There are two types of players stirring in the Phillies outfield logjam. One is the older and brutish player (Raul Ibanez, Geoff Jenkins, Matt Stairs); the other is the younger and speedier (Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, John Mayberry Jr.). It’s evident the Phillies have room for just five of these players, and the final spot will go to either Jenkins, Stairs or Mayberry.
The finalists’ spring totals:
Jenkins: 26 AB / .231 AVG / 2 2B / 1 HR / 5 RBI / 7 K
Stairs: 22 AB / .318 AVG / 3 2B / 0 HR / 4 RBI / 1 SB / 4 K
Mayberry: 51 AB / .275 AVG / 5 2B / 3 HR / 10 RBI / 1 SB / 16 SO
Clearly Stairs has lived up to his professional hitter mantra. Jenkins and Mayberry have performed similarly at the plate, but Mayberry has exhibited a bit more versatility with his hitting. Defensively, Mayberry has been the best of the three, making just sporadic rookie mistakes. Jenkins has been his usual self, limited slightly in coverage and holding an average arm. Stairs has been a notch below, but has mostly seen designated hitter time.
Yesterday I wrote Mayberry and Jenkins should make the roster, leaving Stairs out as a potential trade chip. That argument has garnered the most attention, considering Stairs’ fan-favorite status. But the fact remains the Phils have too many outfielders, not enough bench options against left-handed pitching and Jenkins’ exorbitant contract. Leaving Stairs out of the final roster would actually be unfair, but ultimately necessary.
The Phils can keep Stairs with the club and give Mayberry more time to work on his discipline — with 500 at bats he’d have 165 strikeouts, but at some point the move will be made. At some point the Phils will choose to go with youth and speed over age and brute. If they don’t, opposing managers will have an easy time navigating through the Phillies bench.