Philadelphia Phillies Roster Predictions
It is coming close to the 2014 season, and every team is ready to pick out their 25-man roster and to win some games. The Philadelphia Phillies are just as excited, but they will need a little bit of help for them to be successful. Remember the 1983 Phillies who almost won the World Series? This current Phillies team could be compared to the same team the franchise had 30 years ago. The 1983 team was known as the “Wheeze Kids,” a bunch of old veteran players that nobody expected to succeed. The team, however, broke all of the odds and magically won the NL Pennant before losing to the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. This Phillies team needs the same luck. It will position its roster in a way that will rely on injury-prone and veteran players like Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Marlon Byrd, and Mike Adams. Let us take a look at what the Philadelphia Phillies will have to offer this spring:
CF- Ben Revere
SS- Jimmy Rollins
2B- Chase Utley
1B- Ryan Howard
LF- Domonic Brown
RF- Marlon Byrd
C- Carlos Ruiz
As long as everybody stays healthy on this list, it can be a tough offense to beat; however, that’s been the problem for the Philadelphia Phillies the past few years. Nobody on the list played over 140 games for the Phillies last year besides Jimmy Rollins and Domonic Brown. Now that Ryan Howard says that he is playing with “two legs instead of one,” and that the Phillies finally have a solid right-handed bat in the outfield, they could really do some damage. Six of these players have been elected an All-Star, while three have received a Silver Slugger at their position. The most well-rounded hitter on the Phillies is Chase Utley. “The Man” can hit for average, get on base, and knock in runs when he has to.
Everybody is a lock to start at their position, except for Cody Asche. Asche struggled a bit at the Major League level only hitting .235 in 50 games, but he did show he has potential when he hit .295, 15 HR, and 68 RBI in 104 AAA games. He is the favorite to get the job, but he might have some competition with Maikel Franco. Franco hit .320, 31 HR, 36 2B, 103 RBI, and only 70 SO in 134 games between A and AA. It is being assumed by many that the Philadelphia Phillies do not want to rush Franco, and will choose Asche who has more minor league maturing than Franco; however, anything can happen in spring training. It has been reported that Franco has impressed enough that Former All-Star and current Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg stated he is “one of the better guys.” It would be nice to have another right-handed bat besides Marlon Byrd and “Chooch” in the lineup, but it might be better for Franco to mature some more after seeing his offseason stats. This is the only competition we will see for a starting lineup spot, but it will be interesting to see who impresses the most.
C- Wil Nieves
OF- Bobby Abreu
IF- Kevin Frandsen
UT- Freddy Galvis
It will be interesting to see who cracks the final spots on the 25-man roster. There is obviously a need for somebody to be a backup catcher for Carlos Ruiz, so Wil Nieves is an obvious choice to make the team. Catching prospects Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle have not matured enough to earn backup-catcher duties. Then there is the responsibility of the utility player. Since the Philadelphia Phillies finally released Michael Martinez, there is no need to worry that somebody will be on the roster who doesn’t need to be. Freddy Galvis showed all of last year and the year before that he can play multiple positions, taking over for Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins while they were injured. He even played 16 games at third base and 10 games in left field. His versatility along with his tremendous glove will earn him the utility spot.
Kevin Frandsen was primarily the utility man last year, but also served as a good defense replacement and pinch-hitter during the year. Frandsen might see his playing time go down this season, but he will still have some clutch at-bats for the Philadelphia Phillies. Bobby Abreu will make his return to Philadelphia this year since his unexpected departure in 2006; however, his role will be different this time around. He most likely will be the fifth outfielder, along with being a pinch-hitter specifically for his patience at the plate (his career OBP is .396)
The final spot on the roster is going to be the most interesting decision out of them all. The decision is between right-handed outfielders John Mayberry Jr. and Darin Ruf. Mayberry has been with the Philadelphia Phillies on the Major League level consistently since 2011; however, the fans have grown tired of his declining play. Many believe that Darin Ruf should deserve the shot at being the 1B/OF option off of the bench. The 28-year-old had an amazing 2012 in the minor leagues, hitting .317, 38 HR, 104 RBI. He struggled a bit during his call up in 2013, but still managed to have a better slash line (.247 avg/.348 obp/.458 slug) than John Mayberry (.227/.286/.391) and in almost half the amount of games. Ruf also showed that he can produce by getting on base (he had a 33-game on base streak) but also by showing his power when he hit nine home runs in the month of August. Ruf seems like the better choice, but the fact that John Mayberry Jr. can play center field and was re-signed to a $1.59 million might make it difficult for Ruf to make the team.
LHP- Cliff Lee
RHP- A.J. Burnett
LHP- Cole Hamels
RHP- Kyle Kendrick
RHP- Roberto Hernandez
The Phillies have been well-known for their rotation for the past few years. Formerly touting names like Pedro Martinez, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee, the team had arguably the best rotation in baseball for a two-year period. Martinez’s tenure was short-lived, and Oswalt was not re-signed after an injury plagued 2011 season. Roy Halladay was with the team up until last year, but retired this offseason because he felt he could not be at his best on the mound any longer. Then there were two. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels have continued their dominance on the mound, and are still arguably the best 1-2 punch in the MLB; however, there was something lacking when Halladay left.
The team did not have a legitimate #3 so Kyle Kendrick was being projected as being that pitcher. Having a 4.50 ERA pitcher as a #3 pitcher does not give a team a solid chance of winning many of its games, so the Phillies went out and signed A.J. Burnett to a one-year deal with a second year mutual option. He was a solid addition, especially since he led the NL in SO/9 (9.8) and posted a solid 3.30 ERA, 209 SO, and a 56.3% ground ball rate in 191.0 innings. If all three “aces” stats are combined from last year, then their average ERA is 3.25. If numbers 33, 34, and 35 can continue their success from last year, then the backend of the rotation will not even matter. The fifth spot in the rotation is up for grabs, but I predict that Roberto Hernandez snatches the spot since he is earning $4.5 million this season. The only way he does not is if wildcard Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez blows away the competition in spring training.
SU- Mike Adams
SU- Jake Diekman
LHP- Antonio Bastardo
RHP- Justin De Fratus
RHP- B.J. Rosenberg
The bullpen has had issues the past few years for the Philadelphia Phillies. The team has finished in the bottom 10 in bullpen ERA, including having the fourth worst ERA in baseball with a 4.19 average ERA last year. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has been scrutinized by the fanbase because of his lack of fixing this issue the past few years. Well, it is happening again this year. Amaro believes that the team can succeed with the bullpen it has, and is relying on the fact that Mike Adams returns 100% from injury. If that is true, then the bullpen will be solid since it would have four pitchers with potentially sub-3 ERA in Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman, Jonathan Papelbon, and Adams. However, it may cost Amaro later for not signing another arm this offseason.
Bastardo has been inconsistent the past few years, Diekman has yet to have a full season, Adams is returning from injury, and Papelbon’s velocity has decreased over the past two years. These are all potential problems the Philadelphia Phillies may face this upcoming season. The only significant signing Amaro has made is Chad Gaudin, but he failed his physical the first day of spring training and was released. Besides Papelbon, Adams, Diekman, and Bastardo, every spot is up for grabs The bullpen has the potential, but like the past few years there are a lot of things that have to go right for this to be a dominant bullpen.
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