Thursday, December 18, 2014

Schwimer optioned for roster intrigue

UPDATE (12:30 a.m.): Well, it was someone not currently on the 40-man roster and a position player, but not the one we thought. The Phillies have acquired outfielder/first baseman John Bowker from Pittsburgh, according to CSNPhilly.com. More in the morning.

Schwimer optioned for roster intrigue

Michael Schwimer has been optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP file photo)
Michael Schwimer has been optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP file photo)

UPDATE (12:30 a.m.): Well, it was someone not currently on the 40-man roster and a position player, but not the one we thought. The Phillies have acquired outfielder/first baseman John Bowker from Pittsburgh, according to CSNPhilly.com. More in the morning.

EARLIER: CINCINNATI — Following Tuesday's 9-0 dismantling of the Reds, righthander Michael Schwimer was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley.

It's a curious move for a few reasons: One, the bullpen isn't overly taxed, so there was no need to send down a pitcher who has adequately filled the role of 12th arm. Two, no one is ready to return from the disabled list. Three, Wednesday is Aug. 31.

The Phillies will make a corresponding move Wednesday, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. The guess here is it's someone not currently on the 40-man roster, and most likely a position player.

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Why?

Wednesday is the deadline for players to be postseason-eligible. Players must be on the 25-man roster or disabled list to be eligible for the postseason. Of course, there are ways around this, but the surest way for a player to qualify is meeting those requirements.

The Phillies will carry no more than 11 pitchers in the divisional round, and perhaps even as few as 10. (That's what they did in 2010.)

By making the move Wednesday, they add flexibility. Jose Contreras can be transferred to the 60-day disabled list to free a spot on the currently full 40-man roster. Whomever is added to the 25-man roster Wednesday is automatically eligible for October.

Then, if the Phillies want to carry another player in the postseason not on Wednesday's active roster, they can do so through a loop hole. Because Contreras is out for the season, he can be "replaced" by any player in the organization on Aug. 31. It's commonly known as the K-Rod Rule, the way the Angels sneaked Francisco Rodriguez on the postseason roster in 2002 despite him not throwing a major-league pitch until Sept. 18.

So, in a way, two players not on the roster become eligible. The first is the unknown player added Wednesday. The second is Contreras' spot. Also, theoretically, if Joe Blanton never returns, he provides another "wild card" spot because he is also on the 60-day disabled list.

As for a guess (and this is purely a guess), Brandon Moss could be the guy who arrives Wednesday.

He has a .874 OPS at triple A with 23 home runs and a lot of pop against both righties and lefties. He's lefthanded and the Phillies recently had Ryne Sandberg and the IronPigs play Moss in center field for a few days to ensure he can man all three outfield positions.

For all we know, there could be other motives. This scenario makes sense, though.


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