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95% Phillies, 4% Eagles/Flyers/Sixers/Big Five, 1% Nonsense .... Contact us: Scott Graham ~ Andy Musser

Thursday, March 26, 2009

25-Man Roster Suggestions

It is time to start counting down to Opening Day. Another season of laughing at Chris Wheeler is almost upon us*. As a result, I will show you my ideal 25-man Opening Day roster, which is slightly different than Mr. Graham's roster which he posted Tuesday. This is a suggestion, not a prediction. And, yes, Charlie Manuel takes our suggestions very seriously.

Starters (8):

Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Ruiz, Victorino, Werth, Ibanez

Bench (5):

Coste, Dobbs, Jenkins, Stairs, Bruntlett

Rotation (5):

Hamels, Myers, Moyer, Blanton, Happ

Bullpen (7):

Eyre, Madson, Lidge, Condrey, Durbin, Park, Bastardo

The two names up there needing explanation are Chris Coste and Antonio Bastardo. I am not a big fan of Coste, but I chose him over Ronny Paulino because I feel it is more important to squeeze whatever offensive production is left out of the 36-year-old Coste before turning to Paulino as the backup catcher. Paulino is younger and he will become a better hitter than Coste in the future, but I'm just not sure we have reached that point yet. The main reason I chose Coste is slugging percentage (their OBPs are roughly equal). Coste has a career .449 SLG%, and his right-handed power will be valuable off the bench. Paulino is slightly better defensively, but he has a .382 career SLG%. Let Paulino work on his offense and defense in the minors (he's still only 27), and milk Coste for all he's worth as a right-handed bat off the bench. But, as Mr. Graham said, the Coste/Paulino issue is all noise until Lou Marson can become Ruiz's backup, or even his replacement. Ideally, Marson progresses quickly enough that we will never see Paulino on the roster.

As for my choice of Bastardo as the final reliever: he is a lefty. He had 62 Ks in 67 innings in AA-ball last year: not too shabby for a starting pitcher. Right now, the Phillies have only one lefty reliever: Scott Eyre, proud owner of a career 1.531 WHIP. Eyre is a nice lefty to have in your pen when he is the secondary lefty, but the Phillies will really be rolling the dice if they think they can make it through JC Romero's suspension (a third of the season) with Eyre as their only lefty. Bastardo has some zip, and if he is only pitching to lefties (which would be the case if he were the second lefty reliever), he should fare well. Hell, he can't fare any worse than whatever righty would be pitching to Carlos Delgado in the sixth inning (Koplove? Condrey? Chan Ho?). Give the kid a shot to retire some lefty bats whenever Eyre is unavailable, then send him down to continue his minor-league path when Romero comes back. However, I highly doubt the Phils will do this; I would be very surprised if they found a second lefty to complement Eyre before Opening Day. Bastardo will not make the team.

The starting 8 listed above is unquestionable, and the starting rotation depends only on Hamels' health (I do not think he will start the season on the DL, but he might start the season on the DL but still come back for the fourth game of the season on April 10). If Hamels is on the DL, then the Phils could carry 6 bench players (likely Cairo) and 7 relievers (likely Gary Majewski).

You'll notice that Jason Donald has not been mentioned. He has been optioned to the minors despite an impressive minor league career and spring training. This means Bruntlett's job is safe for now. However, if I were a betting man, I'd lay a couple rubles on the chance of a Donald-sighting at CBP this summer.

Again, Bastardo will not make the team. I feel like the rest of my 25 players, though, will be on the roster. Insert Cairo onto the bench, remove Bastardo from the pen, and that's my prediction.

*Chris Wheeler's oblivion: The only constant over a 162-game season.

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