The 25th Man

Posted by Corey Seidman, Mon, February 21, 2011 02:46 PM | Comments: 8

There is not much mystery about the composition of the 2011 Phillies. Seven of eight positions are locked in, as are four bench spots. The entire starting rotation is set.

There are three bullpen locks (Lidge, Madson, Contreras), three more “almost certains” (Romero, Kendrick, Bastardo), and one final spot that will go to whoever looks better in the Spring: Danys Baez or David Herndon. The fact that Baez is due $2.75MM and Herndon can be optioned to the minor leagues at no penalty sways the odds in Baez’ favor.

(If you recall, Herndon was a Rule 5 pick last year, and, had the Phillies not kept him on the active roster for all of 2010, the Angels could have taken him back at half price. That is no longer the case this year. The Twins did this with Johan Santana once upon a time – kept him for all of his Rule 5 season, then sent him down to the minors for more seasoning.)

Despite the constant reminders of Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro that “Domonic Brown needs to earn his spot,” the top prospect will probably find his way on the team. The only hindrance would be a pitiful, mistake-prone Spring. He may not be fully groomed yet, but necessity and newly available semi-regular playing time will thrust him into the majors.

The only “free-for-all” exists at the final roster spot – the 25th man. In years past, this spot has been filled by the likes of Greg Dobbs, Eric Bruntlett, and So Taguchi. Dobbs, like some of the candidates mentioned below, was once a Non-Roster Invitee who performed well enough to earn himself the final spot.

Let’s take a look at the five men with the best chance to go North:

John Mayberry

  • Strengths: Power, pedigree, athleticism, organizational experience
  • Weaknesses: Inability to hit offspeed pitches, poor plate discipline, career stagnation

Mayberry is the most physically gifted of the five candidates you’ll see mentioned here. He is a former 1st-round pick from a baseball family that the Phillies sought out through trade several years ago.

He has traveled up-and-down between the majors and Triple-A (mostly Triple-A), simply because he has never performed well enough to stick in The Show. He is widely regarded as a 4-A player because of his one-track swing and 27:3 major league K/BB ratio.

Mayberry may have the most upside of these contenders, but what hurts his chances is that unless he has a miraculous Spring or Ben Francisco gets hurt, Mayberry won’t instill enough confidence in management that he can be called upon in pinch-hitting situations. As in years past, Mayberry will probably serve as organizational depth, getting regular at-bats in Triple-A in hopes that his Werthian physique may one day translate to Werthian production.

Michael Martinez

  • Strengths: Glove, versatility, speed
  • Weaknesses: Can’t do anything else

Little is known about the middle infielder the Phillies Rule Fived from the Nationals. Martinez, at 27, has never played a game in the majors. He is a utility infielder (and outfielder) with good speed. He has no power, and, aside from brief stints in Low-A and Triple-A (at the end of 2010), Martinez has never hit for average, either.

It is hard to see him making this team unless the Phillies decide the 25th spot would be best occupied by a pinch-runner/versatile defensive replacement. Even still, Wilson Valdez makes Martinez redundant in the field, and if Domonic Brown is sitting against a lefty starter, Brown would be the ideal pinch runner.

Expect Martinez to be offered back to the Nationals at half price.

Delwyn Young

  • Strengths: Experience, defensive versatility, switch-hitter
  • Weaknesses: Was terrible in five of six months last season

The former Pirate invited to Spring Training is my pick for the 25th man. His 2009 and 2010 numbers won’t set the world on fire, but he has experience starting and pinch-hitting, and he has major league experience at second base, third base, and both corner outfield spots.

Young is also a switch-hitter, which adds late-inning value. He is practically identical as a right-handed hitter (.710 OPS) and left-handed hitter (.708 OPS).

He is not guaranteed a roster spot, but he”ll receive plenty of playing time in Spring Training to prove himself. On paper, he is the most useful of this bunch.

Brandon Moss, Robb Quinlan

If you recognize Moss’ name, it’s due to his inclusion in the Manny Ramirez-Jason Bay trade. Or maybe you remember his pathetic few seasons with the Pirates. Either way, Moss will have to outperform Mayberry, Young, and the guy I’ll mention next in order to make the team.

If you recognize Quinlan’s name, it’s from his eight mediocre seasons with the Angels, in which he usually received 150-180 plate appearances. He has numbers similar to Delwyn Young, and can also play many of the same positions. There was a cute story in the Inquirer this morning about Quinlan’s locker, which sits in between Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt.

It all comes down to Spring production, but as of now, I’d give Delwyn Young the leg up on this list of players. He gives you plenty of versatility both offensively and defensively. Isn’t that what you want from a 25th man?

My rankings (in terms of value added), would be:

  1. Delwyn Young
  2. John Mayberry
  3. Robb Quinlan
  4. Michael Martinez
  5. Brandon Moss

What would yours be?

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 222 tavian

    Avatar of tavian

    I agree with this assessment, but would not be surprised if Mayberry gets the nod over Young because of his time with the club, and his power.

  • Posts: 993 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    I think it may be Marberry Jr. also, yea he can only hit Lefites that throw fastballs, but can play decent D and is the type of player Charlie likes, I am sure he thinks he can fix him, and he has enough speed to pinch run if needed.

  • It is most deffenetly Delwy Young that has the most up side, he has been one of the best cluch pinch hitters in baseball for the past six 5 years and he has never looked better in very good physical condition. Further more he has amazing bat speed and a switch hitter, they say the only problem was a bad spell last year for 5 months, but he has a big chip on his shoulder and he’s about to knock it off with the Phillies, jpeewee

  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    Id say Mayberry has the early upper hand, which of course could change. Some people are saying he could start for the Phils if he figures out breaking pitches. He’ll need a strong spring for that.

  • Posts: 542 Bruce

    Avatar of Bruce

    It’s probably Mayberry Jr. since he has been on club in a very limited time. Seidman’s commented on Young’s defensive versatility. However, I think it does not have a impact on club’s final decision on the 25 man roster. There are players on the bench that have such versatility. Gload can play the OF and 1B; Valdez can play 3 infield positions and even the OF if necessary (he did so for the Mets & Dodgers in his career). Francisco can play all the OF positions. And so on.

  • Posts: 2 wahurl

    Avatar of wahurl

    I’m going with Mayberry, Charlie is likely to show some loyalty, and I’m thinking all indicators are that Matheson could actually live up to the old hype this spring.but I hadn’t considered the Baez contract numbers, so I guess he as the inside edge.

  • Posts: 1 clash312

    Avatar of clash312

    You are assuming that they will go with 7 relievers, and with their starting pitching, they might go with 6. If they go with only 6 relievers, I would think they take Martinez the Rule 5 draftee, and yes Young probably has the leg up, however I think Charlie likes Mayberry.

  • Posts: 3 michael weber

    I Dont really know, but Baez has got to go, maybe too many releivers anyway…..lol

    Can we get a link to that enquirer story? Im a long way from home

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