When Miguel Cairo signed a minor league contract with the Phillies early in spring training, I labelled him a "long shot" to make the Opening Day roster. But as spring progressed, it became apparent that the 13-year veteran was playing his way into the conversation. One of the first things he said when I interviewed for the first time is that he likes proving people wrong. This looks like another case. The Phillies have purchased Cairo's contract, meaning he will be the fifth and final member of their bench for the start of the season.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has spent a lot of time looking for ways to upgrade the bench, particularly late in spring training. There was the highly-publicized flirtation with Gary Sheffield. There was the hope that Andruw Jones would fail to win a roster spot with the Rangers. Earlier in the offseason, there was an attempted wooing of Nomar Garciaparra.
But in the Phillies situation, it proved difficult to convince the type of player they hoped to attract to sign with the team. Sheffield, Garciaparra, Jones, Ty Wigginton -- all signed with teams where the opportunity for playing time was far greater than the Phillies could guarantee.
While Cairo may not have the power that Charlie Manuel likes, he does bring a lot of things to the table, and could prove to be an upgrade over So Taguchi, who inhabited the final bench spot last season. He can play multiple positions, infield or outfield, he can put together quality at bats, he can run the bases, and he is used to playing a reserve role.