|Ryan Howard's Game 1 homer in 2011's NLDS.|
The rotation has no news from it. Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick, and John Lannan were all pretty much shoe-ins to begin with and all are on the team. Halladay appears to be the starter for Wednesday's second game at this stage, despite his uneven spring. The team will throw three lefties and two righties out to start the season.
In the bullpen, we now know that Phillippe Aumont, Raul Valdes, and Jeremy Horst won the last three spots in the bullpen. They join closer Jonathan Papelbon, set-up man Mike Adams, Chad Durbin, and Antonio Bastardo. Assumedly, Bastardo is the back-end lefty for late game situations, Horst for earlier ones, and Valdes the long-man. Aumont supplies some big-time strikeout potential, but also has some command issues that will dictate his role. This bullpen has some high-reward potential, but is also solid in the crucial 8th and 9th innings when they have a lead, much more so than a year ago.
The infield is pretty similar to the bullpen of five years ago, just a little older, and their health will probably dictate this team's fate. Ryan Howard is back at first after playing less than half of 2012 while recovering from an achilles tear, and his excellent Spring gives us hope. Chase Utley is ready to play his first Opening Day since 2010, and showed a return of power both this Spring, and in his half-season in 2012, but it remains to be seen if he can play the whole season and be the Chase we remember. Jimmy Rollins is back at shortstop for another season, and looks to be ready to go, the only question is if he will hit lead-off on Monday or not. Michael Young will man third base for the first time as a Phillie, and is looking for a bounce-back after one of this worst season's offensively in his excellent career. The bigger worry on Young is his glove though, at a position he hasn't played well in several years (and was never great). There to provide a day-off and defensive replacements is Freddy Galvis, who seems to be mastering playing at every position. Kevin Frandsen was rewarded for a great 2012 (AAA All-Star before his successful call-up) with an Opening Day nod for 2013.
The big question mark that is the outfield will be much, much younger than the 2012 version on Opening Day (Pierre/Mayberry-Victorino-Pence). Dom Brown will finally get the Opening Day nod in a corner spot after a monster Spring training, though we don't know if it will be right or left field. Ben Revere is getting the nod in center field after being picked up in the Vance Worley trade, and easily provides the best defensive outfielder on the roster. He may also hit lead-off after a really solid 2012 in Minnesota, and an excellent Spring. It is likely that John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix will platoon in the other corner outfield slot. In the only maybe-surprise of camp, the Phillies have said that Ender Inciarte will break camp with the team. The Rule-5 pick has never played above High-A ball, and had some tough spring moments, but the Phillies were apparently confident enough.
Behind the plate, Carlos Ruiz heads to the restricted list for 25 games. Erik Kratz will get the nod in his absence for the starting job. Humberto Quintero edged out Steven Lerud for the temporary back-up job.
In addition to the 25 who made the team, Pete Orr, Lerud, and Zach Miner were optioned to the minors today, and none take a 40 man spot on the team either. Delmon Young was sent to the DL. On the 40 man roster in the minors, the Phillies stash position players Sebastian Valle (catcher at Reading), Tyson Gillies (center fielder in Lehigh Valley), Zach Collier (outfielder in Reading), Cesar Hernandez (second base at Lehigh Valley), and Darin Ruf (outfield/first base in Lehigh Valley). They are stashing starting pitchers Tyler Cloyd, Jon Pettibone, Ethan Martin, and B.J. Rosenberg all in Lehigh Valley. Relievers Mike Stutes (Lehigh Valley), Justin De Fratus (Lehigh Valley), Jake Diekman (Lehigh Valley), Joe Savery (Lehigh Valley), and Mauricio Robles (Reading) are all on the 40 man as well.
My initial take on this roster is that it's good- if healthy. We just won't know until a month or two from now when we see how they're doing. The spring has me bull-ish on the line-up, but now Dom Brown and Ryan Howard have to do that for real. On the mound, I'm confident in four of the five slots doing exactly what we expect, but I'm a bit nervous about the Halladay situation. I'm confident the bullpen will hold leads, and I'm actually confident in the line-up too. I do think this is a playoff team. Their ability to win the beast of a division they're in is totally dependent on Halladay being himself. If he is, everyone look out. If not, we're a pitcher short of the Nats.