|Photo by Rich Wilkins|
The Line-Up- Still Locked:
Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Brown, Revere, and Byrd will all start the season as starters for the Phillies. Nothing has changed there. Maikel Franco is turning some heads, and maybe will make Cody Asche work this Spring, but I don't think anything has changed at third base. The only question for me is the batting order. Count me as someone who would love to see Chase Utley take a try at leading off. He's good at getting on, and you could move Dom into the three hole.
The rotation- Clearing Up:
Let me start with this- I'm not the least bit concerned about Miguel Gonzalez. As in, I think all the coverage about how he looks this Spring to be a false story. Spring Training, especially pre-games, is filled with false stories. MAG is one of those, until we see him getting tagged by minor leaguers in games.
With that in mind, Lee, Hamels, and Burnett are locks. Unless they trade or cut Kendrick, he's a lock too at $8 million. Roberto Hernandez will make this team, since his deal is guaranteed, though I suppose he could slide to the bullpen. I doubt it though. Pettibone's injury setbacks actually make me say that MAG is probably the sixth man, right now.
The Bench- Yuck:
I was hoping for youth before, but I think we're just getting a pile of rubble instead. Wil Nieves will be the back-up catcher. Kevin Frandsen and John Mayberry Jr., sadly, are probably staying. Could Mayberry miss the club? I hope. I just don't see it though.
A lot of people have questioned my forecast of Bobby Abreu making the team, and I get it that 1.) There's not a lot to love about a 40 year old who didn't play last year making your team, and 2.) a lot of fans are of the WIP variety that don't get how good Abreu was here in his first stint, so they hate him. I don't think Bobby's a lock to make the team, but I think he does make the team. First off, the Phillies need a lefty bat, and while some have suggested they need a shortstop more, I think Ruben is probably okay with Frandsen being the back-up at short. I think Bobby's reputation as being a patient hitter, his being lefty, and the fact that they brought him in pretty late (presumably to patch a perceived lacking) makes me think he makes it.
That leaves one spot. One spot between the younger guys and the non-roster guys. I wish that there were at least two, but I think Ruf wins this spot. I'm holding out hope that Hernandez can displace Mayberry yet. I'm also holding out faint hope that Freddy Galvis beats out Frandsen too.
The Bullpen- ???:
Papelbon has to make the team, and obviously should. Bastardo makes this team. Adams has apparently been encouraging, so look for him to make it. I think Jake Diekman will have to earn it, but is the best bullpen arm in camp, so put him in. Then it gets fun. I'd love to see Ethan Martin make it, but I think they'll stash him in AAA. Look for Rosenberg and Lincoln to win spots. I'm going to stick with De Fratus to win the seventh spot for now.