Here are some selected Spring Training Stats for the Phillies:
- Ross Gload: .429 Avg. 1.000+ OPS
- John Mayberry: .350 Avg. 4 HRS, 1.172 OPS
- Delwyn Young: .333 Avg. in Team-High 42 at-bats.
- Ben Francisco: .368 Avg. 3 HRS, 1.000+ OPS
- Wilson Valdez: .452 Avg.
- Josh Barfield: .417 Avg.
Those are some pretty gaudy numbers. They don’t mean a whole lot, and some of them are in very limited at-bats, but heading into Spring Training only one of these guys was going to be in the starting line-up, and if Domonic Brown had produced possibly all six could have been headed to the bench or AAA. Thanks to injuries it now looks like up to five (or even all six depending on the latest Polanco injury) from this group could be on the Phillies opening 25-man roster, but still only two or three will likely be starting at any one time. So, sitting here on March 15th, it looks like the Phillies might have some options on their bench and possibly a very crowded outfield platoon.
John Mayberry and Ben Francisco have been two of the offensive stars of March, and while they could provide some much-needed right-handed pop, one of the men they might platoon with, Raul Ibanez, has been ripping extra base all over Florida for the last week or so. Another guy who was supposed to get an occasional start in the outfield is Ross Gload, who has been just as hot as Ibanez. Gload is a guy you trust to adapt well to his bench role, but I wonder if John Mayberry will be able to adjust to being a substitute and I wonder how many at-bats he can get if Raul Ibanez starts the season hot.
Considering the injuries to Utley and Brown (and now Polanco as I type this has left today’s game) along with the loss of Jayson Werth, the Phillies offense has been putting up some good numbers of late. Their team average has risen over .270, and a good portion of that is due to players who will be providing depth either on the big league bench or in AAA. I don’t think anyone considers Josh Barfield or Delwyn Young everyday solutions at the big league level, but they are currently producing a lot better than regulars Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins.
It is Rollins, Polanco and Carlos Ruiz who are lagging behind as the rest of the line-up sizzles. Without seeing the games everyday it is hard to tell the nature of these players’ slumps. For the first week Ibanez was hitting under .200, but he was getting some good swings and eventually he broke out with some hits. What I’ve seen from Rollins looks a little like a mixed bag. He’s hit some balls hard, but also there have been the classic wasted Rollins at-bats that drive everyone crazy. Polanco has such a good track record that you trust he’ll eventually end up in that .285-.305 range that he’s been in his entire career. We’ll have to wait and see on this elbow injury, but considering he’s had problems with it before, there has to be some concern. And, even though Ruiz is putting more pressure on himself offensively, his main job remains working with the pitchers. Out of that group, you’d imagine Rollins getting back on track is by far the most important issue.
These injuries that are piling up for the Phillies are definitely the cause for some concern. The team is aging and Utley, Lidge and Polanco are three guys with a ton of mileage on them. I think with a roster this heavy with guys in their 30s some injuries were inevitable, but this rash in Spring Training casts a lot of doubt on the Phillies’ ability to stay healthy for a six-month regular season. If they prove to be minor, and the guys come back sooner rather than later the team should still be fine, but I worry about nagging injuries like Rollins faced last year. He played in half the games, but he was never right. Utley was never right after he got hurt, and possibly Howard as well. It’s amazing, but right now, this could be the Phillies opening day line-up:
Now, that doesn’t exactly strike the fear in you that the Phillies line-up of 2007 or 2008 did. And, that’s a line-up that would put a ton of pressure on the starting pitching, and also one that leaves Gload and Mayberry (two guys with some pop and potential for production on the bench). It’s far from the ideal scenario, but so far the Phillies have been trudging ahead, finding ways to win these meaningless Grapefruit League contests. You just hope that they’ll still have that touch come April 1st, regardless of who takes the field behind Roy Halladay.
Quiz of the Day: Silver Slugger First Baseman. Category: Intense Baseball. My Score: 58/62.