Trimming the Fat

Instead of making that one big, impact move Ruben Amaro had come to make his trademark each offseason, the Phillies have turned to an alternative strategy of adding many players on lesser Major or Minor League deals. What that has produced, in turn, is a glut. Two gluts, if we’re being precise, in the positions of outfielder and relief pitcher.

At the close of business on Friday, here’s how the Phillies’ 40-man outfield situation shakes out:

Cut Collier and Gillies out of the mix immediately, as neither is knocking on the door of the Majors. That leaves seven players for three spots, with the following known or presumed when all are healthy: Revere is the everyday CF, and Young is the everyday RF, for some reason.

And so we’re left with five players for one starting spot and one – maybe two – bench spots. At least two players from that remaining quintet (Brown, Inciarte, Mayberry, Nix and Ruf) will not start the year with the big club. That is, of course, unless the Phillies decide to roll with six outfielders on their active roster. But we’ll presume five, tops.

Inciarte could make things even more interesting with a productive spring, but he seems the most likely to not make the cut. As a Rule 5 pick, Inciarte must clear waivers and be offered back to the Diamondbacks before he can be assigned to a Philly farm system. As he’s never had a single plate appearance above High-A, I’m not sure Inciarte has a chance, even with a good spring.

The option status of each of these players could add a wrinkle to the decision-making process. Mayberry was placed on the 40-man roster after his acquisition from Texas prior to the 2009 season, and spent 20 or more days in the minors in each of 2009, 2010 and 2011, and is therefore out of options. Brown was added to the 40-man in 2010 for his call-up and thus only has two seasons of 20-plus days in the minors while on the 40-man. He has an option year remaining. Nix, the highest-paid outfielder on the team at $1.35M, seems to have run out of options years ago. Ruf has a full complement of options. The combination of guaranteed money and zero-option status seems to ensure Nix an opening day spot, while Mayberry’s usefulness and zero-option status would also seem to preclude him from hitting the waiver wire before first pitch.

Which leaves us with Brown and Ruf. Both are making the minimum, both have an option year in 2013 and both have plenty of people questioning their usefulness or place on the team. If there is indeed a spot for a fifth outfielder on the club, one of those two would likely be the odd man out to start the year for Lehigh Valley. I wish it were easier to just say Brown stands a better chance, but I’m just not so confident in that anymore.

As for the relief corps, we find a similar logjam. These relievers all have spots on the 40-man as of Friday:

Whoa.

Let’s keep working on assumptions and say the club won’t need a fifth starter until April 10 and could open the season with an 11-man pitching staff. That means six or seven relievers, depending on construction. Adams, Bastardo, Durbin and Papelbon are all signed for more than $1M, so you know they’re in before we even talk production, and all of a sudden we’re down to two or three open spots for 10 pitchers.

Of those remaining 10, the most likely to stick are Aumont and, possibly, Horst. So, assuming Kyle Kendrick is a long relief option for the first few games until he nears his first start, that leaves one potential opening and seven players who will start in
AAA.

Some tough decisions await the club, and spring performance suddenly seems more meaningful for these guys than ever before.

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24 comments

  1. BradInDC

    February 06, 2013 04:43 PM

    That Chad Durbin signing is still kinda baffling.

  2. Max

    February 06, 2013 04:58 PM

    “That Chad Durbin signing still doesn’t make any fucking sense”

    Fixed that for you

    Bold prediction, I know, but he’s gonna be This Season’s Chad Qualls
    Declining reliever given highly unnecessary money who implodes by mid-season. Adams, meanwhile, I’m afraid, might end up being Qualls with multiple years and *another* zero.

  3. Bill Zeiders

    February 06, 2013 04:59 PM

    DFA Delmon Young.

  4. MattWinks

    February 06, 2013 05:08 PM

    Despite the Durbin idiocy the reliever problem is not too hard to deal with, there will be injuries and demotions up and down. I am less concerned about the impact of who breaks camp with the Phillies there as long as it includes Aumont.

    The outfield situation will at least be delayed until Young gets back with Inciarte already getting ready for AA with the D-backs. After that is time to be sad as Amaro sends Brown to AAA and gives Ruf and Young time in the corners.

  5. Joecatz

    February 06, 2013 05:46 PM

    I’m not sure why everyone assumes that a five man bench won’t consist of Frandsen, a back up catcher, nix, Mayberry and one of brown/Ruf over another back up IF.

    Young and Frandsen both can play SS in a pinch, and Rollins played 156 games last year.

    There is no way brown plays at AAA this year. They’ll trade him first. I think the reason they added Durbin and Adams is because they’re thinking 6/6 not 5/7.

  6. MattWinks

    February 06, 2013 06:07 PM

    “Young and Frandsen both can play SS in a pinch, and Rollins played 156 games last year.” Oh god, that is scary. Galvis is on the bench Charlie likes him too much, plus he allows you to pull any of the infielders for defensive or rest reason (try and give Utley a day off here and there). Carrying both Ruf and Mayberry on the bench while playing Young is way too much redundancy, especially when you are sacrificing a valuable defensive replacement.

  7. pedro3131

    February 06, 2013 06:17 PM

    Let’s not let our love of Dom brown cloud the fact that Charlie seems to hate him, and it seems every more likely that he is never going to give him the chance.

    Also the utility of Galvis is much greater then Brown/Ruff/Yayberry. Utley is most likely going to miss a lot of games and Rollins isn’t that far removed from his hamstring injury

  8. Phillie697

    February 06, 2013 06:53 PM

    Yet there are still people who think the signing of Douchbag Young was merely a minor annoyance…

  9. Steve

    February 06, 2013 07:36 PM

    I knew all this already, but seeing it spelled out like this… really made me start preparing myself for a 70 win season watching old, bad, unlikable, overpaid players while young players are benched, left to rot in AAA, or traded for fucking jeff francoeur or someone.

  10. Paul Boye

    February 06, 2013 09:14 PM

    I really think there’s too much pitching talent for a 70-win team, but on paper, hopes of a wild card seem slim today.

  11. Richard

    February 06, 2013 09:17 PM

    “That leaves seven players for three spots, with the following known or presumed when all are healthy: Revere is the everyday CF, and Young is the everyday RF, for some reason.”

    Delmon Young will not be the everyday right-fielder.

  12. LTG

    February 06, 2013 09:35 PM

    Richard,

    Let’s hope, but RAJ did say he saw D. Young as the everyday RF. I assume, as I’m sure you do, that, if he has a wretched spring training, he will not be the everyday RF and might even be cut.

  13. jabroni

    February 06, 2013 09:39 PM

    @Richard
    RAJ already came out and said as much. He led the press conference with it.

    Does anybody know how Stutes is doing after his injury last year? I liked watching him in 2011 but I think missing 2012, with the glut of young talented relievers coming up, means he may have lost his shot. Of course, if we had never signed Chad Durbin, there’d be room for everybody…

  14. Richard

    February 06, 2013 09:40 PM

    Amaro says lots of stupid shit, very little of which can be taken seriously. But for one thing, Young is starting the season on the DL, for another, he sucks, a lot.

  15. Richard

    February 06, 2013 09:42 PM

    jabroni – I know what Amaro said. I think people are a, reading too much into its content, and b, taking it too seriously (I’m make a slight distinction between these two seemingly similar notions). He did not say “Delmon Young will be our starting right-fielder”.

  16. Joecatz

    February 07, 2013 08:24 AM

    As far as the relievers go, we shouldn’t forget about non roster invitee Jaun Cruz. Barring a really shitty spring he’s got as good a chance to break camp as anyone, as he won’t likely take a minor league assignment and wasn’t invited to be filler. Hell be in the mix for a spot.

  17. TomG

    February 07, 2013 08:57 AM

    The plethora of bad and unnecessary signings and trades has really put the “cluster” in “clusterfuck”. The “fuck” is pretty well represented, too, because it seems, yet again, that Dom Brown will be fucked out of a starting spot. Also, I’d much rather see Ruf start in left than any of the other options – I think he earned a shot.

    And I agree with Paul that the pitching looks too good for the Phils to be a 70-win team; but, then again, Cliff Lee pitched excellently last year and the payoff in wins for him was six.

    I go from thinking the Phils have an outside shot at the 2nd wild card to thinking they’ll be even worse than last year – sometimes in the space of the same sentence, no I don’t, yes, I do.

  18. Cutter

    February 07, 2013 09:15 AM

    If Dom Brown is deserving of a starting spot, then he should prove it by playing well on the field.

    If he comes out and has a strong Spring Training, then I think he gets a starting job.

    If he doesn’t, and others look better, then he really has nobody to blame but himself.

  19. Mark

    February 07, 2013 11:20 AM

    Dom Brown definitely has to earn his playing time, but people quickly forget he was playing as well if not better than Ibanez when they decided to trade for Hunter Pence. It’s so frustrating as a fan to see a team look at two players with comparable numbers and decide to go with the one who had one year left on his contract and was approaching 40 years old. The Phillies have invested so much time in Brown, yet they continuously favor older players who are no better. It makes zero sense. Why is the bar so high for Brown to get playing time while Ibanez gets to be one of the worst everyday fielders in 2011 and a horrendous player such as Delmon Young gets the early nod from Amaro??

  20. Joe

    February 07, 2013 12:55 PM

    Here’s to hoping that RAJ’s comment about D Young being the everyday rightfielder was as empty as Richard thinks it was. The other glaring piece of dead weight on that OF list is Laynce Nix. The guy missed, what, half the season with a mysterious calf strain or whatever? And when he finally came back, he was next to worthless anyway. He’s as unnecessary as the ‘y’ in his first name.

  21. Ray

    February 07, 2013 02:55 PM

    How long until Dom Brown is eligble for rule 5 draft? At some point, they have to start playing him or else they risk losing him.

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