Phillies

Phillies' opening day roster is set

Phillies' opening day roster is set

It’s opening day and the Phillies’ roster is set.

Jake Arrieta will not open the season on the 25-man roster, instead staying in Florida as he prepares for his first start on Sunday, April 8 against the Marlins.

Below is the roster, which includes 10 players making their first opening day roster.

Catchers (2)
Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp

Infielders (6)
J.P. Crawford, Pedro Florimon, Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez, Scott Kingery and Carlos Santana

Outfielders (4)
Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams

Pitchers (13)
Right-handers Víctor Arano, Luis Garcia, Drew Hutchison, Ben Lively, Hector Neris, Pat Neshek, Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Edubray Ramos, Jake Thompson and Vince Velasquez and lefties Hoby Milner and Adam Morgan

Jerad Eickhoff (lat strain) and relievers Tommy Hunter (hamstring) and Mark Leiter Jr. (right forearm strain) were placed on the 10-day disabled list.

The Phillies open their season at the Braves at 4:10 on NBCSP and streaming on NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

Updated look at Phillies' 40-man roster after latest moves

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Updated look at Phillies' 40-man roster after latest moves

With Justin Bour placed on waivers last week and expected to latch on elsewhere, the Phillies now have 34 players on their 40-man roster. Gone are the midseason acquisitions like Bour, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, Jose Bautista, Aaron Loup.

Tuesday is the deadline to protect Rule 5 draft-eligible players by adding them to the 40-man roster. For the Phillies, that will mean adding soon-to-be 22-year-old pitching prospect Adonis Medina, whose name came up in Manny Machado trade talks midway through 2018.

They could also add 22-year-old right-handed reliever Edgar Garcia to the 40. He excelled at Double A this past season with a 3.32 ERA and 10.3 strikeouts per nine, reaching Triple A for five games at the end of the season. 

Here's a look at what is currently on the 40-man roster.

Catchers (2) — Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp

It's hard to imagine the Phillies going into 2019 with this catching duo. Even if they don't bring back Ramos, the Phils need a catcher who can actually block the ball and prevent the wild pitches and passed balls that doomed them all season.

Knapp received 215 and 204 plate appearances the last two seasons. Barring a long-term injury to a catcher, it would be surprising to see him get 100 next season.

Infielders (6) — Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez, Scott Kingery, Maikel Franco, J.P. Crawford, Mitch Walding

Three obvious trade candidates in this group: Santana, Hernandez and Franco.

Like the last few offseasons, the Phillies will not give Hernandez away. Trading him now figures to be more complicated than ever, with Hernandez's salary rising and his production slipping last season.

A Franco trade makes sense for the Phillies only if it precedes or follows another third-base move. It would make little sense for the Phils to trade Franco just to play Crawford at third base. Nobody inside or outside the organization can feel totally comfortable with the idea of Santana playing several months worth of games at third.

Walding would obviously be the next to go when the Phils need to create roster space.

Outfielders (6) — Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr, Dylan Cozens

Listing Hoskins here because as of this date, he'd still be penciled into playing left field. The Hoskins-in-LF experiment did not work, though, with him grading out as one of the majors' worst defensive left fielders in a decade.

It wouldn't be a big shock to see Herrera or even Williams traded this offseason if it improves the Phillies elsewhere. Roman Quinn was the Phils' best centerfielder in the second half of 2018 and deserves the inside track to that job as long as he can stay healthy throughout spring training. The defensive component matters a lot, as we saw game-in and game-out last year.

Altherr, despite the bad 2018 season, is worth keeping around because he's cost-controlled, won't fetch much of value on the trade market and could easily be closer to the 2017 version moving forward.

Right-handed pitchers (16) — Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, Seranthony Dominguez, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, Victor Arano, Hector Neris, Edubray Ramos, Luis Garcia, Jerad Eickhoff, Yacksel Rios, Enyel De Los Santos, Drew Anderson

Among last season's five main starting pitchers, Velasquez is the safest bet to be moved. With the Phillies expected to add at least one SP better than him, Velasquez will likely be in the bullpen on opening day if he's still in a Phillies uniform.

In the bullpen, the Phils could look to move one of Neshek or Hunter. It wasn't the most comfortable situation having them around last year. Neshek is clearly a top-notch reliever when he's able to pitch, but there are too many usage restrictions with him in a bullpen Gabe Kapler goes to early and often. Hunter's boisterous personality was met well by some and was taxing on others as the season wore on.

With the Phillies also expected to add bullpen pieces, Garcia's days could be numbered. Among their group of hard-throwing righties, Garcia was the least reliable in 2018. He's projected to make just under $2 million in 2019 through arbitration.

The most variance in this group belongs to Eickhoff, who could win a rotation job in spring training, win a job as the long man, or be sent packing as a piece in a trade.

Left-handed pitchers (4) — Luis Avilan, Austin Davis, Adam Morgan, Ranger Suarez

Obviously an area of need. Avilan's arbitration projection is just north of $3 million and the Phillies can probably find more bang for their buck. 

Davis and Morgan are not lefty specialists.

There are some really good lefty relievers available like Zach Britton and Andrew Miller, but there's also the specialist route with someone like Tony Sipp.

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Former Phillies pitching coach Rick Kranitz leaves on the high road

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Former Phillies pitching coach Rick Kranitz leaves on the high road

When the news broke that he had been let go as Phillies pitching coach earlier this week, Rick Kranitz's cell phone started dinging.

And dinging.

And dinging.

From all over the country and Latin America, stunned Phillies pitchers sent well wishes.

"I heard from all of them," Kranitz said Friday from his home in Arizona. "It meant a lot. It was nice to know they were thinking of me.

"That's the thing I'm going to miss the most, the relationships I've built with these guys. The players are the ones who do it but I was always happy to be able to guide them through the good times, the tough times, the emotional times. I've been in the game for 40 years and the relationships have always been what means the most to me."

Kranitz, 60, was pushed aside in favor of Chris Young. Kranitz had been with the Phillies for three seasons, first as bullpen coach, then as assistant pitching coach and finally as head pitching coach in 2018. Teams don't typically let coaches go in mid-November, particularly after saying seven weeks earlier that the entire coaching staff would be returning. In this case, Young, 37, had received interest from other clubs and rather than risk losing him the Phillies promoted him from assistant pitching coach to head pitching coach. Kranitz was told that he was free to seek employment with other organizations, though the Phillies will still pay him through 2019.

The whole thing seems cold, but Kranitz is taking the high road. He's a big boy. He's been around — he'd previously been pitching coach in Miami, Baltimore and Milwaukee — and understands the business of baseball and these days the business of baseball is more new school than old school. That doesn't mean it's better. It's just the way it is for now.

"I was surprised and very disappointed when I first got the news," Kranitz said. "I'd built a lot of good relationships with this group. I believe in every one of these guys and I believe the future is bright for the Phillies. I wanted to see it through."

The news that Kranitz had been let go broke on Wednesday. That night, Aaron Nola finished third in the NL Cy Young voting. For three years, Kranitz had been influential in Nola's development.

"I was so proud of that young man," Kranitz said. "He deserves everything he gets. He's a class individual and the Phillies are lucky to have such a special young pitcher — not just a pitcher but a person. I could not have been prouder. I'm thankful to have gotten the chance to watch him, grateful to be able to see special times."

Kranitz began his pro career as a pitcher in the Brewers' system in 1979. He would like to continue to work and surely some team will benefit from his wisdom. But in the meantime, he intends to spend his unexpected free time focusing on the people who have always been there for him, his wife Kelly and their four children.

"We have four grandkids and one on the way in March," Kranitz said. "So I'll be around for the birth and that makes me happy. 

"This game has been great to me. The Phillies were great to me. It didn't end great but my experience with the city and the people in that organization was great. Now it's time to shift my focus to my family and give back to them."

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