Projecting the 25-man roster, Opening Day lineup
What predictions? No, not the division winners or World Series winner or NL MVP and all that jazz. That stuff will be in Thursday's Daily Times Baseball Preview.
This is a quick rundown of what I think the final roster will look like when its submitted Thursday and then what my best guess is the Opening Day lineup looks like Friday.
First, the 25-man roster.
Josh Barfield was shipped out today to minor league camp. So there are 4 guys for 2 spots on the bench: Pete Orr (of @PeteOrrFacts on Twitter), Luis Castillo, Delwyn Young and Michael Martinez).
Charlie Manuel has talked about Michael Martinez quite a bit. And, other than Castillo, who won't be going to Lehigh Valley if he doesn't make the squad, he's the only guy they could lose by not putting him on the 25-man. He's a Rule 5 guy, meaning he'd have to be offered back to his original organization (the Nationals) first.
Martinez has two things going for him: he plays excellent defense and he's versatile. Versatile as in can play all the infield spots very well and a decent center field (keep in mind, without Martinez this team's backup CFs are John Mayberry Jr. and Ben Francisco).
The argument against Martinez is he has no MLB playing time. But Manuel was asked about that today and shot it down quickly. He likes Martinez.
Castillo is also on the roster, in my mind. I think they want to give him a longer look... and he does have the highest ceiling, even at age 35, than the rest of the group.
Orr sounds like the average, AAAA-type who can be inventory at Lehigh Valley, much like Cody Ransom was last year.
What about Young?
Well, here's where it's interesting. Young and Martinez basically offer the exact opposite: Young is a capable, proven pinch hitter; defense isn't his strong suit and since he hasn't played the infield in a few weeks, they see him strictly as a corner-outfield type.
Michael Martinez is not a proven bench player. But he can be plugged into several spots and hold his own defensively. (Manuel said today he made maybe "the best play he's ever seen" at short yesterday... and, remember, Manuel had Omar Vizquel in Cleveland).
Given the injuries to Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins last year (and Chase Utley's current status), I'm leaning to them keeping Martinez over Young. Young can go to Lehigh Valley.... and just because he goes now doesn't mean he has to stay.
Projected 25-man roster:
John Mayberry Jr.
If there's a guy I'm not so sure about among the relievers, it's Bastardo. He has a big arm, sure. But he's been wildly inconsistent and not very durable when given chances in the past. Still, I think he's on and they'll give him a shot to prove himself.
Projected Opening Day Lineup
Now, this shouldn't be seen as a regular lineup; only the lineup I think we'll see on Opening Day. There's a very good chance Manuel flips things around according to if they're facing a left-hander or a right-hander, or on other matchups.
The Phils face old pal Brett Myers, a right-hander, on Opening Day. (Two lefties, Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ, follow in the next two games).
So, since they're facing the right-handed Myers, I think Raul Ibanez hits third. Manuel likes him there. Ibanez has been very productive and has shown some pop this spring.
Also, I believe Castillo will start. I also think he could hit higher in the order than you might expect. He sees a lot of pitches, gets on base as well (or better) as anyone in this lineup when healthy.
Now, this is more guesswork than the 25-man; I just think Manuel has a lot more options here and could do a number of things. So take this for what it's worth: it's just one man's guess.
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Luis Castillo, 2B
3. Raul Ibanez, LF
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Placido Polanco, 3B
6. Shane Victorino, CF
7. Ben Francisco, RF
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Roy Halladay, P
Against a lefty, I could see Manuel slotting Rollins third. Maybe moving Victorino to leadoff. But, as I said, I was only projecting Opening Day. Don't get greedy on me.