Fresh off of a split with a double-header against the Florida Marlins and sitting just a half-game back of the NL East leading Atlanta Braves, the Phillies made what looks like the last of their September roster moves (besides Danys Baez coming back up when he is healthy), as it appears that John Mayberry Jr. will likely join the team on Tuesday for the final month of the regular season.
Just to recap this protocol, on September 1st, the MLB rosters are able to expand from the usual 25-man roster to a maximum 40-player roster. This allows players who are currently on the Phillies organizational 40-man roster that are minor leagues for whatever reason to be brought up to major league competition until the end of the regular season without any coinciding roster move.
Including the probable addition of Mayberry and optimism surrounding the health of Baez, that will most likely bring the total to nine, that being the number additional players who will be occupying spots in the Phillies clubhouse until October 3rd (final day of the regular season).
Here is a recap of all the moves and the impact that these players may be able to make down the stretch.
RHP Danys Baez: Baez, a reliever who was once thought of as a potential closer if the Brad Lidge situation did not pan out, has been much of a disappointment since signing a 2-year, 5.5 million dollar contract at the start of the 2010 season. Inconsistent at best and borderline unbearable at worst, there is a reason that the team is not rushing to bring him back to the fold from injury. At the most, he may take up some mop-duty roles if games are out of hand to keep the likes of Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, J.C Romero, and Jose Contreras fresh for when it really matters.
OF John Mayberry Jr.: While it’s not official yet, it’s widely assumed that Mayberry will be with the Phillies come Tuesday. Say what you want about him (overrated, a 1st rd. bust, etc.) but he really does have value for this team. For one, he absolutely demolishes lefties (.350 this year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley), so pinch-hitting duties and an occasional starting nod to spare Raul Ibanez against those southpaws may be in the cards for Mayberry if he is promoted. Secondly, Mayberry’s 20 stolen bases this year should give him an opportunity to pinch-run late in games. Lastly, his ability to play the two corner OF positions at an above-average level will give manager Charlie Manuel the option of using him during double-switch situations late in games. All things considered, none of this is valid if he is not added to the big league roster.
RHP Vance Worley: Now this is a bit interesting. Worley has made a meteoric jump on MLB prospect lists since going from Double-A Reading to his first ever big league on Monday in the span of 3 months (a time frame that also includes being involved in the Roy Oswalt trade rumors). Yesterday, Worley did nothing to stop his climb to the top of the organizational mountain, going 5 innings and giving up just 2 ER in a spot-start against the Marlins. Just to refresh your memories, the Phillies branch has never been thrilled with the idea of Kyle Kendrick as the teams fifth starter, and I’m going to go out there on a limb and say that Worley’s role on this team for every fifth game will show that. Catch my drift? Even if that is not the case, Worley’s two well above-average big league pitches (FB, Slider) will allow him to have some worth as a primary long reliever in the next few weeks.
LHP Mike Zagurski: This was to be expected. Zagurski spent a month with the Phillies earlier this season when J.C Romero was down, and has showed utter dominance at with Lehigh Valley this year (13 straight scoreless innings at one point). While his transition to the big leagues could be viewed by some as shaky, with the ability to expand the roster, having LHP representation in the bullpen besides Romero and Antonio Bastardo was a must, and Zagurski and the next player I am going to talk about were really the only suitable candidates who could fill that role for this team.
LHP Nate Robertson: The former Tigers/Marlins starting pitcher was signed almost two weeks ago by the Phillies for one specific reason. Flexibility. In the past two seasons, Robertson has pitched in 47 games. He’s started 24 of them. So basically, the guy has just as much experience starting games has he does coming in relief. That had to weigh heavily in the mind of GM Ruben Amaro Jr. when they he, along with other members of the front office, were discussing signing a LHP for the stretch run. Well, his 6.1 innings of scoreless baseball he pitched AGAINST the Phillies as a member of the Marlins on April 18th this season may have had an impact as well.
RHP Scott Mathieson: Probably the move that most fans wanted to see. In July, Phillies fans got a small taste of Mathieson’s near 100 MPH in one game of relief duty. That first big league appearance in three years (two Tommy John surgeries later) may not have gone as well as all those involved would have liked, but a player who can bring a fastball like that to the table when he steps up to the mound is bound to be an valuable asset to a team in the middle of a pennant race, regardless of how much he actually pitches.
1b/ OF Ross Gload: It’s not really fair to lump Gload into the Sepetember “call-up” category, but his presence back in the Phillies clubhouse after a month on the disabled list can is indeed a welcoming addition to the roster. While a groin injury may have sidelined Gload for the better part of the Phillies recent surge up the standings, he should assume duties as the Phillies primary LH bat along with Domonic Brown off the bench when he is deemed healthy to do so.
INF/OF Greg Dobbs: Dobbs has been designated for assignment twice this season due to his ability to produce at the big league level, so his production and playing time may be limited. However, once upon a time, Dobbs was the league leader in pinch hits, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Charlie Manuel, being the player’s coach that he is, gives Dobbs a couple at-bats against RHP, since he still has shown the ability to hit them even during this stretch of baseball that may mark the end of his career.
C Paul Hoover: Kind of ironic that the first of these call-ups may have been the most insignificant. Hoover, as it stands right now, is buried behind Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider on the teams depth chart at his position. This year though, with injuries being a common theme with both of those catchers, Hoover’s worth is to the team is invaluable, whether he is in the clubhouse or being used as the bullpen catcher. Can’t say I would be comfortable seeing him behind the dish in a meaningful game though.
Notable absences from this list include both Andy Tracy and Cody Ransom. Before you say “Why?”, take note of a possible and probable reason.
They are not on the current 40-man roster.
So, in order for them to participate in a big league contest, the Phillies would have to take two players off the 40-man roster, enabling them to be picked up on another team via waivers. As of right now, I cannot see the Phillies doing that to anyone besides Dobbs, and he would have to REALLY struggle for them to do so. Truthfully, I don’t see Dobbs getting enough opportunities to struggle any more than he has already, so it’s kind of a mute point.
For right now that is.