Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Recent additions create competition this spring

The Phillies have made quite a few potential low-risk, high-reward additions this off-season that could help the team in 2012.

This week they added the speedy veteran outfielder Juan Pierre on a minor league deal and reliever Chad Qualls on a one-year pact.

The team has a few roster spots to fill during spring training and while Qualls is expected to join the big club, Pierre has his work cut out for him while he looks to earn one of the vacant spots.

Examining the offense, Charlie Manuel usually carries five bench players. First, the players guaranteed a spot barring injury:

C: Carlos Ruiz
1B/OF: John Mayberry Jr.
2B: Chase Utley
SS: Jimmy Rollins
3B: Placido Polanco
OF: Shane Victorino
OF: Hunter Pence
Bench: Jim Thome
Bench: Laynce Nix
Bench: Ty Wigginton
Bench: Brian Schneider

That leaves two open spots while Ryan Howard is on the DL; one on the bench and one in the outfield, assuming Mayberry gets the lion's share of the play at first base.

Michael Martinez is likely to come back, especially after Wilson Valdez was dealt away. That would leave one spot for an outfielder, and it likely could come down to Domonic Brown and Pierre.

Pierre has one thing working in his favor: Brown is unlikely to be a bench player.

Brown needs at bats to become an every day player. If he doesn't win the left field job outright in spring training, expect him to return to the minors which should open a spot for Pierre as a pinch-hitter/runner and occasional starter.

Of course, injuries could always wreak havoc on these plans, or Ruben Amaro Jr. could have something else up his sleeve.

Pitchers and Catchers report in less than three weeks!

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