The writers at That Ball’s Outta Here have been attempting to project which players will make the Philadelphia Phillies roster for Opening Day. We’ve already looked at the starting rotation and bullpen, and today, I will look at the bench.
In case you missed them, here are the projections from the other writers:
The batting order may change before the season, but it seems pretty certain that the eight players who will take the field will be:
C- Carlos Ruiz
1B – Ryan Howard
2B – Chase Utley
3B – Cody Asche
LF – Dom Brown
CF – Ben Revere
RF – Marlon Byrd
That means the only jobs that are really up for grabs are reserve positions.
The Phillies signed Wil Nieves to be their backup catcher, and the only way he didn’t start the season in that role was if Cameron Rupp had an insane Spring. I expect for Nieves to be adequate in this role.
Considering that manager Ryne Sandberg has been using Freddy Galvis as his regular shortstop in Spring Training games, he seems like a lock to be the team’s primary reserve infielder. Galvis can field well, and not only is he capable of playing every infield position, he’s also been given a couple of looks in the outfield. In a perfect world, Galvis would hit well enough to start two or three games every week, but he has yet to show that he has the bat of a major league regular.
Making the Cut
The Phillies gave John Mayberry a guaranteed contract this offseason, so there’s very little chance that he doesn’t make the team. Mayberry has been maligned by Phillies fans over the years, but I think he can be useful if his playing time is limited. As a bench player, his right-handed power and ability to play all three outfield positions make him valuable. Mayberry’s problems have come when injuries have forced him into a regular role. He’s clearly not good enough to be an every day player.
The Phillies also guaranteed Kevin Frandsen‘s contract, so I’ll assume that the team wants to keep two backup infielders. Frandsen may have limitations – especially in the field – but he’s an experienced pinch hitter, and is a decent option to bring off the bench for one at bat a game.
It seems unlikely that the Phillies would go into the season without a left-handed hitter on the bench, so I’ll say that Bobby Abreu makes the team. Abreu hasn’t been hitting well this Spring, but he continues to show a good eye. If the Phillies absolutely need to get a baserunner aboard late in the game, there are worse options than letting Abreu try to draw a walk.
It sounds like Ryne Sandberg would love to keep Darin Ruf around. It’s understandable, as Ruf’s bat would be a tremendous weapon off the bench. It would also be nice to have a solid option to play first base in place of Ryan Howard if the team happens to be facing a tough lefthanded starting pitcher.
The numbers don’t seem to be in Ruf’s favor. But I have a feeling that the Phillies will attempt to delay answering the “Who’s the fifth starter?” question for as long as possible. For the first two weeks of the season, they keep Ruf instead of a fifth starter. Obviously, they’ll eventually have to add another starter, but quite a bit can happen in that time.
Outside Looking In
Cameron Rupp will likely make the Phillies’ roster at some point in 2014. Both Ruiz and Nieves are on the older side, and Ruiz never makes it through a season unscathed. But for now, there’s no room on the team for a third catcher.
Tommy Joseph may be the Phillies’ catcher of the future, but he’s clearly not ready for the majors right now. Hopefully he can rebound from his injury-shortened 2013 season.
Cesar Hernandez will probably spend the beginning of the season in the minors, attempting to learn how to play outfield. He’s another player who’s likely to end up on the big league team this season.
Tony Gwynn is intriguing in that he is lefthanded and can play center field. If the team decides that Bobby Abreu can’t hit well enough to be a viable bench piece, then Gwynn could find his way to the big league team. This could also have the effect of making Mayberry expendable. But for now, I think that Abreu has the edge, and Gwynn starts off in the minors.
Maikel Franco is the team’s best prospect, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him with the big league team later this season. But for now, there’s no obvious spot for him, and he could probably benefit from a little more seasoning in the minor leagues.
What do you think? Have I missed the mark? Do you think the Phillies will end up with a different group on the bench after breaking camp? Please share in the comments below.