4. RHP Kyle Kendrick, 5. LHP John Lannan.
Everything seems set for Hamels to make the first Opening Day start of his career on April 1 against the Braves at Turner Field. The Phillies have not made it official, but Halladay has endorsed Hamels and pitching coach Rich Dubee has mentioned the benefit of splitting up lefties Lee and Hamels in the rotation. The reports on Halladay have been positive thus far, although the health of the 36-year-old righthander remains the biggest key to the whole puzzle. If an injury strikes, the Phillies have a pair of experienced starters in camp in Aaron Cook and Rodrigo Lopez (assuming they are agreeable to starting the year in Triple A). But if one of the big three starters goes down, the Phillies might need to consider erring in favor of upside. Jonathan Pettibone has started only seven games at Triple A, and Adam Morgan has started only six games above Class A. Still, Morgan in particular has shown the ability to miss a bat or two this spring, striking out six in 4 2/3 innings of two spring appearances.
1. RHP Jonathan Papelbon, 2. RHP Mike Adams, 3. LHP Antonio Bastardo, 4. RHP Chad Durbin, 5. LHP Jeremy Horst, 6. TBD, 7. LHP Raul Valdes.
Adams has been his usual dominant self in his first two outings as a Phillie, and nobody in the organization is fretting about Papelbon's rocky start (at least not publicly). There is still a bit of intrigue with regard to the three spots that figure to be up for grabs. The results have not been there for Horst, but they were not there early last spring and he ended up having the most consistent year of any reliever not named Papelbon. The Phillies have used Valdes for multiple innings in each of his appearances, which would make sense since he would likely fill the role as long man. Last time around, we had Justin De Fratus penciled in as our righthander to be named later, but the race among him, Phillippe Aumont and Mike Stutes for the final spot will be decided from this point forward. None of the three has more than two outings. The Phillies probably would like to see Aumont win it, because he has the best stuff and it would mean he is throwing strikes.
1. SS Jimmy Rollins, 2. 2B Chase Utley, 3. 3B Michael Young, 4. 1B Ryan Howard, 5. LF Laynce Nix, 6. RF Domonic Brown, 7. CF Ben Revere, 8. C Erik Kratz
We have devoted more time to the batting order than it is worth. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how Charlie Manuel plays this. He likes speed at the top of his order, but batting Rollins and Revere No. 1 and No. 2, or vice versa, would result in four straight batters who are weaker against lefties than righties (Rollins-Revere-Utley-Howard). Last time around, we had righthanded slugger Darin Ruf making the roster, but the Phillies would seem best suited in the long run to give the newly converted first baseman everyday reps in leftfield in the minors while Nix and John Mayberry Jr. rotate in left.
1. OF John Mayberry Jr., 2. IF Kevin Frandsen, 3. CF Ender Inciarte, 4. IF Freddy Galvis, 5. C Humberto Quintero.
This is hardly a perfect bench, especially on days when Nix is in the lineup (against a righthander, presumably). Inciarte is a lefthanded hitter but he only has five home runs in 1,906 minor league plate appearances, none of them above Class A. Galvis is a switch-hitter, but in the majors last season he hit just .208/.231/.331 with one home run in 137 plate appearances from the left side. Frandsen and Mayberry are both much better against lefties than righties. You wonder if the Phillies are going to regret nontendering lefthanded-hitting corner outfielder Nate Schierholtz, particularly for whatever stretch of time Delmon Young spends on the disabled list at the beginning of the season. There just isn't much in the way of lefthanded power in camp.
Until next time . . .
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