September; some call it the most crucial month of the season. It's also when teams can get a generous infusion of talent from adding to their 25 man rosters, pushing their numbers even as high as 40, if the team deems it necessary. So, with that in mind, it's time for our look at who gets the call; at least if we were running the Phillies.
For starters, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is insisting that he's got nothing up his sleeve in the way of a last minute waiver trade deal. Teams have through August 31 to add players to their organization and have them eligible for the post-season. The Phillies would have loved a reunion, but there was no way he was going to fall down the waiver wire to the point where the Phillies would have a chance to put in a claim on him. Instead, Thome's reunion was with his old buddies in Cleveland. Since the Phillies are last on the waiver selection list, it's not likely that any impact player will make it to them, unless that player carries more than a few warts, one of which would be a huge remaining contract, which the Phillies are not anywhere near willing to take on.
The Phillies really don't have any players under the Triple-A level that are ready for a call to the majors. With that in mind, the focus falls squarely on the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, who are in the thick of their first post-season run in the franchise's history. Amaro has said that, with a couple possible exceptions, the Phillies will likely wait until the IronPigs season officially ends before calling too many players up to the major league level for the last month of the season. If all goes perfectly for Lehigh Valley, they would be playing until September 20, the date of the Triple-A "World Series" - which does not include the world, nor is it a series; it's one game - in Albuquerque.
Most teams are quick to add a third catcher to their ranks and the Phillies aren't likely to be any different. So, who do you add, Dane Sardinha, with his .126 season average at Lehigh Valley or Erik Kratz, who is currently hitting .288 with 15 home runs this season? Let's book Kratz for a trip to Philadelphia.
The Phillies have looked for a left-handed reliever at times this season. Juan Perez (1-0, 3.60 in eight games with the Phillies) and Mike Zagurski (0-0, 5.40 in four games with the Phillies) are both on the 40-man roster, but neither inspires a lot of confidence. Here's a long shot for you; Joe Savery. The former first round pick started the season by transitioning to being a hitter, but has transitioned back to being a pitcher. This time around, he's a reliever, not a starter and the most recent transition is going very well. Working his way back up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Savery is 4-0-1, with a 2.14 ERA in 15 relief appearances with Lehigh Valley. On the season, Savery is 5-0-1, 1.69 in 22 games in the minors. The problem with adding Savery is two-fold. First, he's not on the 40-man roster and second, he's never pitched in the majors, so it's hard to count on him for much help. Of course, the Phillies have gotten lifts from the likes of Mike Stutes this season and he had never pitched in the majors either, coming into the season.
Perez and/or Zagurski could get the call just to give them another warm-blooded left-handed reliever in the pen, but don't figure on either being much of a go-to guy down the stretch. The Phillies can easily add one roster spot by putting Jose Contreras on the 60-day DL, which would allow them to add to their active ranks. Contreras is scheduled for elbow surgery this Friday and his season is officially over.
Right-handers Drew Carpenter (5-1, 1.79 at Lehigh Valley), Justin DeFratus (2-3, 3.79 at Lehigh Valley) and Scott Mathieson (2-2, 3.00 at Lehigh Valley) are all on the 40-man roster and will get a look. Carpenter and Mathieson have pitched in the majors before with mixed to failing results and a trip to Philadelphia would be the first for DeFratus, who is one of the up-and-coming relievers in the organization.
Another potential bullpen addition would be Joe Blanton, who is currently on the 60-day DL. The downside to activating Blanton, who threw a bullpen session the other day, is that it means someone else would have to be dropped from the 40-man roster, which is currently full. Veteran right-hander Dave Bush (1-1, 2.65) has made three starts with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and might be an interesting addition to the bullpen, should the Phillies decide his veteran status would be a big help for the club.
As for position players, veteran Pete Orr will likely rejoin the Phillies for the stretch run and infielder Kevin Frandsen and outfielder Delwyn Young - neither of whom are on the 40-man roster - will at least get a little consideration. Needing a left-handed power bat, Brandon Moss (.268/.364/.510 at Lehigh Valley) could be an option. Moss has launched 23 home runs and driven in 77 for Lehigh Valley. Like Frandsen and Young though, Moss is not on the 40-man roster.
Not too long ago, it would have been tough to figure Domonic Brown not getting a September call-up. Now though, there is nothing definite about it. With Brown hitting just .231 (21-for-91) since his return to Lehigh Valley in late July, Brown hasn't cemented a spot on the Phillies late-season roster. Unfortunately, it looks more and more like Brown is developing an annual "mental exhaustion" phase. For the first time in his minor league career, Brown was booed by hometown fans Monday night in Lehigh Valley. Brown made numerous defensive miscues and went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in the IronPigs double-header sweep at the hands of the Syracuse Chiefs. Brown appears to be in that same place where he was late last season when he literally looked like a stranger to a baseball field. On Monday night, Brown was officially only charged with one error, but had at least two other misplays defensively. Amaro has already said that he believes Brown needs a mental break and that he definitely won't be playing in the Arizona Fall League or in winter ball during the off-season. It's possible that he won't be playing after the IronPigs season ends, either.
And finally, what do we do with Freddy Galvis? The only real issue with Galvis was his offense, but since being promoted to Lehigh Valley, Galvis is hitting .313 (30-for-96) in 26 games with the IronPigs. His defense, which has always been strong, but faltered from time-to-time this season at Double-A Reading has been nothing short of stellar. At just 21, there is no reason to rush Galvis and 26 games doesn't make him Ted Williams, but he's playing very well and might be in line for a September cup of coffee with the Phillies.
Galvis' situation is especially interesting because of Jimmy Rollins' situation. Rollins, a fan favorite in Philly, is on the DL and will likely be out another ten days to two weeks. After that, there is the expiring contract that Rollins holds that becomes an even bigger question mark. Do the Phillies bring Galvis up for a look or at least just to let him hang around major leaguers for a while this September, or do they avoid igniting a potential controversy and just let him go into winter ball without a tour of Citizens Bank Park?
Here's our final list of roster additions - as we see it - for the Phillies final stretch:
Before the IronPigs season is over: Juan Perez and possibly, Pete Orr.
When the IronPigs season ends: Scott Mathieson, Joe Savery, Erik Kratz and Brandon Moss.