Struggling to stick, Geoff Geary's worst enemy is the 25-man roster.
There are few players in Clearwater that should be more outwardly miffed than Geoff Geary.
Spring training hadn’t even started and he’d already been crossed off most bullpen projections, even leapfrogged in some of the early depth charts with guys that pitched less big-league innings, including a 29-year-old Rule 5 pick from Triple-A.
If I were in Clearwater, with permission to ask Beerleaguer-type questions, one of the first players I’d approach would be Geary. I’d ask “Are you nervous the team will forget you pitched OK last season?"
Though most of his appearances came when the game was out of hand or the team was trailing, Geary proved surprisingly effective in certain situations, especially in long relief. In four appearances lasting three innings or more, Geary allowed just one run. His best game was June 16 at Seattle, when he pitched two shutout innings for the win in a 3-2, 13-inning victory over the Mariners. Afterward, the locker room interview revealed a pitcher with something to prove. “I’ll pitch anywhere at anytime,” he indicated.
That’s when I finally took notice of Geoff Geary, flying under the radar and appearing in 73 total games the past two seasons.
My money says you don’t remember a single one. I only remember Seattle.
At 29, Geary has been a slow mover through the Phillies’ farm system, one of the few pitchers the Phillies actively converted from starter to reliever midway through the minors. He has not started a game since 2003 in Scranton. In five seasons, he’s crawled from Reading, to Scranton to Philadelphia. However, he has not made a lasting impression and has not pitched especially well in tough spots. He was sent down twice last season, the second time was a roster decision more than anything else.
Still, Geary has seen nearly twice as many innings the past two seasons as Julio Santana, who signed as a free agent and was pegged by some as the team’s new seventh-inning guy. After that, the Phillies acquired 29-year-old minor leaguer Chris Booker in the Rule 5 draft. Booker must make the 25-man roster or be offered back to the Nationals. Later, the Phillies acquired Ricardo Rodriguez from the Rangers, who also factors into the mix. And recent talk has the Phillies looking at Robinson Tejeda as a possible long reliever, the area Geary excels most.
It’s funny how bullpen experience may actually work against Geary this spring. Rodriguez, Booker and Tejeda are all projects with dynamic, athletic upside. They will command more attention than Geary as the Phillies work to convert them into big-league relievers this spring. On a team where youth is beginning to prevail, things do not look good.
On paper, Geary and Santana, the two veterans, are farily even.
Geary, 29, finished 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 58 innings. He gave up five homers and opponents hit .248 against him.
Santana, 33, went 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA, with 49 strikeouts in 42 innings. He allowed 6 homers and opponents hit .221 against him.
Based on bullpen experience alone, Geary edges most of the candidates for the bottom half, but the team may be more inclined to roll out Tejeda and Booker, a young pitcher with the ability to start, and one with a high strikeout rate. Though Santana may be the better choice for late innings because of his higher strikeout rate, Geary is still worth strong consideration for the final spot, kept aboard as a long reliever used in a similar capacity as last season.
Chances are, Geary will remain the same faceless pitcher that leads the Phillies in most appearances when Phans are fast asleep in front of the television.
A long history of faceless Phillies
Geary is another in a long line of faceless Phillies relievers. Do you remember Tim Mauser, who pitched for the Phillies in 1991 and 1992? He had an almost identical career as Geary up until this point, including nearly identical minor league progressions.
Wade Miller update: Cubs pitcher Wade Miller, a Berks County native, is feeling much better this spring, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
"This is the best I have felt in a couple years,'' he said. "Hopefully, I won't have any setbacks and I can keep on going forward.'' Miller, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, isn't certain when he might pitch for the Cubs. "We don't have a set timetable because if something happens and we don't stick to it, it gets blown out of proportion,'' Miller told the paper. "I think May or June is very reasonable, though."