So, I'm chatting with a member of the Phillies staff who is here in Jupiter, and he is telling me about a time several years back when another MLB team made the drive across the state from the West Coast to the East Coast for a game at Roger Dean Stadium. A few members of said organization's clubhouse staff were driving a 15-passenger van full of supplies across the state.
Now, if you aren't familiar with Florida, a quick geographic lesson: On the coasts, there is civilization. Beaches, golf courses, school systems, etc. In between, however, there is -- well -- absolutely nothing. And travelling through that nothingness is a two-lane country road called S.R. 60.
Anyway, the 15-passenger van is travelling on S.R. 60 in the night, when all of the sudden a cow appears in the middle of the road. That's right. A cow. They throw on the brakes, but there isn't enough time, and the van plows right into the cow. The cow didn't survive, but neither did the van. The occupants were OK, and they lived to tell their tale. But, the fact remains, I'm not looking forward to the drive home tonight.
I'm trying to think of worse ways to go than Death by Cow and I'm having trouble thinking of any.
Now, on to some baseball:
In the paper today, we took a look at some educated cases that we can make about where the Phillies will go with their roster. On the blog, I thought I'd break down the chances of each of the players still remaining in camp. Because it is March Madness time, we'll use the following designations: In, Super-Bubble, On the Bubble, and Out.
IN (19): SS Jimmy Rollins, CF Shane Victorino, 2B Chase Utley, 1B Ryan Howard, LF Raul Ibanez, RF Jayson Werth, 3B Pedro Feliz, C Carlos Ruiz, UTIL Greg Dobbs, LHP Cole Hamels, RHP Brett Myers, RHP Joe Blanton, LHP Jamie Moyer, RHP Brad Lidge, RHP Ryan Madson, RHP Chad Durbin, LHP Scott Eyre, RHP Clay Condrey, RHP Chan Ho Park
I'm not going to spend a lot of time breaking this group down, because all of the names are pretty self-explanatory. The only player I hesitated to designate a "lock" on this list is Condrey, but I have gotten no indication that the righthander is in a position where he has to win a spot on this team. The Phillies like what Condrey does for them at the front of the bullpen, and I don't see a scenario in which he fails to make the team, unless there is some sort of trade.
SUPER BUBBLE: C Chris Coste, OF Geoff Jenkins, INF Eric Bruntlett, LHP J.A. Happ
I'm calling these guys super bubble players because I think it would take a dramatic unforseen turn of events to keep any one of them off the roster. Coste has options and could be sent to the minors if the Phillies decide to keep Ronny Paulino, but I don't see that happening right now. Coste is familiar with the team's pitchers and has performed well at the plate for the majority of the last two seasons. Jenkins isn't a lock because of the presence of Matt Stairs, who is also a power-hitting lefty. But his hefty salary makes him less expendable than Stairs. Bruntlett I think will be back because the team loves the fact that he can play so many different defensive positions. That said, he is due to make just $800,000, so if the Phillies want to find a way to keep a player like Miguel Cairo, his salary wouldn't create a huge hit. But again, I see him on this team. Happ has a roster spot whether he wins the battle for the No. 5 spot or not. The only way I see him back in the minors is if he loses the battle for the fifth starter and the Phillies add another lefty via trade or free agency.
ON THE BUBBLE: RHP Kyle Kendrick, INF Miguel Cairo, INF Marcus Giles, OF Matt Stairs, RHP Mike Koplove, RHP Gary Majewski
Kendrick appears to be a little behind in the rotation battle, and I don't see the Phillies keeping him as a reliever. If they decide he is not ready to return to the rotation, I expect them to send him to the minor leagues to continue working on his secondary pitches. I think Cairo will get a serious look, but you would think that either Bruntlett, Jenkins or Stairs would be out in order for Cairo to get a spot. Koplove and Majewski both have pitched well this spring, and both could be candidates for the final spot in the bullpen.
TENUOUS BUBBLE: C Ronny Paulino, OF John Mayberry Jr., RHP Robert Mosebach, INF Pablo Ozuna
There are circumstances in which any of these four players could make the team, but I don't see those circumstances happening. Ozuna has performed well at the plate this spring, but there are so many other infield options I don't see where he would fit into the big league picture. As I said earlier, I just don't see the Phillies keeping Paulino over Coste. Mayberry has had a nice spring, and if the Phillies decide they need a right-handed power bat, he could make the squad. But I think the odds are long and he will wind up in Lehigh Valley in case he is needed later in the season. Mosebach's Rule 5 status separates him from some of the other relievers, but I don't see where there will be room for him at this point in time.
OUT: OF Jason Ellison, C Lou Marson, INF Jason Donald, RHP Carlos Carrasco, RHP Joe Bisenius, INF Brad Harman, RHP Dave Borkowski.
Ellison has had a nice spring defensively and will upgrade the Phillies organizational depth at center field. I think the Phillies think that the best place for Donald, Carrasco and Marson is in the minors at this point in time.