Monday Round Table (2/19): Spring Training Is Here

Today is the first day of full squad workouts in Clearwater. That means the winter is over and baseball can begin, or at least something like that. With that in mind I asked the writers for some roster predictions and other questions heading into a week of stretching and drills.

Who will be the Phillies #5 starter?

Adam: I really hope it’ll be Nick Pivetta because that means someone else has slotted in above him. I’m still, perhaps somewhat foolishly, holding out hope the Phillies will sign Jake Arrieta to a four-year, $22.5M AAV deal with a player option and incentives. If they don’t, then I suppose I’ll put money on Ben Lively, who somehow became a quality start machine even though he can’t strike out anybody.

Brad: I am rooting for Zach Eflin. Mostly because of that time I incorporated like 15 High School Musical song titles into a post about him.

Matt: I am going to go Zach Eflin. I want to believe that the Phillies will make another rotation upgrade, but given their inaction to this point I just have zero confidence. When it comes to the internal competition, Eflin has the better raw stuff and I think if they aren’t going to go outside the organization for help they at least go upside in it.

Spring Training is all small sample size, but for which player is having a good camp the most important?

Adam: It’s unusual to say this about an established major leaguer, but it would be great if Maikel Franco could put together a quality spring. I’m not holding my breath. He looked awful last year. As far as down-roster types, I guess it comes down to Pedro Florimon versus Adam Rosales to battle it out for the Andres Blanco spot.

Brad: Jes Valentin for “important for his job” and Vince Velasquez for “important for his arb case that he is a starter”.

Matt: Jake Thompson enters camp behind Ben Lively and Zach Eflin in a competition for a job that might not exist. He has Eshelman, Taveras, De Los Santos, Irvin, and Anderson right behind him, and Hutchison’s addition adds yet another arm to the mix. The bullpen situation is just as crowded, so Thompson is going to have to show some sign of life to even have a job in the organization.

Who wins the backup catcher job between Knapp and Rupp?

Adam: I will riot if it’s not Knapp (I mean, obviously I won’t actually riot, but I’ll send angry tweets). What does Cameron Rupp do for you at this stage of organizational development? Let it go.

Brad: I feel like Knapp is going to win the job, but if Rupp has a good Spring too, they could try to deal either of them. I’d prefer to keep Knapp no matter how well Rupp plays, really.

Matt: I think Rupp wins it because they would rather that Knapp get regular work, polishing his defense in AAA. Rupp is a finished product and as long as Kapler keeps him stabled to the bench behind Alfaro I won’t mind. Knapp is the better player long term and I hope the organization recognizes that.

Who will be the one surprise player on the 25 man roster?

Adam: The off-the-reservation answer is probably Scott Kingery, but that’s not happening. Maybe Will Middlebrooks.

Brad: Jimmy Rollins.

You have to admit, that would be surprising.

How about Mitch Walding? For real. That’s My guess.

Matt: Is Abad making it over Milner a surprise, because I think that happens given the current roster. I think Jesmuel Valentin over Pedro Florimon, and Roman Quinn fits into the other bench spot.

Is there a member of the opening day roster not in the organization yet?

Adam: Jake Arrieta! (see above)

Brad: I hope there is a pitcher, but I think probably they’ll stand with this group on Opening Day and continue to pursue free agents and hope a deal they like falls in their lap.

Matt: I am on record now as saying the Phillies don’t make a move for a pitcher, which is slightly disappointing. I don’t see a move elsewhere given the internal options they have.

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11 comments

  1. awh

    February 19, 2018 12:58 PM

    The #5 starter? I think it’s a tossup between Elflin and Lively, though Eshelman could surprise everyone. Regardless, I think Eshelman will be seen in a Phillies uni this season.

    Who needs a good camp? I like all your answers, but I also think the Altherr/Williams competition is important.

    Backup catcher? I agree that Knapp is the better long term choice, but I agree with Matt. They’ll stash Knapp at LV, unless they trade Rupp.

    Surprise player? It won’t be out of ST, but after he adjusts to AAA and Roman Quinn gets hurt (again) they’ll bring up Andrew Pullin for his bat.

    A guy not in the org who breaks camp with them? After seeing how bad they’ll be in camp, the Royals will move Danny Duffy, and the Phillies win the sweepstakes, with three young pitchers being part of the package.

  2. Major Malfunction

    February 19, 2018 02:16 PM

    ” it would be great if Maikel Franco could put together a quality spring”

    Based only on the small sample size last year, it was incredibly accurate on for predicting his 2017 season. He almost led all of MLB in HR and RBIs in Grapefruit, which sounds exciting. But since he had more HRs than BBs, I think there was enough there to see what might happen with his 2017 season.

    He slashed .234/.280/.481 in Grapefruit and then did almost identical for the season at .230/.281/.409. Let’s hope his spring training is not a repeat else the “Can Kingery play 3rd?” question might be another uncomfortable discussion in the near future.

      • awh

        February 20, 2018 09:42 AM

        Must be Machado’s agent. Every Phillies fan should be rooting for a big year by Maik.

    • Major Malfunction

      February 20, 2018 01:47 PM

      No, i’m not rooting for Machado nor am I against Franco. Just stating the facts.

      There was a story yesterday saying Franco is in the best shape of his life and down about 15 pounds. If that is the case, that is good news and hopefully we get the Franco from 2015, not 2017.

      FANS is projecting a 1.8 WAR. ZIPS a 1.5. Not exactly anything to salivate about, but certainly would be leaps above -0.2 WAR he accumulated in 2017. He’s got the tools, just needs to get it all working at once.

  3. Wawa Mike

    February 19, 2018 02:47 PM

    I still think that there is a better than 50-50 chance they’ll get a pitcher, so Pivetta is my #5.
    The biggest battle will be in the bullpen, so I’ll say K-Rod needs a great spring.
    The Phillies love OBP, so Knapp wins the back up job.
    I’ll guess Duffy, or Cobb will be the surprise player on the roster.

  4. Steve

    February 19, 2018 04:51 PM

    I can understand the Phillies not wanting to extend a lucrative contract, for longer than 3 years, to any of the current available FA SP. For now, it seems like the big remaining three (Arrieta, Cobb, and Lynn) aren’t willing to settle for 3 years.
    What really surprised me, was the seemingly low cost of Jake Odorizzi via trade. I think he fits what the Phillies are looking for, and I would’ve given up a 20-30 org prospect for him.

    • awh

      February 19, 2018 05:21 PM

      Steve, I like Odorizzi too. IIRC the Tampa Bay GM said that they had Jermaine Palacios rated much higher than many of the rating services. Who would the Phillies have had to offer to match or exceed that?

      • Romus

        February 19, 2018 05:44 PM

        IMO, Gamboa would have been someone comparable to Palacios if it is a middle infielder you would be looking for in that age group with some upside at the plate.
        I think Luis Garcia, Jon Gzman and Brayan Gonzalez are too far out for what the Rays would want.

      • Steve

        February 20, 2018 12:37 PM

        I did read that later, so yeah, maybe the Ray’s know something we don’t.

        For what it’s worth MLBTraderumors says the Phils are engaged in talks with Arrieta. Maybe he is looking at that 3 year high AAV.
        I want them to improve the rotation, but if we end up signing Arrieta for Darvish money after all that waiting, I will be scratching my head.

  5. Major Malfunction

    February 20, 2018 01:47 PM

    No, i’m not rooting for Machado nor am I against Franco. Just stating the facts.

    There was a story yesterday saying Franco is in the best shape of his life and down about 15 pounds. If that is the case, that is good news and hopefully we get the Franco from 2015, not 2017.

    FANS is projecting a 1.8 WAR. ZIPS a 1.5. Not exactly anything to salivate about, but certainly would be leaps above -0.2 WAR he accumulated in 2017. He’s got the tools, just needs to get it all working at once.

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