September call-ups will play an important role for this Phillies team. Once the division is clinched (the Phils are at 99.9 percent to make the playoffs and 94.2 to win the division, according to Coolstandings.com) they’ll filter in Triple-A players and bench guys as a way to give the regulars a blow.
With injuries to Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez, and guys like Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz who have spent an entire season being beaten up, the expansion to a 40-man roster will provide some rest for the vets. Not to mention the starting rotation that has logged the 4th most innings in the major leagues.
In each of the previous three seasons, the Phillies have added at least seven players to the big league roster. Last season, some of the usual suspects like Mayberry, Zagurski and Mathieson got the September call-up, along with a kid named Vance Worley. Brian Bocock, Greg Dobbs, and Paul Hoover added infield and catching depth, and a veteran pitcher was brought to Philly, only to last about two seconds: Nate Robertson.
(Note: Later today, either Pete Orr or Michael Schwimer will likely be sent back down to Lehigh Valley to make way for Cole Hamels. Whoever does get the boot will almost assuredly be back in a few days.) Pete Orr was optioned back to Triple-A to make room for Cole Hamels, who was moved from the DL. Hamels will start against the Reds tonight.
Players on the 60-day DL are not on the 40-man roster. Thus, Joe Blanton is not now considered a part of the 40-man roster. If the Phillies choose to shift Jose Contreras (out for the season) to the 60-day DL, they can free up another spot, too. A minor league player like Brandon Moss could take one of those two potential spots.
Here is a look at who might get the call from the Iron Pigs for the final month of the 2011 regular season:
-Mike Zagurski: Ol’ Zags is a name you know, but a name that has been unable to stick around. Might be time to start calling him a Four-A player – a guy who is great in the minors and has nothing left to prove – but can’t seem to get the job done when he gets to the top. Zagurski is left-handed, which will keep him around.
-Juan Perez: Perez showed signs of being a legitimate LOOGY out of the ‘pen, and we’ll never forget his nine-pitch, nine-strike outing earlier this year (he tied a record, you know!). So, expect his name to be called once again soon.
-Scott Mathieson: Another of the now-veteran pitchers who has had his share of call-ups over the years, but also one that hasn’t been able to stand out and carve out his place with the Phillies. He’s more of a maybe, as it’s likely the Phils would want the lefties up ahead of Matheison.
-Andrew Carpenter: See Mathieson, Scott.
-Justin De Fratus: Now, we’re getting into the juicer names. De Fratus is on the 40-man roster, so summoning him to the majors is easy. He’s long been talked about as a possible member of this Phillies relief corps down the road, so he may have a chance to prove he belongs. With LV, De Fratus has fanned 51 in just over 38 innings this season, bouncing back from a rough start. Keep an eye on him as I’m sure many Phillies die-hards would love to see him get the call.
-Phillippe Aumont: At Lehigh Valley, Aumont has pitched in 16 games, striking out 32 batters over 20 1/3 innings. He’s the longest shot on this list because of his exclusion from the current 40-man roster, but is another name to watch for.
-Domonic Brown: In the Phillies quest to find a decent bench bat for the remainder of the season, it appears Brown could be the solution. With John Mayberry Jr. getting most of the reps in left field, the needs is simply for a potent, home run threat in late inning situations. He doesn’t have the pinch-hitting pedigree that Ross Gload has – no one does, really – but he’s younger and healthier than Gload.
Although it has been a challenge for Brown since being sent down to Lehigh Valley, both at the plate and in the field, the Phillies can give him a few reps over the final few weeks of the season and hope they catch lightning in a bottle, and hope that he can recoup some positive vibes heading into 2012.
-Brandon Moss: Moss has been up and down for years, having played for the Red Sox and Pirates in the major leagues, but spending most of his time in the minor leagues. He has smashed 23 home runs this year for the Iron Pigs, so expect to see him as another late-inning replacement bat with some fire power, something the Phillies are sorely lacking now that Mayberry is getting most starts. Moss is not currently on the 40-man roster.
-Scott Podsednik: The speedy outfielder has dealt with numerous leg ailments over the past few seasons, which is why you haven’t seen his name anywhere lately. Half a decade ago, he helped the White Sox win the title, and while his role has changed as he has aged, he would do the same for the Phillies in September, provided he is healthy. The issue is that he hasn’t really shown much of that speed during limited at-bats in Lehigh Valley. He has two steals in 11 games, and is hitting .255. Podsednik isn’t on the 40-man, so it’s a long shot.
-Pete Orr: He’s been up and down the Northeast Extension all season, so no reason to think he won’t be asked to rejoin the Phillies (if he goes back down later today).
-Freddy Galvis: Galvis is another intriguing name and you have to believe the Phillies want to see what he’s made of at the highest level. The 21-year old shortstop has taken immense strides this year split between Reading and Lehigh Valley. His .331 average stands out as he is finally rounding into form as a complete player. The only issue with Galvis is his inability to draw walks – he has two with the Pigs. The glove is exceptional, so there is nothing to worry about there. But can Galvis hit at the major league level? I think we’ll find out come September.
-Josh Barfield: A long shot because he, too, is not on the 40-man roster. Barfield nearly made the Phillies out of camp, but Orr was given the job. Considering Barfield and Orr are similar utility-type players, it would be hard to imagine the Phillies going with both, and making room on the 40-man for him. I’d like to see him get some time with the Phils, but it’s not likely.
-Erik Kratz: Forget Dane Sardinha, he doesn’t deserve the call. Kratz does. The Phillies need a third catcher as Carlos Ruiz is due some time off, and Kratz is a guy whom the Phillies pitchers all respect and love to work with. That was the talk throughout Spring Training earlier this year, but the Phillies decided to go with Sardinha when Ruiz and Brian Schnieder got hurt. They don’t have to make that move this time around; they can and should go with Kratz as the number three. The Telford, PA native is doing a little bit of everything: handling a very good pitching staff, and hitting for average and power (15 homers, .291 average).
Jay Floyd of PhoulBallz.com contributed to this story.