Brian Schneider (.218, 11 R, 37 H, 24 RBI)
Schneider found a home behind Carlos Ruiz, which, if you’re afraid of baseballs, is a great place to be. When he plays in over 100 games, his average hasn’t danced past .268. Not a big deal. Last year, in 57 games, he made one error. A .997% Fpg. Okay, fine.
But he’s got 10 years experience tracking NL East pitching, and in a position where all you have to do is be better than PAUL FREAKING BAKO for me to be satisfied, that’s well beyond his pay grade already. If only his former Mets were some kind of threat, even knowledge he absorbed last season would be useful.
Juan Castro (.277, 18 R, 31 H, 9 RBI)
Castro’s on board for some steady D, but then again, that’s probably what they said about Eric Bruntlett, so… oh, shit. I made myself sad.
At 37, Castro didn’t see a ton of playing time L.A., and with Charlie Manuel’s religious following of the lineup card, chances are, he’ll see even less. Being the backup to Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, guys who see baseball more as instinctual than something that is taught and don’t really ever stop playing, even if they should, is going to result in Castro’s uniform going back to the locker room in pristine condition.
He scampered anywhere in the infield last season, playing all four positions at least one time. But what you’re probably going to see a lot from Castro this year is laying down the bunt.
Ross Gload (.261, 33 R, 60 H, 30 RBI)
Connect the dots, Ross. Everybody’s replacing somebody. And you’re our Matt Stairs.
Trouble is, you’re no Matt Stairs. You’re a contact hitter. Matt Stairs was a 10-story lumberjack who’s axe created the Grand Canyon. Obviously, we will be looking for something different from you.
Look, we still need a big bat coming off the bench, and with Stairs in San Diego, that’s Gload. He’s also a lefty, but so is Dobbs, so you can’t say he’s got a specialty either. Whether he’s going to make some noise or not, he’s coming into this with the right attitude:
“I didn’t come here for more playing time. I probably came here for less playing time – and a chance just to be part of something good.”
That’s good, because again. The Phillies don’t really let you play. It’s been rumored that Charlie’s bench could see more action, as the late season lull created by players who exhaust themselves by going 300 mph through the summer and never wanting a day off, so guys like Gload could see more playing time than they expect.
Greg Dobbs (.247, 15 R, 38 H, 20 RBI)
Greg Dobbs. You were the best pinch hitter in baseball in 2007 and 2008. Last year was a mere fraction of the past two, skill wise. Explain yourself.
“It’s tough to put up good numbers if you’re not getting at-bats. It just is. And not that it’s an excuse. It’s just the way it is.”
But Dobbs has shown this spring the hits that made him the best back up offensive powerhouse in baseball just a few years ago. Spring Training can be tricky, however; we can make assumptions based on performance, and then watch as players who excelled mere weeks ago tumble and fall throughout the regular season. With Dobbs, his spring has been promising, and we loved the thing his bat did when Ryan Howard stepped aside for a bit in ’07.
If more emphasis is to be put on the back up squad, Dobbs, with his experience with this team and in the postseason, will be leading the charge.
Ben Francisco (.278, 10 R, 27 H, 13 RBI)
Oh, sorry, Greg Dobbs’ playing time. Francisco’s presence more or less destroys Dobbs’ chances of seeing the outfield grass firsthand. Last year, Francisco played the late innings in right, taking over for a Raul Ibanez who specialized in being weak defensively, and a couple of times, it was exactly the right thing to do, and Ben would come up with a ridiculous catch or a sniper shot from the corner.
Ibanez may be the one exception to the general Phillies concept of nobody wanting to take off time; not on his end, but on Charlie Manuel’s end, meaning Francisco is the sole bench player who’s had playing time even slightly nudged in his direction. And because he came as a tagalong with Cliff Lee, Ruben Amaro is more than likely looking to Francisco for an above average year, to put him on a mantel with the rest of his “low risk-high rewards.”