Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Postseason Roster

Having clinched everything they need to, attention turns to the Phillies' postseason roster.

Let's get the obvious out of the way.

The first eight positions are set even with Rollins's nascent recovery and Polanco's gimpy elbow:
1. C Carlos Ruiz
2. 1B Ryan Howard
3. 2B Chase Utley
4. 3B Placido (Cabeza Grande) Polanco
5. SS Jimmy Rollins
6. LF Raul Ibanez
7. CF Shane Victorino
8. RF Jayson Werth

The three aces provide the starting rotation for the NLDS:
9. Roy Halladay
10. Roy Oswalt
11. Cole Hamels

They'll keep
12. Joe Blanton in the 'pen should something odd happen requiring an extended stint from the relief corps.

Most of the rest of the bullpen is obvious:
13. Brad Lidge
14. Ryan Madson
15. Jose Contreras
16. Chad Durbin
17. JC Romero (Despite struggling this season, he's a no-brainer addition to the staff.)

Several bench spots are also obvious:
18. Wilson Valdez (bats RH) would be a lock even if J-Roll and Cabeza Grande were not in questionable health, and his ability to play three infield spots, and even a bit of outfield in a pinch, makes him a bit of an Eric Bruntlett clone, and much like Bruntlett in 2008, he's made major contributions and gotten plenty of playing time because of injuries.
19. Ben Francisco (bats RH) is a versatile outfielder with decent speed, making him a clear choice.
20. Brian Schneider (bats LH) will be the backup catcher.
21. Mike Sweeney provides the needed big right-handed bat, though he's limited in the field to a mediocre first baseman at this point in his career.
22. Ross Gload is the big left-handed bat off the bench, though again limited to a mediocre first baseman and allegedly being capable of playing some corner outfield.

All of the above I take to be non-controversial. That leaves three spots open on the roster, and it's an open question about what should be done with them. One issue is how many pitchers to take vs. position players.

Certainly, in a smooth opening series, since there are only five games, the staff described above suffices. But you can't set up your roster on the assumption of a smooth series. That's why my next roster spot goes to:
23. Kyle Kendrick, who won't start a game in postseason unless disaster strikes. Nonetheless, he has (admittedly) limited experience coming out of the bullpen, and in the event disaster strikes, he could come in a provide some innings to save the rest of the bullpen.

That completes my pitching staff. I don't include Danys Baez, David Herndon, Antonio Bastardo, or Mike Zagurski, though that decision deserves an explanation.

I don't take a second lefty reliever because neither Bastardo nor Zagurski has shown me enough in the regular season to make me think that Charlie (or I) would trust them in a key situation in the postseason. But if you won't use a situational lefty in a key situation, then why have them on the roster? Answer: Don't have them on the roster.

David Herndon performed admirably this season, but he's basically been a detriment to the staff because his Rule 5 status guaranteed his spot all season and limited the team's flexibility. Now that the flexibility is restored, there's no need for Herndon; and I again can't imagine a circumstance where Charlie would have the staff I outlined above and say to Rich Dubee, "Get Herndon up."

Now consider Danys Baez. His exclusion is probably the most controversial thing so far (if for no other than his 2-year, $5.25 million contract). Why not include him? For the same reason as Herndon. Given how poorly he's performed this season, I can't imagine a circumstance when Charlie would use him. In a blowout (good or bad)? Use Kendrick. In a tight situation? No way Baez gets near the mound. So, if you wouldn't use him, then why include him? His contract is a REALLY bad reason, and Charlie won't make that mistake.

Going with that pitching staff leaves two bench spots. The first of those spots, I give to
24. Greg Dobbs (bats LH). Dobbs has had an atrocious season. And though Charlie has a tendency to stick with guys who did it before, even if they aren't currently performing, I think Dobbs makes the roster for a different reason. With the uncertainty around J-Roll and Cabeza Grande, Charlie needs another infielder, and Dobbs's ability to play third trumps his anemic bat. I expect him to be the second (or possibly the third) left-handed bat off the bench, barring a major onslaught in the scrub games that remain, but he's going to make the roster.

And finally...
25. Domonic Brown. I know most people believe the rookie won't make the roster, and it is very unlike Charlie to take an unproven player into a crucial series. Nonetheless, I expect Brown to make the cut. First, there's no pitcher worth taking over him, as I discussed above. Second, Brown is fast. Though not used much as a pinch-runner, I could definitely see him coming in to run for Ibanez, Chooch, or even Howard in a crucial role. Third, the kid has a sweet swing; and though we haven't seen much of it yet, this kid wants to hit, and Charlie likes a hitter.

That represents my roster, and my rationale for it.

Let me know why you think I'm wrong.