Mailbag: 2012, Mayberry, Young

How long will the four aces share a rotation? (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Finally time for the first mailbag of the spring. If you want to see your question answered in this space, visit this page and submit a question.

Let's open it up...

Eric from Cherry Hill writes: How long do you think R2C2 will stay around for?

I think it obviously depends a lot on what happens in 2011. If the Phillies win the World Series, it would not be shocking to see Roy Oswalt retire. He's talked about retiring after 2011 in the past and at the beginning of spring training, he left the door open.

The Phillies hold a $16 million option on Oswalt for 2012. (He is also making $16 million this season.) Cliff Lee's salary goes from $11 million to $21.5 million next season. With Roy Halladay making $20 million in 2012, those three would represent $57.5 million in 2012 payroll. Then, there's Cole Hamels, who is eligible for arbitration in 2012. The Phillies could sign him to a multi-year extension instead, but you figure he will earn more (perhaps significantly) than the $9.5 he is making in 2011.

So you see why the money left on Oswalt's deal could be an issue too -- even if he decides not to retire.

Jim from Greenville S.C. writes: If the Phillies are to win the World Series, who has to be the MVP of the team?

I like this question and had to think about it for a bit. Actually, I solicited two colleagues first. Both Bob Brookover and Phil Sheridan took Brad Lidge, which isn't a bad answer. The starting pitching should be good, the offense may be shaky, so there could be a bunch of save situations for Lidge. He had a great final two months of the 2010 season, but remember this: Lidge's BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was .243. The typical pitcher's BABIP is around .300, so that signifies that Lidge was extremely lucky in 2010. During the terrible 2009 season, Lidge's BABIP was .355, which says he was extremely unlucky. So his true numbers probably lie somewhere in between the 2.96 ERA of 2010 and the 7.21 ERA of 2009.

My answer would be Ryan Howard, for obvious reasons. Jayson Werth's production in the middle of the lineup is gone. Howard will have to be the guy who shoulders a lot of that responsibility.

Kyle from Reading writes: What is the outlook on John Mayberry? Is he in the RF competition? Is this his year to get experience and take over LF next year? Or is he just another player who the Phillies just hope does well with no real expectations or plans?

I wouldn't say Mayberry is in the right field competition. He definitely is in competition for a bench job. He started at first base Monday and didn't look overly lost, so if he can play that position, it will only help his chances of making the team. They like Mayberry because he can play all outfield positions and his natural spot is actually center.

But he still needs to show he can hit major-league righthanders consistently. He'll have lots of looks this spring.

Dave from St. Petersburg Fla. writes: Do you think the possibility still remains that the Phillies will trade Joe Blanton during Spring Training? It seem to me that the Yankees may hit the panic button real soon because of their lack of pitching.

I think the possibility is always there, sure. But the Phillies appear intent on holding onto Blanton this spring. Beyond that, who knows?

I'll say this: It makes all the sense in the world to hold onto Blanton for now. Why? The longer they hold him, the more valuable he becomes. Will Adam Wainwright be the only pitcher to suffer an injury this season? Nope. The longer the Phillies dangle Blanton, the more teams there will be as potential suitors. Then his price goes up.

Ed from Sante Fe, N.M. writes: So will Delwyn Young consider playing left field?

He's already done it for a few innings this spring. Young has a great deal of versatility and the Chase Utley injury has only helped his chances at making the opening day roster. Young has played both corner spots this spring along with second base. He's a decent pinch hitter and he's 28. A spot could come down between Mayberry and him.

Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.

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