The spring training games have begun. And everyone’s doing a 25-man roster prediction. Here’s mine.
Matt Gelb thinks a third catcher may be installed to start the year, to ease the burden for Knapp and provide a bit of veteran stability. While not a bad idea, I think the Phils will want Knapp to earn his keep as a backstop just as much as at first base (or simply off the bench in pinch hitting situations). A veteran catcher would only be a cosmetic addition with only small clubhouse benefit. Also, Rupp basically is a veteran now.
Five of these six spots are already in place, but the sixth is the one I continue to debate. The Phillies could drop the sixth infielder and simply carry six outfielders, since Chris Coghlan can play nearly every defensive position. But I’m not sure Daniel Nava is a favorite over Gomez, who has sneaky power that came out last year in Korea (21 home runs). He also plays third base; both Blanco and Coghlan can handle the hot corner in a pinch, but I’d bet the Phils want a more stable backup option for the streaky Franco.
Coghlan should win the battle because of his position flexibility, but Nava is an option. Otherwise this group is set. There is a scenario where Roman Quinn wows everyone again this spring and makes the team, which means Kendrick becomes an OF/2B option, which means Coghlan is probably the fall guy. I kind of want that scenario (because I want Quinn starting 162 games in the outfield this year).
STARTING PITCHER (5)
The easiest group to predict, though it’s possible Buchholz is a tire fire in spring training and the Phils aggressively go with Jake Thompson or Zach Eflin. It’s more likely someone gets hurt, leading to Thompson or Eflin to move into the rotation. Let’s not wish for that.
RELIEF PITCHER (7)
Again, an easier group to predict. The real battle is that last spot, which Morgan gets because of his left-handedness and the likeliness the Phils need a guy to pitch three to four innings early in the season (love those early season blowouts and/or rain delays!). Everyone else is practically pitching to be an injury replacement. First guy in? Michael Mariot, who has the best stuff of the invitees. Watch for Pedro Beato and old friend Luis Garcia, about whom Pete Mackanin recently raved.