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Friday, August 25, 2006


The Sanches move was overdue. White seems like he can be a solid player, but I'm still curious why the Yankees didn't use him this year with all their bullpen problems (guess: Torre's dislike of young players in important roles).

I also just read the fine discussion of Manuel's bullpen usage from a few days ago. Interestingly, if you read most of the earlier criticisms, it was of the "talent" of the bullpen, rather than the usage (although my criticism was exclusively the latter). There were a lot of calls in April and May to get rid of Geary, Cormier, Fultz, etc. and bring up the AAA guys...if the Phillies had done this, we would have had a lot more of Sanches and a lot more losses.

I don't think the bullpen's success is a result of Manuel's initial 7 (Franklin)-8(Rhodes)-9 (Gordon) system, but because he STOPPED doing that, mostly because of injuries and ineffectiveness. The Rhodes/Madson save Wed. is a great example of this. Also, the return of Lieber and Wolf allowed Madson to go back to what he does best.

Calling up Smith for Sanches was a good move. Cholly needs every available arm since there are very few sure fines in this bullpen. I would rather have Cholly go with the hot hand (like the other night with Rhodes) than be stuck due to the alternatives. Plus, the Phils' are going to protect Castro and I doubt that will put him in a tight spot. Looks like Castro will soley be used as a long-relief/mopup.

Conine might be upgrade over Roberson but he looks pretty fossilized at this point. Doesn't have the good bat speed that used to made him a good hitter. Plus, I don't see any value of the Phils having a 41-year reserve outfielder next year.

Just so we're clear:

Matt Smith = the player just recalled
Matt White = LHP still at Scranton
Rick White = bearded RHP with Phils
Rich Smith = bearded property owner in Kutztown, Pa.
Mike Smith = Former R-Phil, now with Twins
Mike White = Houston Colt 45 pitcher from '63-'65

I'd rather see what Thurston/Hernandez can give them than see Conine here.

Oops. Can we add?
Rik Smits = Former 7'4" center for the Pacers

Just took a look at the standings and both STL and LA are struggling, meaning that is is starting to look like a five team (LA, STL, CIN, SD, Phils) race for three spots...not bad considering a few weeks ago it looked like a ten team race for ONE spot.

kdon: Matt Smith is viewed as a one-out-lefty guy and the Yanks already have a high-paid one in Mike Myers. When he was up earlier this year the Yanks used him as a blowout middle reliever. He gave up no runs in 12 IP but he also walked 8. He's certainly more mlb-ready than Sanches and can be used in place of Fultz when the big guy needs a rest, so this is a good move. One poster called him "young." He's not. He's 27.

That's still young enough for a relief pitcher. It usually takes a couple years for teams to figure out they can't make it as starter, and once they're tagged as a reliever, their rise to the majors slows down considerably.

I like that the Phils are making calculated moves. It is time Sanches go down, and Smith given the chance. We have another ZERO ERA guy on the staff along with Fabio! I think Joe Thurston is going to help this team down the stretch if given a real chance. That means pinch-hitting daily, and a spot start.

DQ I agree with you about Thurston. With him and Hernandez I really don't think they need Conine. They really could use Roberson's speed come playoff time.
Matt Smith should be useful and maybe better potential than Sanches. It really has helped the bullpen that the starters have gone deep into games recently. It gave them all a rest early in the week. Manual also stated that he will use Fabio in closer situations maybe even this weekend. Come the playoffs the Phils need to pick their roster, my guess is they want to look at Smith to see if he can handel it. Then decide between Smith or Castro.

Fabio Castro as the Phils closer...I would love that! I would buy his jersey!

Kdon: I hate the pattern usage of relief pitchers based on game situation, i.e., Franklin is my 7th inning pitcher if we're ahead, Geary is my 7th inning pitcher if we're tied or losing, etc. It works fine one day at a time, but a bullpen's usage is never that simple. If you're operating on a late-inning, 1-run lead for a third consecutive day, you're running three tired pitchers out there, while your "tied or losing" gang is gathering rust. It's just a stupid was to run a bullpen, and it didn't come into being until the save statistic displaced rational thought as the main criterion for reliever usage. If you don't believe baseball is misusing bullpens -- I'm talking every team, as far as I know -- check out the history of bullpen ERAs. The more "advanced" the current system gets, the more pitchers per year teams use and the worse the cumulative ERAs get.

Someday some bright young manager is going to break this crippling tradition and figure out a better way. My guess is some sort of rotation -- if that works best for starting pitchers, I fail to see why it wouldn't work best for relievers as well. But it's not going to happen until someone decides to go to war without a big-money closer.

Also, in an earlier post I detailed Abreu's work during the 13-1 streak earlier this year. In case you missed it, he went 4-for-32 but scored 9 runs thanks to a .413 OBP. He can hardly be cited as a mainspring of that streak.

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