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Breaking Down the Bench

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Breaking Down the Bench

AP

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The Phillies sent another batch of players back to the minor league system this weekend. Among them were Mike Zagurski, Scott Mathieson, Josh Barfield, Tuffy Gosewisch and Dane Sardinha.

With Zagurski and Mathieson headed for Lehigh Valley, the Phillies bullpen appears to be almost set. With Lidge starting the season on the disabled list, there is presumably one spot left to fill. The eight remaining relievers are Kyle Kendrick, JC Romero, Danys Baez, Antonio Bastardo, Jose Contreras, Ryan Madson, Michael Stutes and David Herndon.

Stutes was optioned to the minors earlier last week, but was called back up after the news of Lidge’s newest injury. Stutes’ Grapefruit League ERA is 0.90 in 10 innings pitched, Herndon’s is 4.09 over 11 innings pitched. It seems likely that Stutes will make the opening day roster with Herndon possibly being optioned to Lehigh Valley.

Optioning Josh Barfield was probably the most interesting move of the weekend. With one less player in the running for the last three roster spots, the field is narrowed down to Luis Castillo, Delwyn Young, Pete Orr and Michael Martinez.

It seems unlikely that Phillies would move on without Castillo. Despite his age and propensity to injury, the three-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman is a veteran that (on paper) wins the job over the other candidates any day of the week.

Assuming Castillo makes the cut, Martinez, Young and Orr are left to compete for the last slot, although rumblings in the press show all signs pointing to Martinez.

The biggest advantage for Martinez is that he is a Rule 5 Draft player, meaning if the Phillies cut him from the roster at any point during the season, he would not be optioned to the farm system, but sent back to the Nationals. Both Young and Orr could head to Lehigh Valley without repercussions.  Martinez has played some good defense in the infield, which alleviates some of the burden off of Wilson Valdez being the lone infield utility player, and he adds some more badly needed depth to the outfield (which apparently Valdez can play, too!).

There would be room for two on the roster if the Phillies were planning on carrying just 11 pitchers. The likelihood of that happening, though, is slim. Lefty specialist Antonio Bastardo appears to be a lock for the bullpen this season, and the team showed a lot of confidence in Stutes by bringing him back (while optioning others) after Lidge was placed on the disabled list. And let’s face it, folks: Kendrick and Baez are just plain old here to stay.

All of that being said, here is my prediction for Charlie Manuel’s Opening Day roster:

1. Roy Halladay
2. Cliff Lee
3. Roy Oswalt
4. Cole Hamels
5. Joe Blanton
6. Kyle Kendrick
7. JC Romero
8. Danys Baez
9. Antonio Bastardo
10. Michael Stutes
11. Ryan Madson
12. Jose Contreras
13. Ryan Howard
14. Luis Castillo
15. Jimmy Rollins
16. Placido Polanco
17. Raul Ibanez
18. Shane Victorino
19. Ben Francisco
20. Carlos Ruiz
21. Brian Schneider
22. Wilson Valdez
23. Ross Gload
24. John Mayberry, Jr.
25. Michael Martinez
 

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