Week one of Grapefruit League play is in the books so it is a good time to take a first pass at the roster battles.
*15 day DL candidate
Most of the starting lineup is locked up outside of LF where Herrera could start, for now he doesn’t have that job but his roster spot is pretty much locked up. Same thing for Galvis, the SS position is likely his, but at least he is the back up SS. Given his timeline it is very likely that Billingsley starts on the DL to give the Phillies some extra flexibility to start the year.
*Projected winner in italics
The Phillies want Rupp to win the job because he is on the 40 man roster, is fairly young, and has the skill set to be a solid backup. So far (2-3 with a 2B, BB, K) he hasn’t done anything to change those opinions.
It would take a lot to unseat Ruf and Sizemore. Ruf is one of the few RH batters on the team and his 1B/LF flexibility gives him a long leash. Sizemore isn’t anything great anymore, but he is better than what others have shown so far.
The last roster spot is the biggest question mark. With Odubel cementing himself in the outfield and Utley being behind in Spring, Hernandez is a virtual lock to make the roster. If the team sees Ruf more as an infield and thinks that Odubel can play 2B and Cesar can cover SS/3B then they could go for Francoeur. But given Hernandez’s limitations on the left side of the infield, right now I am going with Blanco as it allows them to focus on Odubel in the outfield, Hernandez at second, and Blanco to back up Freddy at short. Franco is a lock to go to AAA to start the year.
The minor league guys (Morgan, Biddle, Rodriguez) were never really in this competition so I will be leaving them off. Gonzalez has shown some promise, but he doesn’t look ready to be a starter right now and is probably ticketed for a rotation spot in AAA. Given that we have Billingsley on the DL there are two slots here. Right now Buchanan looks good and Williams gives the flexibility to move to the bullpen if needed. The only thing to really watch here is if Slowey emerges, the Phillies could option Buchanan to keep Slowey and give themselves some extra SP depth.
There is a lefty battle between Hollands, Oliver, and Araujo. So far Araujo has looked the best of the group, but he has a shorter track record. Right now I would guess that Oliver has the inside track because he is a Rule 5 pick and his raw stuff is very good, but that won’t hold up for very long if he doesn’t continue to throw a good amount of strikes. Clemens’s stuff has been flashy but not really effective (he just doesn’t miss bats), on the other hand Luis Garcia has looked better and better and Hector Neris looked good in his second outing. At this point the spot likely goes to Garcia. The last spot depends on their priorities. Aumont is out of options so they could give a little more leash, Hollands still can get lefties out even if his stuff isn’t overpowering, Araujo has the best stuff, and Gomez/Jimenez can give multiple innings. The other option is that the Phillies move Slowey or Williams to the bullpen, for now it is likely they go with 3 LHPs and bring Hollands north.
The Phillies Unreasonable Expectations Power Rankings:
- Odubel Herrera
- Cliff Lee Trade Returns
- Ryan Howard
- Darin Ruf
- Mookie Betts
Herrera is the most obvious candidate here as he may be the second coming of Shane Victorino. A healthy Cliff Lee is still (and always has been) an expensive Cliff Lee, and that is going to hurt any trade returns. Ryan Howard in shape makes the inaugural list as we are suddenly expecting him to be more than just a black hole. This may be the year that young stud prospect Darin Ruf finally gets his fair shakes with the Phillies. The Mookie dream will always live on.