Placido Polanco could become a very important member of the Phillies,
or he could be one of the highest paid utility players in the history of the
game. With Polanco's somewhat surprising return, the Phillies find themselves in
a unique situation that they figure will work itself out one way or another.
David Bell is sidelined by back spasms that the medical staff insists shouldn't
be a big deal. The point is though that with Bell hurting, thoughts of Placido
Polanco at third base have to be at least flashing through the minds of Charlie Manuel and Phillies fans everywhere. Keep in mind too, that although Chase Utley
will be the real deal, he's young and could stumble under the scrutiny of
playing everyday in the majors. Plus, Polanco could also move to shortstop and
perhaps, even the outfield if really needed. By the time the season ends,
Polanco could be a key component of the Phillies because of his presence at a
number of positions or by being used as trade bait if Bell and Utley don't need
any time out of the lineup.
|The Phillies hope that Ryan Howard can simply enjoy a big season at AAA Scranton without needing him in Philadelphia. However, if they need him, Howard could step into a key spot with the Phillies.|
Ryan Howard is going to be an interesting case study this season. Pat Burrell is suffering from two seasons of sub-par numbers and has a balky
wrist. Howard has played a grand total of one game in the outfield and that was
in the Arizona Fall League, but he has worked his butt off to learn left field.
It would be a tough move to take a slumping - and high priced - Burrell out of
the lineup in favor of Howard, but it's a move that wouldn't be out of the
question. It would be an easier move to consider if Burrell's wrist problems
persist and he winds up on the DL. Plus, Jim Thome's power would be greatly
missed if he were to go down with an injury. Howard could ease the power outage
somewhat by taking over at first base if - God forbid - that were to happen.
Keep an eye on Howard, because he'll be important if for no other reason than a
recall to act as a DH in interleague games this summer.
Gavin Floyd will be interesting to watch, because Philadelphia has
become the land of the injured and slumping pitchers. Andy Ashby and Kevin Millwood both came to town in the not too distant past and were expected to be
rotation aces. Both were busts. By now, Brett Myers was supposed to have become
an all-star stud at the top of the rotation. That hasn't happened. Last season
alone, Millwood, Randy Wolf and Vicente Padilla were all on the DL. Even if
everyone stays healthy, the popular rumor is that the Phillies may deal one of
their starters to make room for Floyd at some point in the season. No matter how
it plays out, you have to figure that Floyd is going to log some time in
Philadelphia this summer. It's likely too, that once he arrives, it will be a
permanent stay. The Phillies insist that he needs a little more time at AAA and
maybe he does, but once he gets it, they're going to have to make room for him
one way or another.
Jose Offerman was one of the quieter free agent signings of the
offseason, but he could be a huge part of this club. Offerman can play a lot of
positions and those that he hasn't played, he's willing to learn. He was one of
the best pinch-hitters in the majors last season and has versatility on his
side. If the Phillies were to trade Polanco this spring, it would likely be
because they feel confident that Offerman can provide a strong player off the
bench to fill any holes that may pop up. The other scenario is that if Polanco
were to be needed to play everyday at third, Offerman would be able to handle a
utility role with no problem at all. Offerman is at the point in his career
where he realizes that he's not likely to play everyday and he's accepted the
fact that he can help a club by coming off the bench in key spots. One
interesting consideration is whether Offerman would accept a minor league
assignment to start the season and be patient enough to see how everything plays
Marlon Byrd has had his share of tough times in the big city. If he
doesn't show a marked improvement this spring, it's likely that Rule 5 Draft
pick Shane Victorino would make the club. Which would you rather have? A speedy,
but completely unproven entity like Victorino or a guy like Byrd, who has at
least been through the rigors of a major league season? Victoring has solid
potential, but he's pretty much of a one dimensional player; speed. He's not
going to hit many homeruns and he's not going to win a batting title. Byrd won't
win batting or homerun titles in his career, but he brings a more rounded
approach to the game. He has legitimate speed and some pop in his bat. Keep in
mind that he did also hit .303 in his rookie season after a tough start to the
year. A repaired version of Marlon Byrd could be very important for the Phillies
Depth is one of the keys to winning. What if a key player goes down with an injury? What if Pat Burrell or another everyday player slumps badly enough that the Phillies need a Plan B? PhillyBaseballNews.com has identified five players who could become important parts of the Phillies roster.
Depth is a key to winning and the Phillies have five players who could become important.