It’s about that time of year again when Opening Day approaches and speculations about the roster arise.
In a perfect world, there are no injuries and this guessing game is easy. But for the Phillies, they don’t live in a perfect world.
Instead, their two best players are starting the season on the disabled list – combining for $35 million out of the line up in Pittsburgh. Their top middle infield utility player broke his foot during Spring Training and a couple of the relievers don’t appear to be in regular season form.
It leaves the door wide open for a handful of spots on the Opening Day roster, and here is a look at who will be dressing on April 5.
Carlos Ruiz, Brain Schneider
Reasoning: This is the easiest position to predict because there is almost no competition at the major league level. Erik Kratz is a nice insurance policy to have in Lehigh Valley if need be.
Jimmy Rollins, Ty Wigginton, Freddy Galvis, Placido Polanco, Pete Orr, and Jim Thome
Reasoning: Now that Chase Utley has left camp without playing any games, it’s likely that he won’t be on the Opening Day roster. Freddy Galvis should be a suitable replacement as he has played very well this spring.In 17 games, Galvis has hit a respectable .273 with a home run and 11 RBIs.
The additions of Jim Thome and Ty Wigginton are more important now than ever. Thome will be counted on to play first base a little bit. Wigginton becomes valuable because he can play all over the infield. That’s something that the Phillies will need with Michael Martinez being out for a significant amount of time.
Pete Orr also sneaks onto the club because of depth issues.
Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, and Juan Pierre
Reasoning: There is some solid depth in the outfield. The biggest position battle in camp was Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik for the 5th outfield spot. Pierre will get the nod because of his speed which will come into play late in games. Podsednik is a great asset to keep at the AAA level and instantly comes up if there’s an injury.
Laynce Nix and Mayberry could see time at first base with Mayberry probably receiving the bulk of it until Ryan Howard returns. Hunter Pence will be counted on to be the big bat in the lineup.
[EDITOR’S NOTE] If the Phillies are worried about pop in the line up, Domonic Brown could make the roster over the speedy Pierre.
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Papelbon, Michael Stutes, Chad Qualls, Jose Contreras, Antonio Bastardo, and Jake Diekman
Reasoning: Joe Blanton has been impressive this spring and deserves the final spot in the rotation. Blanton has been bit by the injury bug and only logged a little over 40 innings in 2011.
Kyle Kendrick is a nice piece to have. He can be the long relief guy and can also spot-start if needed.
The surprise could be that Jake Diekman makes the roster. The young lefty was impressive as he allowed no hits and no runs in four innings. Now it’s not the biggest body of work but he looks to have some great stuff and is a favorite among Rich Dubee, who makes the final call in all things pitching.