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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Comments

Alternative title for this post was "Well, there's always Arthur Rhodes!"

hey J. glad to be you're leadoff hitter, here's my take on those guys. According to everything Gillick has said i'd be willing to say that there is no way Gillick will give any of these guys more than a 2 year deal:

J.C. Romero (30) - I'd be surprised if Minnesota lets him go. If healthy he's a Classic value pickup.

Alan Embree (35) – What’s not to like? His age and we don't need guys to pitch to one batter as Gillick said earlier this month.

LaTroy Hawkins (33) – Give him a shot but not as a setup man.

Eric Gagne (30) – Stay away, stay far away, according to numerous sources he was on the JUICE.

Darren Oliver (35) –Sorry nope don't need anymore AL castoffs that couldn't cut it as starters 10 years ago. The only way he's signed is as a mop up guy much like how he was used this year until injuries forced him into extended action.

Rudy Seanez (36) – No way this guy is 36 try 46. He's been pitching forever. Stay away.

after looking at the group i'd be slightly interested in Romero and Hawkins but would rather explore trade options to get a more viable option as setup/partime closer void filled. Then fill in the rest of the pen with our younger arms from the system. You have to eventually give the guys a shot, right???

I would not like a signing of hawkins. I can't get two LaTroy images out of my head.
1: Phils at cubs in '05...threw away a ball off of Jose Offerman's head scoring the go ahead run. Phillies win.
2: Giants at Phils in '05...Utley's pinch grand slam breaks a 6-6 tie off Hawkins. Phillies win.

That is all I think of when it comes to this dude.

Keith Foulke is also out there. He finished really strong last season. I'd gamble on Foulke and Embree, and possibly Romero, but I also doubt Minnesota would let him go. Riske was an interesting name from the other night too.

I like Embree and Seanez out of this group. But they aren't really the alternate-closer guy that Borowski is. The search will likely go on all winter.

miguel batista if the yankees don't grab him. 6th starter/ 8th inning guy. although i'd actually be surprised if he doesn't get a starting job with how thin the pitching is out there.

Anyone know what is up with Foulke? What teams are rumored with him?

I heard the Indians are after Foulke. It would be nice to see Philly jump in and snag him. He also has previous successful closer experience. He would be a nice late inning guy and possible closer, if needed.

I would take a run at Weathers or Batista. I wouldn't mind seeing Geary in a setup situation also. For the LHer I would go with the kid Smith.

Minnesota already let JC Romero go to the Angels last year in a trade. He's 30 and was a very good reliever before. I thought Hawkins was a bum but I forgot he was great in Minnesota at the end and was good in the NL. Certainly worth it on the cheap side for either guy.

Ray King is out there too, but Colorado has a team option (although they have not exercised it yet).

A pitcher in the Darren Oliver mold would come in handy, but they should try solving the mop up job internally or with a spring invitee.

I think Madson should be the long reliever and emergency starter. Just don't want to see him in in pressure situations anymore.

Anyone see what Baltimore's done, by the way? they're collecting these set-up relievers like Star Wars action figures or something: Jamie Walker, Danys Baez, Scott Williamson, and Chad Bradford have all signed there in the past couple of weeks. (Think they'll take Arthur Lee back, while they're at it?)Their strategy apparently is to build the best bullpen possible because they can't find any good starters. I wonder if the Yankees are getting scared.

WHoa! Front page!

One other avenue Gillick should take a hard look at is the Rule 5 draft, which I think is coming up next week at the Winter Meetings. With all the drek on the FA market my guess is there will be more movement than usual.

So I picked a team at random (the Cubs) looked up their 40-man on Cubs Pravda and then compared it to their current AAA team. I found one Carlos Pignatiello who threw 7 innings at AAA last year after a callup. His AA numbers? 74 Ks in 60 IP, 19 BB and an ERA of 2.69.

Carlos is 24. Drafting him costs exactly $50,000, plus his MLB-minimum salary. All things being equal, we would value experience, but since all things are decidedly not equal in this market, it makes as much sense to give Carlos a shot, essentially for free, as it does to pay $10 million to Borowski and his gimpy shoulder.

Now I've never heard of this guy (he was a 20th round pick in 2000) and there's a chance the Cubs could still add him to the 40-man before the draft, but chances are he'll remain unprotected. (Teams like the Cubs, that are on the tail end of a free agent bender, seem like ripe targets as they have less room for youngsters on their 40-man). And if Gillick doesn't have an army of lackeys who are smarter, less lazy and better-equipped than myself doing hours of this kind of stuff, then they don't deserve to be in the business.

Ron Villone is also out there. He could be a servicable reliever who could also spot start if needed, especially if Batista is taken by the Yankees.

Rule 5 pilfering also works with veteran arms. Sticking with the Cubs, we have former Atlanta bullpen standout Kerry Ligtenberg currently kicking around AAA. Kerry will almost certainly remain unprotected.

Ligtenberg hasn't pitched effectively in the majors since 2003, but he's 35 and walked just 6 in 58 AAA innings last year. Also, he's the proud owner of 48 big-league saves. If he were coming off a major-league contract, that alone would probably guarantee him a multiyear deal.

maverick: It's Carmen Pignatiello. He's a lefty finesse pitcher, who can maybe touch 85 mph on a good day but has good control of his curve and changeup. The minor leagues are crawling with guys like this. They feast on undisciplined hitters and those who can't hit breaking pitches. They put up solid numbers in AA and AAA. But when the Carmen Pignatiellos of the world reach The Show and find guys who don't swing at slow stuff, an 85 mph fastball gets real ugly unless he can hit a flea in the butt from 60 feet like Greg Maddux. Not saying that Carmen and his ilk can't make it, maybe 1 out of 10 does (Kirk Rueter), as a back of rotation or LOOGY guy. I hope he does make it, I love his name. But the odds are far higher against this guy ever helping you than the list of bums that maverick posted. 20th round sounds about right.
P.S. to Jon: Don't know what they'd cost but I too would love Batista or Villone.

Perhaps not Carmen, but I think the principle remains the same; this is, after all, why we have scouts, right? To offer insight beyond what I can deliver with 30 seconds of Google use? And the fact that the Phillies currently have 8 openings on the 40-man leads me to believe that Gillick is banking on absorbing some picks.

That 8-man gap will close, of course, as we get closer to the deadline (Gonzalez, for example, isn't on it yet) but I would be astonished if Gillick didn't leave room for some selections.

Thanks for the kind words, Jason.

Needless to say, I'm very relieved that we didn't go the Cormier/Worrell/Rhodes route on Borowski. He made, I think, the vet minimum last year (plus incentives, which he did pretty well on); in other words, the Marlins found him in a dumpster. The Phils should look to find the next guy like that, and as I noted yesterday, some of the names on Maverick's list are good candidates. Here are a few more:

Joey Eischen: vet lefty who pitched for years with Montreal/Washington. He was pig-ugly awful in 2006, but effective as recently as 2005 (3.22 ERA in a strict LOOGY role). NRI, vet minimum, and if he's finished, cut him next March.

Dustin Hermanson: White Sox closer in 2005 until he got hurt and was replaced by the superior Bobby Jenks (himself a castoff!). Out for almost all of '06, but came back in September and pitched decently. Good setup option and won't cost more than a couple million at the outside.

Cliff Politte: another Sox reliever who was great in '05 and injured last year, DFA'd in July and evidently never caught on anywhere else. Is he healthy? I dunno. But why not give him a shot and find out?

David Riske: and yet another guy who last suited up for the ChiSox. Not a world-beater, but he hasn't had an ERA north of 4 since 2002, and if I had to bet on either him or Borowski putting up a good year in 2007, I'd probably take the Riske.

Tyler Walker: okay, not a great name for a pitcher. And he was cut by the Devil Rays. But he strikes guys out and has closing experience (though I wouldn't want to see him in high-leverage situations until he proved himself in a less key role first).

This is just from perusing the free-agent reliever scrap heap at Cot's (http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2004/06/free-agent-pitchers.html). I'd hope that the Phillies have better intel than I about some 29 year-old who's struck out 10 per 9 in the PCL; that guy might be a better gamble than any of these folks. But the point is that any non-elite reliever who's intact is about as likely to put up a great fluke year as any other one, whether you're paying him the minimum or Tim Worrell money.

Completely off subject, ESPN is reporting that Albert Pujols believes the MVP should come from a playoff team. He thinks it isn't fair that someone who's team didn't make the playoffs should be named the best player. Does anyone want to tell him that If the Phillies were in the NL Central, their 85 wins would have sent them to the playoffs over the 83 win Cardinals? I'd like to play against the Cubs, Brewers, Pirates 57 games out of the year too.

That's bound to earn Pujols a few boos at the Bank next year. If there are any left over from when Rolen appears.

I friggin' hate calling the Phillies' park "the Bank", by the way. In no way does that sound as cool or as right as the Vet.

Middle relievers are a perpetual crapshoot in baseball. If they're any good, they get used in more important roles. If they're bad, they get shuffled around from team to team and league to league. So few are truly commodities who fit just perfectly into that in-between mode, who are just bad enough but just good enough to keep pitching in innings 5-8. No team really knows what they're going to get from that portion of their roster going into a season. The Phillies have marched confidently into seasons with supposed stalwarts like Rhodes, Worrell, Adams, and Cormier in recent years, only to have them perform like 21 year-old AA pitchers half the time. The best you can do if you're Gillick is to sign a free agent, draft a Rule 5, dumpster-dive through the Independent Leagues, cross your fingers and have a ton of options waiting in the wings up in Ottawa.

Quick question, does anyone think any of the names being floated out there are better than Geary, a player who was almost universally ripped at the begining of '05?

Geary to me is the eigth inning guy w/o question. I would sign one guy who has closed before (Hermanson?) and call it a day.

I'd go inton the season with
Gordon/Geary/Pick-Up/White/Madson/Condrey/Brito or Castro.

The major concern for me is Gordon's health, and there is no one on the market other than Gagne who would be at that level. It is kind of a cop out, but if Gordon is healthy, the pen will be alright, if not, it doesn't matter which one of these castoffs we sign.

Meant to say '06 for Geary...remember that colorado series?

Meant to say '06 for Geary...remember that colorado series?

I wouldn't put much stock in Geary. If you look past his E.R.A. the rest of his stats are weak- it suggests he just got lucky.

Borowski is risky. Remember when we signed Mike Jackson and he didn't pitch a game for us that season (2000 or 2001). Now Borowski wouldn't be that extreme, but with a multi-year deal it might end up being very bad.

Have to disagree tray. This year, Geary's BB/9 were dramatically better than league average (1.97 to the league's 3.39), and his BB/k were also good (3 vs league average of 1.98).

What cheers me about geary is that his numbers this year were better even though he pitched almost twice the number of innings compared to last year. Yes, he'll get hit, but his groundball percentage has increased over the last three years steadily (38%, 44%, 50%).

funnily enough Kdon, I thought that at the start of the season there was signs that geary had really clicked - he's not afraid to challenge hitters to get that groundball anymore, and doesn't nibble nearly as much as last year. As the season went on, my suspicions were confirmed.

If you look at his daily graphs of hits allowed, he seemed to get better as the season went on - line drives went down, groundballs increased. I know we were worried the guy's arm was going to fall off, but I wonder whether he thrived on the extra innings? He's never had injury problems either, to the best of my knowledge.

The conclusion to all this is . . . why waste a draft pick on weathers?

Eischen was a horse. That was all Frank Robinson pitching him until he finally blew out.

RickSchuBlues,
My brother, sister and I all hate calling the park the Bank too. We've been calling the park The Zen, doesn't seem to be catching on despite its overwhelming coolness.

Excellent thread, everyone. The level of commentary here has reached a new high. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. Dajafi: I've posted your new list with the original post. Great work. Clout: Superb comment about finesse pitchers in the minors. Oisin, Kdon, RSB, and the rest of the regs: Many thanks, as always.

I agree w/kdon & Oisin - Geary is as good as what is out there, is in phenonemal shape, & is Philly proven.

Some of these guys cannot handle this market (Ashby, Millwood, Worrell, Floyd, etc) - especially with what they are getting paid. We have a good nucleus of SP so I believe the bullpen will not be taxed as much as previous years plus Rhoades is thankfully gone. I love Matt Smith's mound presence which is polar opposite of Floyd's. Add an arm or two but the pieces are already in place. Hopefully Lieber & Myers get treadmills from Santa this year.

Did Bradford sign yet? That dude is a machine.

Trade for that guy Jon Rauch on Washington. He pitched in 85 games in 06, 91 IP, 86 K's, 30some walks, 3.35 ERA, 1.248 WHIP. Probably one of the better middle relievers in the NL last year.

I've been calling the park "the cit" is that just me?

I second the Kudos for kdon & Oisin's "Gas Can" Geary comments. They are right on. The Phillies ought to let Geary wear gold plated cleats to reflect his true value to the team.

I've never had the pleasure to visit "the Bank." Sometimes you can knickname a park by how it looks. Here in New Orleans, they built an arena in search of an NBA team. They landed the Hornets a few years later. The arena outside is covered with giant tiles of three colors: two pastel light greens and an off white. The colors and look are reminiscent of your typical public restroom. Due to it's appearance, some of the locals now refer to it as "the bathroom".

Bradford signed with the O's the other day along with Scott Williamson. Both could have helped the Phils, but they just weren't aggressive enough with some of this year's free agent reliever crop.

Kdon, I don't think the Phils want to go into a season with Brito in the pen. 9 times out of 10, this guy was horrible. They really need 2 pickups for the pen. They actually need 3 if Weird Beard does not return, which wouldn't be the end of the world. I say let White walk and bring in Villone as the spot starter/reliever, Foulke as the guy whom has closer on his resume, and King and or Embree to be the legit lefty in the pen (your list only has the possibility of Brito being left-handed and that will not cut it on a team with wild card aspirations).

My mistake, Castro is a lefty too, but either way, I doubt the team wants to start the year with only Brito and Castro being the left-handed arms in the pen.

Bradford's stats look good, so he probably is. But I watched him foul up almost every appearance with the red sox 2 years ago. I guess that's why I don't really mind "missing" him.

What do you mean by 9 times out of 10, Jon?
I think Brito is a fine cheap option for the long man and occasional LOOGY work. Also, Tray, Geary's pereipherals are completely in line with his performance.

I agree, we may need a lefty, but Embree isn't really a situational guy because he doesn't throw any breaking pitches. You are also forgeting Matt Smith, who I would take at this point over any of the retread LOOGYs on the market like Eischen.

I see:

Gordon/Geary/Smith/Madson/Pick-Up/Long Man (Brito?).

as pretty good. What I don't want to do is give up a draft pick for that one FA signing. With Howard, Utley and Myers all due fat paychecks soon, we are going to need all the fresh minor league talent we can get.

I also agree Jason, this has been a good discussion, more productive and less argumentative than usual...I'm a little concerned.

Brito pitched incredibly well his second trip to the majors. He saved Lieber's and Wolf's a$$ down the stretch. I'm not unhappy about him as 6th starter, long man.

Matt Smith is our 'pen lefty.

It would be nice to see the Phils get more "modern" with their underdevelopped pitchers, and bring them up for explicit relief roles early, like the Tigers.

No sense keeping kids down with electric stuff, put 'em in the pen and let them limit their exposure and still ge te ML experience.

Please, not a full season of Weird Beard. I'd like ANY of the names mentioned above (I'd even take a shot at Borowski) rather than have to go through my nightly routine of grabbing the Zantac from the cabinet when White was waddling to the mound.

"No sense keeping kids down with electric stuff, put 'em in the pen and let them limit their exposure and still ge te ML experience."

Couldn't agree more, Joe. It appears to be working with King Cole (although not so much for guys like Mathieson). They'll be an extreme roller coaster (think Madson), but it should payoff in the long run. I think MLB-wide there is a new mindset on this. Rather than baby the young pitching prospects, throw them to the wolves and see what they got. It builds character and you may find another Bobby Jenks.

Weird Beard has some grit to him. I remember him pitching us out of a jam with a crucial strikeout. I'm fine with him returning, although he is hard on the eyes.

Matt Smith looked impressive in his limited work. He wasn't always consistent but his positives were much better than his occasional bad outing.

Gordon still scares me. He may be done for good.

Eude Brito was so bad when he was bad as a spot starter, that eternal banishment would be fine with me, despite Joe's "Brito pitched incredibly well his second trip to the majors." I don't remember any of the "incredibly well".

To Clout's point, Brito's slider won't fool major league hitters, and when that doesn't work, he will be hit hard. If he stays, he's a mop up man of the lowest possible form.

Brito gave up 15 runs in 18 innings last year. He put in 4 scoreless innings of long-relief in Sept. against Atlanta, but other than that he was absolutely brutal.

Jason, you may need to change the name of this site to the "University of Philadelphia Phillies." This is a site of higher learning.

Some of the Professors are tougher than others. Before you can earn your degree, you have to sit through a semester of Professor Clout. You need to remove your Phillies Pink Phog sunglasses when sitting in for his lectures. Professor Kdon is almost as tough as Professor Clout and he is also required prior to recivieng your degree.

You also are required to take a semester abroad to Scotland to sit in on Prof. Oisin's class, although he's an easy grader. Also new Professors Dajafi and Maverick offer course not to be missed.

I like that. I guess that makes me Dean of Damage Control.

I'm fine with Geary in a higher-leverage role--Cholly was using him that way down the stretch, in any event, generally to good effect--and I wouldn't be surprised to see Madson bounce back in a big way.

As I think kdon wrote, I'd sign one guy from the lists Maverick and I posted, maybe give a couple additional NRIs, and have done with it. You know Gordon, Geary, Madson (unless traded) and Smith will be in the 'pen; in-house auditioners will include Brito, Castro, Condrey, Segovia and Bisenius; how many more guys do we need to bring in? Not many.

I love it - All I need is a pipe and class will be in session.

Per a couple threads ago, FWIW:

"Pat Gillick denied a report that the Phillies were talking with the Rangers about leftfielder Pat Burrell. Burrell is believed to be willing to waive his no-trade clause only for the Yankees, Red Sox or a contending West Coast team such as the Giants, Padres, Dodgers or Diamondbacks. Gillick would not comment on any list Burrell might have supplied."

i got one word for all of you: aqualung.

One of the Phillies problems is they haven't had many prospects who can top 94-95. This is why Bisenius has been fasttracked. Sanches is a hard thrower as well, and I'm not ready to count him out. Smith looks good. Castro has a live arm (was shelled the other night in the Dominican BTW). Madson is a candidate to bounce back after failing as a starter. It was a goofy season for Madson, preparing as a starter, then moving back to the bullpen.

The deadline for offering arbitration is tomorrow. Getting offered arb would move a potential signing of Weathers or Borowski from ill-advised and uncreative to downright foolhardy. Since theyre both Type A's, if they get offered arb we have to give up a first-rounder to sign them, something that should absolutely be a dealbreaker for us.

The fact that Gillick was willing to sign at least Borowski before the deadline had passed (thereby giving the Marlins time to guarantee themselves our pick by offering him arb right before the deadline) is ... unfortunate.

Jason, you would be the Dean of Discipline. Actually, you hold a much higher post, as the Dean of the entire University. I'll have to do a little research to come up with the proper grandiose title for you.

You're right Mav,

A first rounder for Weathers or Borowski is completely ridiculous, Gillick was saved (again) from making a bad decision.

For Brito, I think you have to look beyond his brief mop-up roles for the Phils in '06 and look at what he did in Scranton, 147 IP 3.17 ERA, 2:1 K.BB ration and only 11 HR and most impressive of all, a 1.16 WHIP! He is also only 26.

And it isn't like that was a fluke, he has given up less than 1 hit per IP at almost every level and always has at least a 2:1 K/BB ration.

Why is a 26 yo with these kind of numbers so frowned upon...he is exactly the kind of guy we would target in another organization.

To further the Brito love fest, the guys has also improved everytime he repeats a level

ERA
Rk - 5.02 => 2.54
A - 2.73 => 2.55
A+ - 5.71 => 3.09
AAA - 4.85 => 3.17

Not to draw too much from this because there are some fairly small sample sizes, but he seems like a pitcher who is able to adjust. He may need to develop a breaking pitch as Jason suggests, but I would like to see what he could do in a season.

Someone please tell me what a LOOGY is. I've played baseball from little league through college and I've never heard of this term before. I always thought it was what you hacked up after you've had a Red Man for 3 innings.

I think LOOGY = Lefthanded One Out GuY

I think the guys at Baseball Prospectus thought it up...it means a situational lefty in general, think Mike Myers

kdon is at his best. For tomorrow I'd like to know what Geoff Geary's ERA is in day games on the road following a night game when the temperature is above 80 degrees.

The students are putting the heat on the Professors!

Nice stuff today, top notch. I wanted to change course a bit regarding the line-up.

If we keep Burrell would it make any sense to bat him third to get some good pitches to hit in front of Howard. As much as I hate that arched-back butt-sticking out (ABBSO) move for a called third strike he does actually draw quite a few walks in the process.

Not sure what the answer behind Howard is as of yet but J Roll is still not disciplined enough to lead-off IMO. Would anyone have a problem with Utley swinging first? Also the prospects of Soriano batting behind Howard never made alot of sense as his speed would have been sacrificed and I liked him leading off or batting third better. Any thoughts?

Dustin Hermanson used to rave about the mound at the Vet when he was with the Expos. If his arm is okay, I'd think that he'd be a nice addition. Gordon, Hermanson, Geary, Smith, White/Rule V guy, Segovia, Madson (as the long man) might not be too bad a bullpen. Of course we could just as easily try to turn any remaining "upside potential" on Madson into trade piece.

Back to Brito, one of the earlier comments said that we didn't have a lot of arm speed in our farm system pitchers. Does anyone know Brito's fastball speed? Maybe a list of our prospects with fireball speeds would help us learn the prospects from the finesse guys.

I would just like to point out J-Roll has been the best leadoff hitter in baseball over the last 3 years. Why on earth would you even consider changing that?

Brito is a mid-90's guy. I'd love a website that listed all pitchers that could be sorted by things like fastball speed. Pitch combinations would be helpful, too.

I am not sure you want hard throwers. At home, changeup, curves do seem to be the better pitchers here. Junk ballers like Hamels, Moyer could thrive here.

I would like to point out how the Phils need another LH bat.

Preacher, that's a great idea. Wonder how we could make that happen...

As noted a few posts up, Brito throws hard. I remember, though, that we had a couple pieces about him at The Good Phight (the Phils blog where I do most of my writing about the team) a couple years ago, and what was strange was that in the high minors, he'd had much better success in the rotation than the bullpen. But with the Phils, his value clearly would be as a reliever, as seen by his disastrous starts last season.

Bix,

Barring a sudden burst of managerial insight on Cholly's part (something that I have scheduled to occur directly after the return of Jesus Christ) I have given up hope that our organization will seriously commit to anyone outside of Rollins in the leadoff spot. Burrell's spot is an interesting question though. While I think much of the vitriol directed his way is misplaced, I also think he's miscast as protection for Howard (which is very inconvenient, since we don't have another right-handed power source).

My solution would be to bat him second; this would maximize his skills (taking pitches, walking) while slightly mitigating his flaws (staring at called third strikes with guys on base) and between Utley and Howard I think we'd have enough thunder behind him. This would, of course, put us in the uncomfortable situation of going lefty-lefty in the 3-4 spot, but we've been there before with Abreu/Thome.

Kdon, I did forget that you had Smith listed. He is an impressive lefthanded reliever. I do however completely agree with what Maverick had to say about Brito:

Brito gave up 15 runs in 18 innings last year. He put in 4 scoreless innings of long-relief in Sept. against Atlanta, but other than that he was absolutely brutal.

Why would you want a slow guy with a bad foot batting second? How about eighth?

PhillyRocks - what Rock are you smoking? I love Jimmy but again he is not disciplined or consistent enought to lead-off.

When is is hot the Phils roll but his OBP is way too low and so is are his BB's compared to his ABs to set the table efficiently:

YEAR OBP SLG AVG BB
2001 .323 .419 .274 48
2002 .306 .380 .245 54
2003 .320 .387 .263 54
2004 .348 .455 .289 57
2005 .338 .431 .290 47
2006 .334 .478 .277 57

Utley's OBP was .379 (2006) & .376 (2005) which was even higher than Suzuki's .370 (2006) and .350 (2005). Something to consider.

kdon: One small error in your post tells pretty much the story on Brito: He's 28, not 26. He was one of those Dominican guys who lied about his age. At age 28 he is not a prospect, but could be a LOOGY (and you're right, Mike Myers is the iconic LOOGY).
To answer Fred, Brito's fastball is just OK (high 80s, maybe touch 92 once in awhile.) He has a plus slider, but sometimes has trouble with command within the strike zone.

It is funny that posters on this board have almost done a 180. People were clamoring that the Phils strengthen the bullpen by signing a veteran setup man like Weathers. Now it seems some people are more content to bring in only a marginal guy or two.

The back end of this bullpen stinks as currently constituted. Geary was a nice story last year but I think he overachieved a little. Plus, he is an excellent candidate for injury/ineffectiveness this year due to gross overuse last year.

Madson is a candidate to rebound but who is really going to pitch better next season - White? Fultz? Plus, there is still no alternative candidate for Gordon and not exactly alot of young power arms ready from the minor leagues that can be put into this bullpen.

I am upset that the Phils haven't been more proactive in getting an alternative to Gordon or a solid set up guy. Yeah the market was really inflated but there were a few guys who generally have been pretty consistent the past 3-4 years. Phils should have signed at least one of these guys to help fill out the pen.

Maybe the Phils will find a diamond in the rough among some of the names mentioned here. Quite possible one or two of them might have nice years this season but you generally find refuse when sorting through the trash.

MG: I couldn't agree more. I looked at the list that kdon posted (Gordon/Geary/Smith/Madson/Pick-Up/Long Man (Brito?) and I said to myself, "does that look like the bullpen of a playoff-bound team?" My answer: Not even close. The bullpen is in far worse shape than the rotation now that Eaton has signed, even though the rotation still needs a 6th starter. I could live with Madson as 6th starter if they added 2 solid arms to the pen.

Lake Fred - I had to laugh at that one but even that is sad because our 9th batter is an automatic out (I still cannot figure out why MLB teams do not concentrate more on developing pitchers that can hit. It is like the sudden discovery in the NFL that special teams is an important strategy).

If Burrell somehow manages to get on base he is a better looking Sid Bream advancing between the square white mounds. Maybe lead off Howard if we bat Burrell 8th.

LF,

Uh-oh; is my professorial status revoked? Probably because I don't subscribe to the unquestionable holy baseball writ that the top of the order must be speedy over all other things.

No, Maverick, most University Professors hold controversial views which are out of the mainstream way of thinking. Your Professorship status is perfectly safe.

2 minimum arms are needed for the pen, if not 3!

Excellent. Thank God for tenure.

Kdon: Clout beat me to the point. Brito already has a good breaking pitch, but probably falls short on having the tools to compliment it, including command. Major league hitters know to lay off pitchers like this. He also hasn't proven he can step in and become a reliever. He was brought along as a reliever, and was nothing special at it. Only in late 2004 did they convert him to a starter. He's shown that he can fan AAA hitters consistently, but they are players like Josh Kroeger and Calvin Pickering.

And, yes, to reiterate my earlier point, they need two veteran arms. They're possibly losing three via free agency, and you can't rely on a full season from Flash.

Clout,
What out there is better than the names I listed? Gordon was an all-star closer last year until Manuel ran him into the ground, Geary was probably one of the top two or three set-up guys in the NL, White has been nothing short of dominant in his brief exposure and Madson had two very nice years as a set-up guy before being yanked around. The last two spots (Long man and LOOGY) are going to be low-end players on ANY team.

You constantly write "pitching, pitching, pitching" but I'm interested if you think surrendering a #1 pick for Weather or Borkowski is a good idea, or if you honestly think guys like Hawkins, Romero, etc. are better than Smith/Geary/Madson? The reason all these retread names are out there is because they weren't any good on their former teams.

Find me a bullpen in baseball that was good and made up of FA. Cardinals, Tigers, Angels, Astros, etc...they all came from in house!

Signing mediocre "names" for 2-3M instead of using minor league minimum guys is a complete waste of money.

And Tony, sorry to dazzle you with obscure stats like strikeouts, HR and ERA...I'll stick with "good" and "bad" to keep things simple for ya.

Jason, I am shocked at your complete 180. Go back to your posts from the begining of last year when you were pushing to bring up all the AAA guys up and tell me how that fits with this "veteran" line. The pen HAS BEEN composed of veteran fungible relievers like Franklin, Cormier, Fultz, Rhodes, White. All these names we keep throwing out there are basically the same crop of indistinguishable relievers that make up most of the bad bullpen's in baseball.

Also, forgot to mention clout's astute correction of Brito's age, Baseball Cube still has him at 26. However, Jason, I really don't see how you can make a comment like "He also hasn't proven he can step in and become a reliever" when he pitched in SIX games. He had been a starter the rest of the year and was used out of the pen twice in June, and four times in September. He obviously has the stuff to get hitters out...using players like Brito is exactly the sort of creativity that we usually demand of our GM.

Kdon, good post. You and clout usually agree with each other. You are right about most bullpens being built cheaply from inhouse arms not good enough to start.

I worry about Gordon as the season long closer.

I have more concern about Madson's mental process toward pitching than his physical gifts. He's been screwed around pretty good over the last few years. We should call him Yo-Yo.

Geary pitched in obscurity, but over time we began to realize what a fine job he did.

White did a nice job in his role. He needs to grow hair above his ears.

I think Matt Smith might be the biggest improver in 2007. He showed signs of better things to come.

I'm sure that we'll see tryouts for Brito, Castro, Condrey, Segovia and Bisenius. I vote no on Brito. Castro will probably see a season at Ottawa. Condrey will probably get another look in the bigs. I don't know enough about Segovia and Bisenius to comment.

If the Phillies believed Eude Brito could be a reliever, don't you think it would have happened by now? He's been sitting in their farm system since 1999, and was used primarily as a reliever in six of them.

I'm all for giving young guys a chance and solving problems like relief pitching internally, but the writing appears to be on the wall with Brito. Otherwise, they wouldn't have traded for two younger left-handed relievers last season.

That said, give him a shot in spring training anyway. I have no problem with that. And if they kept him on as a mop up man, he might eat up some innings for them.

If Brito is on the Phillies' roster at the end of spring training, it means that Gillick had a lousy off-season. He's a junkballer with lousy command. For some reason, people seem to remember the one or two outings in which he's actually had success and conveniently forget the far more frequent ones in which he was ripped whenever he acually got the ball over the plate. And Willard - mid '90s fastball? Say what?

I look at the options available in the Phillies bullpen, and I don't think it's quite the atrocity some people make it out to be. What absolutely *does* need to be addressed, however, is adding a guy to whom they can *confidently* go to in the 8th inning, and can even bail out Flash if his elbow gets stiff for a few days or weeks. The Phils have a relatively competent group of guys (Geary, Smith, White, Condrey, Castro) who are decent options for the sixth or seventh, and in Geary's case, perhaps the eighth as well - but he's no closer. Going into next year without a significant improvement over Rhodes as the set-up man/surrogate closer is something the Phils can not afford to do. With that one quality addition, however, the pen would start looking a whole lot more solid. (Weathers, by the way, is not my idea of that addition - and in no way, shape, or form is he worth the concession of a first round draft pick.)

Since when are the Phillies scouts the best determinants of a player's skill? I agree that the Phillies aren't high on Brito. My point is that they are wrong.

Also, RSB, I though we dispersed with the canard about Brito's arm last year in a similar discussion about Brito. In no way is he a junkballer, he is low to mid 90s.

kdon, I don't care how hard Brito throws - the fact is, he doesn't throw the fastball *nearly* as much as his breaking pitches. What exactly do you see in Brito that makes you so high on him? He doesn't strike people out, he walks a lot of people, and he gets hit hard with regularity. His stuff is below-average and he doesn't control or command it well. You want this guy coming into games in the late innings?!

Meanwhile, over at philly.com, we have a second Mike Piazza rumor denial by Gillick, even though Amaro apparently went on the radio and said they'd talked with him, or his agent; also, it's reported that 'several people in the front office' did not know about the Phillies having a deal prepared for Borowski which was subsequently backed out of - funny how ESPN knows these things but the organization that's directly involved somehow is in the dark. Either the various front office personnel genuinely aren't on the same page, or various front office personnel have been flatly lying through their teeth. Scotty Palmer, take note: this is yet another reason why people are so damned disgusted with the Phillies. Not every team is run this way. We sit here and type away about this team night and day, even in the heart of football season. People give a damn, and these spin doctors can't be bothered to give straight answers back. I find that ignorant and disrespectful both to the media and to the fans. It'd be better if they just didn't talk at all.

"If Brito is on the Phillies' roster at the end of spring training, it means that Gillick had a lousy off-season."

Amen. Brito is worse than Rhoades.

RSB - its an interesting point about the front office. I reiterate what I said in another post - outwith of Manuel, Gillick and Arbuckle, who else should be completely up to speed on Gillick's progress and decision-making?

On the one hand, the phillies (like any mlb team) are a large organisation, and if everyone was to know everything at all times, any attempt to move quickly and quietly for an undervalued player would be blown out of the water. With this year's seller's market, you could even argue that its within the philly's interests to keep approaches as quiet as possible, to prevent agents getting to much leverage.

On the opposite side, there's the argument that a clear and obvious plan inspires confidence in the organisation as a whole and (god forbid) its fanbase. If players don't feel they're working for some kind of faceless black box which spits out deals on apparently arbitrary logic, I'm sure they feel a lot better - they recognise efforts are being made to build a team.

I'm in two minds on this. On the one hand, the pragmatist in me really doesn't give a damn how secret gillick is with his plans - I can't change it, and he could sell the best plan in the world to me as a fan and I wouldn't believe it, because this is the phillies.

On the other hand, I can see the sense of clearly-stated, organised, top-down planning within the phillies might be part of turning round what sounds like an altogether too chummy group of people who don't plan properly.

Therein may lie part of the problem. Gillick is an outsider and with the exception of manuel and arbuckle, any front-office staff he's brought in (and lets not forget the bench coaches) are all outsiders too. Amaro was here long before gillick and is very much part of the phillies establishment. Could the clash of two competing executive approaches within the phillies be resulting in this kind of negligent and sloppy pr and rumour-mongering?

Lake Fred - don't think I missed that you called me a soft-touch on marking. For shame. students are here on merit and merit alone!

I can't believe there has been so much discussion about Brito. He is a fringe guy (Quad-A) who shouldn't be on the opening day roster if Gillick actually appears in the pen. Brito is classic guy who an organization keeps in T-AAA and shuttles back and forth as injuries dictate.

Do people forget that this bullpen was generally horrible for most of last season, particularly the first and last months of the season? Without Flash's numbers from the first half, it might have been the worst statistical bullpen in the league.

Besides Smith and Madson, I don't see a single reliever capable of posting better numbers this season. Plus, I don't see a single arm from the minors ready to step in an Opening Day in a late-innings situation.

Excellent points, Oisin. Your professorship gets high marks from the ranks.

Oisin, I'm sorry about my perception of your grading style. I just imagined that you would be sympathetic and compassionate toward these poor exchange students trying to learn the finer points of Phillies analysis from abroad. I envisioned study sessions with a single malt in one hand, a computer mouse in the other, where you as Professor would not be too harsh. I don't perceive a harsh or hard edge in your commentary, so I portrayed you as an easy grader. Maybe, I should have wrote fair grader.

About the Phillies front office miscommunications. It could be worse. We could be like the Oakland Raiders NFL club. I just read an article about Art Shell accusing an unnamed company man of undermining the team. Our front office is merely inept.

RSB - peer review is a wonderful thing.

Lake Fred - well, you're right about the single malts bit. Although I usually save that for exhilerating-three-in-the-morning nailbiters against the mets . 'Tis true also that I'm soft in my language reserving all harshness for whinging closers with large paypackets and undeserving, overweight irish footie players with little hair and less sense.

"He doesn't strike people out, he walks a lot of people, and he gets hit hard with regularity."

RSB, where are you getting your numbers? Brito has averaged about 7 Ks per 9 in AAA and gave up 116 hits in 147 innings last year. His control is an issue, but you are just wrong on the other points (and don't give me anything from his five game audition last year, that simply isn't enough eveidence to draw any conclusions).

I'm also not talking about him as a set-up guy, but as a 5th and 6th inning guy or in mop up roles. We already have Madson and Geary (and possible, Smith) for set-up.

Uh-huh. And now let's hear the somehow irrelevant major-league numbers on our boy Eude:

2006: 18 IP, 21 H, 9 SO, 12 BB
CAREER: 40.1 IP, 40 H, 24 SO, 23 BB.

Tell me again how wrong I am. Just this time don't use triple-A numbers to do it. If the Phillies play Canton-Akron and Syracuse all next year, I'll be glad to have Brito on the staff. Am I saying Brito absolutely can't pitch in the majors? No, but I have no evidence that he can. If you expect the Phillies to count on him to hold down a bullpen job based on what he's shown, I think that's misguided. He's got to show you something more than that, a hell of a lot more, to be considered for a major-league role.

RSB, I thank you for providing those major league numbers from Eude Brito. They show that he is yet to pass the audition. You were kind to leave off his runs given up and losses record. No need to embarass him too badly.

Less confusion...Matt White who pitched for SWB Red Barons last year has signed with the Dodgers. This Matt should not be confused with Matt Smith or Rick White, or the Matt White, Waynesbore Pa native, former number 1 draft choice of the Giants.

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