The number one question I’ve been getting this week is who will make the Phillies post season roster. So let’s take a look at it:
You have the obvious eight starters: SS, Jimmy Rollins; CF, Shane Victorino; 2B, Chase Utley; 1B, Ryan Howard; LF, Raul Ibanez; RF Jayson Werth; 3B, Pedro Feliz; C, Carlos Ruiz.
You have nine pitching locks: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton, Pedro Martinez, J.A. Happ, Brad Lidge, Scott Eyre, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers.
You have four bench locks: OF, Matt Stairs, U, Greg Dobbs, OF, Ben Francisco, C, Paul Bako
That leaves you with four more available spots and seven people on the bubble: Miguel Cairo, Eric Bruntlett, Clay Condrey, Chad Durbin, Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, Tyler Walker. Let’s take a look at each bubble player’s strengths:
Miguel Cairo, INF- Cairo looked to be a long shot, spending much of the season in the Phillies’ farm system, but as of late he has really been playing strong. Since his August recall, Cairo is 10-for-28 with five runs scored and two RBI. He also has been successful in the post season and brings a lot of experience to the Phillies’ bench. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel says he might bring just 11 pitchers to make room for the hot-hitting Cairo.
Eric Bruntlett, INF/OF- Bruntlett will most likely make the team, considering he’s been with them all year. His speed could be used to pinch run late in games. He could also potentially be used, much like he was last year, as a defensive replacement. This year for Ibanez late in games in the large, cold Coors Field outfield.
Clay Condrey, RHP- When Condrey’s been healthy, he’s been very solid. However, Condrey is coming off a strained oblique. He’s been back for over three weeks, but you can’t afford wasting a roster spot on someone who isn’t completely healthy. If the Phillies can make certain Condrey is 100% je could prove to be a valuable asset to a thin bullpen.
Chad Durbin, RHP- After a mediocre season, Durbin has finished as hot as it gets. In his last seven outings, Durbin hasn’t allowed a run, and has surrendered just three hits. Durbin presents a tricky decision for Maunel, because he hasn’t pitched well considering the season as a whole. Sometimes it pays off to play the hot hand though.
Kyle Kendrick, RHP- Kendrick has spent most of the season in the minor leagues, working on developing another pitch. However, he joined the big club in September and pitched effectively in a long relief role. Since Jamie Moyer went down to torn tendons in his groin and abdomen, Kendrick has stepped up his game even more. He could provide effective long relief, while salvaging the rest of the bullpen if a starter were to get in trouble early.
Antonio Bastardo, LHP- Bastardo has weaseled his way into the discussions with the loss of J.C. Romero for the season. Without Romero, the Phils will only have one lefty in their bullpen- Scott Eyre. Eyre has pitched well as of late, but the Phils will likely want to have another lefty specialist, particularly to face Todd Helton in the late innings. Bastardo could make the roster if the team decides another lefty is necessary.
Tyler Walker, RHP- After seemingly pitching his way into being a playoff lock, Walker hit a rough patch late in the season, allowing four runs in back-to-back games against the Brewers and Astros without recording an out. However, he has turned it around, pitching three consecutive scoreless innings to close out the season. Walker could provide good situational pitching against rightys or solid seventh innings, if he can keep up his recent success.
So who makes it? My picks would be Miguel Cairo, Clay Condrey, Kyle Kendrick, and Tyler Walker.
It’s hard for me to leave Bruntlett, who many consider to be a lock, off the roster, but I have to go with the hot bat in that situation. An area that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is the bench, which is rather depleted. I’ll take as many bats there as I can. If Burrell were still on the team, you’d have to take Bruntlett, but everyone in the starting eight is capable of running for themselves.
All the others seem pretty straight forward to me. You could make the argument for Bastardo over Kendrick, but with the uncertainty regarding some of the starters, not having a long reliever could prove to be a big mistake.
The Phillies have until 10 AM Wednesday to hand in their roster, but Manuel is expected to announce his roster to the media tomorrow.