Miss baseball? Yeah, me too.
Want to miss baseball even more? Today was supposed to be the Phillies’ home opener at Citizens Bank Park. You might have played hooky from work, picked up the kids early from school, and gone over to the ballpark to join in the annual party/civic holiday.
- Phillies’ Seranthony Dominguez facing decision after doctors recommend Tommy John surgery
- How MLB’s deal with players’ union will impact Phillies’ contract talks with J.T. Realmuto
- Will Phillies’ Andrew McCutchen still be elite after return from knee surgery? Even medical experts don’t know for sure.
Instead, white tents have arisen along Pattison Avenue in a parking lot that has morphed into a COVID-19 testing site, a solemn sign of the times.
You are signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every Thursday while the Phillies season is delayed. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber. Thank you for reading.
— Scott Lauber (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Of all the questions that remain unanswered since the suspension of spring training, none matters more than this: Will baseball be played at all in 2020?
Until that gets resolved, everything else is hypothetical.
For the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume that, yes, there will be a season. It’s too soon to know particulars, such as how many games will be played, when they might begin, and whether fans will be able to attend.
But there is one thing that we can say for certain: At the outset, teams would be allowed to carry 29 players, three more than the usual capacity of an active roster.
In a shortened season, organizational inventory would become the great equalizer, with the deepest 40-man rosters superseding the most talented 26-man ones. Even beyond the first few weeks when pitchers are not built up to go six or seven innings, the likelihood of doubleheaders means depth will be king.
“I do think it becomes much more important," Phillies manager Joe Girardi said recently. “Because even the building up of the position players is probably going to be a little bit different. If you get into some long extra-inning games early in the season, I think you have to be cautious."
The extra roster spots likely bode well for infielders Logan Forsythe and Neil Walker and relievers Francisco Liriano and Anthony Swarzak, all of whom could have asked to be released from minor-league contracts in mid-March if they weren’t going to make the Phillies’ opening-day roster. Now, they all stand a better chance.
But an expanded roster — and a dash to the finish line that would be produced by a truncated season — might also compel Girardi to keep a few young players who had been ticketed for triple A. Top pitching prospect Spencer Howard, for instance, could nudge his way into the fifth-starter mix in a shortened season.
So, what might a 29-man Phillies’ roster look like anyway?
Pitchers: Let’s say the Phillies carry 15, two more than usual. There are seven locks: Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Hector Neris, Adam Morgan, and Jose Alvarez. Beyond that, there is opportunity.
Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, and Ranger Suarez almost certainly make the team, regardless of role, bringing the total to 10. Victor Arano and Tommy Hunter figure to be healthy when the season starts, but the same can’t be said for Seranthony Dominguez.
That leaves three spots for Liriano, Swarzak and ... yes, Howard.
Position players: A delayed opening day ought to give Andrew McCutchen the time he needs to be ready. He joins J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, Didi Gregorius, Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, a center-field platoon of Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn, and bench staples Jay Bruce and backup catcher Andrew Knapp.
Kyle Garlick might have made the team in McCutchen’s place had the season started as scheduled. He likely would have an inside track again, even though he was optioned to triple A, a procedural move that can easily be undone.
For the final two spots, the Phillies could opt for experience with Walker and Forsythe. Or they could choose between them and go with the upside of top prospect Alec Bohm.
It has been suggested that Seranthony Dominguez have Tommy John elbow surgery, but it sounds like he will defer a decision until the Phillies reconvene.
Even if the season is wiped out, MLB and the Players’ Association agreed that J.T. Realmuto and other free agents-to-be can hit the open market this winter.
Cool story from Matt about ClassicPhilliesTV, a YouTube channel that has become a lifeline for baseball-starved Phillies fans.
Manny Trillo is slated to be added to the Phillies’ Wall of Fame in August. He shouldn’t be the last member of the 1980 World Series championship team to receive that honor, Bob Brookover writes.
In his first interview since the end of last season, Charlie Manuel detailed a life-threatening offseason health scare that left him in the intensive care unit.
Oh, and do NOT miss last week’s Extra Innings podcast, in which Bob, Matt and I rewatched Game 6 of the 1993 NLCS and looked back at Deion Sanders, way-cool Starter jackets, and “Whoomp, there it is.” Wait till you see what we have planned this week.
Today: Phillies home opener vs. Brewers. POSTPONED.
April 7: Dollar Dog Night at Citizens Bank Park. POSTPONED.
April 27: Phillies face former manager Gabe Kapler. POSTPONED.
If the season does begin, what will the schedule look like? To play as many games as possible, MLB and the Players’ Association have discussed incorporating doubleheaders and extending the regular season into October.
Nice idea. But is it practical?
Redrawing the schedule on the fly could be a nightmare. Consider: Ballpark dates and hotel rooms have already been reserved; tickets are sold. The easiest solution might be simply to pick up every team’s original schedule at whatever date the season can open.
In that case, how would a truncated season impact the Phillies?
Here’s a look at how their schedule was supposed to break down, month by month, according to home/road games and strength of schedule based on last season’s records:
Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.
Question: Hi, guys. Thoroughly enjoy reading the newsletter. My question is about Odubel Herrera. I have not heard much news about him this spring before everything was shut down. Did he play at all, and if so, how did he look? I think I remember reading that he’s not on the 40-man roster, so when the season resumes, what happens to him? Will they try to trade him (is there any trade value) or cut him? Thank you.
--Michael Z., via email
Answer: Hey, Michael. Thanks for being a loyal reader.