Phillies Insider: The Roster Rundown

The Phillies roster has already undergone a couple of changes this offseason. There are sure to be more along the way. Some familiar faces could become trade bait and there are a couple players without contracts for next season. For instance, will the Phillies be able to bring Todd Pratt and Kevin Millwood back into the fold and can they avoid arbitration with Placido Polanco? <I>Phillies Insider</I> tries to answer those and other roster questions.

The Phillies have exercised the $3 million option on LHP Rheal Cormier's contract for next year, while declining the options of RHPs Jose Mesa and Mike Williams. In addition, catcher Kelly Stinnett has declined his portion of the mutual option in his contract, opting for free agency instead.

ROTATION:

RHP Kevin Millwood (14-12, 4.01, 210 hits in 222 innings) - Is he the pitcher who went 23-4 in 36 starts from early 2002 with the Braves to early 2003 for the Phillies? Or the pitcher who went 7-11 after May 23 this year? It probably doesn't matter for the Phillies since he's expected to leave as a free agent. The Phillies are still waiting for a proposal from Scott Boras, Millwood's agent.

LHP Randy Wolf (16-10, 4.23) - A career-high in wins and 200 innings pitched for the second straight season made Phillies' decision to sign him to a four-year contract last offseason look good. If Millwood leaves and the Phillies can't find another ace, the job falls to Wolf.

RHP Vicente Padilla (14-12, 3.62) - Injured in auto accident almost two weeks ago in his native Nicaragua. Padilla and his agent insist that he's fine, but we'll have to wait until spring training to know for sure.

RHP Brett Myers (14-9, 4.43) - Should get better. Showed inconsistency that's to be expected of a 23-year-old in his first full year in the majors but still won 14 games.

RHP Brandon Duckworth (4-7, 4.94) - Claims fifth spot by default going into the offseason, but will have to win the job in the spring. Still has some in the organization who believe in him, but after back-to-back disappointing seasons the competition for this spot will heat up in spring training. Could be dangled as trade bait this winter.

BULLPEN:

LHP Rheal Cormier (8-0, 1.70) - Easily the most pleasant surprise of the season; his ERA was the lowest by a Phillies reliever since Roger McDowell (1.11 in 1989). He's now signed through 2004 and if he starts well, the Phillies will look to extend that.

RHP Carlos Silva (3-1, 4.43) - Along with Cormier, one of only two relievers almost certain to return in 2004. Ended his season on a high note with a 1.54 earned run average (2 ER, 11 2/3 IP) in his last 11 appearances. A conversion to the rotation isn't out of the question, but is unlikely.

RHP Terry Adams (1-4, 2.65) - Led the bullpen with 66 appearances despite missing much of September with injuries. Had surgery to remove five bone chips from his elbow but is expected to be healthy enough to start spring training. The Phillies have a decision to make with Adams, since he can be a free agent. Odds are though, that he'll be back.

LHP Dan Plesac (2-1, 2.70) - Hasn't decided whether to return for a 19th big-league season at age 42 despite another effective season as a situational reliever. If he wants to come back, the Phillies would love to have him.

RHP Turk Wendell (3-3, 3.38) - Ended an inconsistent season on an up note with five straight scoreless appearances covering 3 2/3 innings. But he's a free agent and the Phillies aren't expected to offer him too much, so he might wind up elsewhere.

RHP Geoff Geary (0-0, 4.50) - Pitched well enough in five September appearances to merit consideration for a roster spot going into spring training.

LHP Valerio De Los Santos (4-3, 4.50) - Had a 9.00 ERA in six appearances after being acquired from Milwaukee on September 2nd. He's eligible for arbitration and it's likely that the Phillies won't offer to go to arbitration, but they might try to sign him to a fairly cheap contract for 2004.

CATCHERS:

Mike Lieberthal (.313-13-81) - Batting average was career-high. But has a total of only 28 home runs in the last two years. Of course, in spring, there will be tha annual rumors about his health.

Todd Pratt (.272-4-20) - Competent backup and vocal clubhouse presence. The Phillies would love to have him back and Pratt seemed pretty happy in Philly. Some rumors have the Phillies carrying a third catcher to be able to utilize Pratt more as a pinch-hitter.

INFIELDERS:

1B Jim Thome (.266-47-136) - Quickly became the hitter the offense revolves around. Manager Larry Bowa calls him the best free agent signing in franchise history.

2B Placido Polanco (.289-14-63) - Reached career highs in home runs, RBI, walks (42) and stolen bases (14) despite being limited to 122 games by injuries. Phillies will keep him even though he'll be in line for a big raise through arbitration.

SS Jimmy Rollins (.263-8-62) - Most significant stat was 113 strikeouts; manager Larry Bowa stressed that he must reduce that number significantly next season. He'll work on that with Tony Gwynn this winter.

3B David Bell (.195-4-37) - Limited to 85 games by a back injury after signing a four-year, $17 million contract. Phillies believe his absence had a lot to do with their missing the playoffs. The Phillies hope that he'll be at full strength by spring training, but there are rumors of lingering problems. It's not out of the question that Bell will again be limited, making the signing of Polanco that much more important.

IF Tomas Perez (.265-5-33) - Ended up with 298 at bats because of injuries to David Bell and Placido Polanco, at least 100 more than had been projected when the season opened. Bench is stronger when he gets 150-200 ABs.

IF Nick Punto (.217-1-4) - Adds speed and defense. Switch-hitter batted .278 (10-for-36) against left-handed pitchers but only .179 (10-for-56) against right-handers.

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Pat Burrell (.209-21-64) - Phillies' most disappointing hitter after breakout .282-37-116 season in 2002. Still has five years to go on his $50 million contract extension, so will work on his swing with roving hitting instructor Charlie Manuel this winter.

CF Marlon Byrd (.303-7-45) - Finished strong, going 35-for-101 (.347) in his last 24 games. Phillies expect his power numbers to improve as he matures and hopes are that they will let him try to swipe more bases in 2004.

RF Bobby Abreu (.300-20-101) - With two RBI on the final day of the season, passed 100 for the second time in his career (110 in 2001). Phillies are still waiting for him to have an All-Star/MVP type season.

OF Ricky Ledee (.247-13-46) - Has developed into a valued reserve who made 56 starts. Like Perez, the Phillies are better with him coming off the bench.

OF Jason Michaels (.330-5-17) - Produced when given an opportunity to play but had just 109 at-bats for the season. There are plenty of teams willing to give Michaels a chance to play if they can pry him away from the Phillies.


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