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Saturday, February 17, 2007

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I'm surprised Duckworth hasn't stuck somewhere. He strikes me as a guy who could be a viable middle-inning reliever.

I would not touch a single one...

"Used to play for the Phillies" isn't such a respected thing to put on your resume these days I guess.

I would, Mike H. I'd give Ledee a look, just based on his years with the Phils and the fact that he didn't want to leave town. After all, we do need a lefthanded bench bat. I know he has sucked since the minute he left for SF, but non-roster invitees are basically lottery tickets -- nice if you hit, no big loss if you don't.

I agree, Alby. The Phils have had numerous opportunities to give Ledee an other look, but have reneged every time. Could he really be any worse than Karim Garcia?

I read this scary story by Todd Zolecki where it sounded like they were leaning towards Alfonseca as the eighth-inning guy. Dubee sais something like, "if he throws lights out like we expect him to"... lights out??

Wouldn't it be safe to say that ANYBODY who throws "lights-out" probably has the inside track on the job?

Yeah, but there's no way in the world that he's throwing lights-out. I wonder why we didn't look at Dan Kolb, he was terrible last year with the Braves but untouchable a season or two ago with the Brewers. An extreme groundball kind of guy.

Color me unimpressed on Kolb. He had the one great season; everything else has been of a piece, a really mediocre piece. Sort of like Turnbow, except Kolb can't throw hard. Let's face it, even teams that load up on solid relievers have to keep their fingers crossed. I'm in the camp that says let's look at all the nobodies and retreads before we trade our spare parts (Lieber and Rowand).

"Light's out?" I wonder how much Dubee is actually spouting the company line vs. actually believing his own comment.

Let's just say that I have a lot less faith in Alfonseca than I did Rhodes last year. I will be happy if Alfonseca actually contributes to the Phils this year let alone becomes a legit setup man.

Could he really be any worse than Karim Garcia?

Question should be "Could he be any better then Gracia?" Don't think so.

Could he really be any worse than Karim Garcia?

Question should be "Could he be any better then Gracia?" Don't think so.

I know as Phils phans we have some strange obsession with Ricky Ledee, but he was downright pitiful last season. Honestly, I think Karim Garcia will be more productive than him and that's not saying a whole lot.

I like that we brought Lou Collier back. I've met him before and he's a cool guy. I even tried to convince him that he was my wife's cousin, but he just laughed (she white, him black).

If reports are true and Alfonseca is 100% healthy and back to hitting 95-96 on the radar gun, then we may just have ourself a "good find". That's me trying to be optimistic.

RSB: Duckworth is an interesting case and indicative of that vast pool of pitchers out there who try to make it without a good fastball.

They are utterly dependent on their command and command can be an elusive thing. A slight mechanical change, discomfort due to a minor injury, inability to adjust to the hitters' adjustments to you, any and all of these can throw your command off.

If you throw 95 mph you can get through these bumps. If you throw 85-88 mph, as Duckworth does, you cannot.

Duckworth had a magical season in 2001, going 13-2 at S/WB and then 3-2 in 11 starts for the Phils with a 3.52 ERA. But his K/BB ratio was a bit of a warning flag and sure enough, he lost a bit of his touch in 2002 going 8-9, 5.41. In 2003, his K/BB ratio blew up totally (he was also hurting) and the Phils were lucky to dump him on the Astros in the Billy Wags trade. He is now nothing more than organization filler.

There is an army of Duckworth-type pitchers in the high minors. Few even have as brief a career as he did.

Clout: Agreed 100%. See Jon Lieber and balky groin. As a veteran, Lieber knows how to make the adjustments quickly to not become organization filler.

If Duckworth's fastball has gone down that much, then his problems are understandable - but with the Phillies, I remember him throwing in the low 90s and actually having a decent strikeout rate (167 K's/163 IP in '02). It seemed more a question of poise and location for Duckworth; his stuff wasn't anything spectacular, but it was of average major-league quality. I will say one thing: there was *no reason* for him to be touted as highly as he was coming out of the minors - yet another example of organizational hyperbole/misjudgment.

Regarding Alfonseca: the fact that Dubee was his pitching coach in '01 when he was good presents at least a sliver of hopefulness; it's a connection we all seemed to have missed when the Phillies signed him. It obviously doesn't guarantee that he'll revert to that form (and I sure as hell wouldn't *expect* it), but it could be a positive factor. And by the way, I hope it's crystal clear by now that the team considers the set-up job as his to lose.

"I hope it's crystal clear by now that the team considers the set-up job as his to lose"

This is very scary! Can we go back to the ALfonseca trade discussion, where everyone said, "oh, it can't hurt to bring him in." Well, if he is annoited as the 8th inning guy, it will *definately* hurt.

Sadly I agree RSB. It absolutely amazes me that Alfonseca has been anointed the primary setup man without having even pitched a single inning yet in spring training.

Alfonseca story line has to be one of the top three this spring training. I am really interested to see how Alfonseca looks and more importantly what the radar gun reveals.

If we've learned anything here I hope it's never to believe anything the Phillies say. Please see the multiple contradictions from PG on Burrell, Coste, playoff team etc. Cholly is no better. We'll find out who the setup guy is at the end of ST, not from anything management says.

kdon, your logic is bizarre: We shouldn't sign Alfonseca because Sanches and Condrey are much crappier and Manuel won't be tempted to use them in key situations. If you can't trust the manager to use a player correctly, then you fire the manager. You don't bring in crap players like Sanches & Condrey to replace a better player like Alfonseca.

RSB: Duckworth got his strikeouts because of his breaking stuff. He had a curve, slider and changeup and when he had his command, he was smart enough to know when to throw them to keep hitters off balance and spot his below average fastball in the right places.

The logic is simple, and in this case, correct. You can use whatever rhetoric you like, but I still predicted that Alfonseca would be handed the job, and that is exactly what is happening.

When you bring in veterans, they do not have to compete for a spot, whereas Condrey and Sanches do. The problem is not one manager, it pervades almost all of baseball, except in situations like Oakland where the GM calls the shots.

You knew who the manager was when they signed Alfonseca. You should have also known what would happen when you applauded the move.

I would just submit that Jose Mesa has pitched better over the past two seasons than Alfonseca.

To hopefully assuage a renewal of open warfare here, I'll revise my take on Alfonseca - I'll just say he has the 'inside track'. If he pitches like crap and gets bombed by double-A hitters, he won't be the set-up man. But I sense the Phillies are going into this *wanting* him to be the eighth-inning guy.

I agree this will be one of the top storylines of spring training; Tom Gordon, where/when Lieber gets traded, and whether Coste makes the team will be the others.

kdon: If you are correct and Alfonseca is simply handed the job without earning it, I'll be alongside you blasting him & the manager.

RSB: You nailed it and maybe story #5 will be Burrell's foot and swing.

Well, it will be interesting to see what constitutes "earning" it. My assumption (and I pray I'm wrong) is that if AA puts up an ERA south of 4.5 and doesn't get bombed, he'll be trying to hold onto a Brett Myers win on opening day.

Kdon: Better that than letting Condrey or Sanches pitch the 8th. It's one thing to gripe when an Alfonseca gets the inside track over a talented youngster, quite another when the "youngster" is, as in the cases of Condrey and Sanches, neither talented nor young. According to your logic, anybody who has never pitched in the majors is better than an average ML veteran, simply because he has never failed in the majors. Sort of like your "logic" that it's better to play your starters until they fall over, even if they can't perform as well.

RSB, your memory of Duckworth's rookie year differs from mine. As I recall management resisted promoting him because he WASN'T highly touted; he had to win 13 games before he was promoted. His hammer pitch was a curve, but it wasn't complemented by much of a fastball. Breaking pitches are harder to control (see Madson, Ryan) and young pitchers who rely on them get killed when their control falters.

Roidy Leddee

Story #6: What will be the opening day starting rotation?

Story #7: Who's starting in RF?

Story #8: Who's starting in CF?

Story #9: Will Helms be a good starting 3B?

Story #10: Who's the starting catcher?

I also like Jason's new phrase from the last thread, "Blogger's bulge". That sounds a lot better than muffin top. I seem to be sporting a blogger's bulge, too!

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