Yesterday on Twitter and Sulia I took a quick stab at the roster again, with the news that old friend Rodrigo Lopez had been signed to a minor league deal. I think we can expect to see him hold down a spot in the IronPigs rotation and contribute some veteran leadership there. He should be able to eat up some innings for the early part of the season until things shake out for the youngsters. It was pointed out that his age may be a problem and that his ERA was 5.++ last year for the Cubs and AAA Iowa. It was also pointed out (thanks, Decal) that he pitched very very well with Gwinnett two years ago for our new manager Dave Brundage. His only loss prior to going to the Cubs was to the IronPigs.
I’ve considered the roster a little more over the last 24 hours. Enough to generate 1200+ words! However, I think I’ve got to look again at the Philadelphia 25 before I can fine tune my stab. Injuries, suspensions, and trades can have an impact here; since I’m not going to predict any more of those, we’ll assume perfect health and behavior.
Discussion: Chooch starts on the suspended list. I’d expect to see Quintero move on and Kratz stick as backup after the first 25 games. The only other possibility is Valle, who is already on the 40-man. I’m just not sure he’s ready.
Starting Infield (4):
Howard, Utley, Rollins, Young
Discussion: Really, after the past two years, can they figure out a way to get Utley’s knees ready for April rather than June? I could really care if he plays in Florida or not. Just get him ready so that the IronPigs don’t have to subsidize the Phillies infield for the first two months.
Starting Outfield (3):
Mayberry, Revere, Brown
Reserve Outfield (1):
Discussion: There may be a platoon here with Nix. An additional reserve my be involved (see below). Also, can’t completely rule out another trade–or Ruf.
Other Reserves (3): Frandsen, Martinez, Inciarte
Discussion: Frandsen is already on the 40-man, where Orr is not. Galvis is, but I think they’d like to have him start the year playing every day (at AAA) rather than on the bench. In the case of an injury or suspension, Galvis would be up right away and has 40-man status. Martinez is only signed to a minor league deal, but I think they like is ability to back up multiple positions, including CF. Then again, if they’re going to keep Rule-5 guy Inciarte on the roster, perhaps he’s their CF backup (and indeed, Mayberry and Brown can play CF as well.) Personally, I’m not sure Inciarte makes it. He doesn’t seem like he’s advanced enough to warrant a 25-man spot. But, that’s something to watch in Spring Training. He could stick as part of a trade and then get optioned, I guess.
Starting Pitchers (5):
Halladay, Hamels, Lee, Lannan, Kendrick
Papelbon, Adams, Aumont, Stutes, Bastardo, Horst, Diekman
Discussion: Really, there could be a number of choices here, most of whom we’re familiar with. The only guy without options is JC Ramirez, which may force a decision there. I’m not sure if he’s pitched well enough to be in demand by other teams, though. I’m also not sure which of these guys fills the “long guy” roll. I would assume, though, if Kendrick’s in the rotation, then the sixth starter will come from the IronPigs: Cloyd probably, with the other starters as possibilities depending upon who’s throwing well and whose turn it is. Pettibone, Martin and Rosenberg are all on the 40-man while Lopez is not (although he’s the most veteran.)
Discussion: I think they start Joseph in Reading and I don’t think they’re confident enough in Valle to let him back up Kratz in Philadelphia. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see any 2-3 of Quintero, Valle, Suomi, Lerud, Joseph with the IronPigs to start–or at any time during the season. Here’s another thing: I don’t want to get into predicting trades, but reportedly, they’ve already tried to trade Valle once (to the Astros, whose pitcher failed his physical). If they want Joseph at AAA, Valle could be moved.
Starting Infield (4):
Overbeck, Hernandez, Galvis, Fields
Discussion: As above, I’m predicting that they want Galvis to play every day to start the season. If this is the way it plays out, we likely won’t have him for long. The first sign of any infield injury with the Phils, and that’ll be it. There was some talk of Galvis trying third base, as well, although I’ve seen nothing official about this.
Starting Outfield (3):
Ruf, Gillies, Jermaine Mitchell
Discussion: Can Gillies get from here to April 4 without getting injured or suspended? Will Ruf earn a spot in Philadelphia? (As with Galvis, I think they’ll want to see him play every day before Charlie will trust him in important spots in Philadelphia) Can Jermaine hold off his brother-from-another-mother(-and father) Derrick for the starting spot? Can he replicate the .731 OPS he put up in the PCL? Will we expect too much from a PCL bat again? What’s going on with Susdorf? Where will Hudson land? A lot of questions here. Stay tuned.
Blanco, Orr, Derrick Mitchell, Castro
Discussion: As I said above, it’s only a matter of time before we lose Galvis to Philadelphia–or maybe Ruf. Ruf can back up Overbeck, as can Suomi. Castro has earned this promotion. I would start Susdorf in Reading before Derrick, but you could make the case otherwise. I don’t think Jiwan James has done enough to be in this group.
Starting Pitchers (5):
Cloyd, Pettibone, Martin, Rosenberg, Lopez
Discussion: As I said above, I think this is where additional starters come from for the Phillies. Rosenberg ended the year as more of a starter, so I’ve kept him there–and there aren’t a ton of other options. Further, I don’t think there’s much more to prove at AA for Ethan Martin, but I think Adam Morgan will start there for now.
Schwimer, DeFratus, Valdes, Robles, Savery, Ramirez, Friend
Discussion: Schwim and JD start with the ‘Pigs but could be up at any time. Valdes is the odd lefty out, but could switch with Horst or Diekman. As I said, Ramirez may need a change of scenery based on lack of options, but that remains to be seen–I don’t see him making the 25-man. I wonder if Savery gets thrown into a deal with Valle if the Phils have seen enough? Friend has proven himself at Reading and should get a spot. A couple other pen guys could find their way up sooner rather than later as the Reading pen looks to be rather crowded. Zach Miner and Cesar Jimenez are strong possibilities for spots here, too, if Ramirez and Savery move on.
This appears to be a strong team, to me, even with the unknown spots and the possibility of injuries and trades. I see the strengths as fielding and relief pitching, while hitting-for-power and starter depth appear to be possible weaknesses. There aren’t really any starters-in-waiting around. It seems like the Braves of Gwinnett were always rather competitive, so I’d predict that the new manager will not be a hinderance to our success. The biggest note, though, is that this is most likely to be the most “prospect”-laden squad we’ve seen at Coca Cola Park in six years. I count as many as 12/25 as current or very recent prospect-level players. It should be fun to watch!