CLEARWATER, Fla. — We are nine days into Grapefruit League play, meaning some judgments can be rendered. They may not be accurate judgments, but they are judgments. That's about the only way to bide time until meaningful baseball in April.
So with the Phillies headed to Bradenton for a matinee against Pittsburgh, we present our first prediction of the opening day roster. We'll do this every Monday until April.
Ruiz has been doing a lot of sitting on the bench. Not a bad idea early in the spring.
Is Jim Thome a good alternative at first base until Ryan Howard returns from his Achilles tendon injury?
Martinez plays shortstop better than any of the other utility candidates. The Phillies want defense from their utility spot, so he is the guy. If there is a prolonged absence by any infielder, Freddy Galvis would be the replacement.
John Mayberry Jr.
Scott Podsednik has been more impressive than Pierre in Grapefruit League action, but Podsednik's out clause isn't until June 1. Pierre can leave if he's not on the roster March 31. Thus, Pierre earns the nod while Podsednik waits in triple A. It allows the Phillies to make an evaluation over a longer period of time. That can change, especially if Peirre has more days like Sunday, which drew the ire of Charlie Manuel.
Yes, the Phillies want to trade Blanton, but the right deal would require the trading team to take on a lot of money. We don't see that happening until Blanton demonstrates value in regular-season games. His early spring outings have been nothing but encouraging, though.
Really struggled with the final name on this list. No one has distinguished themselves in the first few weeks of games. The Phillies could go with 11 pitchers, but there really isn't a 14th position player who has dazzled either. The guess here is the team carries 12 pitchers most of the season because when Jose Contreras returns, they will be conservative with his workload. Aumont has the highest ceiling and has not done anything to hurt his chances this spring. He's the choice for now, but this is a fluid situation.
DISABLED LIST (2)
The Phillies think Contreras can be ready for opening day. But why push it?
LAST FOUR OUT
Check back next Monday for the latest predictions.
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