After reaching back-to-back World Series, the Phillies changed ace starting pitchers, signed a new third baseman and made changes to the bullpen and the bench. Despite the many moves, they believe they have the roster to become the first team to win three straight NL pennants since the 1942-44 Cardinals.
ARRIVALS: RHP Roy Halladay (trade with Blue Jays), 3B Placido Polanco (free agent from Tigers), 1B/OF Ross Gload (free agent from Marlins), C Brian Schneider (free agent from Mets), INF Juan Castro (free agent from Dodgers), RHP Danys Baez (free agent from Orioles), RHP Jose Contreras (free agent from Rockies), OF Dewayne Wise (minor league free agent from White Sox), RHP David Herndon (Rule 5 draft pick from Angels).
DEPARTURES: 3B Pedro Feliz (free agent, signed with Astros), LHP Cliff Lee (traded to Mariners), INF Eric Bruntlett (free agent, signed minor league deal with Nationals), LHP Scott Eyre (retired), RHP Brett Myers (free agent, signed with Astros), OF Matt Stairs (free agent, signed minor league deal with Padres), RHP Tyler Walker (released, signed with Nationals), INF Miguel Cairo (free agent, signed minor league deal with Reds), RHP Clay Condrey (non-tendered, signed with Twins), RHP Pedro Martinez (free agent, unsigned), RHP Chan Ho Park (free agent, unsigned), C Paul Bako (free agent, unsigned).
SPRING FOCUS: With few roster spots up for grabs, the Phillies' biggest questions will involve health. Their closer (Brad Lidge), primary lefty reliever (J.C. Romero) and likely No. 5 starter (Jamie Moyer) are recovering from offseason surgeries, and their opening-day availability remains uncertain. If they can't start the season, it will create jobs for several other in-house candidates.
1. RHP Roy Halladay
2. LHP Cole Hamels
3. RHP Joe Blanton
4. LHP J.A. Happ
5. LHP Jamie Moyer or RHP Kyle Kendrick
Over the past eight years, Halladay leads the majors in wins, complete games and shutouts. The Phillies can't wait to see what he does in the NL. Blanton and Happ, who finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, fill in the middle of the rotation, and assuming he's healthy, Moyer is the favorite to be the No. 5 starter.
But no Phillies pitcher has as much to prove as Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP who struggled last season. Hamels will be working in spring training to refine his curveball and possibly develop a slider to augment his fastball-changeup combination.
RHP Brad Lidge (closer)
RHP Ryan Madson
LHP J.C. Romero
RHP Danys Baez
RHP Jose Contreras
RHP Chad Durbin
LHP Antonio Bastardo
Lidge had elbow surgery in November and arthroscopic knee surgery in January. His availability for opening day will determine if the rest of the bullpen can fall in line. Madson, the primary setup man, is next in line to close games, if necessary. Baez, a former closer with Tampa Bay, also could pitch the ninth inning.
As the lone experienced lefty reliever, Romero's status is equally critical. He had elbow surgery in October and is expected to be ready by or shortly after the season opener. Bastardo, fellow lefties Sergio Escalona and Mike Zagurski and RHP Scott Mathieson are in-house candidates for the final bullpen spot.
1. SS Jimmy Rollins
2. 3B Placido Polanco
3. 2B Chase Utley
4. 1B Ryan Howard
5. RF Jayson Werth
6. LF Raul Ibanez
7. CF Shane Victorino
8. C Carlos Ruiz
After leading the NL in runs scored last season, the Phillies made only one lineup change, signing Polanco to play third base and bat second. Polanco's ability to make consistent contact could bring an added dimension to an offense known more for its power-hitting ability.
Werth, who had a breakout season with 36 homers and 99 RBIs, remains a critical piece in the middle of the lineup because he's right-handed. Utley, Howard and Ibanez are all left-handed hitters. Victorino, the No. 2 hitter last season, will bring speed to the lower half of the lineup.
C Brian Schneider
OF Ben Francisco
INF Greg Dobbs
1B/OF Ross Gload
INF Juan Castro
After getting little production from their bench last year, Schneider, Gload and Castro were added to give manager Charlie Manuel more options. Castro is known for his defense, while Gload led the majors in pinch-hitting last season.
Francisco, acquired with LHP Cliff Lee from Cleveland in July, is the primary right-handed hitter off the bench. Dobbs, who ranks fifth in franchise history with 45 pinch hits, will seek a return to form after batting .167 as a pinch hitter last season.
TOP ROOKIES: LHP Antonio Bastardo pitched well in the Dominican winter league and will have a chance to win a spot in a righty-dominant bullpen if he demonstrates improved breaking pitches. RHP Scott Mathieson broke into the majors in 2006 but has undergone two elbow ligament replacement (Tommy John) surgeries in the past three years. After a long recovery, he could be the feel-good story of camp if he wins a spot in the bullpen.
--RHP Brad Lidge (right elbow surgery in November 2009, right knee surgery in January 2010) might not be ready for the start of the regular season.
--LHP Jamie Moyer (groin/abdominal surgery in October 2009, arthroscopic left knee surgery in January 2010) is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season, but there's a chance he could join the rotation in late April.
--LHP J.C. Romero (elbow surgery in October 2009) may not be ready for the start of the regular season.
--LF Raul Ibanez (sports hernia surgery in November 2009) is expected to be ready for spring training.
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