Phillies 2011 Job Openings

With nearly $144 million already on the books for the 2011 season, the Phillies’ off-season figures to be boring. 17 players are under contract with two others headed to their first years in arbitration (Kyle Kendrick and Ben Francisco).

A look at the “definites” currently on the 2011 roster:

Starters (8):

C: Carlos Ruiz
1B: Ryan Howard
2B: Chase Utley
3B: Placido Polanco
SS: Jimmy Rollins
LF: Raul Ibanez
CF: Shane Victorino
RF: Domonic Brown

Bench (3):

C: Brian Schneider
1B/OF: Ross Gload
OF: Ben Francisco

Starting Rotation (4):

SP: Roy Halladay
SP: Roy Oswalt
SP: Cole Hamels
SP: Joe Blanton

Bullpen (4):

CL: Brad Lidge
SU: Ryan Madson
RP: Antonio Bastardo
RP: Danys Baez

The Phillies need a bench player capable of playing the middle infield. With Greg Dobbs headed to free agency, the Phillies will also need someone who can handle third base. The fifth spot in the starting rotation is open for competition. Meanwhile, the Phillies figure to have heavy turnover in the bullpen.

Who are the likely candidates to fill the open slots?

Wilson Valdez seems like an obvious candidate to be brought back since he displayed maturity and understanding of his role on the team. It certainly helps his case that the fans grew to like him as well. Of the free agents who could fill the back-up middle infielder role, Willie Bloomquist, Adam Kennedy, and Akinori Iwamura seem like the only ones that would be willing to accept a paltry 150 AB’s. Cristian Guzman is also available but his precipitous decline since 2007 is concerning.

Among free agent third basemen who could accept a bench role with the Phillies, Melvin Mora is an intriguing option. He has been linked to the Phillies in the past in both trade and free agency rumors. His right-handedness is an appealing option since the Phillies are extremely lefty-heavy in the absence of Jayson Werth and Mike Sweeney. Garrett Atkins is a buy-low candidate but his rapidly vanishing offense is a strong deterrent along with his below-average defense at the hot corner. Atkins, though, is another name whose name has floated around in Phillies-related rumors through the years. Overall, though, the market for third baseman is thin with Adrian Beltre being the only impact player out there.

The Phillies are likely to fill their fifth spot in the rotation internally with Kyle Kendrick or Vance Worley. The organization showed depleted patience with Kendrick when he was sent down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley earlier in the season. Begrudgingly, he was quickly recalled in a hectic week that included Andrew Carpenter‘s ineffectiveness and the arrival of Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia. It is possible that the Phillies fill the #5 spot with a cheap free agent, but unlikely.

Likewise, the Phillies are probably going to round out most of the remaining bullpen spots with internal options. The team would like to have two left-handed relievers going into the season, which opens up a big opportunity for Mike Zagurski. However, there will be quite a few left-handed relief options available via free agency. Scott Downs seems to always be linked to the Phillies, but his Type A status is a huge deterrent as it means the Phillies would have to relinquish a draft pick to the Toronto Blue Jays. GM Ruben Amaro will probably sign at least one veteran left-handed arm to a Minor League contract with an invitation to spring training, simply as depth in case Zagurski has a disappointing showing in March.

Elsewhere, Scott Mathieson — who has successfully battled back from two Tommy John surgeries — finally has a legitimate shot at sticking around in the bullpen. Other candidates for bullpen jobs include David Herndon and the loser of the Kendrick/Worley battle in the starting rotation. Among the relievers from the 2010 team heading into free agency, Chad Durbin seems to be the only one with a decent chance of hanging around. However, this figures to be his last opportunity for a substantial contract, one which will not come from the Phillies.

This off-season will take the cake for the most boring in a long time. Do not expect the Phillies to make any big waves whether it’s with a signing or a trade. If placing bets, take the field for Jayson Werth and Cliff Lee. Going into spring training, the Phillies will be taking a long, hard look at their talent at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. As a result, 2011 figures to be a big year for the lower levels of the organization’s Minor League system as well, with plenty of opportunity for advancement.

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21 comments

  1. nik

    October 29, 2010 09:29 AM

    What are the chances that DeFratus or Schwimmer can get a spot out of spring training?

  2. dejesus54

    October 29, 2010 09:36 AM

    Or the odds that any of Gillies/Ramirez/Aumont will have a shot no matter how awful they were in 2010 to try to justify the obvious?

  3. ryan

    October 29, 2010 10:13 AM

    I don’t understand why there’s really a question of bringing Wilson Valdez back or not. He was outstanding and well liked in that role. He provides above average defense from a utility guy and he can play every infield position sans catcher. He also seemed to improve offensively as the year went along. It seems like an obvious fit to me.

  4. Richard

    October 29, 2010 10:17 AM

    he could easily try to sign somewhere else, Ryan; maybe he thinks he deserves to start somewhere?

    also, do we not think Contreras will be re-signed?

  5. Himmy

    October 29, 2010 10:18 AM

    Gillies can’t hit a lick. He can run a little including for the police for drugs. Aumont is out of shape with a flat fastball. Ramirez will be ready in a year or two and should help out of the bullpen. They dumped Lee for 2 long shots that won’t get out of double and will be out of baseball in two years.

  6. Himmy

    October 29, 2010 10:24 AM

    Are the Phillies going to talk to Blanton about his weight? If he loses 20lbs and might be able to get past 5 1/3 innings and actually bend over when throwing his off speed pitches.

  7. Dukes

    October 29, 2010 10:25 AM

    I was wondering the same thing, Richard. I’d try to bring Contreras back.

    “Gillies can’t hit a lick.” That’s BS – he had a tough year, but he showed he could hit the year before that. My bet is that Gillies is the only one who does anything at the major league level out of the “Lee Three.” In limited minor league at bats (before last year) he has shown the ability to get on base. I like the fact that he could be the first pure leadoff hitter this team has seen in a while. I look for him to take over for Vic in two years.

    By the way, Bill…is Gillies’ coke bust a total non-issue now?

  8. sean

    October 29, 2010 10:39 AM

    what’s great about this article is the bench options you presented, as i could not come up with them on my own. i’m wondering what other guys are out there/will be out there when teams release them

    bloomquist can play infield and outfield, a true utility guy in the sense of the word

    kennedy is a middle infielder with little bit of pop and speed

    iwamura had a down year all together with a .208 babip but there is no reason he can’t bounce back. he’s a 2nd/3rd base option

    guzman doesn’t know how to take draw a walk and might be a backup second baseman at this point. had the highest strikeout rate of his career since his rookie season

    melvin mora is going to be 39 next year, someone test this guy

    don’t know why the phillies just love the rockies outfielders. first it was holiday for victorino trade rumor, then it was trading for speilborghs(and speil buying the zoo with roy shirt), and now it’s garrett akins as a free agent

    bloomquist might be the best “fit” for defense but he’s basically wilson valdez that can also play the outfield. some crappy team will probably sign kennedy to compete for a starting job, so best fit all around is Iwamura and hope for a bounce back, he is only 32.

  9. Richard

    October 29, 2010 10:40 AM

    Blanton already lost weight. Does he really look fat to people? (Mainly, he looks perpetually 16 to me, but that’s hardly relevant.) His problems this year clearly stemmed from his injury.

    And, yes, I believe the coke bust is a non-issue.

  10. sean

    October 29, 2010 10:48 AM

    only problem with gillies stats from the years before is they came from the PCL which is known to be a hitters league. by no means would i say he can’t hit or get one base though. 10% walk rate is good and he could still be a centerfielder at the major league level. if either gillies or ramirez (or both) makes it to the majors then the trade will be a success. really not sure about aumont

    blanton’s weight is fine, as soon as he got the oblique strain you had to know this year was going to be a lost year for him.

  11. Phylan

    October 29, 2010 11:02 AM

    Dukes, the one great hitting season that Gillies had was at High Desert, which is an insane offensive-friendly environment. Park factors in the minors can be even more extreme. I think last year was a truer indication of his hitting ability.

  12. Dukes

    October 29, 2010 11:15 AM

    Phylan – I agree that High Desert doesn’t give the best indication, but last year doesn’t either as he was injured most of the time. That’s why out of all the players in our minor league system, I am most looking forward to watching Gillies this year. It is a big year for him.

  13. sean

    October 29, 2010 11:41 AM

    plus he’s only going to be 22 years old in AA. say he plays at even a reasonably average level in AA at 23 years old he’s be in line to move up to AAA or even september call up as soon as next year. but we’ll see what happens, as dukes said it’s a big year for him

  14. CH Phan

    October 29, 2010 12:50 PM

    Since when is Brown the “definite starter” in RF? I think I missed that press conference.

    Flatout dumb. So much for a degree in biology from Stanford.

  15. Josh

    October 31, 2010 12:20 AM

    I can’t stand the thought of the Phillies being more left-handed. Frankly, it scares me. While I like Francisco platooning in left with Ibanez, he’s not the impact player than Jayson is.

    Could the Phillies offer Werth a graduated contract to cover them through Ibanez’s contract end? Perhaps a 5 year deal at 10M, 18M, 18M, 18M, 18M for $82M. This is a 2.5M raise from 2010 and 1M more than Holliday is getting in years 2-5. Unfortunately, I think Boras will taint Jayson’s mind.

    A quick glance at baseball-reference.com shows a precedence. Jason Bay’s $66M deal is 8.6, 16, 16, 16 with a 17M option and 3M Buyout. Ibanez’s 3 year deal was 7.2M, 12.2M and 11.5M.

    A 5 year deal is very reasonable, as Werth would be 36 at the end and still able to demand a significant salary as a DH and occasional outfielder if he slows down significantly (which I doubt), or as a full time veteran outfielder for a contender for a 1-3 year deal.

    Of course, maybe Amaro really likes another kid in the system, but Brown and Francisco replacing both Werth and Ibanez over the next two years is not ideal IMO. Especially considering Victorino’s a free agent after 2012.

    As much as we will second guess him, Amaro sure has a hard job, managing the fine line between youth and experience and potential vs. proven performance, all while staying under a budget.

  16. Scott G

    October 31, 2010 01:04 AM

    What budget?

    Why does everyone assume Ibanez must be on the team in 2011? Why wouldn’t a team want a veteran outfielder for 1 year if the Phillies agreed to eat like 4-5 million of his salary?

  17. JB Allen

    November 01, 2010 12:30 PM

    What about Juan Uribe? Isn’t he a free agent after this year? Not trying to be smart-ass here; he can play several positions, fields alright, and has some pop in his bat. He’s also a righty.

    Not sure whether someone like that would take to reduced playing time, but given that Utley, Rollins and Polanco will need more days off going forward, he seems like he would be a good fit.

  18. Al

    November 01, 2010 09:36 PM

    The posters who are giving up on the three prospects from the Lee trade after just one year are overreacting. Sometimes a change in organizations will mess up a prospect for a year.

    Gillies had a tough season, as he got off to a slow start and injured his hamstring as he was heating up. 107 ABs is a very small sample size when you consider that he was hitting over .300 with an OPS of over .830 in his last 700+ ABs. High Desert is a hitters’ park, but Gillies’ road line was 332/.411/.422 for 2009. And the cocaine charges were really weak, so let’s stop crucifying him for that incident.

    Aumont had two big challenges this year, aside from changing organizations. First, he went from a reliever to a starter, which bumped up his IP totals. Additionally, the Phillies changed his mechanics back to his natural 3/4 slot (Seattle had changed it to an over-the-top delivery). It seems like he’s finally put it together, as he’s been lights-out in the Pan-Am games for Canada. Aumont’s fastball is not “flat.” It has good velocity and great sinking and running action that make it plus-plus. It’s the first pitch in this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAXzFc5a4uY

    As for Ramirez, his ERA isn’t impressive, but the scouting reports and his peripherals are higher on him. He’s hardly a failure.

    As for RF this upcoming season, I would like to see the Phillies sign Andruw Jones for around $1-2 million to platoon with Brown. MLBTR did a piece last week on potential platoon partners for Brown. I’m wondering who everyone else thinks would be good options.

  19. Bill Baer

    November 02, 2010 05:35 AM

    Al, good stuff about the prospects. I wasn’t aware they changed Aumont’s arm slot. That certainly could explain his ballooning walk rate.

    As for platoon partners, I’d prefer a platoon not for Dom Brown but for Raul Ibanez. And I don’t think you need to look elsewhere when you have Ben Francisco. Ibanez/Francisco in left and Brown in right sounds good to me.

  20. hk

    November 02, 2010 06:48 AM

    I agree that the Phillies should let Dom Brown play every day and learn how to hit LHP’s and that Ben Francisco should platoon with Raul in LF. However, for some reason, Charlie seems to not trust Francisco. If the team is looking for a platoon RHH OF, Matt Diaz would be a good fit if he’s non-tendered by ATL. If the Phillies decide not to spend a lot this offseason, RAJ would do well to wait and see what free agents are left in late February and sign a few on the cheap. There could be a glut of potential right-handed hitting platoon OF’s like Matt Diaz, Austin Kearns or Andruw Jones looking for work. Sometimes, the guys you sign later and cheaper (Contreras) are better players and values than those you sign earlier and for more money and years (Baez).

  21. larry levine

    November 09, 2010 04:04 PM

    I like the idea of Maggio Ordonez. Jason Werth is half as good as he thinks he is. Mike Zagurski can’t even find home plate; terrible control. Forget about ever using him. They should bring back Durbin. I am not convinced Dominic Brown will hit- can’t hit offspeeed pitches.

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