Before I give out specific names, let's discuss numbers. Given the Phils' hitting needs, Ryne & Rube will probably go with 12 pitchers & 13 hitters - I would, if I were them. Assuming both Rule 5 picks make the roster, there are four spots open: one each for the rotation & bench and one bullpen spot. So, who will be guaranteed Phillies this year? Let's begin with the rotation.
- Lefty Cole Hamels as #1 - trade unlikely before O.D.
- Lefty Cliff Lee as #2 - his elbow seems to have recovered
- Righty Jerome Williams (re-signed to 1-YR deal)
- Righty David Buchannan (sophomore season)
9th Inning - RHR Papelbon (trade unlikely, despite Brewers' recent interest)
Late Relief - RHR Giles, LHR Diekman and RHR De Fratus
Middle Relief - LHR Andy Oliver (Rule 5 pick), LHP Mario Hollands
O.D. Line-Up (batting handedness in parentheses):
- CF Revere (L) - hit .306 last year (inconsistent), 13 BB (needs more), 49 steals
- C C. Ruiz (R) - adapts to any line-up spot; majority of looks this year to be in lower half of order.
- 2B Utley (L)- getting more rest this year, possibly in 2-hole most of year
- LF D. Ruf (R) - will get more playing time, especially against LHP
- 1B Howard (L) - I think he'll bounce back, but definitely needs to play less vs. LHP.
- 3B Asche (L) - Let's see if he can play nearly everyday.
- SS Galvis (S) - Let's see how he does nearly everyday.
- RF Brown (L) - Last chance to earn everyday job hitting-wise.
C Cameron Rupp (righty) - destroyed base-runners in brief look last year; year-round back-up
IF-CF Cesar Hernandez (switch) - destroyed winter league
OF Grady Sizemore (L) - Re-signed to 1-YR deal
IF-OF Odubel Herrera (L) - Rule 5 pick; also tore up winter league
So, who is competing? For the rotation, the competition will include many familiar names, whom I mentioned in the Stay-or-Go mini-series. For the bullpen, considering that late relief is set, the competition will be mainly for a long man, probably one of those on that fifth starter candidate list. The bench will have a spot waiting for 3B-1B Maikel Franco, who looks to start the year in AAA and then come up in mid-late May. Until then, it's these OF competing for the final spot: Jordan Danks, Jeff Francoeur, Brian Bogusevic, and Xavier Paul.
I will soon discuss some preliminary predictions and, based in part on this Corey Seidman article, where to look for optimism. Go Phillies!