02/11/10 10:00 AM EST
Phillies have few key roles to sort out
Fifth starter, final bullpen slot open as spring camp nears
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
1. Who will be the fifth starter?
It depends if left-hander Jamie Moyer is healthy. If he is healthy, he is the favorite. But Moyer has had a difficult offseason. He had sports hernia surgery in October and had to be hospitalized twice following the surgery because of blood infections. That pushed back his knee surgery to January, which means he might not be ready to start the season.
2. Who will win the final bullpen job?
There could be more than one job available if Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero aren't ready to start the season. They're both recovering from offseason surgeries, although both are throwing and optimistic they will be ready to go.
If Lidge and Romero are healthy, pitchers like Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona, David Herndon and Scott Mathieson are candidates for the sole bullpen job. But If Lidge or Romero (or both) aren't ready to start the season, the door flies open and everybody gets a shot.
3. Is Cole Hamels ready to go?
Hamels became a popular National League Cy Young Award pick after his dominating performance in the 2008 postseason, but he struggled in '09. The Phillies are confident he will bounce back, which would give then one of the best 1-2 punches in the league with Roy Halladay. The Phillies have said Hamels has been working hard this offseason and is better prepared than he was last year at this time. They hope so. One of the reasons they traded Cliff Lee is because they expect Hamels to look like his old self in '10.
93-69, NL champions
1. SS Jimmy Rollins:
.250 BA, .296 OBP, .423 SLG, 21 HR, 77 RBI in 2009
2. 3B Placido Polanco:
.285 BA, .331 OBP, .396 SLG, 10 HR, 72 RBI in 2009
3. 2B Chase Utley:
.282 BA, .397 OBP, .508 SLG, 31 HR, 93 RBI in 2009
4. 1B Ryan Howard:
.279 BA, .360 OBP, .571 SLG, 45 HR, 141 RBI in 2009
5. RF Jayson Werth:
.268 BA, .373 OBP, .506 SLG, 36 HR, 99 RBI in 2009
6. LF Raul Ibanez:
.272 BA, .347 OBP, .552 SLG, 34 HR, 93 RBI in 2009
7. CF Shane Victorino:
.292 BA, .358 OBP, .445 SLG, 10 HR, 62 RBI in 2009
8. C Carlos Ruiz:
.255 BA, .355 OBP, .425 SLG, 9 HR, 43 RBI in 2009
1. Roy Halladay, 17-10, 2.79 ERA in 2009
2. Cole Hamels, 10-11, 4.32 ERA in 2009
3. Joe Blanton, 12-8, 4.05 ERA in 2009
4. J.A. Happ, 12-4, 2.93 ERA in 2009
5. Jamie Moyer, 12-10, 4.94 ERA in 2009
The new guys
Halladay: Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. wanted Halladay badly before last summer's July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but with the price too high, Amaro moved to Lee instead. And later, when Amaro felt signing Lee to an extension would be too expensive, he pounced on Halladay and shipped Lee to Seattle. Fans still can't get over the fact that the Phils could have had Halladay and Lee in the same rotation, but they should be looking forward to Halladay pitching in the NL. He should dominate.
Polanco: The Phillies injected more life into their lineup when they signed Polanco to a three-year deal. He is a career .303 hitter and one of the toughest players to strike out. Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel basically said a couple weeks ago that Polanco will be his No. 2 hitter, which is no surprise. It puts a smart situational hitter atop the lineup and allows Manuel to hit Victorino sixth or seventh, which gives the Phils another look lower in the lineup. The only concern with Polanco is how well he plays defense. Pedro Feliz played nearly flawlessly at third. His glove will be missed, but Polanco is a better hitter.
RHP Danys Baez: The Phillies wanted to bring back right-hander Chan Ho Park, but they couldn't agree on a price. They moved on to Baez, who has closing experience. That could be very important considering how much Lidge struggled last season. Should Lidge struggle, Manuel might go with Baez in the ninth and keep Madson in the eighth.
RHP Jose Contreras: This is one of Amaro's low-risk, high-reward moves. Contreras made just five relief appearances last season with Colorado, but Philadelphia liked what it saw. The club thinks Contreras' stuff plays up better in the bullpen, which is exactly what it thought about Park last year. The Phils were right about Park. They hope they are right again with Contreras.
C Brian Schneider: Ruiz remains the team's starting catcher, but should Ruiz struggle or get hurt, the Phillies have somebody they feel confident can play every day for a significant period of time. Schneider struggled offensively last season with the Mets, but he said injuries and a lack of playing time contributed to that. He expects to bounce back in 2010.
INF Juan Castro: Castro isn't expected to help the Phils with his bat. He's in Philadelphia to give Rollins and Utley a break every once in a while. Manuel said he plans to do just that.
OF Ross Gload: Gload replaces Matt Stairs on the bench, although he is more versatile in that he is a good defensive first baseman. The only trick with Gload is getting him enough at-bats to stay sharp. Stairs got limited at-bats last season and he might have struggled as a result. Can Manuel get enough at-bats for Gload, Ben Francisco and Greg Dobbs?
Prospects to watch
OF Domonic Brown: Brown is the organization's top prospect and one of the top prospects in baseball. If he has a big year, it could influence the Phillies' decisions on Jayson Werth, who is a free agent after this season, and Raul Ibanez, who is a free agent after 2011.
RHP Phillippe Aumont: He became the organization's top pitching prospect after Kyle Drabek was sent to Toronto as part of the Halladay trade. Aumont pitched out of the bullpen last season, but the Phillies are returning him to the rotation. He is expected to open the season at Double-A Reading.
OF Tyson Gillies: He is the second of three players the Phillies received from Seattle for Lee. Gillies is a talented center fielder who gives the Phils two of the better center-field prospects in the game. Anthony Gose is the other.
LHP Joe Savery: This is a big year for Savery, a first-round pick in 2007. He went 16-6 with a 4.40 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He needs to continue to show improvement if he hopes to live up to expectations.
On the rebound
Lidge: The veteran righty went from being the best reliever in baseball statistically in 2008 to the worst statistically in '09. It is obvious the Phils need Lidge back in form in '10. They think if he is healthy, he will be. And if he is, the bullpen should be much improved.
Moyer: If Moyer starts the season in the rotation, can he stay there? Philadelphia bumped out Moyer last August to make room for Pedro Martinez. If Moyer struggles again, the club might do the same and replace him with Kendrick or even Martinez again, if he remains unsigned.
Scott Eyre: The journeyman lefty retired in the offseason. He plans to take the family in an RV out west this summer, but fans also might hear him on the radio and see him on TV, too. Phillies fans might miss him in the 'pen.
Feliz: He will be playing third base for the Astros this season. The Phils will miss his glove.
Park: He remains unsigned, which is a bit surprising considering how well he pitched in relief last season.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.