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The Roster Math Behind Ryan Howard’s Return

The Big Man is back. But whose spot does he take? Photo by Ian Riccaboni

The Big Man is almost back will likely return tonight according to Todd Zolecki and he couldn’t return any sooner to this reeling Phils club. His return will be one of a pair that set the stage for the 2012 club’s last stand. With Ryan Howard‘s return, someone will have to return to Triple-A. With only 34 active and healthy players on the 40-man roster, no one will have to be passed through waivers but someone will take the Northeast Extension back up to Allentown. Here are the candidates:

He’s Safe, But Has an Option So I Have to Mention Him

Mike Fontenot – Fontenot has been one of the most pleasant surprises this year on a team lacking much to smile about. His triple-slash of .338/.378/.403, while aided by an unsustainable .410, has helped keep him in a key reserve role. According to FanGraphs, Fontenot has been worth approximately $1.4 million to the Phillies. Not bad for an in-season signing.

Fontenot likely is not going anywhere with his ability to play every infield position and his bat has earned him a roster spot likely for the rest of the season.

It Wouldn’t Surprise Me, But I Think He’s Safe

Jason PridiePridie has had cups of coffee in the Big Leagues in 4 out of the last 5 years but turns 30 in October and has been given the label (everyone has one, ever watch Bull Durham?) of a Quadruple-A player in baseball circles. Pridie was playing very well for the IronPigs, hitting .370/.442/.652 in 13 games and was part of their rapid ascension to first place in the International League’s North Division. Pridie earned the call-up once Jim Thome packed his bags for Baltimore and I think he survives Howard’s call-up as the team’s fifth outfield. Pridie will likely return to Allentown when Laynce Nix returns to action.

If the Phillies Get Creative, He’s Going to Allentown

Brian Sanches – Sanches has not been particularly effective at the Big League-level this year. In 6.1 IP, Sanches has allowed 6 ERA, amounting to a 8.53 ERA and a 5.91 xFIP. With the multiple health and injury concerns on the roster, including but not limited to Howard, Chase Utley, and Placido Polanco, Sanches is the odd man out in the bullpen stats and performance wise and would be my choice to go, opting to go with an 11-man pitching staff v. 12.

He’s Probably Headed to Allentown

Hector LunaThe Moon Man was a Spring Training favorite, sending towering blasts into the stands at Brighthouse Field. In a reserve and part time role, Luna has been effective (.246/.295/.386), but has been outplayed by Fontenot who also offers more position flexibility. Luna’s ability to play third base makes him the fourth option at third, behind Polanco, Wigginton, and Fontenot, and likely the fourth option at first base as well. Unfortunately, it looks like Luna will be the one taking 476 North come Howard’s return.

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