After over a month of the audition process known as Spring Training, the Phillies have finally arrived at their final 25-man roster for the 2013 season, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.
Zolecki posted about it on his blog on Saturday morning, and there weren't too many surprises in store:
Rotation (5): Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan.
Bullpen (7): Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes.
Catchers (2): Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero.
Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.
Outfielders (5): Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Ender Inciarte.
As we've talked about, the only questions that any of us really had about the Opening Day roster were pertained to the outfield and in the bullpen, thanks to a plethora of players that had a legitimate chance of making the big club in those positions. The only big name missing from that list is Carlos Ruiz, but that's because he will be serving a 25 game suspension when the season starts. Upon his return, he figures to replace Quintero.
In the bullpen, the Phillies have a lot of high-powered arms capable of racking up the strikeouts, which is a nice change of pace from last season. They opted to go with three left-handed pitchers, which gives Charlie Manuel a lot of options when it comes to matching up with opposing lineups in the late innings.
The biggest change that they'll see in the 'pen is going to occur in the late innings, where Mike Adams will bear most of the responsibility of getting the game into the hands of closing pitcher Jonathan Papelbon. It was the biggest weakness the team had last year, but the presence of Adams and Chad Durbin should turn the bullpen into a strength.
In the outfield, the only real question was whether or not the Phillies were going to hold onto Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte, who impressed the team with his play during the spring thanks to his defensive ability and strong throwing arm. While Inciarte doesn't figure to get much playing time, he gives the team more depth on the bench, especially when it comes to needing a late-inning defensive replacement or a pinch running. While Inciarte would need to remain on the 25 man roster for the entire season to avoid being offered back to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Zolecki predicts that, when Delmon Young is healthy enough to make the team, that it will be Inciarte who is the odd man out.
All told, it's a pretty solid – if not old – roster. There are some issues in the rotation, especially considering the status of Roy Halladay, plus the ability of Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan. The lineup figures to be much better positioned than they were last year, but that is again based on their bats staying healthy.
While most of the players are familiar to most fans, there is a lot to be excited about on this 2013 team, namely the reinvented bullpen, plus the presence of Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, and Freddy Galvis. Revere and Brown will hopefully become the building blocks for a reinvigorated Phillies team, while Galvis is just an absolute blast to watch when he plays the field.
The biggest thing about this roster, though, is the fact that Chase Utley will be playing on Opening Day for the first time since 2010, which is something that cannot go overlooked. While he isn't the Chase from four or five years ago, simply having his bat in the lineup on a daily basis in April and May can be a difference maker.
They'll still have the odds stacked against them when the season starts, but you have to feel a lot better about this roster than the one that they fielded this time last year. The only thing left, now, is to see if that makes a difference when the season starts.