Posted by Laurie Dougherty
Charlie Manuel will have some tough decisions to make in the next few weeks. For a player to be on the playoff roster, they have to be on the active 25-man roster, the disabled list (DL), the bereavement list or suspended list as of August 31. That is the magical deadline. I’m going to look at some of the players who might be on the “bubble” as far as whether they will make the playoff roster this year. I don’t envy Charlie in having to make this decision!
1. Kyle Kendrick (RHP)
As I wrote in a previous entry, Kendrick has been much maligned but has had a decent season and thrown some pretty good games for the Phillies. I would say his most impressive outing this year was against Colorado, during the recent West Coast road trip the Phillies had. Kendrick’s line in that game: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO.
2. Jose Contreras (RHP)
Jose seems to have spent more time on the disabled list (DL) than on the mound. Contreras has been bothered by a right forearm strain and is on the DL for the second time this season for that problem; he was first put on the DL for this problem in late June. He also spent most of May on the DL with a right flexor pronator strain of his elbow. At this point, I would venture to say the Phillies will consider other options for their bullpen and Contreras will not be in the bullpen come October.
3. Placido Polanco (3B)
Polanco is dealing with a sports hernia, which was diagnosed during the Phillies West Coast swing. At this time, he has opted to play through the pain and not have surgery, which would sideline him for the rest of the year. However, I’m not sure that playing in pain is best for the team or for Polanco himself. Polanco was put on the 15- day DL retroactive to August 7, so he could be reactivated Monday Aug 22. If he continues to have pain, however, will Charlie stick with him or rely on a platoon of Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez at 3rd base? Both players are adequate defensively, so there is not much of a dropoff in that respect. However, when healthy, Polanco is a much more productive hitter than either Valdez or Martinez. This is one situation to keep a close eye on.
4. Juan Perez (LHP)
Perez was called up in June when Contreras was placed on the DL. He has pitched 5 innings in 8 games for the Phils this year, giving up 1 hit, 2 runs, 5 walks and 8 strikeouts. If the Phillies opt to have 2 lefties in the bullpen for the playoffs, Perez may make the cut.
5. Ross Gload (utility)
Gload’s only saving grace is that he’s one of two lefty hitters off the bench (the other being Brian Schneider). Gload leads the league in pinch hits with 8 but has been bothered by a sore hip since early June. On the other hand, if the Phils somehow acquire Jim Thome off waivers, Gload can forget about getting another taste of postseason baseball this fall.
6. Ben Francisco (OF)
Although he had a great spring training, Francisco has largely been a disappointment this season. Also, with John Mayberry Jr’s emergence as a very good defensive outfielder as well as a clutch hitter in key situations, it’s very likely Francisco will not be playing baseball in October.
7. Michael Schwimer (RHP)
He was just promoted to take Polanco’s spot on the roster and it’s likely he’ll be called up on September 1st when rosters expand. Unless he gets the chance to really show what he can do out of the bullpen, it’s likely he will not get to pitch in the post-season this year. However, he has had a very good year at Lehigh Valley, making 46 appearances and posting a 9-1 record, 10 saves and a 1.88 ERA. With Jose Contreras and Brad Lidge unlikely to return next year, it looks as though Schwimer will have the chance to earn a spot in the Phillies bullpen in 2012.
It will be interesting to see what moves, if any, Ruben Amaro Jr makes to bolster the Phillies bench. As noted, if Jim Thome would make it through waivers, perhaps the Phillies would claim him to have a more bonafide left-handed bat off the bench for the playoffs.
I don’t see the the Phillies making any moves related to their pitching staff as far as waiver-wire acquisitions. I think they have a wealth of talent, it’s a matter of choosing who they are going to rely on during what will hopefully be a long playoff run.
Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo have pitched very well for the Phillies out of the bullpen this year but they are untested in playoff scenarios. Fortunately, the starting staff is solid and if everything goes the way it’s supposed to, we will be celebrating another World Series championship this October!