In the last few days, developments arose that altered the Phillies roster a bit. JC Romero is now out of the bullpen until June, at the earliest, while Marcus Giles may get a shot at playing some infield at the top of the season. And Derek Lowe? He’s still available for the right price.
So right now, what’s the Phillies biggest need? Left-handed reliever, extra bat or starting pitcher?
If there’s one thing we learned last season, it’s that having two left-handed relievers early isn’t such a high priority. Of course, when the Phils inked Scott Eyre, the bullpen order became that much easier to handle – Eyre and Durbin were early options; Romero and Madson were late options. They all did their jobs. But from April to June (or so), Romero seemed to be enough. In fact, it may have been more important that the Phils just had a veteran presence in middle relief (Rudy Seanez), for those rare moments they needed that sort of boost.
What does that tell me? It tells me the goal is still to find a veteran arm – something like Russ Springer. The Phils would then break camp with Lidge, Madson, Durbin, Eyre, Springer, Condrey and the second-place finisher of the fifth-starter battle. Sure it’s not great to break camp with Condrey ahead of the last spot, but it’s fine to rely on internal depth early in the season.
The addition of Giles allows for some real flexibility. Of course, Giles has a long road to prove himself worthy of making the 25-man roster, but this addition takes pressure off Jason Donald, keeps Eric Bruntlett concentrated on being a super-utility player, and allows for some healthy competition in Spring Training. To me, Donald is still the favorite to take Utley’s spot, if he can’t return in time. But adding Giles means one less problem to worry about.
And the starting pitcher issue continues to stay level. We have Hamels, Myers, Moyer and Blanton. We have Park, Kendrick, Happ, Carrasco and … well … Adding Lowe would likely push someone out of the equation (likely Happ or Kendrick), and maybe even push another to the trading block (likely Myers or Blanton). As I’ve written before, it’s unnecessary to throw big cash at Lowe when there are multiple youngsters awaiting raises. And right now, it’s still a better play to stay away from Lowe, stick internal and think about turning Donald or Happ for something later in the season.
Then it’s back to square one – back to veteran relief.