Phillies Roster Finally Has Options
In spring training, the Phillies lack of depth was laughable. Really. Legitimate punch line.
But if you look around, this club seems an awful lot like one with options.
Behind the plate, they've got Carlos Ruiz and Erik Kratz, maybe Brian Schneider.
Still nursing a foot injury, Ruiz Monday was cleared to begin weight-bearing exercises. The hope is that he can take a full batting practice Wednesday.
He shouldn't be expected back before mid-September. But he's already proven himself this season.
After last night, you could argue the same about Kratz. This season, he's mashed seven home runs and 16 RBIs in just 61 plate appearances, with a 1.113 OPS. That's lunacy. And, maybe, good enough to secure him a spot for next season.
At third base, they've got Placido Polanco and Kevin Frandsen.
In his return from the DL (back strain) Monday, Polanco looked everything like the sure-thing glove and iffy bat he's always been. In his first time out since July 23, he finished 2-for-4 and held his own defensively.
Polanco has a $5.5 million mutual option for 2013, with a $1 million buyout. Frandsen, who in 20 games in Polanco's stead is batting .329 with a .757 OPS, is arbitration eligible at the end of the season.
If they wanted, the Phillies could have both. And for good value.
At second, they've got whatever's left of Chase Ultey and Freddy Galvis.
The outfield is admittedly tight, with only three -- Juan Pierre, John Mayberry and Dom Brown -- on the active roster. The Phillies control Mayberry, Brown and Nate Scheirholtz (who's shooting to return off the DL August 28) in 2013, and could (probably should) re-up Pierre on another one-year flyer.
There could be more.
Monday, Antonio Bastardo, the guy with a 6.39 ERA since last September, looked more like the guy who earlier in 2011 made Ryan Madson look expendable.
Josh Lindbolm, who served Corey Hart's walk-off grand slam August 16, proved there's something there.
Phillippe Aumont, acquired from Seattle in 2009 for Lee, just got "The Call." He's filling in for Jeremy Horst (paternity leave), who, oh by the way, has a 1.06 ERA in 16 appearances out of the pen.
Tyler Cloyd, the talk of Triple-A Lehigh Valley (12-1, 2.27 ERA), could be on his way. Either he or Kyle Kendrick figure to be the No. 5 starter next season, assuming of course neither notably outshines Vance Worley.
For the love of flexibility.
Ideally speaking, you'd like to feel surer about those positions and fill them with single, everyday players. But the Phillies decided "ideal" also meant having Cole Hamels for six years and $144 million and Cliff Lee for $24 million per until the end of time.
In all likelihood, they'll have to make due with what they have. Marginal moves here and there, but nothing major.
For the first time this season, you have to consider whether what they have is actually enough.
It just might be.