An assortment of discussion points ripped from today's headlines.
-- Preseason baseball has arrived! Right-hander Ryan Franklin will get the start this afternoon as the Phillies tussle with the Yankees in their Grapefruit League opener. Franklin is expected to make about 45 pitches then hand the ball over to Ryan Madson.
It’s a good opportunity for the Phils to observe the two pitchers penciled into the fourth and fifth starter spots, with Gavin Floyd, Ricardo Rodriguez and Robinson Tejeda also considered in the mix with outside chances.
Floyd, Julio Santana and Geoff Geary are also scheduled to pitch this afternoon.
Here is today’s lineup according to Phillies.com:
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Pat Burrell, DH
4. Chase Utley, 2B
5. Aaron Rowand, CF
6. Abraham Nunez, 3B
7. Alex Gonzalez, 1B
8. Mike Lieberthal, C
9. Josh Kroeger, LF
For those following the action, use the comments thread below to post your observations for those of us stuck at our desks in the icy northeast.
-- I’ve picked up a few rumblings here and there that relievers Arthur Rhodes and Julio Santana do not look sharp. Rhodes was rocked in an intersquad game, and Santana showed up out of shape. It would not surprise me if Santana does not make the club, even though he signed as a free agent this offseason. He represents the type of pitcher the Phillies have too many of in the bullpen: older pitchers with good stuff that still need to be developed to a certain extent and have control problems. Rhodes also scares me.
-- Speaking this morning on 610-WIP radio, analyst John Marzano said Franklin looked sharp in workouts, with solid sinking stuff in the 92-93 mph range.
-- One caller to Howard Eskin’s afternoon show yesterday suggested the Phillies convert Shane Victorino to third base. My bigger focus would be making sure Victorino can hit major-league pitching well enough to hold down a fourth outfielder spot, a significant leap for the 24-year-old switch-hitter. But an interesting idea nonetheless. They could use more speed in the everyday lineup.
-- The morning show also interviewed Madson and pitcher Brett Myers, who offered their take on the World Baseball Classic. Like many, they are not the biggest fans of the poorly-timed WBC, believing it’s more important at this stage to prepare for the regular season.
From a baseball perspective, pitching is the biggest concern for teams as they will entrust some of their best arms with foreign coaches. From the Phillies, veteran Rheal Cormier, Scott Mathieson and Aaron Myette will pitch for Canada, while Myers remains a reserve for the American team.
Consider the Phillies one of the fortunate teams.
-- Speaking of the WBC, the Daily News is reporting that Robinson Tejeda and Eude Brito have turned down invitations to pitch for the Dominican Republic, but will remain listed as reserves.
The second-year pitchers decided it would be better to stay in camp and try to earn spots with the Phillies. "I want to represent my country," Tejeda told the Daily News. "But we have a new general manager, and he hasn't seen us pitch before. We want to show him that we can pitch."
Tejeda appears to have a legitimate chance of earning a spot either in the rotation or bullpen, but Brito is a different story. The left-hander is still considered a green 27 and does not appear to have much of an opening anywhere on the 25-man roster.
Playing in the WBC with a chance to shine on a bigger stage could have been a nice opportunity for him. If I were calling the shots, I would not have discouraged his participation in a situation that clearly means more to the Latin American and Asian countries than many of us here in the United States can fathom.
Of course, the biggest problem with the WBC is that it's happening way too close to the regular season. Players have been in camp for about two weeks, have already settled into Spring Training mode and understand what they need to do to earn spots. They're comfortable. They're easing in for the long marathon season. The WBC is ripping them away from that situation, and inserting them into a new, exhausting schedule. It takes me weeks to get over just a one week's worth of vacation. Imagine a near three-week journey around the world.
For the participants with the unfortunate task of being on one of the good teams with a chance to go far in the tournament, this will be the longest season of their lives. The perfect time for the WBC would be early-to-mid January, when they hold the Caribbean series.