As we approach the meat of Spring Training, the Phillies find themselves in the midst of a good problem to have as it pertains to coming up with the final roster they will take up north for this 162 game season that portends to act as a pit stop on the way to a proper and lasting rebuild.
Brock Stassi rips another one deep and way gone, and general manager Matt Klentak’s job gets just a little bit harder, but in that “good harder” way like when you have to decide between paying your check with a hundred dollar bill or four twenties.
Stassi hit his fourth jack this spring (which incidentally leads the team in homers). After the game ended against the Orioles, the left-handed first baseman/outfielder was hitting .407/.484/.889 with an OPS of 1.373. All those numbers led the team as well.
What to do… what to do…
Well, at this point it seems obvious, I hear you saying it even as I write, “Stassi is the perfect fit for relief to right-handed Tommy Joseph at First base against tough right handed pitchers. He can play a decent first-base to boot, and, hell, he’s even an extra hand in the outfield! Let’s all get on the Stassi train!”
Well, I hear you, but slow your roll a bit because aside from the normal warnings that spring training stats largely don’t matter, while his current Spring would be enough to land him one of the (what appear to be two) bench spots to be had, there is an additional problem to be tackled.
You see, Stassi is not on the 40-man roster, and the Phillies’ 40-man roster is currently chock full of top prospects and arms that would be risky to leave dangling out there for just anyone to grab. What it boils down to is that there just aren’t a lot of candidates to expose from the 40-man in order to make room for him. Again, all things considered, generally a good problem to have.
Additionally, there are a couple other spots on the 25-man roster that may require the team to have to drop some players from the 40-man, too.
For example, If the Phils wants to add Chris Coghlan or Daniel Nava to the final roster as their fifth outfielder, they would have to be added to the 40-man roster first. Or if they wanted to add a left-handed reliever other than Joely Rodriguez or Adam Morgan to the bullpen, that would also necessitate a 40-man roster move.
So, it’s plain to see why getting on the 40-man roster before spring training is so important. When players are afforded that security, they have a much better chance of sticking with the organization due to the investment already placed in them. That being said, Stassi, may be the exception that forces the Phillies to drop someone before the team heads north to start the regular season.
With that in mind, below is a list of players widely regarded as most likely to be dropped from the 40-man roster to accommodate a Brock Stassi (age in parentheses).
- Louis Garcia (30)
A serviceable relief arm who has been back and forth between The Bigs and Lehigh Valley quite a bit. He has always had a decent four-seamer, but has never been able to locate the way he needs to to make it work. Last year he appeared in 17 games for the Phillies and put up a 6.46 ERA in 15 1/3 innings. In 126 career games, he has a 4.24 ERA and a 4.43 FIP, with a horrible 1.688 WHIP. Garcia would seem to be one of the obvious choices to be removed.
- Tyler Goeddel (24)
Last year’s top pick in the Rule 5 draft had to remain on the roster all year or risk being offered back. Now that that isn’t a threat, and Goeddel seems to have a limited upside, it looks like he’s going to start the season as Lehigh Valley’s designated hitter. The Iron Pigs’ outfield is stacked with top prospects, and it’s unclear how much action Goeddel is actually going to see anyway.
- Adam Morgan (27)
The fact that Morgan is a lefty gives him his best chance to make the team is as their second lefty out of the bullpen. He is no longer seen as a top prospect either. In 21 poor starts last year, he went 2-11 with a 6.04 ERA and a WHIP of 1.500. He gave up 11.2 hits per nine and struck out 7.5, while walking 2.3. He may have reached the end of the line.
- Alberto Tirado (22)
He is a hard thrower who has a plus fast-ball that can reach triple digits. The Phillies worked really hard to put him on the 40-man roster this off-season, and it would be a tough sell to lose him for veteran players who probably won’t be in the big leagues for more than a year. Last year he went 7-1 with a 2.50 ERA for the Lakewood BlueClaws in the second half after a rough first half in which he struggled with control problems, but Tirado has prospect written all over him and is probably safe.
So, while it’s still a bit early, for the sake of playing Matt Klentak, here is a stab at what may happen…
It seems pretty clear that Stassi has done enough to make the team. He could be the team’s lat infielder or the fifth outfielder, or a combination of the two. But in any case, he should have the team made – and provide a much-needed left handed power bat off the bench who can play 1st base or maybe left field twice a week as well depending on matchups. My guess is that Luis Garcia is the odd-man out in this scenario.
Rounding out the team, the middle infield job could then go to prospect Jesmuel Valentin, who is already on the 40-man roster. It would probably make more sense for him to play every day at second base with the Iron Pigs, but the Phillies are intrigued with his career .348 on-base percentage. Also, while in Clearwater, Pete Mackanin played him some at shortstop, for the precise purpose of putting him on the 25-man roster, should it come to that. Valentin, would be the Phils utility infielder in this scenario.
That decision would mean neither Coghlan or Nava would make the team as Stassi would be the fifth outfielder.
As far as the bullpen is concerned, either Morgan, or to one of the left-handers not on the 40-man roster, non-roster invitees gets the job there. They include Sean Burnett, Caesar Romaros, or the newly-acquired, ambidextrous, Pat Venditte.
There are other moves the Phillies could easily make, but this exercise has been done with the idea of getting Stassi on the opening day roster. And this seems to be the route to go without releasing Goeddel or Tirado, which would seem to be counter-productive to the Phillies long-term plans.
But like I said when we started this Brock Stassi exercise, these are the kind of decisions Matt Klentak certainly WANTS to have facing him.
Oh, what to do with an over-talented roster of young players/prospects.
May your choices be true, Matt…
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports