The Phillies core is still close to the same as it was when they won the 2008 World Series. The only problem is, it’s the same core as it was eight seasons ago.
More than any recent season, the Phillies roster will likely be transformed as the season goes. Not only are the Phils’ top players particularlysusceptible to injuries, but there are also young players who need a look as the rebuilding plan is targeting 2016 and beyond to compete again.
Here’s Metro’s best guess for the roster’s breakdown on Opening Day, against the Red Sox Monday at 3:05 p.m.
1. LF Ben Revere: He moved from center to left, which should help to eliminate some defensive woes.
2. C Carlos Ruiz: His offense might drop off a bit, but he’s as good a signal-caller as any veteran catcher.
3. 2B Chase Utley: Utley showed a little pop as spring training round down. Batting .280 would be a good season for the former All Star.
4. 1B Ryan Howard: Howard lost weight and should be able to contribute in the cleanup spot.
5. 3B Cody Asche: This could be Asche’s time to shine, with the Phils desperate for offense at the hot corner.
6. RF Grady Sizemore: He’s replacing Domonic Brown, who will start the season on the disabled list.
7. CFOdubel Herrera: The next Shane Victorino, Herrera has speed and makes good contact at the plate. He’s also a Rule 5 pick.
8. SSFreddy Galvis: This is a big drop-off from the departed Jimmy Rollins.
1. Cole Hamels: Phillies fans should enjoy it while it lasts, they get to see one of the game’s 10 best hurlers every fifth day.
2. Aaron Harang: He’s a journeyman at this stage in his career, but he could be a solid innings eater.
3. David Buchanan: His best is very good, his worst is awful — Buchanan’s contributions will be key at the No. 3 spot.
4. Jerome Williams: He had a spectacular start in red pinstripes last summer but trailed off in September.
5. Chad Billingsley: The Phillies won’t need a fifth starter until April 15, but if the recovering former Dodgers ace is good to go he will take the hill.
Closer: Jonathan Papelbon — He’s playing to impress his next team. But his velocity was back up in spring training which is a good sign.
Setup man: Ken Giles — Giles is the closer of the future. One of the few reasons to watch this year.
Middle relief: Justin Defratus, Jake Diekman, Ethan Martin, Andy Oliver, others — The Phillies should have the depth in relief to field a decent pen to help lift their lacking starting rotation.
Cliff Lee, Domonic Brown: Two important pieces who will hopefully be able to return. Lee faces a possible career-ender if he can’t pitch without pain in his elbow by mid-summer.