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Who will or won't make the Phillies NLDS Postseason Roster?

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With the Phillies concluding their regular season this afternoon with a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Florida Marlins, it became obvious to all that Charlie Manuel has some big decisions to make regarding his 2009 NLDS Postseason Roster, which is to be submitted to Major League Baseball by 10 am Wednesday morning. While some roster spots are no-brainers, some decisions are going to take more time than others. Here are some questions the Phillies will have to address as well as who should and who shouldn't be part of the Fightins postseason plans. Let's start with the questions.

Should Manuel move J.A. Happ to the bullpen?

I know Happ is a ROTY candidate. Problem is, the Phillies have limited to NO options as far as left-handed relievers go. Jamie Moyer, who had pitched considerably well since his demotion from the starting rotation, has suffered a groin injury and will miss the postseason. Although Moyer was never considered a serious lock for the post season, his injury is magnified when it was announced that J.C. Romero would be unavailable for the 2009 Postseason. Scott Eyre isn't healthy either, but can contribute for only one inning at a time. There is no way Manuel can be happy with the lackluster performances of Sergio Escalona and Jack Taschner. Happ is a lock for the roster, but you don't know where they will put him. The Rockies inability to hit left-handed pitching might persuade Manuel to move him to the rotation for the first round. Then, you can rest Pedro Martinez at the same time. This scenario is similar to the Florida Marlins moving eventual Rookie of the Year Dontrelle Willis out of the starting rotation for the playoffs in 2003.

 

Will Brad Lidge close? And if he doesn't, who will?

Manuel having Lidge finish the Phils division winning clincher Wednesday was an outright classy move. In saying that, was it the right move long-term? Depends on who you speak to. Baseball analyst and former Phillies All-Star closer Ricky Bottalico thinks that the single pitch that Lidge threw to retire Lance Berkman could restore his confidence that he has lost this season. Others think that Manuel's gesture gave Lidge the wrong idea about how he will be used in the postseason. From the interviews, Lidge sounds like he thinks we will be closing in the playoffs. He will be on the postseason roster, but it's more likely out of loyalty than anything. When you're only one of two humans to ever close a World Series for the Phillies, you have earned that privilege. For now though, it looks like Madson has taken over Lidge's old role. There was brief talk of Happ or Martinez possibly closing, but lately that has subsided.

How Lidge will be used depends on whether 1) The Phils have a three run lead entering the ninth inning of a game. Or if  2) Ryan Madson falters in his new closers role. We shall see. As great as the Phillies bullpen was last year, the inconsistency of this year's pen could lead to the team's downfall in October if players don't step up when it counts.

 

Who are your sixth, seventh, and eighth inning relievers?

This is a BIG problem. Prior to his injury, Clay Condrey had been one of the most consistent relievers on this team. Since his return, "Everyday Clay" has failed to get back on track. Condrey and right-handed pitcher Tyler Walker failed to get important outs in last weekend's series against the Brewers and this week against the Astros. One inning like that makes the difference between a team flashing hardware and a team that doesn't. Brett Myers is coming back from injury and looks anything but overpowering since his return. Chan Ho Park is unavailable for the NLDS as he recovers from his hamstring injury. Kyle Kendrick can't decide whether he is on or off. On the other hand, Chad Durbin has quietly put together a nice stretch of innings in the last two weeks. Durbin can be a long man or a seventh inning guy. He may even be needed in the eighth inning because Madson might be closing. If Madson ends up pitching in the eighth and ninth innings, he will most likely not be available for back to back saves. Once again, if Charlie Manuel is anything, he is loyal. Durbin, Condrey, and Myers helped him win it all last year. As strange as it sounds, several baseball scouts have noted that the Phillies bullpen has been difficult to run reports on for opposing teams simply because Manuel doesn't know who and when to use particular bullpen pitchers. Oddly enough, this could be an advantage for the Phillies- IF the bullpen steps up and performs.

 

How will Pedro Martinez be utilized?

The Phils bullpen was getting rocked that weekend against the Mets, and there was no way that Martinez was going to take himself out of that game. Fact of the matter is, those 130 pitches may have taken its toll on Pedro, who hasn't been effective since. There is talk that the Phillies will possibly rest Martinez for the first round against the Rockies, which isn't the worst thing you can do. If the series goes longer than expected however, the Phils may need him. Martinez's inability to get people out in the first inning has led many to believe that this is why his candidacy for the closers role is over. With Happ most likely going to the bullpen, Martinez will almost certainly be a starter throughout the playoffs.

 

The Bench

When Miguel Cairo homers, Andy Tracy triples, and Eric Bruntlett goes two for four, you know there is some serious competition for those postseason bench roster spots. Cairo has slowly moved his way into the running for a roster spot. Like Bruntlett, Cairo can play multiple positions. At the end of the day however, expect Bruntlett to get the nod because he may be a little faster than Cairo. However, if the Phillies go with eleven pitchers for the NLDS, Cairo could find himself on the roster as an extra infielder. The odds of Tracy edging out cult hero Matt Stairs for a roster spot are not likely, but nonetheless interesting. Greg Dobbs has performed poorly all season, but will probably make the cut as well. Paul Bako must be there to backup Carlos Ruiz behind the plate. Ben Fransisco has become the teams best option off the bench, as long as he doesn't over slide any bases. Don't expect any big surprises here.

So here are my picks for the 25-man roster for the 2009 NLDS for the Phillies

Pitchers:

Cole Hamels

Cliff Lee

Joe Blanton

Pedro Martinez

Brad Lidge

Ryan Madson

Clay Condrey

Chad Durbin

J.A. Happ

Scott Eyre

Brett Myers

 

Infielders:

Ryan Howard

Chase Utley

Jimmy Rollins

Pedro Feliz

Greg Dobbs

Eric Bruntlett

Miguel Cairo

Catchers:

Carlos Ruiz

Paul Bako

 

Outfielders:

Raul Ibanez

Shane Victorino

Jayson Werth

Ben Fransisco

Matt Stairs

 

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