Phillies Finalize Opening Day Roster, We Ponder The Lineup

Phillies Finalize Opening Day Roster, We Ponder The Lineup

After dropping their final exhibition tuneup
to the Pirates, 4-1, Ruben Amaro Jr., Assistant GM Scott Proefrock,
Charlie Manuel, and the rest of the Phillies brain trust went to work on
finalizing the Opening Day roster. They actually got things started
earlier in the day when they released Luis Castillo (who had a
Tartabullian short stay in Phillies red).

Having released Castillo, there weren't a whole lot of difficult
decisions left to make. With Chase Utley out for the foreseeable future
and Placido Polanco nursing his elbow, the only real roster drama
revolved around which reserve players, capable of playing multiple
infield positions, would make the squad.

The way things shook out there were three guys (Pete Orr, Michael
Martinez, and Delwyn Young) competing for two spots. Once Castillo was
released, word leaked that Martinez would be the beneficiary, which left
Orr and Young competing for the final spot.

Ultimately, Orr's experience playing third (48 career games at the hot corner as compared to just 8 for Young) won out.

The final Opening Day roster breaks down as follows:

Starting Pitchers
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton.

Bullpen
Jose Contreras, Ryan Madson, Danys Baez, David Herndon, Kyle Kendrick, J.C. Romero, Antonio Bastardo.

Catchers

Carlos Ruiz, Brian Schneider.

Infielders
Ryan Howard, Wilson Valdez, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Michael Martinez, Pete Orr.

Outfielders
Ben Francisco, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, John Mayberry Jr., Ross Gload.

As CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury
points out, there's a lot of flexibility in the roster. Both Mayberry
and Gload can play first and a corner outfield spot. Valdez, Orr, and
Martinez can play all over the infield, with Orr and Martinez providing
additional outfield depth.

Weather permitting, I'd imagine you'll see the following lineup for the opener on Friday.

1) Shane Victorino (CF)

2) Placido Polanco (3B)

3) Jimmy Rollins (SS)

4) Ryan Howard (1B)

5) Raul Ibanez (LF)

6) Ben Francisco (RF)

7) Carlos Ruiz (C)

8) Wilson Valdez (2B)

9) Roy Halladay (P)

Is there anything you would change? Perhaps flipping Francisco and
Rauuuulllll? As it stands your lineup 1-8 goes switch hitter, right,
switch, left, left, right, right, right.

Righthanded bats off the bench: Mayberry

Lefthanded bats off the bench: Gload, Schneider, and Orr

Switch hitters off the bench: Martinez

Obviously there were no surprises with the starting rotation.
Bullpen-wise, with Lidge out, Charlie has said he'll give Contreras the
first crack at closing. Madson will take the eigth. If for some crazy
reason they need a reliever in the seventh they can mix and match with
lefties J.C. Romero and Antonio Bastardo and righties Danys Baez and
David Herndon. Kendrick is your long guy out of the pen.

So, there it is. The Opening Day roster for the most heavily anticipated regular season in franchise history.

Thoughts?

Sixers look forward to results of Ben Simmons' CT scan Thursday

Sixers look forward to results of Ben Simmons' CT scan Thursday

CAMDEN, N.J. — Thursday is significant for the Sixers beyond the trade deadline. It is also the day of Ben Simmons' CT scan to evaluate how his right foot is healing.

"I feel like tomorrow at some point we're all going to be able to lay out a more genuine plan for him," Brett Brown said. "I feel like we're going to be good to go with some greater news and a more advanced detail of his plans after this scan."

Once all parties involved assess the results, the team will provide an update, which may not be Thursday. Simmons has been sidelined all season after suffering a Jones fracture during the final scrimmage of training camp. 

On Wednesday he went through his individual workout plan, which included five-on-none scripting with teammates.

"He's still getting a feel for all of us," Nerlens Noel said. "He's learning to throw it up to me, bounce pass to whoever. It's learning certain tendencies that'll make you start to feel more a part of the team."

The Sixers have not placed a timetable on Simmons' return. The first overall pick has not been cleared for full contact five-on-five practice, the next step in his recovery. Prior to the All-Star break, Brown said he expects Simmons will play at some point this season. He stands by that projection with 26 games remaining. 

"I personally would like to see him play this season. I don't backpedal from that," Brown said. "I think my comments are really very much influenced by his reciprocal desire to play this year, which we all respect. Everybody's got clandestine conspiracy theories on why he might not want to play. I know in my heart and speaking to him, he wants to get on a court and play basketball again.

"I hope he can do that too. If for some reason he can't, we'll deal with it. But I think it would help him to play NBA basketball and get his competitive juices going again if the doctors point us in that direction."

Simmons' teammates are ready to welcome him into the mix when he is given the green light. Their limited glimpses into his talent have them eager for his debut.

"Unlimited potential," Noel said. "I think with Ben, the thing that makes him so special is his IQ for the game, a sixth sense on the court. Him being able to find little things that not very many 6-10 guys can find. I think that's going to propel his game and make him a special player in this league." 

Added Joel Embiid: "I'm excited ... I thought he was our best player in training camp."

Trade deadline looming, Sixers cherish what could be final day together

Trade deadline looming, Sixers cherish what could be final day together

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers looked around the court on Wednesday and knew it could be their last practice all together.

The NBA trade deadline is 3 p.m. on Thursday. The Sixers are scheduled to practice that day, but who is there for it remains to be seen.

“Honestly, I’m scared. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Joel Embiid said. “Hopefully I’m here and hopefully my teammates are here. We’ve been playing great basketball when we are healthy and we all play. Hopefully we keep the same group and you never know what can happen.”

The Sixers have stayed tight knit through losing, ups and downs and trade talks. In their ideal world, they would remain teammates for the rest of the season. In the basketball world, there is a strong possibility at least one of them will be moved.

“You’ve learned that you’re not confident on anything,” Brett Brown said when asked about having the same players after the deadline. “There’s nothing that would point to either my 16 years of experience in the league or my three previous trade situations here in Philadelphia that would make me say anything otherwise. We’ve maintained a very high level of transparency with my team. We talk freely. It doesn’t feel as dramatic perhaps as it might have in other years.”

Jahlil Okafor has been the focal point of trade discussions. The Sixers were close to a deal for him last week, to the point where they sat him out two games and did not send him to Charlotte. Okafor will keep his phone close as the deadline approaches.

“I did the best I can to just focus in with the guys [at practice], going over the plays and working on defense,” Okafor said. “But it was definitely on my mind that I could be out of here tomorrow.”

Okafor said he would not have hard feelings if a deal did not happen after being on the trading block. At the same time, he just wants to know what his NBA future holds.

“If the Sixers decide to keep me, I’ll be happy," he said. "I have amazing teammates that I love being with every day and I’ll go back to my everyday routine. If that’s here or somewhere else, I’m just ready for 3 o’clock to happen so I can continue with my career and start doing what I love to do, and that’s play basketball.”

The Sixers' trade talks, to this point, have centered around the bigs because of a logjam in the frontcourt. At the start of the season Nerlens Noel said the team had to make a change. Noel said he was not worried about the deadline and noted the Sixers' first practice after the All-Star break was upbeat, not anxious.

“It’s been such a long season with so many things that were said, so now at this point it’s whatever happens happens,” Noel said.

So who will stay and who will go? With the Sixers' roster in question, Embiid summed up the trade deadline in Embiid fashion.

“It’s business,” Embiid said. “Anything can happen. So you’ve got to trust the process, I guess.”