Suppose Charlie Manuel wants give Chase Utley a day off
while Freddy Galvis is covering for Jimmy Rollins on the disabled list. No
sweat. Keep Galvis at shortstop, have Michael Young start at second base, and
let Kevin Frandsen fill in at third. Problem solved.
Imagine the Phillies are facing a particularly tough lefty,
and Ryan Howard is 1-for-20 with 19 strikeouts against the guy. Charlie could give
Piece the rest, start Darin Ruf at first, and stack righties John Mayberry and
Delmon Young in the outfield corners. Make sense?
The possibilities, while not exactly endless, are as numerous
as they are intriguing. This newfound versatility and depth on the forecasted
opening-day roster is yet another reason why the Phillies could be poised to
rebound in 2013.
In years past Manuel could count on almost the entire
everyday lineup to play between 150- 160 games. Now the manager is working with
an aging core that’s prone to wearing down and getting hurt. Some of these guys
are going to miss time. Some of them need breaks.
The Phillies are coming prepared. This team has more moving
parts and viable substitutions at their disposal than at any point since Jimmy
Rollins first proclaimed they were the team to beat in ’07.
Infield, outfield, doesn’t matter. They are built to match
up, and to survive the war of attrition that is a 162-game regular season.
Granted some of their supposed flexibility is based on
hypotheticals. It presumes Frandsen continues to be somebody the Phillies want
in the lineup occasionally. It’s handing Ruf a roster spot before he's hardly
taken an at bat in spring training.
Frandsen is especially important in this sense because
Michael Young can play any position in the infield – how well he plays them is
another story, but he owns the different gloves at least.
It would be nice if Manuel had the luxury to move Young around occasionally knowing there will still be some production from the hot corner. Combine with Galivs’
Gold Glove potential at second or short, plus add Mayberry in the mix at first,
and even without Ruf it all equates to options.
While the outfield is far from as settled, Manuel will have
some different setups choose from there as well. Win or lose a starting job, Domonic
Brown figures to see plenty of action against right-handed pitching, and can
play in either left or right.
The Phillies are a bit more hamstrung in centerfield, where
without Ben Revere in the lineup there may be one too many defensive
liabilities. Mayberry could play in the middle though if Manuel wants a little
extra pop in the order.
Some of the potential lineups may not sound all that
exciting, but the fact that there are so many possibilities available is a huge
positive. The old men can catch a breath every once in awhile without worrying
about sending a Michael Martinez to the dish or Ty Wigginton making an error
every other inning.
Whether it’s because somebody goes on the DL, or Manuel wants
to match lefty against righty, somebody is a slump, or just plain needs the
rest, the Phillies should be able to field a competitive lineup on a daily basis. Obviously
they are not built to withstand losing the heart of their order again – who is?
– but they could certainly weather a few of the storms that are destined to
come their way.
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