With a week to go until the regular season finally starts, we are getting a much clearer sense of what direction the Phillies are going to be heading in, roster-wise. They've spent the last week or so sending various players down to the minors, cutting a few others, and all-in-all just figuring out how to get the roster down to 25 before the season opener on April 1st.
They got one step closer to that on Sunday afternoon, when they released shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Betancourt was making quite the case for himself to make the team after a very strong spring showing. In 17 games, the 31-year-old hit .447 with a homer and 14 RBIs.
But March stats aren't really all that noteworthy, especially when you consider that Betancourt has a career OPS of .682, and that he hasn't had an on-base percentage greater than .300 since he was a 26-year-old in 2008.
Perhaps more important than his inability to be an effective hitter is that the Phillies, quite simply, didn't like him as much as Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen. While neither enjoyed the kind of spring success as Betancourt, both figure to offer substantially more to the team during the regular season. Galvis, despite his offensive woes, is probably the best defender on the team, and is capable of playing multiple positions at a level that is well above average. Although he is known as an infielder, he moved to right field late in a game on Friday, and it appeared that he equipped himself nicely in that role.
And even though Frandsen doesn't have the defensive skills of a Galvis, he does have the ability to play multiple positions. Offense-wise, he isn't anything special – his career .686 OPS is a tick better than Yuni's – but he did hit .338/.383/.451 in 55 games with the Phillies last year. It's a small sample size, but it's clear that they like what he can do, even as a part-time player.
While the final roster isn't set in stone, we can pretty much predict how the infield is going to shake out come next week, with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young as the starters, and Frandsen and Galvis as the backups.
The rest of the roster – specifically the bullpen and the outfield – still remains mostly shrouded in mystery, but we can probably ballpark it if we had to. For now, though, we can rest easy knowing that the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies infield is all but set in stone.