Throughout Spring Training, guesses have been made as to who would make the 25-man roster. Now that the decisions are final, we can definitively hone in on some of the storylines we’ll see – at least early on in the season. It’s impossible to look too far down the road, but for the immediate future, here is what to keep an eye out for:
GALVIS AND HIS NEW POSITION
-It’s insane how quickly things can change in this world. In early March, Freddy Galvis is nothing but a helper; a guy going through the motions, attempting to impress the Phillies brass while getting some at-bats before he’s sent back to minor league camp. At that time, he was an understudy to Jimmy Rollins, nothing more. Then, chondromalacia befell our fair second baseman and Galvis sprung into action.
The 22-year old changed positions and finds himself the opening day second baseman, a position he has never played at the minor league level. It’s sink or swim for Galvis. He can prove his worth to the team with a great start to the season. And Galvis won’t be asked to do much; just provide solid D and and occasional base knock here and there.
It would be sweet to see him hold down the fort until Utley returns.
-They haven’t even thrown a meaningful pitch and already there are questions about the bullpen. Never a good thing.
It seemed like a positive early in Spring Training, but has since become anyone’s guess. Will Jose Contreras contribute? Is Michael Stutes shoulder OK? What’s wrong with Antonio Bastardo? Can Chad Qualls be a solid 8th inning reliever? Is Joe Savery ready for the big show? Will David Herndon progress?
Behind Jonathan Papelbon is a bit of a dark cloud.
CAN Hunter Pence BE “THE GUY”
-I’ve argued this point numerous times with many on, and off, the radio. Some wonder if Hunter Pence can be the focal point of an offense. They point to his team’s record in Houston with him as the middle-of-the-order bat that was responsible for putting the offense on his back.
Last season proved to be a major step forward for Pence, who hit a career high .314. His 22 homers were the lowest in four seasons, but he was a beast from the moment he donned the red pinstripes.
His .954 OPS with the Phillies shows what kind of presence he can be. But without Ryan Howard in the cleanup spot, can Pence help clean up the mess? Eyes will be focused on him. I’m sold that he can be a 25-30 home run threat with a high average. They’ll need every bit of that.
LEANING ON THE ACES
I’m worried. Not so much about Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels. They’re all the best at what they do. I’m worried about the off chance that the Phillies lose them for an extended period of time. Are they stable enough to get through a monumental loss like that?
Sure, injuries can happen to anyone at anytime, but the Phillies have been lucky to have great health with most of their starters recently. Will the Phillies decrease the workload of the Aces early on? Or will they ride them just the same as before?
If you’re reading the tea leaves prior to the start of the regular season, it appears John Mayberry will continue to be a platoon player. Juan Pierre is the apple of Charlie Manuel’s eye, but can Mayberry free himself from part-time player status? I’m more interested in how he can build off last year’s breakthrough. But the question remains, will the Phillies provide him opportunities to do so?
WILL POLLY STAY HEALTHY?
This is more important than people realize. A healthy Placido Polanco is imperative for the Phillies to have a strong season. Not just the first month (you remember how he scorched the ball last April). If he goes down, the Phils take a defensive hit at third base by having to use Ty Wigginton full-time.
When Polly is right, he’s a perfect sidekick to Pierre, Rollins, or Victorino; whomever Charlie Manuel decides to use as the leadoff hitter. Getting a speedy leadoff hitter from first to third with a slap hit the opposite way is exactly what the Phillies need. Polanco can provide that – that is, if he doesn’t break down again.