Projecting the Roster: Attempt # 1

Does Domonic Brown have a spot on the opening day roster? (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

The Phillies must reduce their roster to 25 by March 31, which means there are five Mondays between now and then. We'll celebrate each one by offering our projected Opening Day roster at that point in time.

Here's the first edition:

Regulars (8)
1. Jimmy Rollins SS
2. Placido Polanco 3B
3. Chase Utley 2B
4. Ryan Howard 1B
5. Ben Francisco RF
6. Raul Ibanez LF
7. Shane Victorino CF
8. Carlos Ruiz C

NOTES: Seven of the eight are locks. Francisco has played well in the first couple of Grapefruit League games, and Domonic Brown is still waiting for his first hit, but that really has no bearing on the decision to include Francisco as the Opening Day starter in right field. At this point, I just think that if they had to make the decision today, the Phillies would err on the side of caution and start their top prospect in the minors.

Rotation (5)
9.  RHP Roy Halladay
10. LHP Cliff Lee
11. RHP Roy Oswalt
12. LHP Cole Hamels
13. RHP Joe Blanton

NOTES: The only potential change over the next five weeks will come if Blanton is traded. There is no indication that will happen, but you can't rule it out, particularly if teams get desperate for starting pitching because of injuries.

Bench (5)
14. LHB Ross Gload 1B/OF
15. RHB Wilson Valdez UTIL
16. LHB Brian Schneider C
17. RHB To Be Determined
18. SHB Delwyn Young 2B/RF

NOTES: I've gotten the sense that Charlie Manuel really wants Domonic Brown to win a job on the Opening Day roster. He'll be given every chance in the world to do so over the next five weeks. And you'd be a fool to count the kid out. But at this point -- and keep in mind it is really early -- I think the Phillies would start Brown in the minors and go with a more veteran bench, particularly with Chase Utley hurting. I might be alone in this thinking, but I really believe the Phillies will try to find a way to add another right-handed bat before spring training ends. And I think that right-handed bat will have a spot on the bench. If that does not end up happening, Mayberry would get the spot at this point.

With Chase Utley on the mend, I believe the Phillies would keep a second baseman in addition to Wilson Valdez as an insurance policy. I'm going with Delwyn Young over Pete Orr because Young has more power and is a switch-hitter. But Orr has filled in for Utley at second base in the Phillies first two Grapefruit League games.

Bullpen (7)
19. RHP Brad Lidge
20. RHP Ryan Madson
21. RHP Jose Contreras
22. LHP J.C. Romero
23. RHP Kyle Kendrick
24. LHP Antonio Bastardo 
25. RHP Danys Baez

NOTES: I don't think Danys Baez has a spot on this team locked up. I do think a guy like Vance Worley or David Herndon could end up convincing the Phillies to part with Baez. At this point, though, Baez has the spot. I also think the Phillies will keep seven relievers. Sure, they could probably afford to go with six because of how deep the starters are expected to go. But keep in mind that the deeper a starter goes, the fewer opportunities there are to use an extra pinch-hitter. I project that means an extra lefty in the bullpen, which could make for an interesting competition for the rest of spring training. At this point, Bastardo getst he spot by default. But if he continues his slow progression -- He is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday at Pittsburgh -- there could easily be an opening for a guy like Dan Meyer or Mike Zagurski to pitch his way into consideration.

Last Five Off
26. RHB John Mayberry Jr. OF/1B
27. RHP Vance Worley
28. RHP David Herndon
29. LHB Pete Orr 2B/Util
30. LHP Dan Meyer

NOTES: Guys like Domonic Brown, Justin De Fratus and Mike Stutes could end up playing their way onto the major league roster at some point during the season. But right now, we'll project that the Phillies start them on a Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs team that should have some talent. I really think Vance Worley has the type of make-up to contribute out of a major league bullpen, and David Herndon could be back in the big leagues sooner rather than later. But we'll assume at this point that Worley starts the year in the Iron Pigs rotation and Herndon starts in the LHV bullpen working toward big league consistency with his slider.

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