As spring training games start to wind down, the Phillies are starting have options opening up to fill the void for several injured players.
Not many of these players are what you’d expect. Usually, the Phillies are looking for players who can simply give the regulars a day off. This year, the extra players will get much more than just an occasional start. They will get regular action themselves.
Jim Thome is a given to the roster. He will be so much more than the late-inning power bat. He’s been working on his fielding at first base, and hasn’t been doing too bad.
Freddy Galvis is appearing to be a given as well. A few days ago, he fouled a ball off his foot that kept him off the field for a couple of days, but he still will likely start in place of the injured Chase Utley on Opening Day.
And yesterday, Juan Pierre was officially guaranteed a roster spot, as the Phillies picked up his contract.
Now, that leaves three players likely fighting for one spot. Laynce Nix and Thome will likely go down as the other two bench players, meaning the Phillies have a decision to make: go with a small bullpen for the advantage of having a bigger bench, or pick one of the three to have 12 pitchers on the roster.
Here’s why this is a problem. The Phillies will go with two catchers: Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider. If you look at the outfield at the moment, there isn’t a spot to be found: Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Juan Pierre. In the infield, there is the same dilemna: Jimmy Rollins, Jim Thome, Placido Polanco, Freddy Galvis and Ty Wigginton.
That’s five infielders, five outfielder and two catchers, giving the Phillies 12 position players. There is definitely one spot left, but two is a stretch. Take a look at the pitching staff. First, the starters: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Joe Blanton. Now, add in the bullpen: Jonathan Papelbon, Chad Qualls, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes and Kyle Kendrick are guaranteed to be in the pen.
Joe Savery appears to be getting some serious relief time, and is handling it nicely. He may be the last man into the bullpen in that sense. The other spot would go to either Jose Contreras or likely David Herndon if Contreras were healthy.
The Phillies have not seen the best production out of Bastardo or Stutes, so while Qualls is starting to line up as a suitable set-up man, I’d be concerned about overworking the two guys likely assigned with seventh-inning duties. That may be where Contreras/Herndon and Savery come into the picture.
As for the bench, there technically is no discussion if not for injuries. If Ryan Howard will healthy, then one of the outfield spots closes because of Mayberry. If Utley is healthy, Galvis isn’t even on the radar yet. If Michael Martinez is healthy, then that last bench spot is not even under consideration.
If I had to pick one player at the moment, I’d have to think Hector Luna has surprised enough people to make the team. The last one in has changed several times this spring. At one point, I would have said Montanez. Honestly, I didn’t think Pierre would make it over Podsednik.
But that is not what the Phillies went with, and honestly, Pierre will help more over the long run. Still, one of these three players will make the team. I doubt it’s Podsednik because the Phillies appear to have gone in a different direction. However, the battle is on between Montanez and Luna. With only three days left before the Phillies make the trip back to Philly, things should start to unfold quickly.