Who Are You Series Wrap-Up
For the past five weeks, we’ve been looking in depth at new members of the Phillies roster. In case you missed any of the profiles, here are links to all five of them:
Before putting a close on this series, I wanted to get some thoughts on some notable non-roster invites who didn’t merit due to questionable odds of making the team. Some were explored in some depth in our other preview series that attempted to predict the Opening Day roster well before it was prudent to do so.
OF – Chris Coghlan
Coghlan is probably the most notable of the Phillies non-roster invites and the most likely to make the team. After stealing the Rookie of the Year award from J.A. Happ in 2009, Coghlan’s career never really took off. After arriving with the Chicago Cubs in 2014, however, he has found success in a platoon role against right handed pitchers. In 2014 and 2015 with the Cubs, he hit .265/.346/.447 in 935 plate appearances, 781 (83.5 percent) of which came against righties.
That success caused the Oakland A’s to trade for him last offseason. But, despite still being used primarily in a platoon role, Coghlan only hit .146/.215/.272 through June 9 and the A’s traded him right back to the Cubs where he hit .252/.391/.388 the rest of the way.
With the Phillies–a team somewhat light on left-handed hitters–Coghlan probably has the inside track to making the team as a 5th outfielder. His candidacy is aided by his ability to also play third in a pinch–he started 15 games there in 2016.
C – Ryan Hanigan
With the versatility of the team’s starting position players, the Phillies could opt against adding a sixth outfielder or utility infielder to fill out the 25-man roster and go with a third catcher. Hanigan, with is solid defensive reputation, seems like a good candidate for that.
Despite a reputation as a strong pitch framer, Hanigan’s framing numbers, as recorded by Baseball Prospectus, have taken a bit of a dive over the last two seasons. Never rated particularly strongly in other aspects of catcher defense nor highly regarded offensively (career 85 OPS+), Hanigan’s only likely path to value is with his framing. In his age-35 season last year with the Red Sox, he hit a paltry .171/.230/.238.
C – Bryan Holaday
Competing with Hanigan for the theoretical third catcher spot is fellow 2016 Red Sock Bryan Holaday. Like Hanigan, Holaday comes with a solid defensive reputation. Unlike Hanigan, that reputation is a result of his ability blocking pitches and controlling the running game.
With the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox last season, Holaday slashed .231/.281/.359 which, while better than Hanigan, is still bad. He’s quite a bit younger than Hanigan as he’s only entering his age-29 season. That is unlikely to be a factor, though, as neither is going to be a factor beyond this season, if even beyond July.
Both Burnett and Ramos have a chance at making the team by virtue of their handedness alone. While Joely Rodriguez is nearly a lock to be the team’s primary left-handed reliever, either Burnett or Ramos could unseat Adam Morgan as the second lefty in the pen with a strong spring.
However, both have some major questions to answer in Spring Training. Both are a couple years past their 30th birthdays and have dealt with age-related issues in recent years. For Burnett, that’s injury, while, for Ramos it’s declining velocity. Neither is as safe an option as Adam Morgan at this point, but if one of them can turn back the clock for a season, they could end up as better options.
- The Phillies approach this offseason has clearly been to improve the areas that were a liability and leave the rest untouched to allow internal development. Obviously the corner outfield spots have been addressed with Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders. However, one of the more understated areas of improvement was bullpen depth. After David Hernandez, Hector Neris, Jeanmar Gomez, and, later in the season, Edubray Ramos, there wasn’t much in the bullpen at all. This offseason, the team lost Hernandez but added veterans Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek, giving the team a corps of five reliable relievers. Fewer innings to the Brett Oberholtzers and Michael Mariots of the world is an indisputably positive development.
- Overall, the construction of the 25-man roster will be interesting to watch unfold. The Phillies have a ton of position players capable of playing multiple positions, including moving between the infield and outfield. This opens the possibility of ditching a traditional utility spot in favor of something less traditional like a third catcher or an extra reliever.
- The trade deadline could be an interesting time for the Phillies. None of the five players added this offseason have a long-term role with the team, but none of them seem likely to net a huge return in trade. All five are entering the final year of their contracts (Michael Saunders has an option beyond 2017). How many of the five will be with the team after July?
- I’m most intrigued by Clay Buchholz. He could either be the best pitcher in the rotation or the worst. If his career is any lesson, he’s unlikely to end up anywhere in the middle. That alone will be interesting to watch. But as interesting will be how Matt Klentak handles the trade deadline if he does pitch well given the Jeremy Hellickson situation of 2016.