It wasn't that Telemaco pitched badly this spring - he was 0-0, 3.57 in 10 games - but may have been a penny pinching move. Telemaco was placed on waivers just a day before his contract would have become guaranteed, meaning that the Phillies saved $600,000 by letting him go when they did.
The biggest beneficiary of the move is likely to be Pedro Liriano. The Phillies have liked what they've seen from Liriano this spring - 0-1, 3.07 in 7 games - and were impressed enough to keep him around. Liriano is out of options and the Phillies would have risked losing him if they tried to option him back to AAA.
The biggest hurdle for Liriano is whether the Phillies would carry 11 or 12 pitchers to start the season. If they carry 12, as Charlie Manuel has said he would like to do, then Liriano seems to be pretty much of a lock with the exit of Telemaco. The only other pitcher seemingly with any chance of displacing Liriano is Martire Franco. The young Franco is 0-1, 1.80 in six games with the Phillies, but was hit around by the Blue Jays Wednesday and surrendered the winning run in a ninth inning rally. It's likely that Franco will start the year at AAA Scranton.
Two other players exited yesterday. Ryan Howard was optioned to Scranton and Shane Victorino was placed on waivers. Neither move was a great surprise. The biggest chance for either player to stick was if Marlon Byrd and/or Kenny Lofton were going to start the season on the DL. It appeared yesterday that both players would be able to avoid going on the DL and would be ready for Monday's opener against Washington.
If the Phillies carry 12 pitchers, that means that there are five bench spots. Placido Polanco, Jason Michaels and Tomas Perez appear to be in. Either Todd Pratt or A.J. Hinch will be Mike Lieberthal's backup, meaning that one spot is left up for grabs. With the exit of Howard and Victorino, that leaves Marlon Byrd and Jose Offerman battling for that spot.
Position wise, Byrd is likely to be more valuable to the Phillies, but don't count out Offerman, who has put up impressive numbers this spring. Offerman is hitting .283 this spring, but can primarily just at first base. The Phillies could put Tomas Perez there to spell Jim Thome and would recall Howard if anything were to happen to Thome. Byrd can potentially play all three outfield spots and could possibly work his way into platooning with Lofton in center field. Michaels was originally thought to be Lofton's platoon mate, but Byrd has made a push for that job. Both Offerman and Byrd could make the club if Manuel scraps the 12 man pitching staff idea and goes instead with 11.
As for Hinch and Pratt, that battle appears that it will come down to the final days. Neither has been overly impressive offensively this spring - Pratt is hitting .207, Hinch is hitting .200 - but the Phillies see other attributes. Pratt is a proven leader and has been popular in the clubhouse. Hinch is a better defensive catcher, who can help hold runners because of his strong arm. Both work well at handling pitchers, with a slight edge to Hinch.
Here is how the full roster would seem to breakdown:
Vicente Padilla (triceps tendinitis) should rejoin the rotation in mid-April, although a hot start by top prospect Floyd could complicate matters.
- LHP Billy Wagner (closer)
- RHP Tim Worrell
- RHP Ryan Madson
- LHP Rheal Cormier
- RHP Terry Adams
- LHP Aaron Fultz
- RHP Pedro Liriano
- SS Jimmy Rollins
- CF Kenny Lofton
- RF Bobby Abreu
- LF Pat Burrell
- 1B Jim Thome
- 3B David Bell
- 2B Chase Utley
- C Mike Lieberthal
Polanco, who has had a torrid spring, will start and bat second against some left-handed starters, and Burrell needs to show some consistency if he wants to have Abreu and Thome as bookends. That scenario is a perfect dream sequence for the Phillies.
- C Todd Pratt or A.J. Hinch
- INF Placido Polanco
- INF Tomas Perez
- OF Jason Michaels
- OF Marlon Byrd or 1B Jose Offerman
Byrd was having a terrific camp before dislocating his finger. He'll be ready by the start of the season, and if he can take his revamped swing into a part-time role he'll add even more to the bench. Perez has resorted to swinging for the fences and his average is suffering because of it.