Phillies Roster Takes Shape
The Philadelphia Phillies are now halfway through spring training down in Clearwater, Florida.
Every reporter and internet site covering the team seems to be making their predictions over the last couple days as to who they believe will make the final Phillies cuts and head north with the team for the regular season.
So why not? I’ll take my shot at looking into a red pinstriped crystal ball, and give fans my take on who is likely to make the team. Keep in mind, these predictions are based on a combination of factors.
First of all, it will include an evaluation of their performance to this point in spring training. But it will also include my take on what should happen in handling some difficult decisions, such as the catching situation, infield depth, the bullpen, and the possible addition from the outside of an extra outfielder.
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Assuming health, the Phillies infield should include the first base combo of Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf, the Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis middle infield, and a red-hot Maikel Franco at the hot corner. Andres Blanco makes the team as a backup across the infield. In 2015 he played 35 games at 3rd base, another 22 games at 2nd base, and 10 at shortstop. He even played a game at 1st base. Darnell Sweeney would backup at 2nd base and in the outfield. Hernandez appeared in a dozen games at shortstop and can back up there as well. MADE IT: Howard, Ruf, Hernandez, Galvis, Sweeney, Blanco
The starters based on the Altherr injury and what I believe should happen would be Odubel Herrera in center field, with Peter Bourjos in left, and Tyler Goeddel in right. I’m already on record that the Phillies should not sign anyone from the outside, again assuming those remaining stay healthy. That would mean David Lough, Cedric Hunter, and Sweeney all make the team. Cody Asche (who has 3B versatility) would start on the DL, perhaps getting some AAA at-bats before returning. When he is ready, someone’s job will be on the line, though that could be a relief pitcher as easily as an outfielder. MADE IT: Bourjos, Herrera, Goeddel, Lough, Hunter.
The combination of Cameron Rupp and Carlos Ruiz are back once again. It will be the final season, maybe just a half-season, for the beloved champion Chooch. If it were me making the decisions, this would be simply a production battle, and Chooch’s job would be on the line right now, with veteran J.P. Arencibia and prospect Andrew Knapp getting full consideration. I don’t believe that will happen. MADE IT: Rupp, Ruiz
In order, let’s call it Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Brett Oberholtzer. Frankly, if Eickhoff is a little behind, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the team baby him a bit, and flip-flop him with Oberholtzer at the start of the season. So that means Adam Morgan and Vincent Velasquez head to the minors? Not so fast. I’ll call that a 50-50 outcome, with the young Velasquez starting at AAA for the IronPigs, ready to fill an opening in the big leagues later this summer. Morgan heads north as a long man, lefty option out of the bullpen, and first into the rotation if there is injury or ineffectiveness. MADE IT: Hellickson, Morton, Nola, Eickhoff, Oberholtzer
I’m putting seven relievers on the opening roster at the beginning, with the possibility that someone goes when Asche is ready. I’m also copping out and putting David Hernandez on the DL at the beginning. That could change if he proves healthy in the next week or so. But coming off TJ surgery and with a barking elbow? We’ll see. I’m keeping Morgan in the group at the beginning, I’ll say that he joins both Bobby LaFromboise and James Russell as lefty options for manager Pete Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure. The righty options would then be Hector Neris, Dalier Hinojosa, Jeanmar Gomez, and Andrew Bailey. There should be a real battle over these last couple of weeks among Neris, Hinojosa and Edward Mujica for the final two bullpen spots. I’m calling the holdovers as the winners over the newcomer veteran. Based on what is happening thus far, I’ll call Bailey as the closer on Opening Day. MADE IT: Morgan, LaFromboise, Russell, Neris, Hinojosa, Gomez, Bailey
So there you have it, one man’s take on the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies roster for Opening Day. There will be difficult decisions to be made by GM Matt Klentak on possibly adding on outfielder from the outside, and by he and the coaching staff on the final cuts in the bullpen. It doesn’t end there, as the health of both Hernandez and Asche will force further tough choices at some point, if not immediately then by some point in April.