The Phillies roster has only a few select spots that are open to
interpretation. Most of the jobs are filled with little room for movement.
Depending on how many pitchers the Phillies decide to carry, there may be some
opportunities for new faces to make the club and rookies figure into some of
Gavin Floyd and Ryan Howard are the most notable. Both figure to start the
year at Scranton, with Howard learning to play left field and Floyd anchoring
the rotation. There has been talk of Floyd winning a job with the Phillies as a
reliever, much like Ryan Madson did last spring. That's not going to happen.
Floyd is too valuable as a starter and has been groomed for a starting job from
day one. Madson had a lot of talent and potential, but simply put, he wasn't
Gavin Floyd. The Phillies will use the same logic with Howard that they used
with Chase Utley last season, preferring to have him play everyday at Scranton
rather than occasionally in Philadelphia. Plus, he'll be learning a new position
and needs the work.
Having said all of that, if Brett Myers falters or if there's an injury to a
starting pitcher, look for Gavin Floyd to make the club. Likewise, if Pat
Burrell's cranky wrist acts up or if God forbid, something happens to Jim Thome,
then Howard may get a ticket to Philadelphia. Stay tuned.
As for utility players, all eyes will be on Shane Victorino. The Phillies
took Victorino in the Rule 5 Draft last December and think that he has a chance
to win a job with the club. If they don't keep him on the major league roster,
then he must be offered back to the Dodgers and the Phillies could lose him.
Needless to say, Victorino will get plenty of opportunity to play this spring
and show how he may be able to help the Phillies.
As for pitchers, there may be more opportunities in the bullpen. Dan Giese
will get a look this spring and could win a job, depending on how many pitchers
the Phillies carry and how he performs under somewhat of a microscope. By all
accounts, he's ready for the majors, but is going to find it tough to win a job
with the big league club. Edwin Moreno, who the Phillies grabbed off the waiver
wire when the Rangers released him will also get a look this spring, but his
arrival isn't imminent. He pitched at AA and has battled some elbow problems in
the past, so he is a question mark and may start this season back at AA for the
Phillies. Another waiver claimant, Pedro Liriano has a slightly better shot at
finding work in Philly. Liriano made his major league debut with the Brewers
last season and posted a 4.02 ERA in 11 big league games.
In addition to rookies, there are a few others fighting for major league
Jose Offerman signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, but is planning
on being in the majors. There are no guarantees that if he doesn't make the club
that he'll play at AAA for the Phillies, so he'll get a long look. He may see
some time in the outfield, in addition to his usual infield spots, which would
make him even more valuable as a utility player. Placido Polanco has made the
club, but he too, may see some time in the outfield as Charlie Manuel looks to
get him a good amount of at bats. If anything were to happen to Mike Lieberthal
or Todd Pratt, A.J. Hinch would likely get the call to take over as the
Phillies' backup catcher. Otherwise, he'll be at Scranton, splitting time with
young Carlos Ruiz behind the plate.
As for other pitching prospects, Aaron Fultz will try to show that he could
be valuable to the Phillies as a left-handed specialist. For now, Rheal Cormier
is the only lefty in the 'pen and Fultz might be worth a look. Former Met Mike Bacsik will also get a shot at being a situational left-hander in Manuel's
bullpen. Clay Condrey has some major league experience with San Diego, but will
likely start the year at Scranton, playing second fiddle to Gavin Floyd. Of
course, Keith Bucktrot could move into the number two spot with the Red Barons
with an impressive spring.
Of all the rookies in camp, Shane Victorino may have the best shot at sticking with the big league club when they head north this spring. Of course, Gavin Floyd, Ryan Howard and others will also get looks. Plus, some veterans are in camp looking to find major league work for themselves.
Rookies and a few select veterans are doing all they can to win a major league job in Philly.