With the Juan Pierre vs. Scott Podsednik battle seemingly settled (Juan won), the Phillies Opening Day roster has mostly taken shape.
But, there are still a few question marks for the Phillies to answer before they open in Pittsburgh next week.
First, let’s look at the guys that -- barring any setbacks -- should break camp on the 25-man roster:
Let's start inside the diamond.
Placido Polanco (3B/2B)
Jimmy Rollins (SS)
Freddy Galvis (2B/SS)
Ty Wigginton (1B/2B/3B)
Jim Thome (1B)
Laynce Nix (1B/OF)
John Mayberry Jr. (1B/OF)
Hunter Pence (RF)
Shane Victorino (CF)
Starting Pitchers (5):
Relief Pitchers (4):
Jonathan Papelbon (Closer)
Let’s not forget the guys who are likely to start the season on the disabled list: Ryan Howard (1B), Chase Utley (2B), Michael Martinez (INF/OF) and Jose Contreras (RP). A question mark remains if reliever Michael Stutes will be ready to go on Opening Day after being held out of action this week with shoulder soreness. I’m assuming a trip to the DL is likely.
Assuming everything above, four spots are up for grabs as the Phillies make the final push towards Opening Day.
1. Who’s the final infielder?
This swing spot would normally be occupied by Martinez (who is hurt) but now appears to be a two-man race between non-roster invitees.
It could be Pete Orr’s job to lose considering he has appeared in 50 games for the Phils the past two seasons. Orr has had a good spring batting .294 with a .351 on-base percentage, .431 slugging percentage, four doubles, one homer and five RBIs in 51 spring at bats. But a strong spring from Hector Luna (.302/.362./.558 with two doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs in 43 at bats) and Luna’s recent praise from manager Charlie Manuel, as stated on Philly.com, the decision could be a tough one.
One guy who won’t likely make the roster is former major leaguer Kevin Frandsen who has hit a paltry .156/.263/.313 with two doubles and one homer in 32 spring at bats.
Going into the weekend, like I've been doing for weeks, I give the nod to Luna.
2. Who will round out the bullpen?
David Herndon seems almost certain to make the roster. I know what you’re thinking, but give the guy a chance he was nearly lights out in the second half last season, posting a 1.55 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 22 appearances. In 13 spring innings he has posted an impressive 2.77 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP.
After Herndon things get murky. Joe Savery is my favorite to be added to the pen. The big lefty would add another late-inning situational southpaw to the team and he has put together a respectable spring, 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and nine strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings. Non-roster invitees Scott Elarton, Raul Valdez or Brian Sanches could also make the team.
3. Who is the 25th man?
The Phils could keep it to just six relievers and add an extra man to the bench. Welcome back Podsednik!
I really think the Phils would be silly to send Pods to the IronPigs. The veteran of 10 major league seasons (he missed all of 2011 with foot problems) has probably had the most impressive spring of any player in Clearwater posting a .347/.407/.510 line with five doubles, one homer, eight runs, two RBIs and five steals in 49 at bats.
All those at bats show that the Phillies wanted to give the 36-year-old outfielder a good hard look. During that time he has outplayed Pierre in every offensive category but Pierre’s lack of options along with being a year and a half younger with two more years of consistent Major League experience likely gave him the nod.
But, I think the Phils will keep Pods to play some left, some center and serve as a much needed speedster off the bench, especially if Orr is sent down to the minors.
There are my picks.
Who do you think will fill out the roster?