Sixteen games remain in this season and besides breaking just about every team record for excellence in the Live Ball Era, little drama lingers for these Phillies. That includes the composition of the postseason roster, which should be devoid of any surprises.
Yes, it's that time of the year again. Our second annual Predict the Playoff Roster post is here. Last season, we guessed 24 of 25 correctly. The only miss was including Danys Baez over Domonic Brown.
Here are some issues and questions for the 2011 roster. (And these apply only for the first round, a five-game series.
1. Is everyone accounted for?
The Phillies have 28 players on their current roster, and it figures that the 25 for the division series will come from that pool. Charlie Manuel said as much a couple days ago when I asked him if it were possible for a current minor-leaguer to squeeze in. He effectively said no.
So all of those Domonic Brown and Brandon Moss fans out there are probably out of luck. Even though both players were not on the 25-man roster as of Aug. 31, they remain eligible for the postseason. Baseball rules say anyone in the entire organization on Aug. 31 can replace a player on the disabled list. Jose Contreras is out for the year and he offers that "wild card" spot for the Phillies, if needed.
Right now, it doesn't appear that will be used. That could change, barring only an injury in the final two weeks of the season.
2. John Bowker? Really?
The Aug. 31 deadline to bolster the bench is still in search of his first hit as a Phillie, but I have him on the postseason roster. Why? Right now, he's the best option in a group of unappealing candidates.
Yes, Moss is having quite a nice season for triple-A Lehigh Valley. He's enjoying a fantastic end to his season in the International League playoffs. But he hasn't had a major-league at-bat all season. And the Phillies have had a lengthy chance to look at Moss and decided they could do better. Numbers, especially those in triple A, tell us only so much.
If the Phillies thought Moss could help, he would have been promoted Aug. 31. His bat speed is said to be slower than Bowker's. Bowker is already on the 40-man roster; Moss is not.
And in all honesty, this spot probably has little effect on the postseason. There are three pinch-hitters ahead of Bowker -- Ross Gload, John Mayberry Jr. and Ben Francisco. If the Phillies need four pinch-hitters in a postseason game, they're in trouble (or playing a long game).
A few words on Brown: It's still unclear if he'll even be promoted when the triple-A playoffs end. Manuel said his understanding is that Brown will return. Brown has not been playing the field for the IronPigs in the postseason; he's been their designated hitter. The front office is very non-committal and has suggested that sending Brown home would help his mental state. I'd argue it wouldn't hurt to keep Brown around and let him travel with the team during the playoffs even if he's not on the roster. It at least shows good faith.
3. Aren't both Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez superfluous?
In a way, probably. But the Phillies carried both utility men for the entire season and have won 95 games to date. And they've needed both players to play starting roles at times. With the shaky health of the current infield, both will make it. They each offer a pinch-runner option off the bench, too.
4. Who is the 10th pitcher?
The Phillies carried only 10 pitchers in the first round last season and that was without Four Aces. They'll do the same thing in 2011, but picking 10 worthy pitchers is difficult.
The five starters are on. So are Ryan Madson, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes and Brad Lidge. Even Lidge's spot could be debated because of his erratic control, but he has the experience and flashes of effectiveness to merit a job.
The 10th spot comes down to Kyle Kendrick and David Herndon. Again, this debate is probably moot because if either one is pitching, it means the Phillies are winning or losing big, or in a long game. My guess is the final two weeks of the season decide this spot. Whoever is pitching the best in the final days makes it.
Kendrick has not pitched in three weeks, but he starts the first game of Thursday's doubleheader. He'll also start in Tuesday's doubleheader. The chances for regular work will be plentiful in the final 16 games.
Herndon has either been really, really good or really, really bad. He carried a scoreless streak for weeks. Then he imploded in Florida. When his sinker plays big, it can induce a grounder when needed. When his location is off by just a hair, it devolves into home run derby.
The guess here is Kendrick, mainly because he offers versatility in an emergency situation.
Without further ado, our official roster prediction:
Carlos Ruiz (R)
Brian Schneider (L)
Ryan Howard (L)
Chase Utley (L)
Placido Polanco (R)
Jimmy Rollins (S)
Ross Gload (L)
Wilson Valdez (R)
Michael Martinez (S)
Raul Ibanez (L)
Shane Victorino (S)
Hunter Pence (R)
John Mayberry Jr. (R)
Ben Francisco (R)
John Bowker (L)
Roy Halladay (RHP)
Cliff Lee (LHP)
Cole Hamels (LHP)
Roy Oswalt (RHP)
Vance Worley (RHP)
Ryan Madson (RHP)
Antonio Bastardo (LHP)
Mike Stutes (RHP)
Brad Lidge (RHP)
Kyle Kendrick (RHP)
What would you change?
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