Will the Phillies stop wasting a roster spot?

When the Phillies selected utility man Michael Martinez in the Rule V draft, there was little fanfare. He was seen as spring training competition for Wilson Valdez with no more than an outside shot of breaking camp with the club. Once Chase Utley hit the skids, a larger opportunity opened for Martinez and he made the 25-man roster.

Martinez has been used sparingly. He has appeared in 27 games, coming to the plate 51 times. In those plate appearances, he’s scraped together paltry rates of .184/.212/.204. He does have one useful talent: He can be used at all seven non-battery positions.

When Utley was still on the disabled list, Martinez’s utility was useful even if it wasn’t helping the club. With the club nearing full strength, the value of his utility is minimal.

The Phillies have every position covered with at least one back-up who is better than Martinez. They are thinnest in the infield, where Valdez represents the primary back-up.

However, the Phillies own a full hand of tastier bench options than Martinez. Pete Orr and Brian Bocock are on the 40-man roster and Ronnie Belliard, Josh Barfield and Delwyn Young all can play at least one infield position and outhit Martinez.

Theoretically, they could reach deeper for a toolsy prospect like slick fielding shortstop Freddy Galvis or speedy outfielder Jiwan James. Their speed and glove combinations offer more value to the roster than Martinez. In reality, the Phillies need to continue developing both players, but either option could be expected to hit as well as Martinez while playing better in the field and on the base paths.

The conclusion to this misuse of resources should come sometime in the next week, when Shane Victorino returns from the disabled list. The Phillies will have a couple of options to make room on the roster. They can offer Martinez back to the Nationals, option Jon Mayberry Jr., or option reliever Mike Zagurski.

The correct choice is to offer Martinez back to the Nationals. The Phillies have the minor league depth to cover any big league injuries with players who are better than Martinez. It’s risky carrying such a thin infield, especially with Utley on the roster, but the risk exposure is essentially one game if there is an injury. In a pinch, Placido Polanco can return to second base and Carlos Ruiz can slide to third base.

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  1. anon said...

    This article lost any credibility when Jiwan James was mentioned as a possible roster replacement.  James is beyond raw.  The AAA utility type players you mentioned make sense, but that’s about it.

  2. Brad johnson said...

    In terms of defensive + batting value, james is probably comparably skilled to Martinez. Obviously it’s not an actual option.

  3. Brad Johnson said...


    I’ve been arguing about getting rid of Ross Gload since the Phillies were rumored to sign him. They might opt to throw him on the DL when Victorino returns which solves several of the balance issues with the bench but deprives the Phillies of their only threatening pinch hitter. All things consider, I prefer the roster spot, but it’s not up to me to make that decision.

    Basically, I agree. They’re actually wasting a third roster spot on Zagurski who’s a bonafide quad-A reliever but that’s just short term roster juggling.

  4. Hunter said...

    What about the Phillies pinch hitter who:

    a) literally can’t field
    b) literally can’t run
    c) to fix any of those conditions will require season ending surgery to his hip
    d) but is being kept on the roster because he gives a “professional at bat” which apparently means:

    1) having an average in the mid .200s
    2) an OBP equal to your average
    3) a slugging percentage equal to your average

    So maybe your should retitle your article “Will the Phillies stop wasting two roster spots?

  5. Brad Johnson said...

    They picked Mayberry. A reasonable choice but they still need to make better use of Martinez’s spot.

  6. Jeff said...

    Not to pick nits off of gnats, Brad, but it’s “Rule 5,” not “Rule V.”

    Baseball doesn’t use Roman numerals.

    Other than that, good article.

  7. phil said...

    Then dump the turds romero baez lidge sardina gload francisco and martinez. bringup young guys and see what you have instead of wasting millions on dudes you know got no game anymore. Where are you now big rube when you have to make major moves not related to pitching and way past their prime toads. maybe you and chucky can drive the bus load of you all out

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