Here's a short story about a guy named Steve Green. I shared it briefly in the comments section of the Happ post yesterday. Steve Green has pitched six innings in his major league career. He's currently a 30-year-old pitcher for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Went 5-1 with a 3.09 ERA in 35 appearances this season, all but one in relief. Seven years ago, however, he was a 23-year-old pitching prospect in the Angels organization. After starting the season in Triple A, the Angels called him to make a start against Oakland in place of Ismael Valdes, who was on the disabled list with a split fingernail on his right hand. After allowing two runs in six innings of a 4-2 Angels loss, he was optioned back to Triple-A Salt Lake. A couple months later, Green suffred a torn flexor muscle and ulnar collateral ligament, causing him to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Green hasn't appeared in the big leagues since, but he did spend the entire 2002 season on the Angels' disabled list.
This is significant, because in September of 2002 the Angels called up a young pitcher named Francisco Rodriguez from their minor league system. Rodriguez pitched 5 2/3 innings in September, striking out 13 of the 21 batters he faced. Because Rodriguez was called up after September 1, he was technically inelligible for the postseason. But MLB rules stipulate that any player on the disabled list at midnight on Aug. 31 is eligible for the postseason. And MLB teams are allowed to substitute a member of their minor league system for a player who is injured. So the Angels added Rodriguez to their playoff roster in place of Green. Rodriguez went on to win five games for the Angels in the postseason. In the World Series, he struck out 13 batters in 8 1/3 innings as the Angels beat the Giants to become world champs.
Now that I made you sit through all of that, here's how it impacts your life: as of Aug. 31, the Phillies had five players on the disabled list: Mike Zagurski, Scott Mathieson, Francisco Rosario, Tom Gordon and Geoff Jenkins. Which means that, should they choose, they could add any of their minor leaguers who weren't on the roster Aug. 31 to replace one of those five players.
So what will the postseason roster look like?
It'll be an interesting decision-making process, to say the least.
Here are the players who, in my opinion, are stone cold locks to be on:
Again, those are just stone cold locks. There are 22 of them. Which means there are three spots that I at least have some questions about. Here are the questions:
1. Do you keep Kyle Kendrick on the roster?
This would have seemed an asinine question two months ago. But Kendrick isn't going to start in the postseason, and the Phillies have used him just once in relief since taking him out of the rotation. They left their fifth starter - Adam Eaton - off the roster last season. Will the Phillies keep Kendrick on the roster as a long man out of the bullpen? If they opt not to put him on the roster, they could keep him around as an "extra man" in case of injury.
2. If they leave Kendrick off, is a guy like J.A. Happ worth keeping?
As good as Happ has been in his four starts, it's hard to see him fitting in, at least for the first round (teams can adjust their rosters between rounds). Though the Phillies kept him in the bullpen for the first half of the month, he has allowed seven runs and two home runs in 6 1/3 innings of relief this season. Do they want Happ on the roster badly enough to keep a 12th pitcher? That'd severely hinder the bench. It's hard to see them replacing a veteran reliever like Rudy Seanez with Happ. "Extra man" status might be where Happ is headed.
3. Speaking of the bench, which of these players won't make the squad: Matt Stairs, Geoff Jenkins, So Taguchi, or Greg Golson?
The most interesting situation on the team by far. This is purely a gut feeling, but I think Golson has a spot on the squad. He's proven how valuable his speed can be. Everyone remembers Dave Roberts' performance in the ALCS against the Yankees back in 2004. But if Golson does make the squad, it likely means one of three veteran bats will be left off.
A lot could depend on the health of Jenkins. He hasn't played the field or run the bases since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. He's told me he is ready to go, but the Phillies haven't used him as a baserunner or outfielder since he strained his hip flexor in Chicago. If Jenkins is completely healthy, I would have included him as a stone-cold lock. But if he is still hampered by the injury, can the Phillies afford to keep two one-dimensional players (Jenkins - Hitting; Golson - Running/Fielding)? You also have to take into consideration this: Jenkins wants to play in the postseason badly. He's never had a chance in his 11 seasons in the bigs. I know sentimentality should go out the window in the postseason, but does it really?
Then there is Taguchi. He is hitting just .198 this season. He has struggled at times as a defensive replacement. He hasn't had a plate appearance since Sept. 1, and hasn't had a hit since July 27. But he has a World Series ring and has hit .250 with two home runs in 26 postseason games. And he is a right-handed bat.
Stairs has played sparingly since the Phillies acquired him in late August from the Blue Jays. But he does have four hits in 13 at-bats, including a home run and four RBIs. He also has postseason experience, albeit slim (he is 1-for-10 in division series with Boston in 1995 and Oakland in 2000).
4. So where does that leave us?
If they keep 11 pitchers, it leaves us with six reserves. Likely either Coste, Bruntlett, Dobbs, Stairs, Jenkins, Taguchi or Coste, Bruntlett, Dobbs, Stairs, Jenkins and Golson.
5. Isn't it too early to be talking about this?
Probably. But we just killed 10 minutes out of the work day, didn't we? You're welcome.