Phillies Mailbag: Ex-Phils in Playoffs, Rollins and Victorino, Ruf
Once again it is time for the Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and post them to 973espn.com and to sportstalkphilly.com. Send a question at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter or our Sports Talk Philly Facebook page.
Which former Phillies player has the best chance to win a World Series in 2016?
This is a pretty good question. Right off the bat we know that the answer will not be pitchers Cole Hamels or Jake Diekman. The former Phillies duo combined for 10 runs in game one of the American League Division Series, as the Toronto Blue Jays swept the Texas Rangers. But there are many other former Phillies players still involved. Before I pick a name, I might wish to pick my World Series winner and go backwards.
I think that the 2016 World Series will be a match up of the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. Right now I think that the Cubs have the edge over the Indians. However, looking at the Cubs, you might notice that the Cubs have not a single former Phillies player on their roster. South Jersey native Matt Szczur did not make the Cubs postseason roster for the NLDS, but could see a title.
So, we must go to the Cleveland Indians, where there are plenty of former Phillies around.
The first of which would be manager Terry Francona. Francona got his first managerial job with the Phillies at just 37 years old. Since then, Francona has earned two World Series rings with the Red Sox and has led the Cleveland Indians into the playoffs two of the four years now he has been with the team. Francona has learned a lot along the way and is an asset that could help the Indians overcome the Toronto Blue Jays.
There are three others on the roster that are ex-Phillies: utility player Michael Martinez, reliever Jeff Manship, and reliever Dan Otero.
"Mini-Mart" and Manship need little introduction to Phillies fans. But the Phillies really missed on Otero. Otero was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies from November 3, when he was claimed by the Phillies from the Oakland Athletics, to December 18 when the Phillies traded Otero to the Indians for cash considerations.
With the Indians Otero went 5-1 with a 1.63 and helped make up the bullpen that I think will be the difference that carries the Indians into the ALCS.
There is also starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, whom the Indians acquired from the Phillies to anchor the Cliff Lee trade in 2009. Carrasco is on the disabled list and will miss the entire playoffs. Carrasco is just 29 years old, all these years after the trade.
Apologies to Chase Utley, Joe Blanton, and Carlos Ruiz, all members of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Washington Nationals should take care of them soon.
Have Jimmy Rollins or Shane Victorino retired yet? Do you think they will retire as Phillies?
Both Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino signed with Chicago teams this offseason: Rollins the White Sox and Victorino the Cubs. Injuries limited Victorino to just a few Spring Training at bats and the Cubs did not retain Victorino on the roster after cutting him from the 40-man roster. Rollins played with the White Sox into June before being released.
Neither player has yet expressed an intention to retire, but time has definitely caught up to them. In the post-steroid era, 37 or 38 years old is a lot in baseball years. Rollins turns 38 in November, while Victorino turns 36 just three days later.
I suspect that both players would continue to pursue work this offseason. Even though Rollins is doing postseason baseball coverage on TBS, I do not think that means he has made his mind up to retire. Chances are, both players might be underwhelmed at the opportunities available to them. In short: what the two players can do on the field in terms of production can be replicated by younger, cheaper players.
I would expect that both players make a point of doing a ceremonial "retirement" with the Phillies. Victorino always speaks very highly about Philadelphia, and despite winning a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013, the 2008 World Series victory seems to be the one he reflects upon the most. Rollins won his MVP and World Series with the Phillies, the organization who drafted him in 1996 and with whom he stayed for 18 years.
So, I would think yes, they are both headed towards retirement and both will retire as Phillies.
Why did Darin Ruf survive the round of cuts the Phillies made this week?
The Phillies made their first roster moves of the offseason by outrighting six players to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. This process means that the players cleared waivers and were removed from the 40-man roster. Darin Ruf indeed lives to see another day.
The initial roudn of cuts were utility players Jimmy Paredes and Emmanuel Burriss, pitchers Dalier Hinojosa, Patrick Schuster, Colton Murray, and Frank Herrmann. The moves make way for adding some of the many prospects to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.
Besides those six players, the Phillies will get roster spots from the free agency of catcher A.J. Ellis, first baseman Ryan Howard, infielder Andres Blanco, outfielder Peter Bourjos, reliever David Hernandez, and starter Jeremy Hellickson. Presumably, Charlie Morton will be a free agent, too, though the Phillies have a $9.5 million contract option to bring him back (but will probably decline).
Between those six assignments to Triple-A and seven free agents, that gives the Phillies 13 spots. Current 60-day disabled list occupants Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, and Matt Harrison will be released from the disabled list and land back on the roster, leaving 10 available spots for Rule 5 protection.
The Phillies might simply think that 10 will be enough. For now.
I would say that Ruf finds himself on the bubble; however, depending on what happens in the offseason, Ruf is one of the few potential bench players who can hit a home run. The Phillies might hold onto Ruf until they see what kind of moves they make down the line. If the Phillies can add a left-handed first base and outfield option, the Phillies might at that point remove Ruf from the 40-man roster.
Relief pitchers on the bubble may include lefty Elvis Araujo and right-handed pitchers Phil Klein and Luis Garcia. David Buchanan is one starter who the Phillies may or may not keep (though they carried Buchanan all season last year without ever using him, even though they were stuck for innings). The one problem with carrying the injured Harrison (taken off of the Rangers hands as part of the Hamels trade) is that the team needs to carry him through the offseason. Perhaps the Phillies could work out a deal with him to release him and let him re-sign a new minor league deal.
The Phillies learned a lesson last season, seeing both Otero and A.J. Achter get away from them in a roster crunch. If the Phillies add pieces this off season, they may be more likely to let one of their own players go instead of missing out.