A guest of Jody MacDonald’s show on 950 AM, the Phillies GM gave listeners a taste of what they can expect this season. [Audio]
With the hot stove reaching an icy cool, this was a nice warm cup of cocoa. It’s as if Jody Mac read our thoughts. I encourage readers to listen to the entire interview.
The points that resonated most dealt with two players barely on the radar. Things continue to look grim for Chris Coste. When asked about the catching situation, Gillick restated his confidence in Carlos Ruiz and Rod Barajas, indicating Ruiz is here to stay. Meanwhile, it seems Coste has dropped out of the catching mix entirely; Gillick even went so far as to restate Jayson Werth’s ability to catch.
The kind of versatility Werth brings appears to be the top requirement to win a spot on the bench, and Gillick suggested that Coste will need to prove himself in the field. Jody Mac, in true Beerleaguer spirit, actually kicked off the interview with a Greg Dobbs question, and Gillick seemed excited that he can play all corners. Dobbs, Randall Simon and Karim Garcia were mentioned in the same breath as candidates for the left-handed bench spot, but it would seem that versatility is in Dobbs' favor.
The second mention of an unknown commodity focused on the bullpen. When asked which player had the best chance to emerge this spring, Gillick flatly said Joe Bisenius.
Bisenius, pronounced BYE-senius, had a breakout year in 2006 and impressed scouts this fall. The former 12th-round pick out of Oklahoma City University didn’t generate much buzz before the season, but after a few Double-A appearances, the Phillies knew they were sitting on something hot. The right-hander’s fastball tops 94-95 mph, but his bread-and-butter pitch is a nasty, late-breaking curve.
-- Gillick talked with manager Charlie Manuel earlier in the week about the lineup, including Pat Burrell’s role in it. Once again, Gillick attempted to "dress up" Burrell's numbers, as Enrico from the 700 Level also noted (Thanks for the heads-up on this interview, Enrico).
-- Because of control problems, Fabio Castro does not project into a late inning reliever just yet, but has the ability to be there down the road.
-- The amount of time Wes Helms sees at third base will be determined in Clearwater. Jody Mac wondered if it would be something like 70 percent.
-- Gillick did not get into too many specifics regarding contract negotiations, but suggested that Ryan Howard’s contract will be dealt with in February after the remaining arbitration candidates - Chase Utley, Brett Myers and Geoff Geary - are resolved. He also indicated that Ruben Amaro’s talks with the arbitration players were progressing.
Winter league playoff heroics
Several players had big nights in the winter leagues, reports senior correspondent Martin Smith. Carlos Ruiz hit a grand slam for Licey in Dominican League, Karim Garcia hit two homers for the Tomato Growers’ win in Mexico, and Chris Roberson has been hitting well and scoring runs in front of Vinny Castlla and Euribel Durazo, also in Mexico.