Soon enough, some choices will have to be made as to who will stay and who will go on the Phillies roster. Chase Utley is close to returning, as is Roy Oswalt. Behind them are Jose Contreras and Brad Lidge, both of whom could be back sometime next month. Brian Schneider is also out about a month, but Dane Sardinha will be relegated once he returns healthy.
That means four roster spots must be opened. Here is a look at the 25-man roster right now:
- Infield: Howard, Valdez, Orr, Rollins, Polanco, Ruiz, Sardinha (7)
- Outfield: Ibanez, Victorino, Francisco, Mayberry, Gload, Martinez (6)
- SP: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Blanton, Worley (5)
- RP: Madson, Bastardo, Romero, Baez, Kendrick, Stutes, Matheison (7)
- DL: Lidge, Contreras, Oswalt, Utley, Schneider (5)
As I mentioned, you can pull Sardinha and add Schneider in month or so. Beyond that, it gets more difficult.
Chase Utley for Wilson Valdez
Sorry Wilson, your time might be up. Having found a better batter in Pete Orr, Valdez becomes expendable – that is, unless Ruben Amaro wants to toss rule-5 pick Michael Martinez aside, which seems like a long-shot. He made it this far on the roster, so why would they get rid of him now? If Martinez were released, he’d have to be offered back to the Washington Nationals first.
Orr’s defense is solid enough that he’s an upgrade over Valdez. He can also play multiple positions, including the outfield is need be. Martinez really hasn’t done much, but he’s four years younger than Valdez, who really hasn’t done much either. I think yanking Valdez might be the move here since Martinez is much faster and can also play several positions.
(Note: Thanks to Matt Gelb from the Philadelphia Inquirer for setting me straight – Valdez is out of options, therefore cannot be sent down.)
Roy Oswalt for Scott Matheison
This is pretty much a no-brainer and will likely be happening very soon. Sadly, it’s a numbers game for Matheison, who will again be sent down.
Jose Contreras for Vance Worley
Once The Big Truck returns to the back end of the bullpen, Worley’s time here will be up, for the time being anyway. The Phillies want to keep him stretched out as a starter, so the right move is to put him back in Lehigh Valley once Contreras is ready. That’s still a few weeks away as Contreras has yet to go out on a rehab assignment. It still gives the Phillies an option should there be an injury to one of the starters. Worley has also proved to be a commodity in relief, although his primary role is as a starter.
Brad Lidge for ???
This is where it gets dicey for the Phillies. There are a few options here, although none are easy.
The simplest would be to take away Michael Stutes, a guy who has pitched well in Philly and deserves to stay. Stutes has been used in some big situations, even more so than incumbents Kendrick and Baez. Amaro and gang could point to the youth and the ease of sending him back to Triple-A, although it’s not the right move to make. Stutes was freed and needs to remain as such.
What about Baez? Is he finally expendable? With roughly half a year remaining (once Lidge is ready to return) Baez will only be owed in the $1-1.5 million range, an easy pill to swallow for the Phillies, especially knowing they have Stutes to fall back on. The only reason I can surmise as to why the Phils would keep Baez over Stutes is because of his relationship with Jose Contreras. Baez serves as his translator most of the time, and while that’s not a good reason to keep a pitcher with his numbers, it might be a reason for the team.
Could Kendrick be the odd guy out? It seems doubtful. He makes less than Baez and can start in a pinch. He can go multiple innings in relief as well.
This could all be a moot point by the time Lidge is ready, which might be sometime later next month. So much can change in that time.
UPDATE, 4:08 pm: Roy Oswalt has been activated from the disabled list and Vance Worley is headed back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Kind of a shock that they didn’t send Scott Mathieson back, but it’s obvious they want Worley to start on a regular schedule.