Right-handers Dave Bush, Austin Hyatt and B.J. Rosenberg and left-hander Pat Misch have been reassigned. Infielders Harold Garcia and Cesar Hernandez, outfielder Tyson Gillies, catcher Sebastian Valle and right-hander J.C. Ramirez have been optioned.
The Phillies also outrighted Garcia, who had knee surgery last week, from the 40-man roster, leaving them with 38 players on the 40-man.
The cuts aren’t fortuitous — as far as spring training cuts go, these are standard. While Bush certainly pitched a bit better than results indicated, his future was always Triple-A filler material. His best shot at making it back to the Majors is in the event of injury to any of the five in the Phillies’ starting rotation. Similarly, the soon-to-be 26-year-old Austin Hyatt will start the year in Lehigh Valley, but depending on his performance could move himself up on the depth chart ahead of Bush. Hyatt has posted a double-digit K/9 with a BB/9 under 3.0 in each of this three years in the Minors.
Despite the Phillies’ outfield being in flux and everyone trying their hardest to lose the left field vacancy, Tyson Gillies was never part of the 2012 equation. The lefty has made only 130 trips to the plate in the past two seasons combined, between Clearwater and Reading. Furthermore, he has never made it above Double-A. Gillies displayed his tremendous speed and athleticism in his two weeks of work and still has a future with the club, but not in the immediate future.
The other cuts shouldn’t be surprising for similar reasons. The one player who, perhaps, benefited most from the cuts is Scott Elarton. The journeyman, who has not played in the Majors since 2008, has a 1.50 ERA with five strikeouts and zero walks in six innings. His performance, along with the presence of Kyle Kendrick, has given the Phillies the impetus to aggressively shop Joe Blanton. While it is just about impossible that Elarton breaks camp in the #5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation, he can move himself up on the depth charts if he continues to perform well before the team breaks camp at the end of the month.
The demotion of Pat Misch leaves the Phillies with six lefties vying for a spot in the bullpen: Dontrelle Willis, Jake Diekman, Raul Valdes, Jeremy Horst, David Purcey, and Joe Savery. Of the six, Valdez and Horst have looked the best while Willis has by far been the most disappointing, allowing eight base runners in one and two-thirds innings.
Finally, left field is still up for grabs. Domonic Brown has looked incompetent defensively despite having a lot of success at the plate. It is looking more and more likely that the wayward prospect will start the year in Triple-A as originally expected, meaning the fifth outfielder spot is up for grabs between Juan Pierre, Scott Podsednik, and dark horse Lou Montanez. Pierre and Podsednik haven’t been impressive defensively either and neither offers much in the way of offense. Montanez has opened a lot of eyes. However, spring training success has no correlation to regular season success, so it is wise to take Montanez’s 17 spring plate appearances with a huge grain of salt. In the previous four years, Montanez displayed a complete inability to handle Major League pitching with unacceptably bad plate discipline. Despite the surfeit of candidates, left field is looking like a position of deficit going into the 2012 regular season.