The Philadelphia Phillies' 2014 roster is hardly reminiscent of their 2007-2011 playoff squads, even though the retention of some core players from those years has been overly-stated in every digital dimension during the past two non-post-season years. And now the end of the 'Jayson Nix Era' has arrived, which serves to underscore the Phillies' ongoing dilemma.
Nix was bought from the Tampa Bay Rays at the end of March with hopes that the utility infielder could provide Ryne Sandberg with increased flexibility. Flexibility was a key off-season term that general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Sandberg touted during numerous hot stove stops. Both men clearly identified the right concept, but have been unable to find the right players to fill their evolving roster hopes.
Nix, the not-nearly-as-famous (total jab intended) brother of fellow Amaro obtainee Laynce Nix, has never distinguished himself across parts of seven major league seasons. Obviously, the 31-year-old is a borderline big leaguer, at best. So, he apparently constituted the best available option the Phillies could find to fill Freddy Galvis' backup spot at the time.
Since the season began, the following pitchers have found themselves on and then off the Phillies' major league roster: Brad Lincoln, Jonathan Pettibone, Justin De Fratus and B.J. Rosenberg. The same is true for the following positional players: Galvis and now Nix.
Approximately one-quarter of the Phillies' opening day roster proved to be so ineffective that prior to mid-May's arrival it was collectively replaced. In other words, Sandberg has basically been playing with no more than 75% of a useful major league roster through approximately one-quarter of this still-new season. To his credit and the weakness of the National League East, the Phillies are only two games under .500 (17-19) and only four games out of first place.
Left fielder Darin Ruf (who also is Ryan Howard's backup) is rehabbing in Lehigh Valley and will soon be ready to swing for the fences again. Tony Gwynn, Jr., who has a good glove, has become Ben Revere's late-inning defensive replacement in center field.
Pitchers have increasingly demonstrated that they know how to get John Mayberry, Jr. out during the past few seasons. Now, combine that fact with Gwynn's defensive prowess and Ruf's first baseman's glove and it appears as though Mayberry will be the next roster subtraction.
With whatever secondary moves Amaro continues to make, Sandberg will still be left with a thin bullpen, a decent starting rotation, an ever-erratic offense, a defense that isn't tight and a bench that should be better than it was in April. With those cards on the table, the Phillies seem almost certain to continue winning almost as many games as they will lose moving forward. Of course, at some point, their front office dealer might be exchanged as well.