, he has not given up a run or hit while only walking 2. Stutes remains a sleeper if Baez begins to falter. The Phillies have said that shutting Lidge down for a few days was precautionary and very minor. But I can’t help but be worried about it. If Lidge starts the season on the DL, I would expect the team to just start the season with just 11 pitchers.