The battle between De Fratus, Aumont and Stutes
I have received a few questions about my first attempt at projecting the Opening Day roster, which I posted yesterday morning.
1) Why would the Phillies keep three lefties (Antonio Bastardo, Raul Valdes and Jeremy Horst)?
2) Why Justin De Fratus over Phillippe Aumont or Michael Stutes?
The Braves carried three lefties for much of last season (Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty and Luis Avilan) and the season before (Venters, O'Flaherty, George Sherrill) and Atlanta had one of the best bullpens in the majors during those two seasons. Same goes for the Nationals, who carried Sean Burnett, Mike Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny for much of 2012. Ross Detwiler and Zach Duke also spent time in the bullpen.
Point is, while carrying lefties might not be common, it certainly is not an aberration. And the Phillies happen to have tremendous left-handed relief depth in their organization. Don't get me wrong, if a right-handed relievers like Aumont or Stutes out-performs one of the three lefties (or lefty Jake Diekman), then chances are he will make the roster. I think the Phillies are going to keep the best seven pitchers, regardless of their handedness. I'm just projecting that the seven best include three lefties.
Which brings us to our next question. . .
I get the sense that the Phillies have some concerns about Stutes' durability, so I don't think that they will want him to throw him into the grind of a major league season right away after he missed most of last season with a shoulder injury that he says is no longer an issue. Especially given the role he would likely fill, which is a righty-on-righty guy who is expected to be ready to face one or two batters most nights. Better to start the season with Stutes pitching in the controlled environment of the minor leagues, which could leave him fresh and ready to go once the inevitable major league injuries begin to mount.
As for Aumont, I just think the Phillies are going to favor a guy who is less likely to walk batters, something that Aumont still has to prove. And I think De Fratus is a better pitcher right now, and I'm projecting him to prove that during Grapefruit League play.
Elsewhere. . .
. . .ESPN's David Schoenfield of the Sweet Spot blog has been breaking down the offseason moves of each major league team and then assigning a grade. Here, he gives the Phillies a C-.
. . .Here's a story on Andy Tracy's climb up the Phillies organizational coaching ladder from his hometown paper in Bowling Green, Ohio.