Cliff Lee: Some notes on the mystery team

Today’s big news is Cliff Lee. The internet is already littered with articles evaluating his contract with the Phillies or bemoaning/gloating over his decision to accept a lesser deal than the offers mounted by the Yankees and Rangers.

The focus here will be a few steps beyond that. First we will look at the Phillies’ projected payroll over the next couple of years. Following that will be a brief foray into what a foursome like Roy Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels could mean for roster composition.

For looking at team payroll, Cots Contracts is a godsend. This Phillies payroll link will take you to a Google doc outlining the contracts already on the books. Bold numbers refer to team options, ‘—‘ refers to reserve clause or arbitration years, and buyouts are not currently included. Some players who could make the 25-man roster like Antonio Bastardo, Vance Worley or Wilson Valdez were not included.


For 2011, the Phillies have about $174.3 million committed to 20 players, with arbitration rulings pending on Kyle Kendrick and Ben Francisco. Of those 22 players, six are starting pitchers, five are relievers, and 11 are position players. The Phillies appear committed to lowering payroll before Opening Day by shedding either Joe Blanton (two years, $17 million) and/or Raul Ibanez (one year, $11.5 million). Blanton is the more expendable player and should be easier to trade.

The bullpen may appear to be a weak spot on the roster, but the Phillies have a variety of minor league relievers capable of filling in on a moment’s notice. The most familiar of those names include Bastardo, Worley, Scott Mathieson, Justin DeFratus and Michael Schwimer. Thus, we’ve likely seen the last of the Phillies spending on pitching this offseason.

The outfield is perhaps the thinnest position and the most likely to be addressed before Opening Day. Currently, Shane Victorino will patrol center field while Ibanez, Domonic Brown and Francisco figure to platoon in the corners. Ross Gload and John Mayberry Jr. may figure into that corner outfield mix. Defensive metrics and scouts don’t think much of Gload’s defense in the outfield and Mayberry will likely have a difficult time finding his way onto the 25-man roster. The Phillies would love to add a right-handed platoon outfielder to help split time with the left handers Ibanez and Brown. They could aim to acquire that piece via a Blanton trade.

When all is said and done, Opening Day payroll should settle in around $168 million.

2012 and beyond

The Phillies have a significant chunk of payroll committed to 2012 and 2013. Nine players are owed $109.45 million in 2012 although Blanton’s $8.5 million could be traded away. Club options on Oswalt ($16 million), Brad Lidge ($12.5 million), and Dennys Reyes ($1.15 million) could push that total as high as $139.1 million for 12 players. Hamels also has a final year of arbitration to settle in 2012 and is likely to earn well over $10 million.

In 2013, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Halladay and Lee are owed a combined $84 million. If options on Placido Polanco, Jose Contreras and Carlos Ruiz are accepted, the Phillies will owe seven players $92 million.

2011 roster composition

Let’s start with some observations from 2010.

Roy Halladay – 7.6 innings per start
Cliff Lee – 7.58 innings per start
Roy Oswalt – 6.6 innings per start
Cole Hamels – 6.32 innings per start
Kyle Kendrick – 5.73 innings per start

Assuming the Phillies trade Blanton and install Kendrick as their fifth starter, they can estimate that for every cycle through the rotation, about 34 out of 45 innings will be thrown by the starting pitcher. That leaves 11 innings for the bullpen every five days. With extra-inning games and the occasional clunker factored in, the Phillies should prepare a bullpen capable of handling a workload of about 18-20 innings every five days. Lidge, Ryan Madson, Contreras, and Reyes will get the bulk of the work.

With such a light workload projected for the bullpen, it may behoove the Phillies to buck the 12-man pitching staff trend by carrying only six relievers. With a potential platoon situation looming in the outfield, this could give manager Charlie Manuel some much needed wiggle room on the bench. Further, it allows the Phillies to minimize the number of dead roster slots since a seventh reliever would likely see sparse game action.

If the Phillies are comfortable with a typically sized bench, they could also look to acquire another team’s Rule V pick.

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Brad Johnson
Brad Johnson

Non-Phillies fans, prepare yourselves. It seems the Phaithful have settled on R2C2 to replace H2O. Just thought you might like to be forewarned.


I should hope the Phillies won’t need 18-20 innings pitched by their relievers every five days. The Phillies’ regular season lasted 181 days last year. At a rate of 19 relief innings every five days that would be ~687 innings out of the bullpen. Even if you just look at the 162 days they played games that would still be 615 innings.

The Nationals had the most relief innings pitched last year, and they only had 545.3. The Phillies had the fewest in the NL with 421 relief innings, nowhere near 18-20 every five days, more like 12.


He said 11 innings per 5 days, but that you have to prepare for more than that in the case of a bad weak. Its not inconcievable that a random weak comes along were there’s two extra innings games and a bad start to push that bullpen IP total to 20, and if you aren’t prepared for that week then your pitching a starter in the 11th.