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Friday, January 05, 2007


I'm speechless. Seriously, I have no comment on this issue.

It's the spot that would have gone to Bobby Livingston, though Garcia has less of a chance to make a difference for the club. Like no chance actually. He's someone they'll look at in spring training, but is a lock to return to Ottawa, where he pitched last season.

It's tinkering. They have the open spots, so they're filling them. After a solid start to the hot stove season, things are beginning to fizzle, as it appears the Phillies have reached their spending threshold. They will need to move Lieber, arbitration players or prospects if they are to acquire anything that will actually help them this season. They could also revisit moving Burrell. What is his value now that all the bats are off the board?

I'm still getting a feeling that there may be a Myers/Rowand or Myers/Burrell deal brewing. Since PG is reportedly (someone mentioned it on another comment section) not interested in any remaining FA pitchers, he's gotta have something up his sleeve.

even before one of the starters is traded, this is a team that will be first or second in the division or within a few games of the wildcard on 7/31/07.

this is our team and i'm ok with it.

This guy is all fastball, no junk. I think the reason he hasn't progressed in the minors or to the bigs is due to the fact that he has no offspeeds or breaking ball. Doubt he'll make it.

This bullpen as currently constituted will be an unmitigated diaster. Cancels out the strengthened starting pitching.

I am betting to bet that either Geary or Gordon spends a prolonged stint on the DL. Plus, the Phils are relying heavily on Madson and Smith as set-up guys. I don't trust either one a whole lot at this point.

I agree MG. Tim, I'm all for optimism, but this bullpen is rather crappy. Flash Gordon did a nice job last year, but fizzled at the end. I'm nervous with him, let alone the rest of the guys. I'd like to see Madsen step up and I'd love to see Gonz from the Pirates or Turnbow, join the 'pen. That'd make me feel a lot better. If they go with this bullpen long term , then the Phils are in bad shape.

They do have other Draft needs (and this is worthy of a post in the future), but the Phils should do what the Nats did with Cordero-draft a college closer and groom him.

I do like Matt Smith's potential.

Tim: You're OK with the bullpen? Please explain (i.e. fantasize). Thanking you in advance.

P.S. Conlin wrote that he thought the Phils had reached their spending limit for the offseason. I didn't believe him, but now I wonder. Can they possibly give us another penny wise, pound foolish season?

Garcia did not have so much as an inning with the Mets in 2006 ST, and likely was not even invited to the Mets' major league camp. Therefore, as a guy who was not even on the Mets' radar a year ago, and with those less-than-stellar minor league stats last season, this guy, with no major league ST or regular season time at all to date, seems to be nothing more than organization filler, and possibly not even at the AAA level, at that. Its hard to see how Garcia could even rate a serious look by the Phillies in 2007 ST.

Davthom73: Excellent analysis. Exactly right.

Maybe the Phils are just thinking there is something special about guys with the last name Garcia. So, it's worked for the Eagles and now the Phils have two of them.

That seems to be as good an explanation for this as anyone can come up with.

In fact, my merit, or more appropriately, the lack thereof, I don't think Garcia even rates a slot on the 40-man roster, but I suppose MLB waiver rules mandate that a guy so-claimed must be placed on the big club's 40-man going into ST. Nevertheless, its hard to believe that there isn't something better out there in right-handed reliever land.

Tim didn't say he was ok with the bullpen. He said he's ok with the team.
I'm pretty much with him on this. The bullpen won't be a strength, but the starts should be very solid and the lineup should score runs. As long as the bullpen doesn't implode, I think the team will be ok. At this point, of course, the bullpen is too weak and full of question marks, but I have to assume they'll do something to improve it before the season starts. It's still months away.

They are cornering the market on Garcias. At least they didn't have to trade for this Garcia

seth: Bizarre post. You say you're fine with the team, like Tim, but the bullpen might implode, but they'll probably do something about it before the season begins.

Which means you're not fine with the team until they fix the bullpen. Same here.

you're right Clout, I don't get their analysis on being "alright with the team", if the bullpen needs help. I'm not 100% thrilled with the team, even if they added a solid bullpen guy, but still thinks it'd be a contender.

I agree with Tim too. I'm ok with the team.

The bullpen imploded at times last year because IMO they were overworked the first half of the year and it caught up with them. As long as they get a decent amount of innings out of the starters it will put less pressure on the middle relievers. Gordon should be allright also.

Does the team have enough of a bullpen to make the postseason? Most of us don't think so. But if they can remain competitive and in contention until July, we have to place our faith in PG that he'll get someting done for the final push, as he did last year.

As abysmal as the track record for late season acquisitions has been recently, that was the EW regime. Gillick changed much of that last year.

Many of you have mentioned budget constraints in previous posts.

So I ask you, in your view, will ownership (Montgomery, Giles, et. al.(and I believe Giles still has a say-so despite what the Phillies tell you)) let PG seriously violate their self-imposed salary cap in order to get the team into the playoffs?

The bullpen is too damn thin and needs to be addressed. *Needs*. You can't go into a season praying all the while that everything goes right with the marginal candidates that you do have. There's no replacement for Gordon and no dependable late-inning guys other than Geary - although it's no cinch that he'll repeat last years' performance. I know they still have Lieber as bait, but I don't agree with those who feel the team is okay as it is. Picture a 5-4 lead in the seventh at Shea or Turner Field and then ask how good you feel about things.

Raise your hand if you cannot believe that Gillick is doing the exact same thing he did last off-season - skimping on the bench and bullpen, passing without explanation on every viable option on the free-agent market, signing toxic waste from other organizations to fill out the 40 man-roster. Is this guy just riding the elevators in the Space Needle all day, or what?

AWH, I don't feel secure with the plan of scraping by and losing leads and ground in the first half, and then making trades for Todd Jones and Felix Rodriquez at the deadline. Now is the time where something should get done, and it isn't getting done. It *appears* the starters should be stronger and go longer than last year, but no competent GM would use that kind of assumption as an excuse not to attempt to build a solid bullpen.


We all would love it if the bullpen were in perfect shape. It's not.

But sometimes players unexpectedly progress, or when they get a shot come through. Did you predict Chris Coste in '06? Did you predict that Chris Booker would pitch effectively for the Hats last year after the Phils released him?

I agree that the club seems to be going into the season almost with a 'hope and a prayer' as far as the pen in concerned. But effective relief pitching is notoriously inconsistent, or rather, except for a select few, the pitchers themselves are.

Take a gander at Roberto Hernanadez. He had a wildy inconsistent and frustrating year for the Phils in '04. In '05 he was lights out for the Mets, and was good for the Bucs and Mets last year. We should have kept him, but who knew he had anything left?

Cliff Politte hs been all over the place.

My point is that even if we had signed one of the better FA RPs out there (Foulke for example - and don't forget they had a deal with Borowski before his physical so it's not like they didn't try) there is no guarantee that signee would live up to advance billing.

PG, assuming he has final say, probably feels the team can stay in contention as is, and that any bullpen issues can be solved at a later date.

Do you trust him?

BTW, as I've written in other posts, I'm pessimistic about this ownership group's interference is baseball operations, so don't get the idea that I swallow hook, line and sinker the noise that come out of CBP.

I trust him. I like the fact that he didnt sign borowski, pay up the ying for Baez, and waste money on someone like Pinero. But im a fan, and thats my job.

Its Amaro and his insidious comments that I dont trust.

No, I don't trust him.

I take your point that relievers with good track records, a la Hernandez or Arthur Rhodes, are just as likely as not to go belly-up on you - but I also happen to think that *counting* on someone to step in and surprise is not the way to go, either.

It all comes back to the fact that the Phillies have no help in the system, once again. Need a bench player, boys? Well, how about an overmatched Chris Roberson? Or, need a few arms for the 'pen? Er...actually, got none o' those, you'd better trade for Rick White...wait, how about a mop-up guy for those 15-1 games? Say hello to Brian Sanchez!

Gosh, thanks, Mr. Arbuckle. Thanks an awful lot.

RSB, we would have fun commiserting (sp?) over a few beers.

I'm not "counting" on someone to step in and help out.

However, PG has addressed the most pressing concern going into the off season - starting pitching - as I think he realizes the damage that was done to the 'pen last year with Floyd and Madson getting smacked around so early.

If, and I agree it's an 'if', the SP does what it's supposed to, middle and long relief won't be as much of an issue early in the year. In the 'pen you have Flash, Geary, Madson(who should benefit from a defined role), Castro (who has proven he can get major leaguers out - so far), Matt Smith (same), Condrey (two out of three MLB stints he's been effective), so if the starters don't put too much of a workload on these guys - well, that's why I'm OK with it - FOR NOW.

Let me ask you one more question. Would you rather have the Mets rotation as it's currently constituted going into next season, or the Phillies?

The Phillies' rotation, of course. But as far as the bullpen, you're looking at it half-full, and thensome. Do I think the Phillies have the best team in the division, on paper? I do. But paper doesn't win, and we should all know that *quite* well by now. The Phillies lost an awful lot of games last year in the later innings due to a deficient bullpen and lack of firepower off the bench (as well as a hopeless inability to manufacture runs in these situations). I see it happening again this year.

Iacta alea est . . . the die is cast. The baseball offseason is pretty much finished at this point. The Phils pretty much have their players for next season, barring a trade.

I have to agree with RSB and Clout about Gillick leaving the bench and the bullpen threadbare. Thanks to a recent rundown over at PhilliesFlow, the Phils' pinch hitters were ranked 15 out 16 last year in the NL. Just awful performances. Plus, Dellucci is gone and he was their best pinch hitter.

A bench of Nunez, Coste, Werth, Roberson, and Ruiz is not going to cut it. We blame Foghorn for his questionable decisions late in games but these are some pretty lousy options late in a game. Hopefully Coste duplicates his performance from last season or there won't be a single decent PH on the bench.

As for the bullpen, every team has to take a couple of gambles. Just can't fill out every bullpen post with a $2 or $3 million arm. But the Phils basically need about 4 or 5 things to pan out for them to have a decent bullpen next year.

Plus, the thing that drives me really nuts is that the Phils have some young decent arms but they are not quite ready yet. So, instead of signing a veteran arm or team to round out the pen, the Phils are going to potentially rush their young arms into the breach.

Occasionally, this works out but more often than not it results in a player getting injured or losing his confidence. Think the Phils are going to unfortunately waste another usuful young arm or two next year in the pen.

AWH - I have to disagree about the pen being ok.

Gordon - "The Man from G.L.A.S.S." Effective but has to be handled with kid gloves. No more than an inning and really can't use him on back-to-back nights too often.

Geary - Great year last year but was used awfully hard (91.1 innings in 81 G). His continued effectivness/health might be one of the Phils most important underrated issues going into next year.

Madson - Generally awful last year but I willing give him a pass. Still, I am willing to bet he duplicates his '05 numbers next year (ERA of 4.00-4.50) than '04 numbers (ERA under 3).

Smith - Unknown commodity but I think he can be effective in limited usage. Just feel that he will get exposed if he is used frequently.

Castro - I have a bit more faith in Castro but still feel that could use a bit more time in the minors. Maybe he breaks through in a big way but willing to bet he struggles at times too.

Condrey - Marginal guy at best. Guess he is ok as the long-guy but willing to bet his ERA is over 5. Puts too many guys on base and has a bad tendency to give up the longball.

I am willing to bet that Segovia, Bisenius, or another young arm makes the pen out of spring training.

Plus the Phils pen matches up bad situationally. Smith and Castro are only Lefties in pen and I am not sure how well they will do against the Delgados of the world late in games.

Also, the Phils don't have a single arm out of the pen that throw arm. Nobody in this pen can get a K with runners on base and 2 outs.

Bad vibes man about this pen.

Our bullpen is going to suck. I could try to be more eloquent, but "suck" is a good word for that situation right now.

They said in the papers they're focusing on arbitration, but if Pat Gillick doesn't have "make trade for bona fide setup man/closer" on his list of priorities, I've given him far too much credit. This was their single biggest offseason need, and it remains as such today. He passed on the FAs; Borowski was the best and he failed his physical. Okay, but now you must trade for one, Pat.

If I'm in the front office, now's the time to ramp up the talks for players like Mike Gonzalez, Solomon Torres, Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch or anyone that can help them from a rebuilding team. Washington, for example, should be in full rebuild mode, and they have not taken many steps, other than to deal Vidro. They could use Matt Maloney, Greg Golson, Michael Bourn, Zach Segovia, or any number of prospects. We could use bullpen and bench. In addition, Texas has to know they cannot go into the season without another starter. That's another opportunity, but they have to wait to see what they have in Gagne first.


I agree on Gordon being fragile at his age, and , yes, I too am concerned about the # of innings Geary pitched last year.

However, I think you're being a little pessimistic about Mad Dog, and
Castro's use was limited (no burnout) and he has bee piching well in winter ball.

Condrey's high career ome run #s are due to a bad year in '03. Last year his HR/9 was below the league average, so maybe he's learned. He does represent the biggest risk, though.

Smith got people out effectively in both leagues, and will probably be the only 'prize' in the Abreu trade/dump. Oh, he also showed he's the one that can get you the strikeout, having a K/9 ratio of better than 9.

So - do I agree we still need a setup man/substitute closer - YES.

But I'm not as pessimistic about the '07 pen as you are.

RSB: Once again you show your posts are among the savviest on Beerleaguer when the subject isn't Abreu or Burrell.

Like you, I'm utterly baffled by posters who say they like the team as is because they have faith that if a paper thin bullpen falters PG will miraculous being able to find help.

To AWH: What in the world makes you think that a fringe player like Condrey can be relied upon? Or that Castro, who's never had a full season of AA or AAA and only 23 IP in the majors, can be relied upon? Or that Matt Smith in only 20 freakin' major league IP showed you what he'd do over a full season? Good grief!

While the Phils sign human dreck like Brent Abernathy, the Marlins signed RHP Mike Koplove to a minor league contract.

Koplove had good seasons in '02 and '03 and now has the incentive to play for a major league contract. And PG doesn't think he's worth a gamble? Strange.

Koplove is also a Philly native. He would have been worthy of at least a minor league look, but it seems the Phils are more concerned with having to shell out for Utley, Myers, Rowand, etc. with regard to arbitration.

I also agree the Phils need a veteran left-handed presence in their bullpen. I would lock up Ron Villone today. He would also be nice starter insurance should we end up trading Lieber for some more bullpen/bench help.

World Series here we come....

I'm with you clout and RSB. I like Smith's potential, but 20 IP isn't not enough to count on. The fact that the Phils sent him down after acquiring him showed me he wasn't ready-and he was 27. Condrey? Gimme a break. PG needs to do something with the 'pen before it becomes an emergency.

I tend to fall in the middle concerning the pen - as it stands now, I'm unhappy, but I think I would only add one quality reliever, rather than do what the Orioles did and sign 5 mid-level guys.

For the most part, I think Condrey and Sanches are probably about as good as the Rick Whites (or Cormiers, or Urbinas, or Worrells or Franklins) of the world, and there is no point in giving multi-million dollar contracts to fungible players.

However, I really would have liked the Phils to take a chance on someone like Foulke or Gagne, who would only require a one year deal and, if healthy, be a diference maker.

I mean, an organization like the Phillies who play in a major market and are right on the cusp of the playoffs need to be able to make a gamble, especially if it represents the difference between an 86 win season and an 88 win season.

Jason, you note above that, "(Gillick) passed on the FAs; Borowski was the best and he failed his physical. Okay, but now you must trade for one, Pat."

What I don't get is how Gillick gets a "pass" on his failure to sign Borowski, in light of the current bullpen crisis that exists for the team. And you're not alone.

I have seen no good explanation -- anywhere -- for how Borowski supposedly "fails" the Phillies physical -- after just finishing up a solid season as the Marlins' closer (acknowledging the guy's earlier history of arm problems) -- when Borowski *passes* the Indians physical, and is signed by that club to be its closer for '07.

My theory is that Gilick realized at the last minute that Borowski's sticker price was outside of Gillick's "budget", and to save face, the Phillies front office secreted the "Borowski failed his physical" nonsense to the media.

And where are the Phillies going to get a proven closer now, without trading away an important piece of the team to get one -- if that even *could* be accomplished at this late point?

Apparently, Gillick is hoping to "get by" with what he has, perhaps going with a "closer by commitee" scheme (a/k/a/ the alleged "hot hand" scheme, until the trading deadline. IMO, that is a recipe for the club being in a hole by July 31st.

The Phillies don't need another proven closer. They have Gordon and it's his job, 100%. Now if he gets injured, it's another story, but I think it's an awful lot to ask Gillick to sure up third base, fix the starting rotation, trade Burrell, fill in the bullpen, AND find a second closer all while staying within the budget. I can live with Gordon in that role.

just because i say this is the team and i'm ok with it doesn't mean i'm in love with the bullpen. i don't think this pen will keep us from being in contention all summer though. if you'd rather the phil's have done what baltimore did with their pen instead of what we did with our rotation, then that's fine. they will move lieber or someone else for a bullpen piece and they will be a better team then.

clout your post really is amazing. you single out my post by wanting me to clarify a statement i didn't make. being ok with the team has nothing to do with the pen as a unit. but not only that, you post in your usual obnoxious way for no reason. just because i don't want a bunch of retreads, or because i don't pretend to know everything about every prospect ever mentioned, doesn't mean my opinion is a fantasy. i don't obsess with the flaws of the team, while forgetting the teams they are competing with.

when the pen has all youngsters they're too young and inexperience, when they have old guys they are too old and break down. this is the team right now and they will win a lot of games even with the pen.

Davthom, Do you really believe that Phils' team doctor Michael Ciccotti *lied* when he said he didn't recommend the Phils sign Borowski to a 2 year deal based on the MRI results of his shoulder ?

DavThom does have a point about Borowski, although I read in the AP reports that Cleveland signed *Foulke* to be their closer - so they must have some doubts about him, as well. Yet why can the Phillies be content to gamble on someone like Werth, and yet not bat an eye at someone like Borowski *or* Foulke?

But why simply focus on these two? There's any number - literally in the dozens by now - of relievers who could have helped the Phillies which Gillick has simply ignored. It's as if all he's interested in doing is playing hunches and going apes--t over Rule 5's and double-A retreads - as if he's trying to go the cheapest possible route for any glimmer of potential. We can all snicker at what Baltimore has done, but it would appear to beat the living crap out ol' Pat's plan.

AWH, I agree that Smith, Castro, and Condrey are decent options, but not for late-inning roles. I realize that the Phillies hand-picked a guy (Rhodes) to be the set-up man last year, and couldn't have been much worse. But I don't think the appropriate response to that is to not look for someone with a bonafide and proven capability to inherit that role, rather than hope that a questionable "committee" can handle it.

Even with the strengths of the rotation and the top half of the lineup, the Phillies are an incomplete team as they stand today. It may be true that no team is truly flawless, but why not strive to be as flawless as possible going into a season?

In regards to Castro: Isn't he going to AAA to be groomed as a starter? If so, we need to stop lumping him in with the bullpen guys...for now.

BB: I'll believe that when I see it.

RSB, I can't really see how the O's plan of signing Baez, Walker and Bradford for $41M is superior to paying guys like Geary, Madson, and Smith close to the minimum, considering the difference is probably one or two wins per season between these groups.

Do you not think the Phillies have a budget? Combined with your wishes to reward Howard before he even reaches arbitration, splurging on the pen a la Baltimore would put the team up over $100M, easy. Gillick has decided (I think, accurately) that the bullpen is the one position on a baseball team where AAA retreads and "proven" veterans are nearly inseperable from season to season. There are stud closers and the occasional stud set-up guy like Shields, but for the most part, these guys are a dime a dozen. If Gillick chose to uprrade 3B and the starting rotation at the expense of the pen because he is fixed at around $90M, then I completely agree with him.

I would also like to see the list of "dozens" of relievers who could have helped the Phillies. As I said, I had interest in the high risk, high reward guys, but for the most part the market was garbage. THe one other guy the Phillies targeted was Weathers (who I think IS a good reliever), but unfortunately, Cinci did something smart for once and kept him.

As far as Borkowski, there was probably just a legitimate difference of opinion. Christ, hasn't anyone gone to a doctor before? These things are not cut (pun intended) and dry. Gillick may have been more conservative than Shapiro, but I think it was a legitimate concern rather than some kind of smokescreen.

All I think we're asking for here is one legitimately solid reliever who could potentially fill in for Gordon, whose ability to remain healthy for a full season is in doubt. And hopefully Lieber will land them someting resembling that missing piece. But I can't believe the Phillies would have been wildly over budget had they consented to sign just one guy like Baez or Dotel to solidify the bullpen. Yes, their contracts are overvalued, but that's the way it is right now. I'm not saying to sign four of them, just one. Would it really have broken the bank? Now, instead of dangling Lieber for (god forbid) prospects, they have to hope they can get some kind of set-up relief foir him.

Kdon - I agree that Orioles strategy of spending a ridiculous amount of money on their setup men is pretty foolish but it just pisses me off that the Phils are so miserly at times.

Big difference between spending $126 million on Zito and spending another $5-$10 on million on a reliever or two who could make the difference in this team making the playoffs next season. Funny thing is I bet that Phils would nearly make back the $5-10 million dollars they spend if they make the NLCS.

Most frustrating thing is that the Phils' vision is just so limited. The Phils have a window of opportunity right now in both the city and the NL. Philly is wide-open right now and fans are looking for a championship-type team. Plus, it is possible that the NL might even be weaker next year than it was this year. The Cards look like a .500 team and the Mets have a ton of pitching questions.

Instead, the Phils made some marginal upgrades in the field and acquired 2 starting pitchers. Nice start but not enough to probably win 90 wins and be assured of a playoff spot.

Hope that Dave Montgomery is going to enjoy counting his $10 and $20 bills at home this season.

It's not just that I think Baez is overvalued, I just don't think he is a very good pitcher, and he isn't worth anywhere near $6.3M per for 3 years. I would rather use that money to lock up Utley or make a mid season trade.

Baez had a few good ERA years as a closer in a no pressure environment, but his peripherals have always been mediocre (career 1.3 WHIP, only ONCE did he have a K-BB ratio better than two). He is the guy who gets a rep because he closed for a few years and this sometimes fools GMs, sportswriters and fans, but if you look at his numbers objectively, he is no better of an option than Madson or Condrey, and significantly worse than Geary or Gordon.

What I would be concerned about is that Manuel would also think of Baez as his 8th inning guy (similar to Rhodes last year) even though Geary is a far better pitcher. Baez is a guy who would be a competent mid-innings reliever and not even the Yankees and Red Sox pay $6M for that!

Dotel is an interesting name (he actually WAS a good pitcher), another wildcard like Gagne or Foulke. I didn't see him pitch with the Yankees, but a lot of the reports were that he was simply done. I would defer towards scouts on this one, but based upon the (lack of) interest in Dotel, I think most scouts don't think he is getting back to hi '03 form.

I don't mean to be a complete contrarian on every name thrown out there, but avoiding average "name" relievers like this is exactly the thing I like about Gillick. We rip Wade for Urbina, Worrell, Wendall, Cook, Rodriguez, but the point is that THESE ARE THE SAME GUYS that have signed this off-season except for maybe Spier.

As far as the Phils being miserly, I agree to an extent, but they did just trade two league minimum players for a starter making $10M per year.

Just to address your point specifically MG, I just don't think any of these guys ARE the difference in a playoff run, unless we are talking about the Gagne or Foulke of old.

The real point is, or at least *my* point, is that all the above relievers you mentioned (except Worrell) were acquired in mid-season trades, some of which cost the Phillies prospects. It would seem to be in a team's better interest to stock up on these kinds of parts *before* the season starts, rather than have to scrable and give up more than is needed *during* the season.

I'll address what each one of you gentlemen has written one at at time.

First, glout, you can disagree with me and my analysis of Condrey, Castro, Smith But then you trot out Mike Koplove when you could very well criticize him for the same reason you criticize the others.

If you want to criticize me because I am going to "rely on" the guys we already have this year, that's fine, but be consistent.

You are engaging in a double standard.

So what if Koplove had good years in '02 and 03. That's jurrasic as far as relief pitchers are concerned. He's done nothing recently, and if you apply the same standard to him as you do to the guys we have you have no more reason to "rely on" him in '07 than you do them. Why not Danny Kolb? He's had more recent success than Koplove. Good Grief!!!

RSB, you seem to have not read my posts completely. I wrote "So - do I agree we still need a setup man/substitute closer - YES."

I have always advocated looking for additional help. I just don't think the bullpen is going to be a complete disaster as long as the starters do their jobs early in the year and eat some innings.

Yes, it is an incomplete team. I am positive PG agrees with you. But name one team that isn't.

Let's look at the big market/money teams. The Skankees and Mutts both have rotation questions. The Bosox have outfield deficiencies and a void at closer. The Cubbies have been spending like crazy, but except for Zambrano and maybe Lilly there are questions about their rotation. The Dodgers will have trouble scoring runs.

Every team is a work in progress right now, and I'm certainly not satified with the Phils. I'm not delusionally optimistic or relying on unfounded hope. I just think some of you are being unreasonably pessimistic.

"Hope that Dave Montgomery is going to enjoy counting his $10 and $20 bills at home this season."

Actually, he's goig to be counting at THE END of the season when the team misses the playoffs again.

Did someone say that Danys Baez is no better than Clay Condrey and far worse than Geary? As I recall, both Condrey and Geary gave up about .280 to .300 in opponents' batting average. Even Geary isn't very good at all. I fully expect the bullpen to be an absolute disaster until they make a trade for someone, but who knows, by then it could be too late.

OK, RSB, so they were bad players acquired during the season, rather than the! I don't want to stock up on Turk Wendall EVER!

I mean, look, Baez put up about as good of a season as Franklin did last you want Franklin too? We went into the season with veteran name guys in the pen and it turned out that Geary was out best set-up man, and in years before it was Madson. I don't see how most of the names being thrown out there are any better than Franklin and Rhodes.

You should at least address the point that AWH and I are making that the current bullpen guys are not any better than what we have, and far more expensive.

Who are the "dozen" FA relievers? Just on a rough memory, I can't think of anyone other than Spier who I would consider an upgrade over our current team.

We're not that far apart really, I said I would not hav minded taking a flier on Foulke or Gagne (or even Pinero, though not for what the Sox gave him), just that I think it is spinning your wheels (and wasting money) to go after the Baezes and Romeros of the world (and even worse if their proven veteran status means they get to pitch in key situations like Rhodes last year).

Yes, Tray, I said it, it's not to far above your post.

You might want to go and do some actual research on the respective players' 2006 seasons and not just go on your "recall" of a fairly useless stat like BA against. Get back to me after you look at Geary's 2.94 ERA vs. Baez's 4.53.

Also, FWIW, here are the ZiPS projections for Condrey, Geary and Baez (these are adjusted for league and ballpark):

75 IP, 4.56 ERA, $0.4M Salary

82 IP, 3.73 ERA, ~$2M Salary

65 IP, 4.43 ERA, ~$6M Salary

I'm not saying the guys the Phillies passed on are great. But any one of them *could* have helped. You don't know for sure, but you can't assume the worst in every option, and figure that some triple-A guy can just step in and perform just as well. That seems like even more of a longshot to me. I don't agree that you can basically stick anyone with an arm and a glove on the mound in the seventh inning, and they'll all perform basically the same. That may be true of the type of pitcher the Phillies have passed on, but there is something to be said in courting a known quantity for a late-inning role. The Phillies really have no one suited for this except Geary. Madson has the stuff to do it, but he can't be counted on. And no one seems to want to address the point I made about Lieber being dangled for prospects instead of relievers.

I agree we missed the boat on some FA bullpen arms. But with a lot of the names mentioned here we really had little chance of signing.

Borowski is documented arm problem. I'm not sure what they saw but it scared the Phils. I'm thinking it was one of those things where the doctor tells you he could be fine or he could be out for the season. At that point you make the decision to sign or not and the Phils went with not.

Baez/Dotel/Gagne all wanted to be closers. The Phils couldn't promise them closer jobs. In the case of Dotel and Gagne they are coming off injuries and signed one year deals. Hoping to cash with a healthy season this year. We could have signed them but probably with only multi year deals at closer money. That is to much of a risk for guys who have serious health questions.

Foulke hasn't been the same in a couple of years. Plus he also wanted to be a closer. We missed out on guys who could have helped us and I think Dotel at the right price could have. But we couldn't promise any of those guys a closer or more important closer money.

Exactly, RSB, they "could have helped" just as much as Condrey or Sanches could help, I'm not denying that it is beyond the realm of possibility that Dotel or Baez could contribute, only that I think the odds are just as good that a younger player could step up, and it doen't cost you $6M per year to find out. THe point is that one group is significantly cheaper and won't be used in situations where they shouldn't be used because they are "name" players.

If there was a quality guy out there, I would be asking to get him, but there just aren't any.

We will see what happens with Lieber. Prospects are nice, but if Gillick can use him to get a bullpen guy who is an asset rather than just a roster filler, I think we need to do it in order to make a run. They way things look, it seems that in order to acquire a truly good bullpen arm, a trade is the best way to go. I don't think Gillick will just dump him for a Baez type.

I would think about putting Eaton in the pen to start the season if there are no good offers for Lieber. Eaton is pretty expensive for a pen guy, but I don't think there is any rush to trade anyone. My pen in this scenario would be:


Madson is really the key, if he reverts to his bullpen form, I could see this as an acceptable pen.

Oh, and I came across this in looking at these players...pretty much sums up my opinion:

RSB makes good point about the ripple effect of not signing Borowski (or someone comparable). If they had added a capable bullpen arm, they could probably have traded Leiber for two half-decent prospects as teams are going to need starting pitching. Now they almost have to trade Lieber for a capable middle reliever and (hopefully) a mid-level prospoect.

Considering how we're all in pretty solid agreement about the poor shape of the farm system, adding two legit prospects would be an important move.

Just as a pre-emptive move, I don't know the whole story with Borowski's health and don't know whether letting him sign elsewhere was a good move or not. I'm just saying if they had signed SOMEONE to help the bullpen, they would have alot more flexibility about what to do with Leiber.

Funny, but I think this season is going to be an exact opposite of 2006. The principal reason the Phils missed the playoffs was the horrible starting pitching out of the 4 and 5 spots. Floyd and Madson were both 2 of the worst starters in the NL last year. Floyd and Madson, along with Brito and Benero, posted an ERA of 7.32 in their starts. Even the '27 Yankees would not win alot with that crappy starting pitching. If the Phils had Padilla (still one of Gillick's absolute worst moves), they would most likely have made the playoffs.

This offseason, Gillick goes out and solidifies the rotation with Garcia and Eaton but does NOTHING to improve the pen. If anything, the pen is even thinner than it was in Sept. with Fultz, White, and Rhodes leaving. Granted these aren't huge losses, but there is ZERO depth right now in the pen.

I am willing to bet the crappy pen forces Foghorn to leave his starters out there too long in April and May. Almost guarantees that someone like Eaton or Hamels will subsequently break down later in the season.

As much as people criticize Foghorn about his pitching changes, Foghorn does a good job of not abusing his starters. No Dusty Baker or Lou Pinella here.

Weitzel should set up a contest where everyone guesses the date when Eaton does on the DL. Winner might get a Beerleaguer mug.

My guess is June 9.

What do you say Weitzel?

With the three remaining spots on the 40-man roster, do the Phils bring in Moe, Curly, and Larry?

Bernie Williams?

Kdon, I too wish they could sign Gagne or Foulke (though Gagne obviously has the much higher upside). Unfortunately, they have no incentive to go somewhere where they won't get a chance to close games. They will take a 1-year contract mainly because if they succeed in closing, they're back in the big money in '08. In Philly that opportunity is off the table; they wouldn't come here thinking the way we do -- that Gordon is likely to break down.

On the other hand, he hasn't broken down yet -- something DavThom apparently doesn't realize when he talks about a "bullpen by committee."

RSB wants to sign "just one guy like Baez or Dotel to solidify the bullpen." Sorry, but I don't see enough consistency there to make anyone feel comfortable about "solidifying" anything. Dotel is damaged goods; I've lost count of how many teams thought Baez would be an All-Star closer. The only thing you'd have for certain with either of them is a big contract.

On the other hand, Kdon (I'm an octopus tonight), the $6.3 million for Baez will get you about a half-season of Utley. Spending the money isn't the problem; finding someone who's worth it is.

That said, my guess is that by next June, Baltimore will be shopping at least two of those middle relievers. Other lousy teams will be, too. So yes, RSB, you have to pay for relievers acquired during the season, but at least you have the luxury of first finding out which ones don't have it this year.

Also, Gillick's plan here seems to be finding some quality by sifting through quantity. You have the names Kdon listed above (I would subtract Eaton; ain't no way the newly signed free agent is going to the bullpen, where his arm would be subjected to a whole new set of strains; I'd also subtract Castro, because he's so young and I wouldn't want to abuse his arm, although you never can tell with the Phillies, who place no value on Latin pitchers). You also have the two Rule 5 guys and the guys ticketed for the minors (Segovia seems to be the favorite here).

I guess my view is moderate -- I agree the bullpen looks awful on paper, yet I'm not inclined to panic. Not to put too fine a point on it, but relief pitcher is pretty much the easiest job to fill, because there are so many candidates to fill it. When last season started, Geary was a mop-up guy. By the end he was the second-best guy out there. A lot can happen between now and April; if none of it is good, I'll panic then.

By the way, Reitsma might be one of those guys available at mid-season. He was signed because the minimum-wage guy who was supposed to fill the set-up role hurt his arm late last year. If he's back by mid-season, Reitsma might hit the market. Though I agree with others -- I see no reason, other than the payroll ceiling the team won't admit to -- not to have signed him now.

Billy Mac: You ask me if I "really believe that Phils' team doctor Michael Ciccotti *lied* when he said he didn't recommend the Phils sign Borowski to a 2-year deal based on the MRI results of his shoulder?"

Let's understand that a team physician's primary reporting relationship is to team management -- not to the media or fan base. If Gillick balked over Borowski's asking price -- and I believe that he did -- the "failed his team physical" front was tailor-made to give Gillick cover with the fans and the media. Do I think that Ciccotti could defend the MRI read that you alluded to -- sure, there is *something* on just about any experienced pitcher's arm/shoulder MRI -- but there was no indication that Borowski was either rested by the Marlins down the stretch, or that he was "shut down" for any period last season. With the Phillies' present closer and set-up bullpen situation, IMO, Gillick has some "splainin" to do by his failure to sign Borowski.

Alby: About my "apparently not realizing" that Gordon "hasn't broken down yet", when I spoke about "bullpen by committee" -- actually I meant "closer by committee", and I think you properly took it that way -- I do believe -- as do others in this thread -- that Gordon will indeed break down as regularly-used (50-60-plus games)closer -- or that Gordon's performance and top-end fast ball velocity will further diminish in 2007, as it did in 2006, particularly down the stretch last season.

You're right Alby, Foulke or Gagne wouldn't have wanted to sign here, which pretty much leaves me with the same perspective you have...there was nothing worth signing out there.

I also agree there is little chance Eaton starts in the pen, but I don;t want the Phils to trade Lieber just to trade him, so you have to consider what you do if you have six starters going into the season. To me, Eaton is the best option for the pen. I don't know the specifics of his injury or whether or not a move to the bullpen would hurt or help with his injuries.

Also, Baez is getting $19M over the next three years. That is significant enough to hamper other moves, such as acquiring a player mid-season or FA moves next year. Even if they lock Utley up for a long term contract, he won't sniff $12M for a couple will likely be aroun $3-7M for his arb years before escalating to the $12-15M range around 2010, so you can argue that by saving money on fungible arms you can help lock up Utley.

I have to assume Gillick is close to his budget, and I;m glad we spent the money on Garcia and Helms (and even Eaton) rather than bullpen retreads.

I am right there with ya, RSB. I said something similar way back on Dec. 26th in the Suppan thread. Here is just part of the last post in that thread:

"I also said it would be wise to possibly sign Huff or Nixon so that we could trade Rowand or Lieber for the relief help we are seeking (or maybe if we signed a couple of relievers we could move those guys for some much needed minor league help so we wouldn't have to rely on the Britos of the world)."

It's sad how things never change in Philly land. There is never a sense of urgency. Ever.

Also, Davethom, I guess it is possible that GIllick colluded with the training staff to provide cover, but the far simpler explination is the Phillies staff said "hey, there is a little damage, you might not want to lock this guy up." I don;t know why you want to posit a level of deception for somthing that seems pretty basic. If they didn't want him, they could have simply not signed him.

Also, Borowski pitched only 67 innings in 04-05, and was a major question mark going into last season. He had a nice season in a very low pressure (and workload) situation in Florida, with a solid 3.75 ERA, but nothing spectacular. I would have more faith in him than some other guys, but he is nothing special, certainly nothing worth Gillick's time to go through a whole conspiratal process to avoid signing him.

I've all the posts. I read a bunch that I agree with...all written by kdon. I also agree with parts of Alby's and Davthom's posts.

The bullpen is like an unfinished painting. Right now it looks pretty ugly, however early January isn't the magic date that bullpens are supposed to be completed. I believe the bullpen will be fleshed out better between now and the beginning of the season.

I am concerned about Gordon. In my mind, he is done. I hope he surprises me. I'd rather have a younger flame thrower as the closer.

I am more worried about our outfield than the bullpen. I am not that enamored with any of them. I hate to say it, but I'm most confortable with Pat Burrell out there.

Where are these magical relievers going to appear between now and April? Phils are pretty much stuck with what they have.

LF, do you not recall Gordon making the all-star team last year? I think it's a bit premature to speculate that he's "done".

Kdon and RSB: On Gillick's failure to sign Borowski, for the supposed reason that Borowski "failed" his physical -- before Borowski was signed by Cleveland --
obviously, it is a matter of discretion for any club to sign whomever that club wishes. But the facts are these: before being shut down from August 12th to September 7th last season, Gordon's ERAs in his four August appearances was 9.64; Gordon's ERA's for the other months of the 2006 season -- April 0.84, May 2.19, June 2.70, July 4.86, and then, after being hut down for almost a month, September 3.60.

I'm not saying that Gordon won't be able to pitch in 2007 -- I am saying that Gordon's 2006 experience shows that he more than likely will not be able to be a regular closer -- in the contemporary deinition of the role.

RSB, as these numbers show, Gordon's selection to the 2006 All Star team was based on Gordon's performance in April, May and June -- very different numbers than Gordon's July, 4-game-August, and 3.60 September.

It is for these reasons that I believe that Gillick does not deserve a "pass" for his failure to sign Borowski -- because obviously Gillick had no "Plan B." *If* Borowski had *not* been signed to a lucrative FA contract by another MLB club that gave him a physical -- that would be one thing -- but Gillick did not even attempt to sign Borowski to a one-year contract -- the term the guy got from the Indians. That's why I smell something "fishy" about the "Borowski failed his physical" story.

Isn't it just possible that Cleveland is the team that made the mistake, signing a player with questionable numbers and health to a multi-million dollar contract. SImply because another team signed him doesn't automatically mean it was a good signing (see: Lee, Carlos and Zito, Barry).

We'll see, around June I may want to check in on the performance of a lot of these guys.

Absolutely, Kdon, you're right, nd of course that is one possibility -- and we'll all see how things turn out in 2007 -- namely, if Gordon needs to be rested again for almost the entire month of August, whether he blows out before that time in the closer's role, and/or whether Borowski continues or betters his 2006 closer's numbers with the Marlins. As I said, IMO, the former possibities for Gordon to me are more likely, based on Gordon's 2006 performance -- month-by-month --and I submit that Borowski's 2006 numbers were a lot less "questionable" than Gordon's were, and, as far as I am aware, Borowski never had to be "shut down" in 2006.

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