As the waning weeks of spring training come to a close, we are reminded of the openings in the starting rotation, and bullpen. A lot of players' major league lives are on the line. A bad outing here, a bad game there, and the next thing you know is that your down in triple-A trying to figure out what exactly went wrong.
Whose jobs are on the line? The Phillies need a fifth starter, two relievers, a back-up catcher, and fill some openings on the bench. I will try to profile and answer, in a sense, the Philadelphia Phillies most burning questions.
While the Phillies' first four spots are locked up, the fifth spot is up-for-grabs. Like children playing that game: "jackpot", where they throw a football up in the air and call out random points; the Phillies fifth starting rotation spot is like a game of "jackpot", in that who catches the job, gets the "jackpot".
It's a role you can't ignore.
And you can turn your back... but it won't go away
And you don't look scared... but you should be afraid
You can shut your mouth... but you still have a say
And you just don't care... for tomorrow, today- Billy Talent, Turn Your Back
Up for the fifth rotation spot are: Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, Chan Ho Park, and Carlos Carrasco.
Kyle Kendrick: As much as I wanted to see him pitch himself into the fifth starting rotation spot, he kind of, uh, pitched himself out of the job and pitched himself right into triple-A. I was, no. I am still a Kyle Kendrick fan. 21 wins in two seasons since coming up from double-A, that's impressive. According to guys on both MLB Network and Baseball Tonight, it takes roughly two to three seasons to figure out the "book" on the pitcher.
2009 Spring Training stats: 1-3, 4 Games, 4 Games Started, 9.20 ERA, 14.2 IP, 8 K, 5 BB, 15 R, 16 ER.
Optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley on 3/23/09.
J.A. Happ: I was a big fan of both Happ and Kendrick when they came up. I almost figured Happ to eventually be the "Ageless Wonder" Jamie Moyer's replacement. Happ has been impressive this spring training.
2009 Spring Training stats: 0-0, 6 Games, 3 Games Started, 3.15 ERA, 20.0 IP, 14 K, 6 BB, 8 R, 7 ER.
My opinion on J.A. Happ's chances of making the rotation: I believe that Happ is now the front-runner for the fifth starting rotation spot. But, we will wait and see.
Chan Ho Park: After coming over from Los Angeles, Park is looking for a starting job. Although Park is familiar with both the rotation and bullpen, I believe that the Phillies would rather have Park in the bullpen. Park even skipped the World Baseball Classic, just to compete for the fifth starting rotation spot.
2009 Spring Training stats: 1-0, 3 Games, 2 Games Started, 1.54 ERA, 11.2 IP, 11 K, 0 BB, 2 R, 2 ER.
My opinion: Chan Ho Park makes the 25 man roster through the bullpen. But, as always, we will wait and see.
Carlos Carrasco: The Phillies top pitching prospect fared better than Kendrick. But not much better. Carrasco hasn't quite lived up to the "top pitching prospect" title. But I believe that will come with age.
2009 Spring Training stats: 2-1, 5 Games, 3 Games Started, 5.52 ERA, 14.2 IP, 10 K, 5 BB, 13 R, 9 ER
My Opinion: Like Kendrick, I believe he will be assigned to triple-A later this week. Carrasco will be back in September unless Park, Happ, and Kendrick (when and if they returns) crap out.
The Phillies bullpen last season was nothing more than just plain dominant. The Phillies will have some open spots to fill, not just on the bench, but in the bullpen as well. There will be a spot open that was "vacated" by J.C. Romero, once he starts his 50-game suspension.
Pitchers up for a spot in the bullpen:
Chan Ho Park
Not a left-hander in the bunch, huh? Anyway, there are ten "locks" in the pitching section for Philadelphia. Those ten are: Brad Lidge, Jamie Moyer, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre, and Clay Condrey. Plus you can pencil J.C. Romero in when he returns from his 50-game suspension.
So that's eleven pitchers total that are locks.
My opinion on who gets the bullpen jobs: If J.A. Happ earns the fifth starting rotation spot, when Chan Ho Park will be in the bullpen. Joining him will be either Majewski or Mosebach. Most likely Robert Mosebach because Majewski and Koplove signed minor league deals, while Mosebach is a Rule 5 Draft pick.
The Bench(warmers): Infield Edition
As for bench players, you can do two things: one is pencil utility and bearded wonder, Eric Bruntlett in as an automatic lock. The second thing is pencil Greg "The Natural" Dobbs in as another automatic lock.
So the infielders that are locks are: Chase Utley, Pedro Feliz, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Greg Dobbs, and Eric Bruntlett.
The Phillies need another right-handed bat coming of that bench, badly. The wild cards here are Marcus Giles, Pablo Ozuna, Miguel Cairo, and top prospect Jason Donald.
Jason Donald was reassigned to triple-A Lehigh Valley 3/24/2009
My opinion: If the Phillies need another infielder on the bench, Giles would be my pick.
The Bench(warmers): Catcher Edition
You can automatically pencil Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz in as the starting, everyday catcher. So who is the backup catcher? Good Question.
The Phillies had three players competing for the backup catcher role as of, March 24th 2009. Those three were: Ronny Paulino, Chris Coste, and Lou Marson.
As of March 24th 2009, the Phillies reassigned catcher Lou Marson to triple-A Lehigh Valley.
That leaves two players remaining: Ronny Paulino and Chris Coste.
My opinion: I believe the Phillies will stick with Chris Coste. The Phillies know Coste well and while none of the candidates for backup are hitting well this Spring Training, but like I said; the Phillies know what Coste brings to the table.
The Bench(warmers): Outfielder Edition
The Phillies have three "locks" in the outfield: Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth. The uncertain of a job future are: Matt Stairs, Geoff Jenkins, and John Mayberry Jr. While there are rumors* are abound over Jenkins and Stairs, the Phillies are not, I think, going to able to trade or release both Jenkins and Stairs.
As of this typing Mayberry has not been sent down to triple-A Lehigh Valley.
So who gets the last two bench spots? Another good question.
My opinion: The Phillies wind up keeping one of them on the bench, at least Jenkins and keep either Cairo or Giles on the bench as well. As for Stairs, the Canadian, slugger, will either be traded or released to make room for somebody. But, I will let time tell the story: there are less than two weeks from Opening Day, I should say Opening Night in the Phillies case.
That is it for the Spring Training Roster moves edition of the Mac Attack. Stay tuned for the Opening Day edition of the Mac Attack. So until then, keep on truckin' people; keep on reading and writing them articles. Peace.